Afterword of a dissertation
An afterword is often a reflection about the period of writing your dissertation or performing research. Write about your experiences and what you have learned, maybe take the chance to thank people.
What belongs in an afterword?
In the afterword, you have room to reflect. It is important to reflect on your experiences of the past period. What have you learned, what would you do differently next time? Has your view of the research question changed?
The following questions can be answered in your afterword:
- What went well and what did not?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What have you learned from the process?
- How was the collaboration? (if you wrote the dissertation with others)
- Who do you want to thank? (if you have not yet done this in the preface or acknowledgements)
No afterword, but you still want to reflect?
Would you rather not use an afterword, but you still want to have a separate chapter to reflect? Then replace your afterword with a ‘Reflection’ chapter.
Expression of thanks
In an afterword, you can thank the people who have helped and supported you. This is already done in many theses in the preface or in a separate acknowledgements section. So, if you have already written your acknowledgements, then omit the words of thanks from the afterword.
First-person (“I”) form
Just as with a preface or the acknowledgements, the afterword can be written in the first person. The afterword may contain a personal note, but should always remain professional.
What does not belong in the afterword?
It is important to realize that an afterword is not about the topic of the dissertation. In the afterword, you don’t write about the research and the research findings. An afterword relates only to your own experiences.
If you have points of improvement that relate to the research, then these belong in the discussion, not in the afterword.
We have written an example of an afterword, so you will be able to see what an afterword could look like.