I am writing my M Phil thesis in engineering, on the development of a new process for treating a particular type of wastewater.

In my literature review I have a background section, which describes the nature of the problem to be solved.

Originally I used this section to thoroughly describe the problem my thesis is trying to solve. For example, I explained the mechanism by which each contaminant effects the environment. This section was about 3 pages long.

However, I then noticed another thesis that had recently been accepted from my university simply stated "Wastewater from process X is a serious problem" and referenced a review article.

After seeing this I rewrote my background section in a similar style to the above, and got it down to under one page.

I believe the shorter style makes more sense because the problem I am attempting to solve is well known in the literature. If the reader wishes to know more information they can read one of the many articles describing it.

For now I am planning to go with the shorter style. Does anyone have any insights as to which style would be better?

Also, if you are wondering why I do not ask my supervisor, it is a long story but this is not possible.

I appreciate anyone's time and thank you in advance.

  • 2
    What does your supervisor say? He is the one that is familiar with what is expected at your university, and more importantly, with the grading. – Davidmh Apr 4 '16 at 12:28
  • 3
    I am concerned about this bit: "if you are wondering why I do not ask my supervisor, it is a long story but this is not possible". If your supervisor is unable to advise you on your thesis, you probably have much more serious problems than deciding whether to shave two pages off your literature review. – Pont Apr 4 '16 at 12:40
  • 1
    Long or short is up to you and your supervisor. You must ask your supervisor, otherwise it's probably not possible for you to get the degree. Or, you change your supervisor. Take your pick. – scaaahu Apr 4 '16 at 13:24

Style is very discipline, department, and even person specific. So this is really up to your supervisor. We can tell what we think, but when (s)he thinks differently, then it is her or his opinion that counts.

| improve this answer | |

It is very dependent on your research topic. For the same advisor, different students will have different chapters and thesis arrangements/length. I would definitely consult with your advisor (remember, number and length of thesis is not something to brag about! The thesis should details your 3-4 years scientific journey. I'm not familiar with your research but I would say that in US schools, 20-50 pages is the average length of the literature review section (thesis can be 200-300 pages long).

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.