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How to Write a Dissertation Appendix

What is an Appendix?

Often when conducting a long-form piece of academic research, where a vast array of information is in play, there will not be the requisite space or appropriate location within the thesis body to include certain items. These items might be exceptionally elaborate, large, irregular, or otherwise clutter the text. This is where the Appendix or Appendices come in, as a place for extra material which, for whatever reason, does not sit appropriately in the text. An appendix is, then, an additional piece of material which is added at the end of an academic work, after the References section. The Appendices are there in order to present supplementary information that will help the reader in understanding the overall research project. Hence the information in question is non-essential inasmuch as the overall thesis would still make sense if such materials were omitted. That said, the information in the Appendices needs to be relevant and useful. This is not a place to “dump” reams of digressive materials. Instead, it is a place to consolidate the core material of the thesis with supporting peripheral content.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary materials can come in a wide variety of content forms, including formulas, questionnaires, diagrams, maps, charts, tables, figures, pictures or whatever else might aid your thesis. Generally, but not always, the Dissertation Appendices are where raw data would be found. The point of adding this material at the end is so not to disrupt the fluency of the thesis body by interposing overly detailed materials mid-text, thus breaking the flow and distracting the reader. Consider that, if you have conducted qualitative interview or questionnaire-based research for your study, you may have twenty-plus pages of raw data that you need to include with your thesis. Positioning this vast amount of material in the middle of the dissertation would not only be illogical it would be cumbersome and disruptive. Putting the material in the Appendices gives the reader the option to examine such additional (potentially extensive) material in detail should they choose to do so.

Length

In terms of length, Appendices usually do not factor into the overall word count of the main thesis, meaning there is a good deal of leeway in what you can include. It is best practice, though, to keep the additional content to a reasonable quantity, only including items which will significantly add to the reader’s understanding of the research. Remember, any material included in the thesis will constitute a part of the overall argument. You want to be selecting items which support and so strengthen your case. The Appendices, then, are a critical tool which works as a complement to the core argument and a point of reference for the reader.

Preparation

In preparing your Appendices for Dissertation, it is advisable to be very methodical in your format. You will want to organise your supplementary information, arranging it in a coherent manner which is chronological to the order in which it appeared (as citation) in the thesis. Usually, different types of information will be catalogued into separate appendices. For instance you may have a selection of images, on the one hand, and a selection of (links to) audio clips, on the other. Each appendix must have its own page with the appendix name capitalised and centred at the top margin. All appendices must have a name. If there is only one appendix, simply title it “Appendix”. Where multiple appendices are used, they should be named “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, “Appendix C”, and so forth. In correspondence with this, you would cite your appendices in-text according to the letter assigned each item. So, for instance, if we were referring to a particular piece of raw data, for instance an interview, we would say, “as the first respondent stated . . .” and we would add (Appendix A); and so on, following the letters down the line in alphabetical order. As with a standard citation, this makes it easy for the reader quickly to locate the material you are referring to.

Presentation

Appendices are where presentation and organisation skills will be particularly useful. If presented tidily and logically, Appendices can make for a colourful and engaging addition to a piece of academic writing. This is especially the case where visual content (photographs, paintings, pictures) are in question. As a consequence, the Appendices represent for the reader a (a potentially quite welcome) break from a vast block of text. Accordingly, while sticking strictly to relevant materials, be creative with the Appendices you include.

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