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I am currently writing my bachelor's thesis. I made a lot of experiments and I describe them as well as their result in the text. Currently, I have most tables with the results of the experiments within the main part. However, I am thinking about putting at least the bigger tables in the appendix as they make the text hard to read.

What should I put in the appendix and what should be in the main part?

  • 1
    What did your supervisor say? What do the university's guidelines say? What did your predecessors do? – 410 gone Nov 2 '14 at 20:33
  • @EnergyNumbers My university does not have any guidelines for academic writing. I will ask my supervisor tomorrow. – Martin Thoma Nov 2 '14 at 20:58
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I like to think of appendices (or supporting information, which is the same thing for a journal paper) in terms of the narrative structure of a text. The main text should contain everything that makes up the "story" of the work. In it, a reader who basically trusts that your methods are sound should find everything that they need to understand the work.

There are often, however, places where it is important to show your work, but that are not particularly interesting. If they are lengthy enough that they start feeling like a major detour in the flow of the narrative, then they are a good candidate for moving to an appendix.

Some examples from my own recent papers:

  • Theorem and proof sketch in main text, boring exhaustive proof with lots of slightly different cases in appendix.
  • Graph summarizing results plus an example of result detail in main text, all the rest of the results in appendix.
  • Data from method presented in main text, data showing that plausible alternatives didn't work in appendix.
  • Intuitive description of method and key mathematical concepts in main text, exhaustive mathematical details in appendix.

Exactly where to draw the line is somewhat subjective, but fortunately doesn't matter all that much unless you are dealing with format or length restrictions.

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Put the more important data in the main part of your thesis and less important tables which should be reported in your report in the appendix.

As an instance, if you have 10 tests in your thesis, you may put results of 5 more important tests in the main part and 5 less important tests in the appendix of your thesis.

Don't put extra information and tables in your thesis as they make the reader of your thesis a little bored.

If you can, turn some of your tables in to plots and graphs, as seeing repeated tables in a text makes it boring and having some plots in your text makes it easier for reader to understand what you are talking about.

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As a rule, the appendixes should be ignorable. That is, if you rip them off, the thesis is still valid and understandable.

Appendixes are good for side discussions or extra supporting materials.

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  • Why the downvotes? – Davidmh Nov 8 '14 at 8:03
  • Because sometimes something important to validity (but not understanding) should go in an appendix. For example, an appendix may be an appropriate place for a collection of boring but necessary control studies. – jakebeal Nov 15 '14 at 13:28

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