3

I wonder, which one of these structurings is to prefer for a thesis.


  1. To write text between a topic and subtopic, e.g.

    A. Main Topic

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse viverra lobortis semper. Donec ultrices ante eu ex interdum, eget eleifend tortor iaculis.

    1. Subtopic X

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse viverra lobortis semper. Donec ultrices ante eu ex interdum, eget eleifend tortor iaculis.

    2. Subtopic Y

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse viverra lobortis semper. Donec ultrices ante eu ex interdum, eget eleifend tortor iaculis.


  1. To write no text between a topic and subtopic, e.g.

    A. Main Topic

    1. Subtopic X

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse viverra lobortis semper. Donec ultrices ante eu ex interdum, eget eleifend tortor iaculis.

    2. Subtopic Y

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse viverra lobortis semper. Donec ultrices ante eu ex interdum, eget eleifend tortor iaculis.

  • 1) Is the extra text necessary? 2) What we prefer does not matter, ask your supervisor and/or committee members what they prefer. – Penguin_Knight Aug 22 '16 at 15:57
  • 1) Most commonly it's an introduction to the subtopics, e.g. it states what follows or it explains the topic more detailed. But my guess is that this shouldn't be explained extra due to that the course of a thesis should be self explanatory. 2) I think, that it isn't just a subjective point of view which one of those both is to choose. I'm quite sure, there are pros and cons for each approach, an objective evaluation wich style is to use and why this one is the one to select, don't you think? – n01dea Aug 22 '16 at 18:22
  • Just taking my PhD thesis as an example: most sections had a paragraph (occasionally more) before the first subsection heading. The ones that didn't have such text lacked it because the only text would have been along the lines of "This section discusses [section title] in the context of [chapter title] using the methods [list of subsection titles]" (or a simple repetition of recent introductory material). Most chapters went straight to the first section heading. – Chris H Aug 23 '16 at 9:09
2

In any narrative document, including a thesis, it is best to have text in a section before the first subsection heading. This applies for every level of organization (sections of a chapter, subsections of a section, subsubsections of a subsection, etc).

The reason is simple: if you simply hop into a subsection, then you haven't given the reader any "connective tissue" to understand how the larger section fits together and how the subsections are organized. It may not take much text to do this, but you should always give at least a sentence or two to explain how things are arranged and perhaps also something of why.

This will make things significantly easier for your readers, thereby improving their comprehension and appreciation of your manuscript.

  • Starting from the viewpoint that a thesis needs to be self explanatory and already the outline should be a sufficient framework to guide the reader through the course of the drawing up, wouldn't additional explanations than not just show that the outline and thus the concept of the thesis lacks a thought-out structure, is not self explanatory? – n01dea Aug 23 '16 at 16:03
  • No, it shows an appreciation of the pragmatic needs of a reader. – jakebeal Aug 23 '16 at 16:25
  • Perhaps it's in fact just a matter of view. – n01dea Aug 23 '16 at 16:33
2

This likely depends on the style guide that your field or your program follows. For example, I know that the first option is preferred (but not strictly required) in APA style.

1

Both of such instances are common in practice. It is only a matter of preference and context based necessity that determines what to use. Your advisor would be the one to consult if in doubt in this case.

  • But I guess, there has to be an objective point of view which one is superior respectively inferior, features certain advantages, disadvantages in compare to the other one. – n01dea Aug 22 '16 at 18:35
  • 1
    @n01dea it's objectively better to write in a way which aids the reader in following your logic. That is often best served by taking one approach, but not always. – Chris H Aug 23 '16 at 8:59

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