Providing background information for your PhD thesis
Whichever field of study is your field, when you start work on your thesis, you are following the universal format of Abstract; Introduction; Literature Review or Critical Analysis; Method & Materials; Discussion and Conclusion; References and Bibliography.
In which section would you put the background information for your thesis given that it has been meticulously collected and offers the reader more depth of knowledge and understanding of your subject?
If you could choose one section that you knew that anyone who picked up your thesis would certainly read which one would you choose? The Abstract is the usual answer, closely followed by the Introduction.
The Abstract will give your reader the basic outline or rather précis, of the whole thesis , compacted into around 100-150 words. If the abstract covers the issues and concepts that the reader is seeking then they will carry on to read the Introduction.
The Background to your work can be encompassed in the Literature Review section. The problem here is that the Literature Review can be tucked into the Introduction section, alongside the information that reveals the meaning and significance of your project, but does it give credence to the importance of the background information?
If you give your Background or Literature Review section a location of its own, your reader will appreciate its value to the thesis and it will demonstrate the logical thought process that has taken place to produce the work. You may consider that your Background section needs an introduction of its own.
It may also be worth considering giving each of your major references or citations a new sub-section of their own. Not only does this demonstrate the importance that you have given past work on the subject, it also helps the reader build up a comprehensive picture of the background to your work.
Background Information will:
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the issues and concepts covered in your thesis.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the issues and concepts in your field of study.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of how your work fits into the bigger picture of your filed of study.
- Demonstrate a logical and chronological progression of broad information and considerable issues related to your study.
If you have any doubt as to what would be acceptable for the educational establishment you are studying with or for your field of study, check with your tutor, supervisor or professor.