Writing the Preface and Choosing the Title of Your Ph.D. Thesis

One of the last tasks you will perform when you are completing your thesis is to choose a title a title for it and to compile a preface. The following list may help you with these tasks:

  • You have left the selection of a definitive title for your doctorate until the end of your thesis because you need it to be a true reflection of your thesis as a whole.
  • Up until now, you have relied on a ‘working title’ which would probably be sufficiently general to encompass any changes in your research that you wanted to make as you progressed in your research.
  • Now, however, you need to be specific and your title needs both to reflect your research and be sufficiently engaging to be appropriate to publication.
  • It is a good idea to ask your supervisor for tips on this if you are hesitating over your final choice – as ever, take on board any and all advice that is offered.
  • When you are writing your preface, you need to remember the following points:
    • Give a few sentences in general introduction to why you have undertaken the research that you have – mention your reasons for embarking, your reasons for continuing and your hopes for how successful you have been.
    • Thank your supervisor. Think about it, he or she has been your greatest support throughout the course of your thesis and you probably would not even have a thesis if it were not for them: the least they deserve is a ‘thank you’ in black and white!
    • Thank your family as without their support the journey would have been tougher.
    • Thank your typist, if you used one, and/or those who helped and advised you along the way.

A Ph.D. Graduate comments: "After all the help I had been given it was really wonderful in my preface to be able to express my thanks, especially to my great supervisor who had shared his immense knowledge and precious time with me, and to my long-suffering family who had supported me through all the stress every step of the way!"

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