On Writing.SE there is the tag, but it is quite broad, as it covers journal articles, theses, and textbooks. There's a little over 300 questions with that tag, making it the 14th-ranked tag on Writing. Of those 130 relate to theses ( is tagged on only 118 questions) and 33 with the word "dissertation" ( is only tagged on 30 questions).

Should there be a tag?

(I'm asking here because I'm relatively new, and don't see how to create a tag without asking a question.)

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    You are correct; the way to create a tag is to ask here first. Thanks for not just going ahead and creating it. But if the community does decide to create a new tag that you suggested, we'll step aside and let you do it, because there are badges and such associated with that. You create it by adding it to a question. That's it. Sep 2, 2019 at 18:28
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    @cyn Has there been a decision about creating this tag? I'm asking since a new post link has come up that would be tagged as "thesis".
    – Rrr
    Sep 27, 2019 at 2:53
  • We had more people who agreed with you vs me. There's no official way to make a decision on stuff like this. It's about community consensus. I'll put aside any objections if others support you in creating it. Sep 27, 2019 at 3:00
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    If you do create it, please make the wiki (the first part, the one that shows up when you hover) very clear on what it means. Don't want people thinking it's for a thesis statement, which is a line in an essay that schoolchildren have drilled in them. Sep 27, 2019 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


is broad and does apply to theses and dissertations, but these specific types of academic writing have specific structure and requirements not shared by other types of academic writing, so it seems reasonable to me to create the additional tag. We also have tags for specific types of and , and we have tags for specific style guides in addition to . We should create new tags when the existence of a tag helps people find the questions they're looking for.

I'm not an academic, so I'm unclear on the difference between a thesis and a dissertation. It sounds like one should be a synonym of the other; I don't know which should be primary.

  • There is a distinction between the two (although -- as with all good things -- their usages are opposite on either side of the Atlantic). Practically though they are treated as being synonymous when referring to the document of research produced by the MSc or PhD candidate, with "thesis" being the more commonly used. (But that's just my experience. It may differ in other fields.)
    – Rrr
    Sep 3, 2019 at 0:30
  • In my experience in college and grad school in the US, thesis is the broader term and dissertation is specifically a thesis done to get a PhD. Sep 27, 2019 at 3:01

The tag covers theses and dissertations.

Writing texts in a scientific or educational setting: peer-reviewed articles, theses, text books, and others.

Academic writing entails written communication of knowledge for educational purposes. Common examples are peer-reviewed articles for publication in scientific journals, theses (Master, PhD, etc.), and text books. Often, there are very specific sets of rules that set apart academic writing from writing other kinds of non-fictional texts.

I'm not seeing a need for separating out theses and dissertations from other papers done for college and grad school. While the tag is indeed broader than that, the division shouldn't be to separate out some types of higher education writings from others.

  • The dissertation is very distinct in its structure, content and length, in comparison to journal articles and presentations (at least in the natural sciences). It is also distinct for the writers because: 1. it is often the first encounter that science students have with any rigorous form of academic writing (beyond simple lab reports and short essays in undergrad) 2. is qualitatively distinct in the challenges brought by its need for narrative and its sheer size. Thesis writing is a uniquely daunting task which sends young writers to these shores in search of help.
    – Rrr
    Sep 2, 2019 at 18:45
  • @Rrr We also have a tag for scientific-publishing (and also science, but that one is a bit different). I wouldn't object to having academic papers for students be separate from papers and books/etc that are published or given by academics. I just don't want to see a tag for a thesis and then student essays for a class are left in academic-writing. Sep 2, 2019 at 18:48
  • I get your point. Indeed the majority of [academic-writing] questions are related to essays and papers (mostly about how to format references). The difference is that there is already a tag for essays. I think that the numbers in my original ask make for a good argument in favor of creating a thesis tag.
    – Rrr
    Sep 2, 2019 at 18:58
  • @Rrr Please also look at this discussion: writing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1804/the-tag-paper Sep 2, 2019 at 19:00
  • Interesting. Is there a commonly accepted threshold (in terms of the number of questions) for considering tag creation?
    – Rrr
    Sep 2, 2019 at 19:06
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    @Rrr No. It's a qualitative measure based on usefulness to the site. Question count is a factor. Sep 2, 2019 at 19:08
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    @Rrr Basically what Cyn said. It's less about strict adherence to specific numbers, and more about usefulness for question categorization. Consider the extreme cases: we currently have 7,792 non-deleted, non-closed questions, which a tag like "writing" could in theory cover. Such a tag would add nothing useful for categorization, because we're already on Writing SE. On the flip side, vancouver-system is used by four questions, but it seems a perfectly reasonable thing to want to be able to identify separately, so it adds value for categorization.
    – user
    Sep 2, 2019 at 19:20
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    @a-cvn: It was after answering this question link that I started looking around. There seem to be a decent number of thesis-related questions, with concerns that are specific and distinct inside the [academic-writing] category. Hence the proposed tag.
    – Rrr
    Sep 3, 2019 at 0:35

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