I'm currently writing the introduction of my Ph.D. thesis, which is about theoretical computer science. I stumbled upon the phrase

To put it in a nutshell, X is a hot topic

where X refers to some topic, which is not important here.

I would like to use this phrase in myintroduction, but I'm not sure whether it is too colloquial. Does anyone has experience in this matter? Is there a more formal way of expressing something similar?

Thank you!


Both “in a nutshell” and “hot topic” are phrases more informal than one expects to find anywhere in a thesis (although language may be more relaxed in places, such as the Acknowledgements section).

Consider rephrasing “in a nutshell” to briefly or in brief or in short. Rather than “hot topic” consider variations using phrases like “a subject undergoing intense study”, “receiving close review”, “of broad and current interest”, etc. Phrases like these add verbosity and weakness if overused but will raise no eyebrows.


If you need a synonym for "hot topic," try "focus point." For "in a nutshell," use "in essence" or "in sum."

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