should I number my thesis?


I’ve just been in a university where doctoral researchers are issued with a thesis template. This automatically sets up the font, layers of headings and the section and subsection numbering systems. If doctoral researchers decide to use this template, and I gather that most do, then they are automatically writing their thesis text in the 1.1, 1.1.1., 1.1.2 1.2.1 etc format.

The viva I was involved in had two external examiners (it happens sometimes), and both of us felt that this numbering system wasn’t the kind of structure that suited a lot of the theses that we saw. We agreed that we wouldn’t like the doctoral researchers we worked with to be obliged to work with, and to, this kind of numbering system.

Our concern arose not simply because we are both qualitative researchers, with one of us specialising in life histories and the other in ethnographies. Our worries were…

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