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I'm writing my masters thesis and have the following formatting problem: should I restate acronyms once for each new large section?

When I for example introduce the term "evolutionary psychology" (which has the acronym EP) in the introduction, I state the acronym so the sentence reads like:

...has roused significant interest in the emerging field of evolutionary psychology (EP).

In the following sections, should the EP acronym also be stated in the same manner upon first mention, or can I rely on the reader to have read the introduction and know that it means evolutionary psychology?

1 Answer 1

My approach to the issue of acronyms is to restate them only after a significant gap in their use. How long I consider to be "significant" depends on how salient the acronym is in its usage. Some extremes of how I would tend to approach it:

  • If the paper is about EP, and you're talking about EP and using the acronym quite frequently, then even if you have a page or two where it happens to not appear, I would not bother to redefine.
  • If EP only appears a couple of times as a side point, then even after only a few paragraphs break I might redefine the acronym.

One exception: when I define an acronym in the abstract, I also define it in the introduction, no matter how close it is, since the abstract somewhat stands apart from the remainder of the paper.