In my thesis I have a part where I provide all the algorithms which I have developed. I want to introduce this part with a chapter containing the literature review regarding these algorithms, introducing the hardware I have worked with, discussing the input data for the algorithms and some other stuff (see below)...

Do you think I can use "Preliminary Considerations" as title for this chapter? I have some doubts due to the alternative meaning of "preliminary" which I would describe as "uncomplete" or "sketchy". Although "Preliminary Considerations" seems to be a proper title, "preliminary" has the taste of "has to be completed in further work".

I hope this makes sense to you.

(Coarse) structure of my thesis:


PART I: Introduction

PART II: Models & Theory

PART III: Algorithms
    Section Literature Review
    Section Related Hardware
    Section Input Data
    Section ...
  Chapter Algo 1
  Chapter Algo N

  • Preliminary literally means "Before the threshold" or "before the first step" (Latin, pre-, -limina). I would say it's exactly the right word.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 21, 2014 at 11:49
  • What is confusing me is that I know "preliminary" also from sentences like "These are just the preliminary results" (see en.wiktionary.org/wiki/preliminary). It sometimes has the meaning of the german word "vorläufig" which is absolutely not what I want to say (see translation of "vorläufig" here: dict.cc/?s=vorl%C3%A4ufig&=DEEN&=)
    – matheburg
    Oct 21, 2014 at 12:05
  • By the way: "Pre-Liminary" could also be interpreted as "before the limit" and thus as somehow "immature", couldn't it?
    – matheburg
    Oct 21, 2014 at 13:12
  • I might just call it "Background Information".
    – JenSCDC
    Oct 21, 2014 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


Preliminary Considerations is fine: its normal connotation in this context would be as a contrast to main or primary considerations, and perhaps also to final considerations. Alternatives could be Background Considerations or just Backgroumd.


"Preliminary Considerations" sounds ok to me - it's probably what I would call it. I'm a little surprised by "Literature Review" coming so far into the thesis, though - has the literature got nothing to say about "Models and Theory"? Still, I don't know the subject area of your thesis, so it may be fine.

  • Thank you. The literature review is spread over the thesis here; this one mentioned in my question is only regarding alternative algorithms...
    – matheburg
    Oct 21, 2014 at 12:54

Justice J. Randolph of Walden University has suggested there are three purposes for providing a literature review:

  1. to prove your knowledge of, and familiarity with, your field of study

  2. to craft a publishable document in its own right

  3. to identify and explain a research family with which you identify (or, I assume, in case you do not identify with a research family, to identify and explain your new paradigm!)

Keeping these three purposes in mind, I suggest you make your literature review a separate "PART" of your thesis. Only when that is accomplished should you continue your thesis. Here is a suggested alternative to the approach you are currently taking:


PART 1: Introduction

PART 2: An Overview of Models and Theory in the Literature

PART 3: Choice of Hardware and Input Data

PART 4: Algorithms Used

     I. Algorithm Number One [or the name or title of the algorhythm]

    II. Algorithm Number Two

   III. Algorithm Number Three [etc.]

BACKMATTER/CONCLUSION [where you modestly admit there is so much more to discover and suggest possible future directions in which the discipline can go to advance the field of study]

  • I really appriciate your comprehensive (and a little bit offtopic) answer and I will think about it intensively. However, the structure provided above is only a coarse version which does not reveal the true complexity of the work; it is well thought out already.
    – matheburg
    Oct 21, 2014 at 14:13
  • @matheburg: You're welcome, and yeah, sometimes ya never know what non sequiter is going to spring forth from my fingertips. Nevertheless, making your review of the literature a "part" unto itself seemed like a good idea to me. With even more suggestions from other EL&U members, you should be in good stead for wrapping up your thesis. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14; cf. 15:22). You see, you just never know what's going to spring forth . . .. Don Oct 21, 2014 at 16:02

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