My PhD thesis has 175 pages A4 and I shall provide also a compilation that will summarize the main results on 20 pages A5. My thesis contains algorithms and theorems examining their properties.

After ignoring figures, proofs, illustrative examples, chapter-motivation-paragraph, and major part of introduction and conclusion I have still 48 pages.

Any idea or guidance how to present the results on a very limited space? How to balance the readability (towards marketing) and the scientific strength of the content (towards technical documentation)?

  • 5
    Why are you doing this? Assuming the full text will still be available, I would keep the readable stuff and point out the technical stuff is in the full text. Nov 24, 2014 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


In writing a summary of a thesis, I would actually go about this the opposite way. Don't start with 175 pages and try to cut it down to 20. Instead, start from 0 and try to write a document that will be useful to a reader who wants to know whether to pick up the entire thesis.

I would probably do something like this:

  • Background description that explains why your problem is interesting. 2-3 pages maximum.

  • General description of what your algorithm achieves, why it is useful, and how it improves on the previous state of the art. Don't try to explain the details of how the algorithm works. Consider including a brief illustrative example if space permits at all; that will be very helpful to the reader who wants to know what the heck you are doing.

  • If space remains, state main theorem(s), preceded by any definitions needed for them to make sense. If necessary, gloss over the less interesting parts of those theorems. E.g. a complicated set of conditions can be encapsulated in "under mild assumptions" (assuming they are mild), a complicated formula could be replaced by "there exists a constant".

  • If space still remains, consider including a very high-level overview of your methods. Specifically mention any parts that you think are especially interesting or novel.

This isn't my field, but I gather that in computer science it is pretty common to publish results first as relatively short conference papers, and then to give more complete details in follow-up papers in journals. You might try reading such conference papers (and compare them with their extended versions) to see what details people focus on. Writing this summary will also be good practice for eventually producing page-limited papers based on your work.

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