I will soon finish my thesis and I researched a lot in this technological area. Basically I want to say: “I have these n methods that all didn’t work out; that’s why I’ve decided to pursue this final method.” However I’m lacking time for extensively testing all these misleading alternatives, thus I could only state that I barely had empirically tested these hypotheses (which is a bad style to write down in my opinion).

Since part of the thesis is giving a presentation of it, I could imagine to mention all the dead-ends I went in before and describing the difficulties that occurred. But then again I'm not sure if its alright to present data in the presentation that the document never covered.

Hence, would it be acceptable to present the methods I didn’t dare to write down (because of the missing tests) as some kind of introduction to my final choice, or is it a total no-go?

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    I wouldn't include this in the presentation but if somebody asks about other methods etc. I'd mention all the dead ends. Feb 4, 2017 at 18:25
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    Usually the (final version of the) document has more information than the presentation, because the presentation is considered as a "short version" of the thesis (this may vary)... If you don't want to write it down because you didn't do it properly, why would you draw the attention of the committee to it by including that on the presentation? Feb 4, 2017 at 19:04
  • @Dias solely to give an insight that I have made extensive researches about it and didn't just caught up at the first idea. After I've seen that the method worked I simply have forgot about evaluating the other approaches. Btw. Here it is you give in the document and a few weeks afterwards you hold the presentation, thus I'd have time to fix the missing parts - but just for the presentation Feb 4, 2017 at 19:44
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    I would keep the alternative methods and their evaluation as supporting material in case you are asked about alternatives you considered. It is usually tough enough to explain the essentials of your thesis in the available time. Feb 4, 2017 at 19:55
  • How long is will your thesis presentation be? Mine was barely long enough to give an overview of the problems, the context, and a summary of the results in the thesis. Feb 4, 2017 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


Is it alright to cover additional information in the thesis-presentation than in its document?

No, that would probably not be a good idea.

As mentioned in the comments above, your presentation will be time-limited enough as it is, so wasting precious time in your defense on things that are not covered in your thesis is not a wise choice.

Assuming that your committee members read your thesis beforehand, if they read it carefully enough, they may notice that your presentation contains information not in the thesis text, and that will open up a can of worms that you most assuredly do not want to be dealing with on this very important day in your career.

Having said that ...

basically I want to say I have these n methods that all didn't work out, that's why I've decided to pursue this final method. However I'm lacking time for extensively testing all these misleading alternatives, thus I could only state that I barley had empirically tested these theses

It sounds like you should mention something in your thesis text about these other methods; surely, there must be some rationale behind why you chose the method you eventually selected, even if you did not extensively test the others.

So, go ahead and add a brief summary of the other methods to your thesis, along with some rationale about why you eventually chose the method you did. Once you do that, you'll be ready discuss this matter briefly during your presentation and be able to confidently provide some much-needed rationale for your choices in your defense.

Good luck.

  • I would not worry about any committee member knowing your thesis text well enough to uncover a small discrepancy. (of course there is still little reason to talk about this in the defense in the first place)
    – xLeitix
    Feb 5, 2017 at 17:14

n+1 methods were trialed; Method X [the one you ended up using] was the most promising [say in what sense], so it was chosen for further study.

I would not plan to cover something verbally without documenting it in your written thesis. However, if someone asks you about something that's not in your written thesis, you may go ahead and answer to the best of your ability, even if the thesis doesn't have the answer in writing.

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