Notes on Preparation of theses. by H Bhadeshia
(adopted by David MacKay)
** See also notes on timetables
I will read only two drafts: the first of individual
chapters, and the second of the complete thesis. Consequently,
do not submit revised chapters until the complete thesis draft
It follows therefore, that a careful and COMPLETE first draft will
lead to rapid progress. You should get someone to proof read your
work before giving it to me. It sometimes is difficult for me to
concentrate on the science if there are too many mistakes.
Style and presentation are important but the contents really matter. Do
not waste a disproportionate amount of time on word processing and
Publication of work is always a good thing from the viewpoint of a thesis.
COMMON MISTAKES IN COMPOSING REPORTS
- Too many spelling mistakes - use SPELLCHECK.
- Inconsistency of notation - include a master nomenclature list.
- There should be a gap after a full stop or a comma.
- Failure to include titles in the reference list.
- Inadequate referencing.
- Left quotation marks are not the same as right quotation in TeX.
- Experiments should be reported in the past tense. For example:
Length changes are analysed
Length changes were analysed
- Abbreviations must be explained when first introduced.
- Fig.\ 4.2 not Fig.4.2; Table 5.1 not Table.5.1
- "Compared with" rather than "Compared to".
- Plural of Datum is Data. These data are excellent....
- PROGRAMME of work as opposed to computer PROGRAM
- All equations, tables, figures must be numbered.
- Figures must not be too large, and should be included in the text rather
than at the end of chapters. The font on scales and legends should be at
least size 15 (Geneva) when the figure size is 1/3 of the page length.
- Mathematical presentation must be in italics, both in the body of the
text and in the equations.
- Diagrams and tables should be included in the text rather than at the
end of a chapter.
- Mathematical notation is in italics whether it occurs in the text or
in equations. Note that terms such as log, exp, sin are nevertheless
in roman font even when in equations.
The notation on figures must correspond to that in the text. There must not
be information on figures which is not discussed in the text.
Diagrams which are not yours must have references.
- Appropriate use of references:
- Use the Havard system to refer to articles in the text,
as, for example, in MacKay (1992).
- Include article titles in your reference list.
- Do not abbreviate Journal titles, unless using the international
standard set of abbreviations (found in SPL).
- In the reference list, quote the page range (e.g., 321-386).
Ensure that all the work you have done is included in your
thesis; negative results are still results.
Do your writing as you progress, rather than leaving it to the
Read and check your report at least twice before submission.
You should note that the costs of thesis preparation are not included
in your consumables budget. Students in all subjects are expected to pay
for thesis costs.
This is not an issue in our group as long as your grant budget is
is in credit. However, the costs of all the facilities we have are quite
large, as are of the consumables. And the grant budgets are not large at
Here are alternative sources of help:
- When the student has had to pay, the Department
library will contribute towards the cost of one copy.
- Your College can help with costs. In hardship cases, the College can
seek additional funds from the Board of Graduate Studies.
Further notes on thesis writing:
Materials Algorithms Project