First corrected thesis version arrivedΒΆ

Tags: phd

I gave almost-done versions of my PhD thesis to some friends and collegues; the package included a nice, red pen to make sure everybody would dare to mess up the nicely printed version with comments, strikethroughs, etcetera. I just got the first one back, right before the weekend, so I spend the saturday going through my thesis, seeing what could be improved. Some valuable things Marco spotted:

  • I relented and added Initial Capitals for acronyms. So it's "Building Information Model (BIM)" instead of "building information model (BIM)". I dislike capital letters: they seem to mess up my sentences, they don't look nice. But in many cases it is not clear when something is an acronym, so I'm now printing everything consistently with Capital Letters.

    I'm really happy at the moment that I'm using the LaTeX product acronym to automatically handle acronyms. I just type \ac{BIM} and the first occurrence in a chapter is spelled out "Building Information Model (BIM)", subsequent mentionings are just "BIM". And "BIM" not in huge capital letters, but a bit smaller which looks much nicer typographically. And at the end of the thesis I get a nice list of all acronyms with an optional additional explanation.

    Doing it with LaTeX this way makes it way easier to change things afterwards, like capitalising all acronyms: I just have to change it in one place :-)

  • Related: being much more consistent with acronyms. There's one acronym ("Building-Construction", as a term for the building and construction industry) that I use a lot, but I neglected to consistently make an acronym out of it. In the end, it is that much less confusing to just have it regularly abbreviated "BC". I'm throwing in an occasional \acf{BC} to get a full acronym ("Building-Construction (BC)") now and then, though.
  • Spotting sentences that just don't flow right. Having somebody else read it seems to be the only reliable way to flush 'em out :-)
  • Reality check regarding terminology. Somewhere I wrote "mozilla", meaning a browser. But "mozilla" is decidedly less known than "internet explorer" or "netscape". In the end, I chose to use "firefox or internet explorer". I'm not going to mention "internet explorer" on it's own: that bugger has to be kept under a watchful eye from something more modern and standards-compliant !
  • You get some additional ideas, some additional angles to explore. That means an additional time investment, but if somebody mentions another possible source expicitly (twice), it's worth it (90% certainty).
  • Luckily, he didn't find (m)any plain spelling errors. I'm reading a lot of English books, so I manage to write pretty error-free. What errors remain are catched by subsequent re-reads. There are some common errors ("fulfills" instead of "fulfils"), but I catch those with a spelling checker.

I bought a book about English grammar and writing last week which seems pretty solid, so I'll probably end up ripping out sentences every two pages or so next week :-)

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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