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How to Write the Thesis Or Dissertation Introduction – Guide

Published by Carmen Troy at August 31st, 2021 , Revised On January 24, 2024

Introducing your Dissertation Topic

What would you tell someone if they asked you to introduce yourself? You’d probably start with your name, what you do for a living…etc., etc., etc. Think of your dissertation. How would you go about it if you had to introduce it to the world for the first time?

Keep this forefront in your mind for the remainder of this guide: you are introducing your research to the world that doesn’t even know it exists. Every word, phrase and line you write in your introduction will stand for the strength of your dissertation’s character.

This is not very different from how, in real life, if someone fails to introduce themselves properly (such as leaving out what they do for a living, where they live, etc.) to a stranger, it leaves a lasting impression on the stranger.

Don’t leave your dissertation a stranger among other strangers. Let’s review the little, basic concepts we already have at the back of our minds, perhaps, to piece them together in one body: an introduction.

What Goes Inside an Introduction

The exact ingredients of a dissertation or thesis introduction chapter vary depending on  your chosen research topic, your university’s guidelines, and your academic subject – but they are generally mixed in one sequence or another to introduce an academic argument.

The critical elements of an excellent dissertation introduction include a definition of the selected research topic , a reference to previous studies on the subject, a statement of the value of the subject for academic and scientific communities, a clear aim/purpose of the study, a list of your objectives, a reference to viewpoints of other researchers and a justification for the research.

Topic Discussion versus Topic Introduction

Discussing and introducing a topic are two highly different aspects of dissertation introduction writing. You might find it easy to discuss a topic, but introducing it is much trickier.

The introduction is the first thing a reader reads; thus, it must be to the point, informative, engaging, and enjoyable. Even if one of these elements is missing, the reader will not be motivated to continue reading the paper and will move on to something different.

So, it’s critical to fully understand how to write the introduction of a dissertation before starting the actual write-up.

When writing a dissertation introduction, one has to explain the title, discuss the topic and present a background so that readers understand what your research is about and what  results you expect to achieve at the end of the research work.

As a standard practice, you might work on your dissertation introduction chapter several times. Once when you’re working on your proposal and the second time when writing your actual dissertation.

“ Want to keep up with the progress of the work done by your writer? ResearchProspect can deliver your dissertation order in three parts; outline, first half, and final dissertation delivery. Here is the link to our online order form .

Many academics argue that the Introduction chapter should be the last section of the dissertation paper you should complete, but by no means is it the last part you would think of because this is where your research starts from.

Write the draft introduction as early as possible. You should write it at the same time as the proposal submission, although you must revise and edit it many times before it takes the final shape.

Considering its importance, many students remain unsure of how to write the introduction of a dissertation. Here are some of the essential elements of how to write the introduction of a dissertation that’ll provide much-needed dissertation introduction writing help.

Below are some guidelines for you to learn to  write a flawless first-class dissertation paper.

Steps of Writing a Dissertation Introduction

1. research background – writing a dissertation introduction.

This is the very first section of your introduction. Building a background of your chosen topic will help you understand more about the topic and help readers know why the general research area is problematic, interesting, central, important, etc.

Your research background should include significant concepts related to your dissertation topic. This will give your supervisor and markers an idea that you’ve investigated the research problem thoroughly and know the various aspects of your topic.

The introduction to a dissertation shouldn’t talk only about other research work in the same area, as this will be discussed in the literature review section. Moreover, this section should not include the research design  and  data collection method(s) .

All about  research strategy  should be covered in the  methodology chapter . Research background only helps to build up your research in general.

For instance, if your research is based on job satisfaction measures of a specific country, the content of the introduction chapter will generally be about job satisfaction and its impact.

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2.     Significance of the Research

As a researcher, you must demonstrate how your research will provide value to the scientific and academic communities. If your dissertation is based on a specific company or industry, you need to explain why that industry and company were chosen.

If you’re comparing, explain why you’re doing so and what this research will yield. Regardless of your chosen research topic, explain thoroughly in this section why this research is being conducted and what benefits it will serve.

The idea here is to convince your supervisor and readers that the concept should be researched to find a solution to a problem.

3.     Research Problem

Once you’ve described the main research problem  and the importance of your research, the next step would be to present your  problem statement , i.e., why this research is being conducted and its purpose.

This is one of the essential aspects of writing a dissertation’s introduction. Doing so will help your readers understand what you intend to do in this research and what they should expect from this study.

Presenting the research problem competently is crucial in persuading your readers to read other parts of the dissertation paper . This research problem is the crux of your dissertation, i.e., it gives a direction as to why this research is being carried out, and what issues the study will consider.

For example, if your dissertation is based on measuring the job satisfaction of a specific organisation, your research problem should talk about the problem the company is facing and how your research will help the company to solve that.

If your dissertation is not based on any specific organisation, you can explain the common issues that companies face when they do not consider job satisfaction as a pillar of business growth and elaborate on how your research will help them realise its importance.

Citing too many references in the introduction chapter isn’t recommended because here, you must explain why you chose to study a specific area and what your research will accomplish. Any citations only set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

4.     Research Question(s)

The central part of your introduction is the research question , which should be based on your research problem and the dissertation title. Combining these two aspects will help you formulate an exciting yet manageable research question.

Your research question is what your research aims to answer and around which your dissertation will revolve. The research question should be specific and concise.

It should be a one- or two-line question you’ve set out to answer through your dissertation. For the job satisfaction example, a sample research question could be, how does job satisfaction positively impact employee performance?

Look up dissertation introduction examples online or ask your friends to get an idea of how an ideal research question is formed. Or you can review our dissertation introduction example here  and  research question examples here .

Once you’ve formed your research question, pick out vital elements from it, based on which you will then prepare your theoretical framework  and literature review. You will come back to your research question again when  concluding your dissertation .

Sometimes, you might have to formulate a hypothesis in place of a research question. The hypothesis is a simple statement you prove with your  results ,  discussion and analysis .

A sample hypothesis could be job satisfaction is positively linked to employee job performance . The results of your dissertation could be in favour of this dissertation or against it.

Tip: Read up about what alternative, null, one-tailed and two-tailed hypotheses are so you can better formulate the hypothesis for your dissertation. Following are the definitions for each term, as retrieved from Trochim et al.’s Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base (2016):

  • Alternative hypothesis (H 1 ): “A specific statement of prediction that usually states what you expect will happen in your study.”
  • Null hypothesis (H 0 ): “The hypothesis that describes the possible outcomes other than the alternative hypothesis. Usually, the null hypothesis predicts there will be no effect of a program or treatment you are studying.”
  • One-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that specifies a direction; for example, when your hypothesis predicts that your program will increase the outcome.”
  • Two-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that does not specify a direction. For example, if you hypothesise that your program or intervention will affect an outcome, but you are unwilling to specify whether that effect will be positive or negative, you are using a two-tailed hypothesis.”

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Interesting read: 10 ways to write a practical introduction fast .

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Uk’s best academic support services. how would you know until you try, 5.     research aims and objectives.

Next, the research aims and objectives. Aims and objectives are broad statements of desired results of your dissertation . They reflect the expectations of the topic and research and address the long-term project outcomes.

These statements should use the concepts accurately, must be focused, should be able to convey your research intentions and serve as steps that communicate how your  research question  will be answered.

You should formulate your aims and objectives based on your topic, research question, or hypothesis. These are simple statements and are an extension of your research question.

Through the aims and objectives, you communicate to your readers what aspects of research you’ve considered and how you intend to answer your research question.

Usually, these statements initiate with words like ‘to explore’, ‘to study’, ‘to assess’, ‘to critically assess’, ‘to understand’, ‘to evaluate’ etc.

You could ask your supervisor to provide some thesis introduction examples to help you understand better how aims and objectives are formulated. More examples are here .

Your aims and objectives should be interrelated and connect to your research question and problem. If they do not, they’ll be considered vague and too broad in scope.

Always ensure your research aims and objectives are concise, brief, and relevant.

Once you conclude  your dissertation , you will have to revert back to address whether your research aims and objectives have been met.

You will have to reflect on how your dissertation’s findings , analysis, and discussion related to your aims and objectives and how your research has helped in achieving them.

6.     Research Limitations

This section is sometimes a part of the  dissertation methodology section ; however, it is usually included in the introduction of a dissertation.

Every research has some limitations. Thus, it is normal for you to experience certain limitations when conducting your study.

You could experience  research design limitations, data limitations or even financial limitations. Regardless of which type of limitation you may experience, your dissertation would be impacted. Thus, it would be best if you mentioned them without any hesitation.

When including this section in the introduction, make sure that you clearly state the type of constraint you experienced. This will help your supervisor understand what problems you went through while working on your dissertation.

However, one aspect that you should take care of is that your results, in no way, should be influenced by these restrictions. The results should not be compromised, or your dissertation will not be deemed authentic and reliable.

After you’ve mentioned your research limitations, discuss how you overcame them to produce a perfect dissertation .

Also, mention that your limitations do not adversely impact your results and that you’ve produced research with accurate results the academic community can rely on.

Also read:   How to Write Dissertation Methodology .

7.     Outline of the Dissertation

Even though this isn’t a mandatory sub-section of the introduction chapter, good introductory chapters in dissertations outline what’s to follow in the preceding chapters.

It is also usual to set out an  outline of the rest of the dissertation . Depending on your university and academic subject, you might also be asked to include it in your research proposal .

Because your tutor might want to glance over it to see how you  plan your dissertation and what sections you’d include; based on what sections you include and how you intend to research and cover them, they’d provide feedback for you to improve.

Usually, this section discusses what sections you plan to include and what concepts and aspects each section entails. A standard dissertation consists of five sections : chapters, introduction,  literature review ,  methodology ,  results  and  discussion , and  conclusion .

Some  dissertation assignments do not use the same chapter for results and discussion. Instead, they split it into two different chapters, making six chapters. Check with your supervisor regarding which format you should follow.

When discussing the  outline of your dissertation , remember that you’d have to mention what each section involves. Discuss all the significant aspects of each section to give a brief overview of what your dissertation contains, and this is precisely what our dissertation outline service  provides.

Writing a dissertation introduction might seem complicated, but it is not if you understand what is expected of you. To understand the required elements and make sure that you focus on all of them.

Include all the aspects to ensure your supervisor and other readers can easily understand how you intend to undertake your research.

“If you find yourself stuck at any stage of your dissertation introduction, get introduction writing help from our writers! At ResearchProspect, we offer a dissertation writing service , and our qualified team of writers will also assist you in conducting in-depth research for your dissertation.

Dissertation Introduction Samples & Examples

Check out some basic samples of dissertation introduction chapters to get started.

FAQs about Dissertation Introduction

What is the purpose of an introduction chapter.

It’s used to introduce key constructs, ideas, models and/or theories etc. relating to the topic; things that you will be basing the remainder of your dissertation on.

How do you start an introduction in a dissertation?

There is more than one way of starting a dissertation’s introductory chapter. You can begin by stating a problem in your area of interest, review relevant literature, identify the gap, and introduce your topic. Or, you can go the opposite way, too. It’s all entirely up to your discretion. However, be consistent in the format you choose to write in.

How long can an introduction get?

It can range from 1000 to 2000 words for a master’s dissertation , but for a higher-level dissertation, it mostly ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 words ’ introduction chapter. In the end, though, it depends on the guidelines provided to you by your department.

Steps to Writing a Dissertation Introduction

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Here are the steps to make a theoretical framework for dissertation. You can define, discuss and evaluate theories relevant to the research problem.

If your dissertation includes many abbreviations, it would make sense to define all these abbreviations in a list of abbreviations in alphabetical order.

Not sure how to write the findings of a dissertation. Here are some comprehensive guidelines for you to learn to write a flawless findings chapter.

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Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis may well be the last part that you complete, excepting perhaps the abstract. However, it should not be the last part that you think about.

You should write a draft of your introduction very early on, perhaps as early as when you submit your research proposal , to set out a broad outline of your ideas, why you want to study this area, and what you hope to explore and/or establish.

You can, and should, update your introduction several times as your ideas develop. Keeping the introduction in mind will help you to ensure that your research stays on track.

The introduction provides the rationale for your dissertation, thesis or other research project: what you are trying to answer and why it is important to do this research.

Your introduction should contain a clear statement of the research question and the aims of the research (closely related to the question).

It should also introduce and briefly review the literature on your topic to show what is already known and explain the theoretical framework. If there are theoretical debates in the literature, then the introduction is a good place for the researcher to give his or her own perspective in conjunction with the literature review section of the dissertation.

The introduction should also indicate how your piece of research will contribute to the theoretical understanding of the topic.

Drawing on your Research Proposal

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis will probably draw heavily on your research proposal.

If you haven't already written a research proposal see our page Writing a Research Proposal for some ideas.

The introduction needs to set the scene for the later work and give a broad idea of the arguments and/or research that preceded yours. It should give some idea of why you chose to study this area, giving a flavour of the literature, and what you hoped to find out.

Don’t include too many citations in your introduction: this is your summary of why you want to study this area, and what questions you hope to address. Any citations are only to set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

Unlike your research proposal, however, you have now completed the work. This means that your introduction can be much clearer about what exactly you chose to investigate and the precise scope of your work.

Remember , whenever you actually write it, that, for the reader, the introduction is the start of the journey through your work. Although you can give a flavour of the outcomes of your research, you should not include any detailed results or conclusions.

Some good ideas for making your introduction strong include:

  • An interesting opening sentence that will hold the attention of your reader.
  • Don’t try to say everything in the introduction, but do outline the broad thrust of your work and argument.
  • Make sure that you don’t promise anything that can’t be delivered later.
  • Keep the language straightforward. Although you should do this throughout, it is especially important for the introduction.

Your introduction is the reader’s ‘door’ into your thesis or dissertation. It therefore needs to make sense to the non-expert. Ask a friend to read it for you, and see if they can understand it easily.

At the end of the introduction, it is also usual to set out an outline of the rest of the dissertation.

This can be as simple as ‘ Chapter 2 discusses my chosen methodology, Chapter 3 sets out my results, and Chapter 4 discusses the results and draws conclusions ’.

However, if your thesis is ordered by themes, then a more complex outline may be necessary.

Drafting and Redrafting

As with any other piece of writing, redrafting and editing will improve your text.

This is especially important for the introduction because it needs to hold your reader’s attention and lead them into your research.

The best way to ensure that you can do this is to give yourself enough time to write a really good introduction, including several redrafts.

Do not view the introduction as a last minute job.

Continue to: Writing a Literature Review Writing the Methodology

See also: Dissertation: Results and Discussion Dissertation: Conclusions and Extra Sections Academic Referencing | Research Methods

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a good thesis introduction

what is the introduction of a dissertation

1. Identify your readership

2. hook the reader and grab their attention, 3. provide relevant background, 4. give the reader a sense of what the paper is about, 5. preview key points and lead into your thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a good thesis introduction, related articles.

Many people struggle to write a thesis introduction. Much of your research prep should be done and you should be ready to start your introduction. But often, it’s not clear what needs to be included in a thesis introduction. If you feel stuck at this point not knowing how to start, this guide can help.

Tip: If you’re really struggling to write your thesis intro, consider putting in a placeholder until you write more of the body of your thesis. Then, come back to your intro once you have a stronger sense of the overall content of your thesis.

A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire project. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic , but the points below can act as a guide. These points can help you write a good thesis introduction.

Before even starting with your first sentence, consider who your readers are. Most likely, your readers will be the professors who are advising you on your thesis.

You should also consider readers of your thesis who are not specialists in your field. Writing with them in your mind will help you to be as clear as possible; this will make your thesis more understandable and enjoyable overall.

Tip: Always strive to be clear, correct, concrete, and concise in your writing.

The first sentence of the thesis is crucial. Looking back at your own research, think about how other writers may have hooked you.

It is common to start with a question or quotation, but these types of hooks are often overused. The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and that seamlessly transitions into your argument.

Once again, consider your audience and how much background information they need to understand your approach. You can start by making a list of what is interesting about your topic:

  • Are there any current events or controversies associated with your topic that might be interesting for your introduction?
  • What kinds of background information might be useful for a reader to understand right away?
  • Are there historical anecdotes or other situations that uniquely illustrate an important aspect of your argument?

A good introduction also needs to contain enough background information to allow the reader to understand the thesis statement and arguments. The amount of background information required will depend on the topic .

There should be enough background information so you don't have to spend too much time with it in the body of the thesis, but not so much that it becomes uninteresting.

Tip: Strike a balance between background information that is too broad or too specific.

Let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:

  • Briefly describe the motivation behind your research.
  • Describe the topic and scope of your research.
  • Explain the practical relevance of your research.
  • Explain the scholarly consensus related to your topic: briefly explain the most important articles and how they are related to your research.

At the end of your introduction, you should lead into your thesis statement by briefly bringing up a few of your main supporting details and by previewing what will be covered in the main part of the thesis. You’ll want to highlight the overall structure of your thesis so that readers will have a sense of what they will encounter as they read.

A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire project. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic, but these tips will help you write a great introduction:

  • Identify your readership.
  • Grab the reader's attention.
  • Provide relevant background.
  • Preview key points and lead into the thesis statement.

A good introduction needs to contain enough background information, and let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:

  • Briefly describe the motivation for your research.

The length of the introduction will depend on the length of the whole thesis. Usually, an introduction makes up roughly 10 per cent of the total word count.

The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and that seamlessly transitions into your argument. Consider the audience, then think of something that would grab their attention.

In Open Access: Theses and Dissertations you can find thousands of recent works. Take a look at any of the theses or dissertations for real-life examples of introductions that were already approved.

How to make a scientific presentation

How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

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The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.

Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction

Open with a (personal) story, begin with a problem, define a clear research gap, describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences, support your argument with sufficient evidence, consider possible objections, address the empirical research context, give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.

An introductory chapter plays an integral part in every thesis. The first chapter has to include quite a lot of information to contextualise the research. At the same time, a good thesis introduction is not too long, but clear and to the point.

A powerful thesis introduction does the following:

  • It captures the reader’s attention.
  • It presents a clear research gap and emphasises the thesis’ relevance.
  • It provides a compelling argument.
  • It previews the research findings.
  • It explains the structure of the thesis.

In addition, a powerful thesis introduction is well-written, logically structured, and free of grammar and spelling errors. Reputable thesis editors can elevate the quality of your introduction to the next level. If you are in search of a trustworthy thesis or dissertation editor who upholds high-quality standards and offers efficient turnaround times, I recommend the professional thesis and dissertation editing service provided by Editage . 

This list can feel quite overwhelming. However, with some easy tips and tricks, you can accomplish all these goals in your thesis introduction. (And if you struggle with finding the right wording, have a look at academic key phrases for introductions .)

Ways to capture the reader’s attention

A powerful thesis introduction should spark the reader’s interest on the first pages. A reader should be enticed to continue reading! There are three common ways to capture the reader’s attention.

An established way to capture the reader’s attention in a thesis introduction is by starting with a story. Regardless of how abstract and ‘scientific’ the actual thesis content is, it can be useful to ease the reader into the topic with a short story.

This story can be, for instance, based on one of your study participants. It can also be a very personal account of one of your own experiences, which drew you to study the thesis topic in the first place.

Start by providing data or statistics

Data and statistics are another established way to immediately draw in your reader. Especially surprising or shocking numbers can highlight the importance of a thesis topic in the first few sentences!

So if your thesis topic lends itself to being kick-started with data or statistics, you are in for a quick and easy way to write a memorable thesis introduction.

The third established way to capture the reader’s attention is by starting with the problem that underlies your thesis. It is advisable to keep the problem simple. A few sentences at the start of the chapter should suffice.

Usually, at a later stage in the introductory chapter, it is common to go more in-depth, describing the research problem (and its scientific and societal relevance) in more detail.

You may also like: Minimalist writing for a better thesis

Emphasising the thesis’ relevance

A good thesis is a relevant thesis. No one wants to read about a concept that has already been explored hundreds of times, or that no one cares about.

Of course, a thesis heavily relies on the work of other scholars. However, each thesis is – and should be – unique. If you want to write a fantastic thesis introduction, your job is to point out this uniqueness!

In academic research, a research gap signifies a research area or research question that has not been explored yet, that has been insufficiently explored, or whose insights and findings are outdated.

Every thesis needs a crystal-clear research gap. Spell it out instead of letting your reader figure out why your thesis is relevant.

* This example has been taken from an actual academic paper on toxic behaviour in online games: Liu, J. and Agur, C. (2022). “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games. Games and Culture 1–24, DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397

The scientific relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your work in terms of advancing theoretical insights on a topic. You can think of this part as your contribution to the (international) academic literature.

Scientific relevance comes in different forms. For instance, you can critically assess a prominent theory explaining a specific phenomenon. Maybe something is missing? Or you can develop a novel framework that combines different frameworks used by other scholars. Or you can draw attention to the context-specific nature of a phenomenon that is discussed in the international literature.

The societal relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your research in more practical terms. You can think of this part as your contribution beyond theoretical insights and academic publications.

Why are your insights useful? Who can benefit from your insights? How can your insights improve existing practices?

what is the introduction of a dissertation

Formulating a compelling argument

Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights. Think of an argument as an umbrella statement, or core claim. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.

Including an argument in the introduction of your thesis may seem counterintuitive. After all, the reader will be introduced to your core claim before reading all the chapters of your thesis that led you to this claim in the first place.

But rest assured: A clear argument at the start of your thesis introduction is a sign of a good thesis. It works like a movie teaser to generate interest. And it helps the reader to follow your subsequent line of argumentation.

The core claim of your thesis should be accompanied by sufficient evidence. This does not mean that you have to write 10 pages about your results at this point.

However, you do need to show the reader that your claim is credible and legitimate because of the work you have done.

A good argument already anticipates possible objections. Not everyone will agree with your core claim. Therefore, it is smart to think ahead. What criticism can you expect?

Think about reasons or opposing positions that people can come up with to disagree with your claim. Then, try to address them head-on.

Providing a captivating preview of findings

Similar to presenting a compelling argument, a fantastic thesis introduction also previews some of the findings. When reading an introduction, the reader wants to learn a bit more about the research context. Furthermore, a reader should get a taste of the type of analysis that will be conducted. And lastly, a hint at the practical implications of the findings encourages the reader to read until the end.

If you focus on a specific empirical context, make sure to provide some information about it. The empirical context could be, for instance, a country, an island, a school or city. Make sure the reader understands why you chose this context for your research, and why it fits to your research objective.

If you did all your research in a lab, this section is obviously irrelevant. However, in that case you should explain the setup of your experiment, etcetera.

The empirical part of your thesis centers around the collection and analysis of information. What information, and what evidence, did you generate? And what are some of the key findings?

For instance, you can provide a short summary of the different research methods that you used to collect data. Followed by a short overview of how you analysed this data, and some of the key findings. The reader needs to understand why your empirical analysis is worth reading.

You already highlighted the practical relevance of your thesis in the introductory chapter. However, you should also provide a preview of some of the practical implications that you will develop in your thesis based on your findings.

Presenting a crystal clear thesis structure

A fantastic thesis introduction helps the reader to understand the structure and logic of your whole thesis. This is probably the easiest part to write in a thesis introduction. However, this part can be best written at the very end, once everything else is ready.

A reading guide is an essential part in a thesis introduction! Usually, the reading guide can be found toward the end of the introductory chapter.

The reading guide basically tells the reader what to expect in the chapters to come.

In a longer thesis, such as a PhD thesis, it can be smart to provide a summary of each chapter to come. Think of a paragraph for each chapter, almost in the form of an abstract.

For shorter theses, which also have a shorter introduction, this step is not necessary.

Especially for longer theses, it tends to be a good idea to design a simple figure that illustrates the structure of your thesis. It helps the reader to better grasp the logic of your thesis.

what is the introduction of a dissertation

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Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Roadmaps

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The first paragraph or two of any paper should be constructed with care, creating a path for both the writer and reader to follow. However, it is very common to adjust the introduction more than once over the course of drafting and revising your document. In fact, it is normal (and often very useful, or even essential!) to heavily revise your introduction after you've finished composing the paper, since that is most likely when you have the best grasp on what you've been aiming to say.

The introduction is your opportunity to efficiently establish for your reader the topic and significance of your discussion, the focused argument or claim you’ll make contained in your thesis statement, and a sense of how your presentation of information will proceed.

There are a few things to avoid in crafting good introductions. Steer clear of unnecessary length: you should be able to effectively introduce the critical elements of any project a page or less. Another pitfall to watch out for is providing excessive history or context before clearly stating your own purpose. Finally, don’t lose time stalling because you can't think of a good first line. A funny or dramatic opener for your paper (also known as “a hook”) can be a nice touch, but it is by no means a required element in a good academic paper.

Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Roadmaps Links

  • Short video (5:47): " Writing an Introduction to a Paper ," GWC
  • Handout (printable):  " Introductions ," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center
  • Handout (printable): " Thesis Statements ," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center
  • NPS-specific one-page (printable)  S ample Thesis Chapter Introduction with Roadmap , from "Venezuela: A Revolution on Standby," Luis Calvo
  • Short video (3:39):  " Writing Ninjas: How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement "
  • Video (5:06): " Thesis Statements ," Purdue OWL

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

Published on 9 September 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes.

The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction.

Your introduction should include:

  • Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
  • Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
  • The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
  • Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
  • An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?

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Table of contents

How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, frequently asked questions about introductions.

Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write – in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).

It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.

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Begin by introducing your research topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualise your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.

After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.

You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:

  • Geographical area
  • Time period
  • Demographics or communities
  • Themes or aspects of the topic

It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.

Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.

Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.

Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:

  • Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Builds on existing research
  • Proposes a new understanding of your topic

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Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.

If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .

  • Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
  • Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
  • Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.

To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline  of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

I. Introduction

Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.

Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.

Checklist: Introduction

I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.

I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.

I have clearly specified the focus of my research.

I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .

I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.

I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .

I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .

You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem
  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an outline of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarise the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Cite this Scribbr article

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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2022, September 09). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction. Scribbr. Retrieved 3 June 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/introduction/

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How to Write a Thesis Introduction

What types of information should you include in your introduction .

In the introduction of your thesis, you’ll be trying to do three main things, which are called Moves :

  • Move 1 establish your territory (say what the topic is about)
  • Move 2 establish a niche (show why there needs to be further research on your topic)
  • Move 3 introduce the current research (make hypotheses; state the research questions)

Each Move has a number of stages. Depending on what you need to say in your introduction, you might use one or more stages. Table 1 provides you with a list of the most commonly occurring stages of introductions in Honours theses (colour-coded to show the Moves ). You will also find examples of Introductions, divided into stages with sample sentence extracts. Once you’ve looked at Examples 1 and 2, try the exercise that follows.

Most thesis introductions include SOME (but not all) of the stages listed below. There are variations between different Schools and between different theses, depending on the purpose of the thesis.

Stages in a thesis introduction

  • state the general topic and give some background
  • provide a review of the literature related to the topic
  • define the terms and scope of the topic
  • outline the current situation
  • evaluate the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages) and identify the gap
  • identify the importance of the proposed research
  • state the research problem/ questions
  • state the research aims and/or research objectives
  • state the hypotheses
  • outline the order of information in the thesis
  • outline the methodology

Example 1: Evaluation of Boron Solid Source Diffusion for High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cells (School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering)

Example 2: Methods for Measuring Hepatitis C Viral Complexity (School of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences)

Note: this introduction includes the literature review.

Now that you have read example 1 and 2, what are the differences?

Example 3: The IMO Severe-Weather Criterion Applied to High-Speed Monohulls (School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering)

Example 4: The Steiner Tree Problem (School of Computer Science and Engineering)

Introduction exercise

Example 5.1 (extract 1): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)

Example 5.2 (extract 2): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)

Example 5.3

Example 5.4 (extract 4): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)

Example 5.5 (extract 5): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)

Example 5.6 (extract 6): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)

Well, firstly, there are many choices that you can make. You will notice that there are variations not only between the different Schools in your faculty, but also between individual theses, depending on the type of information that is being communicated. However, there are a few elements that a good Introduction should include, at the very minimum:

  • Either Statement of general topic Or Background information about the topic;
  • Either Identification of disadvantages of current situation Or Identification of the gap in current research;
  • Identification of importance of proposed research
  • Either Statement of aims Or Statement of objectives
  • An Outline of the order of information in the thesis

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Thesis And Dissertation

Dissertation Introduction

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

Comprehensive Guide on Writing a Dissertation Introduction

By: Cathy A.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Nov 28, 2020

Dissertation Introduction

Writing the introduction is one of the most important parts of writing a dissertation. It tells what your thesis is about and how you plan to defend it with research. It also introduces who you are as an author and why people should care about this topic that they have never heard of before.

Who wants their readers to put down the dissertation in the middle before finishing? Nobody!

This is why you need a compelling introduction to your dissertation. However, they can be hard to write if you don't have experience and would rather not do it.

Read the blog if you are into writing an interesting dissertation introduction. It has detailed steps, examples, and tips to help you with this genre of writing.

Dissertation Introduction

On this Page

What is a Dissertation Introduction?

The introduction to a dissertation is the first chapter. Strong beginnings are essential to draw in readers. The introduction fulfills the purpose of telling the reader what they're about to read as well as why this subject matter is significant.

The best way to introduce your work effectively begins with a hook. Something unique or intriguing enough for readers that compels him to read further.

You should then cover how you approached the topic throughout the paper. You can do this through concise summaries or anecdotes from research findings/observations done by others on similar issues such as yours.

Purpose of Dissertation Introduction Paragraph

The main purpose of an introductory paragraph is to introduce the reader to what you are going to talk about in your work. Therefore, the reader should know what he is reading about. This will make it more interesting for him, and it will make your work more intriguing.

While writing an introduction, you have to answer the following questions:

  • What is your research question?
  • Why is your chosen topic important?
  • What is the scope of your research?
  • Which research methods will you use?
  • What are the limitations of your research?
  • What is your research aim?

What is the point of your research? What are you trying to find out, and why do you think it’s important for others to know about this information too? The introduction should include a summary of what will be discussed in detail later on.

Answering these questions can help make an engaging introduction. Therefore, this chapter should explain the 'what' and 'why’.

How to Write a Good Dissertation Introduction?

Following are the steps to craft an amazing dissertation introduction:

1. Engaging Opening Section or Paragraph

In order to engage your readers, you must choose words and phrases that are clear and understandable. You owe it to the people who will be reading what you have written. So they can understand exactly what's going on in your story from its starting point to its end.

Here at  5StarEssays.com  , we know how hard this piece of writing can seem when first starting out but don't worry!

Every step of our process has been designed with these three rules in mind:

  • Clear language
  • Concise sentences
  • Easy understanding

2. Add Background Information of your Research

Provide a brief history of your chosen topic. Why is it important? Because the readers want to know the context and significance of your research. Knowing the background, historical events, or other information will help them understand what you are doing.

They won't have misconceptions about why you are researching the specific topic. Background knowledge can help readers understand what they are reading.

3. Define Research Problem

Now after explaining the background information, try to narrow down your research. By narrowing research, we mean to put more focus on your research questions.

While definition your research, keep in mind the below statements:

  • In the first section of a research proposal, write about a problem statement or present state that has been discussed in previous research.
  • The gaps and limitations need to be addressed for its previous studies because they have not yet been sufficiently researched.
  • Finally, why it is important to address these missing gaps in order to find solutions for key issues.

4. Write Research Aims and Objectives

What do you want to achieve with this research? Answer this question in the following section. But, first, explain why your research is important for you and what reasons there are that led you to choose it as a topic of investigation.

It will help other researchers understand more about your work properly, which should make their process easier when tackling related topics or issues themselves!

5. Elaborate the Significance of your Research

What are your objectives and motivations for conducting this research? What do you hope to achieve? These goals will help guide the reader through the importance of your work.

6. State the Limitation of your Research

Research has limitations. The challenges of a  dissertation vs. thesis  are significant, and the researcher must face them head-on to keep their research sound and credible.

There are many limitations that researchers face in their research. Some of these include time constraints, shortage of resources, and a lack of data or scope for the project.

Discussing the challenges and limitations makes your research more credible to readers. As they learn about some common issues you faced when completing this dissertation/thesis.

7. Explain the Structure of your Dissertation

Once you are done explaining all the important aspects of your dissertation, it is time that you explain its structure. This section aims to give a roadmap for readers by giving an overview and summary of what they will find in each chapter.

Each methodology chapter should be briefly summarized, followed by their main point and factors discussed there. It's important to talk about these things so that the reader can decide what information they need.

It also helps the reader understand different points of view on one topic. This is helpful when making decisions about what to do with research findings.

Dissertation Introduction Outline

A dissertation is a long essay on an in-depth research question, and the introduction of this work explains why it's important. The theoretical framework justifies studying a certain topic while giving examples to support that decision.

Let’s have a look at its outline:

Dissertation Introduction main idea length should not be more than 5 pages. It is written to inform the reader about the main idea.

In this section, you will explain the significance of your research project. You should include why it is important to conduct the study and what answers are expected by conducting a particular experiment or survey.

A research framework is a set of procedures, analytic techniques, and tools used to design evaluations for systematic data collection. The important context can be explained as follows:

  • In this context, methods are strategies that researchers use to do their studies.
  • Theories are a body of knowledge that can come from science.
  • Conceptual frameworks are plans made so others can do things that follow them closely with ease.

Analyze literature reviews critically about your research topic. It will help you with your project. Add quotes and other details to show why the topic is important.

A research problem statement is a short sentence that tells why the research is important. The introduction for a research paper should explain what the problem is and how it affects people.

You have to write the questions of your research paper, and their answers will be in the form of a hypothesis. Now the result which is induced from these is again added as the main hypothesis to fulfill your research aims and objectives.

It's always important to follow guidelines when writing a dissertation, and one of the most fundamental pieces is your introduction. The dissertation introduction word count should be about 800-1000 words long. However, it can also be longer if you have a lot to say on the topic.

DISSERTATION INTRODUCTION TEMPLATE

Dissertation Introduction Example

A sample dissertation introduction chapter is the first impression of your research objective. Make it a good one by writing something that will hook and engage readers from the very start. This PDF can help you understand how to do this properly.

Tips to Write Dissertation Introduction

Here are some good ideas and tips for how to write an introduction to your thesis.

  • Make sure that you write clearly and use clear language.
  • Don't give away any of the information until you have finished writing the introductory chapter.
  • Divide up the research into sections and explain each one briefly before going on to your research question.
  • Make a proper outline of what you will be explaining in the introductory chapter before doing anything else with this part of your dissertation.

Writing a good introduction for your dissertation is important. However, even if you have the best ideas, sometimes it can be hard to get started with writing and come up with an interesting intro when you're studying so much already!

You don't need to worry about that anymore.  5StarEssays.com  is a professional  essay writing service  with 24/7 ready professional writers with expertise in forming engaging introductions for any subject matter.

We make sure each essay we produce is 100% unique and custom-made just for our customers!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a dissertation introduction be.

The introduction of the thesis can be 10% of the total word count. For a Ph.D. with 80,000-100,000 words, that could be 8,000-10,000 words. A Masters’s thesis with 15,000-20,000 words would have an introduction 1,500-2,000 words long.

How do you write a general introduction for a dissertation?

The introduction should include:

  • Topic and context:  What do the readers need to know to understand the research?
  • Focus and scope:  What specific aspect of the topic will you address?
  • Relevance and importance:  Why is this research important?

What are the themes in the dissertation?

A theme is a major idea, subject, or topic in research work. It usually tells what the work is about and can be helpful when analyzing. A theme can have one word, two words, or more.

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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

what is the introduction of a dissertation

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings . In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

what is the introduction of a dissertation

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The acknowledgements section of a thesis/dissertation

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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what is the introduction of a dissertation

Research Voyage

Research Tips and Infromation

06 Essential Steps for Introduction Section of Dissertation or Thesis

PhD Introduction Section

Introduction

Stating the research problem or research question, brief overview of the structure of your dissertation, 1. starting with a compelling opening, 2. providing background information, 3. clearly stating the research problem, 4. stating the research objectives, 5. highlighting the research significance, 6. outlining the dissertation structure, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical details, seeking feedback and revising the introduction multiple times, common academic phrases that can be used in the introduction section.

Are you on the journey of completing your PhD or Post Graduate dissertation? The introduction section plays a vital role in setting the stage for your research and capturing the reader’s attention from the very beginning. A well-crafted introduction is a gateway to showcasing the significance and value of your work.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the essential elements and expert tips to create an engaging and impactful introduction for your dissertation or thesis.

This comprehensive guide will equip you with the tools to write an introduction that stands out. From capturing the reader’s interest with a compelling opening to defining the research problem, stating objectives, and highlighting the research significance, we’ve got you covered.

Not only will you discover practical strategies for crafting an effective introduction, but you’ll also learn how to keep it concise, avoid jargon, and seek valuable feedback. Additionally, we’ll provide domain-specific examples to illustrate each point and help you better understand the application of these techniques.

By mastering the art of writing an engaging introduction, you’ll be able to captivate your readers, establish the context of your research, and demonstrate the value of your study. So, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to crafting an introduction that sets the foundation for a remarkable PhD dissertation.

If you are in paucity of time, not confident of your writing skills and in a hurry to complete the writing task then you can think of hiring a research consultant that solves all your problems. Please visit my article on Hiring a Research consultant for your PhD tasks for further details.

Purpose of the Introduction

The introduction should introduce the specific topic of your research and provide the necessary background information. For example: “In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative technology with applications in various domains. This study focuses on improving the accuracy of image recognition algorithms in computer vision, a crucial area within AI research.”

Clearly articulating the research problem or research question is essential. Here’s an example: “The objective of this study is to develop a more efficient algorithm for large-scale graph analysis, addressing the challenge of processing massive networks in real-time.”

It is important to state the specific objectives or goals of your research. Here’s an example: “The primary objectives of this research are to design and implement a secure communication protocol for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, evaluate its performance under different network conditions, and assess its resistance to potential cyber-attacks.”

It is helpful to provide a brief overview of the structure of your dissertation, indicating the main sections or chapters. Here’s an example: “This dissertation consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 presents the introduction, research problem, objectives, and methodology. Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive literature review of the existing algorithms for sentiment analysis. Chapter 3 details the proposed algorithm for sentiment classification. Chapter 4 presents the experimental setup and results. Chapter 5 discusses the findings and implications. Finally, Chapter 6 concludes the dissertation with recommendations for future research.”

Remember to adapt the examples to your specific research topic and ensure they accurately reflect the purpose of your introduction. By introducing the topic, stating the research problem, outlining the objectives, and providing an overview of the dissertation structure, you will establish the necessary foundation for your research.

Crafting an Effective Introduction in 06 Steps

By starting with a compelling opening, providing background information, clearly stating the research problem and objectives, highlighting the research significance, and outlining the dissertation structure, you will craft an effective introduction.

Starting with a compelling opening can capture the reader’s attention. Here are some examples:

  • Anecdote: “Imagine a scenario where autonomous vehicles navigate through busy city streets, making split-second decisions to ensure passenger safety and optimize traffic flow.”
  • Question: “Have you ever wondered how social media platforms use recommendation algorithms to personalize your news feed based on your interests and preferences?”
  • Fact: “In 2020, the global cybersecurity market reached a value of $167.13 billion, highlighting the increasing need for robust and reliable security solutions in the digital age.”

Providing background information involves discussing existing literature, theories, and concepts. Here’s an example: “Previous studies in the field of natural language processing have focused on sentiment analysis, aiming to classify text into positive, negative, or neutral sentiments. However, current approaches face challenges in accurately capturing the contextual nuances and sarcasm often found in social media data.”

Clearly defining the research problem is crucial. Here’s an example: “The research problem addressed in this study is the efficient scheduling and resource allocation for cloud-based data-intensive applications, considering the dynamic nature of workloads and the varying availability of cloud resources.”

Presenting specific objectives is important in computer science. Here’s an example: “The primary objectives of this research are to develop an energy-efficient routing protocol for wireless sensor networks, investigate the impact of different routing metrics on network performance, and propose adaptive algorithms for dynamic topology changes.”

Explaining the importance and relevance of your research is essential. Here’s an example: “This research on blockchain technology has significant implications for enhancing data security, ensuring transparent and immutable transactions, and revolutionizing various sectors, including finance, supply chain management, and healthcare.”

Providing a brief overview of the main sections or chapters of your dissertation helps the reader understand the organization. Here’s an example: “This dissertation consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the research problem, objectives, and methodology. Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive literature review. Chapter 3 presents the proposed algorithm and its implementation. Chapter 4 discusses the experimental results and analysis. Finally, Chapter 5 concludes the dissertation, summarizing the findings and suggesting future research directions.”

Remember to tailor these examples to your specific research topic and ensure they align with your own introduction.

Tips for Writing a Strong Introduction

It’s essential to keep the introduction concise and focused on the main points. Avoid going into excessive detail or including unnecessary information. Here’s an example: “To achieve efficient data processing in distributed systems, this study focuses on developing a parallel algorithm for sorting large-scale datasets, aiming to reduce the computational time and improve overall system performance.”

While writing the introduction, it’s crucial to communicate your ideas clearly without overwhelming the reader with technical terms. Here’s an example: “This study investigates the usability of natural language interfaces for human-robot interaction, exploring the potential for seamless and intuitive communication between users and autonomous robotic systems.”

It’s important to seek feedback from your advisor or peers and revise your introduction based on their suggestions. .

Remember to adapt these examples to your specific research topic and ensure they align with your writing style. By keeping the introduction concise and focused, avoiding unnecessary jargon, and seeking feedback while revising multiple times, you will be able to write a strong introduction in any domain of research.

Here are some common academic phrases that can be used in the introduction section . I have included a table with examples to illustrate how these phrases might be used:

Crafting a well-crafted introduction is paramount when it comes to writing a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation. The introduction serves as the gateway to your research, setting the stage for what follows and capturing the reader’s attention. By following the outlined guidelines and tips, you can create an introduction that engages the reader, establishes the context, and highlights the significance of your research.

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Writing a dissertation or thesis proposal, what is a proposal, what is the purpose of a proposal.

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The proposal, sometimes called the prospectus, is composed mainly of the Introduction, Research Questions, Literature Review, Research Significance and Methodology. It may also include a dissertation/thesis outline and a timeline for your proposed research. You will be able to reuse the proposal when you actually write the entire dissertation or thesis.

In the graduate student timeline, the proposal comes after successfully passing qualifying or comprehensive exams and before starting the research for a dissertation or thesis.

Each UNT department has slightly different proposal requirements, so be sure to check with your advisor or the department's graduate advisor before you start!

  • Examples of Proposals from UTexas More than 20 completed dissertation proposals are available to read at the UT Intellectual Entrepreneurship website.
  • Dissertation Proposal Guidelines This document from the Department of Communication at the University of Washington is a good example of what you might be expected to include in a proposal.

The purpose of a proposal is to convince your dissertation or thesis committee that you are ready to start your research project and to create a plan for your dissertation or thesis work. You will submit your proposal to your committee for review and then you will do your proposal defense, during which you present your plan and the committee asks questions about it. The committee wants to know if your research questions have academic merit and whether you have chosen the right methods to answer the questions.

  • How to Prepare a Successful Dissertation Proposal Defense Some general tips for a proposal defense from synonym.com

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  1. La meilleure INTRODUCTION d’une dissertation

  2. How to make Dissertation? Complete Details about Dissertation / Thesis for Bachelors/ Masters Degree

  3. How to Write a Dissertation Introduction

  4. Introduction to an Undergraduate Dissertation

  5. How to write an introduction?

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

  2. How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Chapter

    Craft an enticing and engaging opening section. Provide a background and context to the study. Clearly define the research problem. State your research aims, objectives and questions. Explain the significance of your study. Identify the limitations of your research. Outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis.

  3. How to Write the Thesis Or Dissertation Introduction

    1. Research Background - Writing a Dissertation Introduction. This is the very first section of your introduction. Building a background of your chosen topic will help you understand more about the topic and help readers know why the general research area is problematic, interesting, central, important, etc.

  4. How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

    Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal. Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter. Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review. Undertake your own research. Present and interpret your findings. Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications.

  5. Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction

    The introduction provides the rationale for your dissertation, thesis or other research project: what you are trying to answer and why it is important to do this research. Your introduction should contain a clear statement of the research question and the aims of the research (closely related to the question).

  6. How to Write a Dissertation

    A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

  7. How to write a good thesis introduction

    2. Hook the reader and grab their attention. 3. Provide relevant background. 4. Give the reader a sense of what the paper is about. 5. Preview key points and lead into your thesis statement. Frequently Asked Questions about writing a good thesis introduction.

  8. How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

    The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.

  9. What Is a Dissertation?

    Revised on 5 May 2022. A dissertation is a large research project undertaken at the end of a degree. It involves in-depth consideration of a problem or question chosen by the student. It is usually the largest (and final) piece of written work produced during a degree. The length and structure of a dissertation vary widely depending on the ...

  10. PDF A Complete Dissertation

    dissertation. Reason The introduction sets the stage for the study and directs readers to the purpose and context of the dissertation. Quality Markers A quality introduction situates the context and scope of the study and informs the reader, providing a clear and valid representation of what will be found in the remainder of the dissertation.

  11. Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Roadmaps

    Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Roadmaps. The first paragraph or two of any paper should be constructed with care, creating a path for both the writer and reader to follow. However, it is very common to adjust the introduction more than once over the course of drafting and revising your document. In fact, it is normal (and often very ...

  12. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

  13. How to Write a Thesis Introduction

    Stages in a thesis introduction. state the general topic and give some background. provide a review of the literature related to the topic. define the terms and scope of the topic. outline the current situation. evaluate the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages) and identify the gap. identify the importance of the proposed research.

  14. Writing a Powerful Dissertation Introduction

    The introduction of your dissertation is critical; it sets the tone for the entire paper, engages the reader, and presents the research problem, objectives, and significance of the study. A well-crafted introduction can make your dissertation more compelling and accessible to your audience.

  15. How to Write a Dissertation Introduction with Sample

    The dissertation introduction word count should be about 800-1000 words long. However, it can also be longer if you have a lot to say on the topic. DISSERTATION INTRODUCTION TEMPLATE. Dissertation Introduction Example. A sample dissertation introduction chapter is the first impression of your research objective. Make it a good one by writing ...

  16. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  17. 06 Essential Steps for Introduction Section of Dissertation

    Academic phrases that can be used in the introduction section of a Dissertation or Thesis Conclusion. Crafting a well-crafted introduction is paramount when it comes to writing a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation. The introduction serves as the gateway to your research, setting the stage for what follows and capturing the reader's attention.

  18. Introduction

    The proposal, sometimes called the prospectus, is composed mainly of the Introduction, Research Questions, Literature Review, Research Significance and Methodology. It may also include a dissertation/thesis outline and a timeline for your proposed research. You will be able to reuse the proposal when you actually write the entire dissertation ...

  19. How to write a dissertation introduction, conclusion and abstract

    Clarify the focus of your study. Point out the value of your research (including secondary research) Specify your specific research aims and objectives. While the 'background information' usually appears first in a dissertation introduction, the structure of the remaining three points is completely up to you.

  20. What is the introduction chapter of a dissertation?

    The length of an introduction in a dissertation or PhD thesis can vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or the field of study. However, a general guideline is that the introduction should typically be around 5-10% of the total word count of the entire dissertation or thesis .

  21. Forvia: Sharply Increasing Margins Bode Well For 2024 And 2025

    Introduction. I have been keeping an eye on Forvia ... Investment thesis. The past few years have been difficult for Forvia and the large acquisition of Hella increased its debt level, at a time ...