An appendix is a section at the end of a dissertation that contains supplementary information. An appendix may contain figures, tables, raw data, and other additional information that supports the arguments of your dissertation but do not belong in the main body.
It can be either a long appendix or split into several smaller appendices. Each appendix should have its own title and identification letters, and the numbering for any tables or figures in them should be reset at the beginning of each new appendix.
Purpose of an Appendix
When writing the main body of your dissertation, it is important to keep it short and concise in order to convey your arguments effectively.
Given the amount of research you would have done, you will probably have a lot of additional information that you would like to share with your audience.
This is where appendices come in. Any information that doesn’t support your main arguments or isn’t directly relevant to the topic of your dissertation should be placed in an appendix.
This will help you organise your paper, as only information that adds weight to your arguments will be included; it will also help improve your flow by minimising unnecessary interruptions.
Note, however, that your main body must be detailed enough that it can be understood without your appendices. If a reader has to flip between pages to make sense of what they are reading, they are unlikely to understand it.
For this reason, appendices should only be used for supporting background material and not for any content that doesn’t fit into your word count, such as the second half of your literature review.
What to Include in a Dissertation Appendix
A dissertation appendix can be used for the following supplementary information:
There are various ways in which research results can be presented, such as in tables or diagrams.
Although all of your results will be useful to some extent, you won’t be able to include them all in the main body of your dissertation. Consequently, only those that are crucial to answering your research question should be included.
Your other less significant findings should be placed in your appendix, including raw data, proof of control measures, and other supplemental material.
Details of Questionnaires and Interviews
You can choose to include the details of any surveys and interviews you have conducted. This can include:
- An interview transcript,
- A copy of any survey questions,
- Questionnaire results.
Although the results of your surveys, questionnaires or interviews should be presented and discussed in your main text, it is useful to include their full form in the appendix of a dissertation to give credibility to your study.
Tables, Figures and Illustrations
If your dissertation contains a large number of tables, figures and illustrative material, it may be helpful to insert the less important ones in your appendix. For example, if you have four related datasets, you could present all the data and trend lines (made identifiable by different colours) on a single chart with a further breakdown for each dataset in your appendix.
Letters and Correspondence
If you have letters or correspondence, either between yourself and other researchers or places where you sought permission to reuse copyrighted material, they should be included here. This will help ensure that your dissertation doesn’t become suspected of plagiarism.
List of Abbreviations
Most researchers will provide a list of abbreviations at the beginning of their dissertation, but if not, it would be wise to add them as an appendix.
This is because not all of your readers will have the same background as you and therefore may have difficulty understanding the abbreviations and technical terms you use.
Note: Some researchers refer to this as a ‘glossary’, especially if it is provided as an appendix section. For all intended purposes, this is the same as a list of abbreviations.
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How to Format a Dissertation Appendix
In regards to format, you can include one lengthy appendix or structure it into several smaller appendices.
Although the choice is yours, it is usually better to opt for several different appendices as it allows you to organise your supplementary information into different categories based on what they are.
The following guidelines should be observed when preparing your dissertation appendices section:
- Each appendix should start on a new page and be given a unique title and identifying letter, such as “Appendix A – Raw Data”. This allows you to more easily refer to appendix headings in the text of your main body should you need to.
- Each appendix should have its own page numbering system, comprising the appendix identification letter and the corresponding page number. The appendix identification letter should be reset for each appendix, but the page number should remain continuous. For example, if ‘Appendix A’ has three pages and ‘Appendix B’ two pages, the page numbers should be A-1, A-2, A-3, B-4, B-5.
- The numbering of tables and figures should be reset at the beginning of each new appendix. For example, if ‘Appendix A’ contains two tables and ‘Appendix B’ one table, the table number within Appendix B should be ‘Table 1’ and not ‘Table 3’.
- If you have multiple appendices instead of a single longer one, insert a ‘List of Appendices’ in the same way as your contents page.
- Use the same formatting (font size, font type, spacing, margins, etc.) as the rest of your report.
Example of Appendices
Below is an example of what a thesis or dissertation appendix could look like.
Referring to an Appendix In-Text
You must refer to each appendix in the main body of your dissertation at least once to justify its inclusion; otherwise, the question arises as to whether they are really needed.
You can refer to an appendix in one of three ways:
1. Refer to a specific figure or table within a sentence, for example:
“As shown in Table 2 of Appendix A, there is little correlation between X and Y”.
2. Refer to a specific figure or table in parentheses, for example:
“The results (refer to Table 2 of Appendix A) show that there is little correlation between X and Y”.
3. Refer to an entire appendix, for example:
“The output data can be found in Appendix A”.
Appendices vs Appendixes
Both terms are correct, so it is up to you which one you prefer. However, it is worth noting that ‘appendices’ are used more frequently in the science and research community, so we recommend using the former in academic writing if you have no preferences.
Where Does an Appendix Go?
For a dissertation, your appendices should be inserted after your reference list.
Some people like to put their appendices in a standalone document to separate it from the rest of their report, but we only recommend this at the request of your dissertation supervisor, as this isn’t common practice.
Note: Your university may have its own requirements or formatting suggestions for writing your dissertation or thesis appendix. As such, make sure you check with your supervisor or department before you work on your appendices. This will especially be the case for any students working on a thesis.