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What is a Glossary in a Dissertation or Thesis? – Guide With Template

Published by at January 3rd, 2023 , Revised On January 26, 2023

A glossary in a dissertation or thesis contains the various words and terminologies about the research title. In simpler words, it is a list of the words and terms you used in the paper, but the meaning may need to be clarified for the readers.

One of the mistakes that many students make when creating the glossary for their dissertation or thesis paper is that they include several words or terms in the list that the readers will already be familiar with.

Include the terms you are sure the readers will need to learn about so you can help them improve their understanding of your work.

Not all academic degree programmes require students to include the glossary in the dissertation or thesis. Always check your dissertation or thesis handbook to see whether or not you need to create a glossary for your dissertation paper.

If you are required to include one, you can place it between the table of contents and the list of tables and figures or a list of abbreviations.

Having the glossary in the front matter of the thesis will mean your readers will be able to familiarise themselves with the essential terms, words and phrases directly related to the theme of your dissertation or thesis topic before reading the paper.

Free Glossary Template – Download for Your Dissertation

Always organise your glossary in alphabetical order. We have provided the glossary template below to help you create the perfect glossary for your thesis or dissertation. Download it and customise it according to your needs.

Glossary in a Dissertation or Thesis Example

Research Prospect Glossary – Example Glossary

For example, if you’re writing a dissertation on a topic in drama, film and theatre, your glossary may look like this:

Also read: Dissertation writing guidelines, How to write dissertation introduction

Dissertation Preface Example

Glossary

Term                           Definition     

First Draft ……………….. The first time you write your story, before edits

Redundant ……………… Writing in a way that over-explains (Ex: The boy walked through the open door.)

Protagonist ………………The main character in a story

Villain……………………..The “bad guy” character the protagonist must go up against

Creating a glossary may not be the best choice in some cases. If you have just a few words and terms you need to explain, you could include them in the footnotes. This will save your readers the time of flipping back and forth to the list.

However, be very careful to include or exclude the glossary, as the referencing style guide you follow may not allow you to include glossary terms in the footnotes.

Citing the Sources in the Glossary

It is not mandatory to cite the sources for your glossary because the words, terms and definitions provided in the glossary are regarded as common knowledge.

However, it is recommended to cite your sources regardless to avoid being sorry at a later stage. A dissertation or a thesis is the most crucial part of your degree programme. You don’t want to risk getting a poor grade by becoming a victim of accidental plagiarism.

Follow the citation rules of the referencing style guide you follow if you end up citing the sources in the glossary. The most referencing style guides are Harvard, MLA, APA, Oxford, and Chicago.

Remember to cite any direct quotes you may have included in the glossary.

Additional Front Matter Lists you Should Read About

You may also want to read about other pages in the front matter of a dissertation or a thesis paper, including:

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Frequently Asked Questions About Glossary

Yes, you must have your glossary in the table of contents.

A glossary is a list or collection of terms, definitions and words used in the dissertation or thesis that the readers may need to be more familiar with. Providing definitions and explanations to the terms that may not be immediately obvious to your reader will enhance their knowledge and understanding of your work before they start reading.

If you used only a few words or terms in your work that your readers will be unfamiliar with, you might not need to write the glossary. You could use the footnotes section for the same purpose, depending on your referencing style guide. Always check your dissertation handbook or speak with your supervisor to be sure whether you need to create the glossary list separately.

However, it is recommended to cite your sources regardless to avoid being sorry at a later stage.

It is not mandatory to cite the sources for your glossary because the words, terms and definitions provided in the glossary are regarded as common knowledge.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.

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