|The Thesis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It should perhaps be unsurprising that certain geometric arrangements of matter are preferred by nature (15, 28). Perfect tessellation can only be achieved by triangles, squares and hexagons- of these, the hexagon has the shortest perimeter length per unit area enclosed, and hexagonal packing arrangements are known to be the most efficient (35, 19). Spheres enclose the largest volume per unit surface area, and are intuitively stable forms (14, 47.5). Nature uses the same forms at every length scale; leading to self-similarity and fractal characteristics (15, 30).
Figure 1.6 shows the electronic density of states for bulk, 2-D, 1-D and O-D structures (thin films, wires, and nanoparticles) (22, 57.6). The alteration from a continuous to discrete distribution of states arises when the confinement of the structures prevents the formation of a long-range Bloch-type periodic wave potential of the type that is present in an extended crystal (37, 16). The electronic structure approaches the idealized particle in a box potential well (12, 25.4). In the case of quantum dots, the situation may be considered as an intermediate condition between molecular and bulk properties (20, 30).
average (22.7, 34)
Please don’t think you have to measure the readability of every sentence you write! Just be aware that longer sentences make your writing more tiring to read, so you can balance them with shorter ones. It’ll give your writing a natural sense of rhythm.
If you have two very long sentences in succession, try to cut at least one of them. If you can’t, think about making each sentence a whole paragraph. If in doubt, make your sentence shorter.
The first paragraph of any thesis chapter, section or subsection should usually consist entirely of short sentences (around 15 words maximum). This will help ease them in before the technical detail.
Structure: give the reader a break
Sentence length isn’t the only factor in readability. The arrangement of paragraphs, subsections and sections, as well as the visual presentation, has a massive influence. Like sentences, shorter paragraphs are easier to read.
Shorter subsections are always easier, giving the reader a regular break. The examiner will probably, at some point, flick through to see how far they have to go. If there’s another 20 pages before the next break, consider putting one in where you can.
Use your judgement
These are only guidelines to use generally. Sometimes a long sentence is needed, or just feels right. Just don’t forget the reader.
In case you’re interested, or even if you’re not, the average sentence length in this piece is 14.4 words, with a readability of 56.7.
James Hayton, Author of "PhD: an uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life"