Writing the Related Work Section of your Thesis

Know the key papers and players in your field

  • Survey your field in depth, knowing the seminal and the recent work
  • When you read a paper in your field, make sure to cover all the papers referenced in that paper as well
  • End-result should look like an ACM Computing Surveys article


  • Mention all of the related work in your thesis
  • Acknowledge the role that each paper has played in evolving your field
  • Be constructively critical of where the shortcomings of each paper are, to the extent that it justifies your approach


  • Belittle a paper just for the sake of “showing off” how much you know
  • Make the criticism harsh/personal, just because you do not like the author or the author has disagreed with you or disapproved of your approach

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