Context: I am writing a thesis that is divided in a few parts (e.g. "Context and motivations", "Literature review", "Experiments", etc.).
Each part starts with a 100-200 words-long introduction (or preamble) that links the new part with previous content, introduce purpose of this part, as well as give an overview of its content.

Dummy example, for part "Experiments":

We have defined the research question we address in this research, and derived from it hypotheses. This part details experimental studies we have conducted in order to test these hypotheses. First, we give a global overview of experiments we conducted, and then, we will detail them one by one.

Question: Is it [ok/common/a good practice] to append to this introduction a few words about "next steps", i.e. what comes after this part?

For example, one could add following sentence to the preamble above:

Once these results detailed, we will summarize our thesis contribution in the next part.

  • 1
    What do other people at your school do for their theses? I would skim other theses from your program. Also, what does your advisor think? Her or his opinion about your thesis are more important than strangers from the internet. May 16 '17 at 21:40
  • @RichardErickson Thanks for your common sens advises. Of course, I don't intend to use "strangers from the internet"'s opinion to argue against some existing policy or against my advisor. Actually, I have no strict policy nor models in my lab previous theses to follow, and my supervisor is fine with it. My question is thus rather about reasons for doing it, or not. I personally consider it improves the understanding of the whys and wherefores of the chapter; yet I wonder why it is not so common to see it.
    – ebosi
    May 16 '17 at 21:46

The most important thing is to make your thesis your own, and write it as well as you can, in a way that makes sense to you. This can indeed include guideposts at the beginnings of chapters.

Another possibility is to give the guideposts at the ends of chapters, i.e. teasers for the next chapter.

Once you have a whole draft, show it to your advisor and a couple of beta readers. At that point, someone might convince you to get rid of the guideposts. In other words, go ahead and write your first draft as it feels right to you, but then don't be afraid to edit the heck out of it if need be. (Make sure you practice careful version control, since sometimes one ends up wanting to go back to a previous version.)

Try to find someone to edit your English, once the thesis is pretty close to done. If necessary, pay someone. (Make sure the someone knows what he or she is doing.)


I would recommend that you just have a few sentences, perhaps 30 or 40 words, to orient the reader at the start of each chapter/part. Perhaps summarize what the chapter contains and how it follows on from the previous chapters (if it does). Make it short and to the point, don't write 200 words, and don't say "We will do this and then that," which is very boring to read and is one of the hallmarks of tedious academic writing.

Describing the subsequent chapters in the introduction can probably be regarded as a convention of academic writing, but doing it at the start of chapters in the middle of the thesis is too much. To answer your question: no, don't talk about the subsequent chapters at the start of every chapter, as it will bore the reader and not bring any benefit.

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