# Writing the Dissertation Thesis

The Ph.D. thesis usually begins with a pithy quote, after which there will sometimes be a dedication to one’s parents, life partner, and/or pet tapir.

Following this is probably the most important part of the dissertation: the acknowledgments section. This is the only section that everyone who picks up your thesis will read. They will happen upon your dissertation in the library and flip through the first few pages, looking for a juicy acknowledgments section. This is your chance to make obscure references to secret loves, damn various faculty members with faint praise, or be very mysterious by having no acknowledgments section at all so that everyone wonders what you’re hiding.

After the awknowledments should be the various tables of contents, denoting the page numbers on which the reader may find every section, subsection, subsubsection, figure, table, appendix, footnote, and semicolon in the thesis.
Next comes the first thesis chapter, the introduction, which is judged on the basis of how far back in the past you start. Although the introduction is supposed to enable someone with no knowledge of your field to read and understand your thesis, this is an impossible goal. Instead, simply reference sources such as Rontgen (1896), Galileo (1610), Aristotle (-350), or other similarly ancient researchers. The idea to get across is that your work, being based on the work of great scientists of the past, must be truly worthwhile. Even though these works have little to do with your research, your committee isn’t going to look up the references.

After the introduction come chapters that describe what you did, where you did it, when you did it, why you did it, and how much more work has to be done before you can obtain definitive results. This last point is usually discussed in the concluding chapter.

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