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 to include in a phd thesis introduction

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 to include in a phd thesis introduction

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How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Chapter:

The 7 essential ingredients of an a-grade introduction.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA). Reviewed By Dr Eunice Rautenbach (D. Tech) | March 2020

If you’re reading this, you’re probably at the daunting early phases of writing up the introduction chapter of your dissertation or thesis. It can be intimidating, I know. 

In this post, we’ll look at the 7 essential ingredients of a strong dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, as well as the essential things you need to keep in mind as you craft each section. We’ll also share some useful tips to help you optimize your approach.

Overview: How To Write An Introduction Chapter

  • Understand the purpose and function of the intro 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

The perfect dissertation or thesis introduction chapter

A quick sidenote:

You’ll notice that I’ve used the words dissertation and thesis interchangeably. While these terms reflect different levels of research – for example, Masters vs PhD-level research – the introduction chapter generally contains the same 7 essential ingredients regardless of level. So, in this post, dissertation introduction equals thesis introduction.

Start with why.

To craft a high-quality dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, you need to understand exactly what this chapter needs to achieve. In other words, what’s its purpose ? As the name suggests, the introduction chapter needs to introduce the reader to your research so that they understand what you’re trying to figure out, or what problem you’re trying to solve. More specifically, you need to answer four important questions in your introduction chapter.

These questions are:

  • What will you be researching? (in other words, your research topic)
  • Why is that worthwhile? (in other words, your justification)
  • What will the scope of your research be? (in other words, what will you cover and what won’t you cover)
  • What will the limitations of your research be? (in other words, what will the potential shortcomings of your research be?)

Simply put, your dissertation’s introduction chapter needs to provide an overview of your planned research , as well as a clear rationale for it. In other words, this chapter has to explain the “what” and the “why” of your research – what’s it all about and why’s that important.

Simple enough, right?

Well, the trick is finding the appropriate depth of information. As the researcher, you’ll be extremely close to your topic and this makes it easy to get caught up in the minor details. While these intricate details might be interesting, you need to write your introduction chapter on more of a “need-to-know” type basis, or it will end up way too lengthy and dense. You need to balance painting a clear picture with keeping things concise. Don’t worry though – you’ll be able to explore all the intricate details in later chapters.

The core ingredients of a dissertation introduction chapter

Now that you understand what you need to achieve from your introduction chapter, we can get into the details. While the exact requirements for this chapter can vary from university to university, there are seven core components that most universities will require. We call these the seven essential ingredients . 

The 7 Essential Ingredients

  • The opening section – where you’ll introduce the reader to your research in high-level terms
  • The background to the study – where you’ll explain the context of your project
  • The research problem – where you’ll explain the “gap” that exists in the current research
  • The research aims , objectives and questions – where you’ll clearly state what your research will aim to achieve
  • The significance (or justification) – where you’ll explain why your research is worth doing and the value it will provide to the world
  • The limitations – where you’ll acknowledge the potential limitations of your project and approach
  • The structure – where you’ll briefly outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis to help orient the reader

By incorporating these seven essential ingredients into your introduction chapter, you’ll comprehensively cover both the “ what ” and the “ why ” I mentioned earlier – in other words, you’ll achieve the purpose of the chapter.

Side note – you can also use these 7 ingredients in this order as the structure for your chapter to ensure a smooth, logical flow. This isn’t essential, but, generally speaking, it helps create an engaging narrative that’s easy for your reader to understand. If you’d like, you can also download our free introduction chapter template here.

Alright – let’s look at each of the ingredients now.

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

#1 – The Opening Section

The very first essential ingredient for your dissertation introduction is, well, an introduction or opening section. Just like every other chapter, your introduction chapter needs to start by providing a brief overview of what you’ll be covering in the chapter.

This section needs to engage the reader with clear, concise language that can be easily understood and digested. If the reader (your marker!) has to struggle through it, they’ll lose interest, which will make it harder for you to earn marks. Just because you’re writing an academic paper doesn’t mean you can ignore the basic principles of engaging writing used by marketers, bloggers, and journalists. At the end of the day, you’re all trying to sell an idea – yours is just a research idea.

So, what goes into this opening section?

Well, while there’s no set formula, it’s a good idea to include the following four foundational sentences in your opening section:

1 – A sentence or two introducing the overall field of your research.

For example:

“Organisational skills development involves identifying current or potential skills gaps within a business and developing programs to resolve these gaps. Management research, including X, Y and Z, has clearly established that organisational skills development is an essential contributor to business growth.”

2 – A sentence introducing your specific research problem.

“However, there are conflicting views and an overall lack of research regarding how best to manage skills development initiatives in highly dynamic environments where subject knowledge is rapidly and continuously evolving – for example, in the website development industry.”

3 – A sentence stating your research aims and objectives.

“This research aims to identify and evaluate skills development approaches and strategies for highly dynamic industries in which subject knowledge is continuously evolving.”.

4 – A sentence outlining the layout of the chapter.

“This chapter will provide an introduction to the study by first discussing the background and context, followed by the research problem, the research aims, objectives and questions, the significance and finally, the limitations.”

As I mentioned, this opening section of your introduction chapter shouldn’t be lengthy . Typically, these four sentences should fit neatly into one or two paragraphs, max. What you’re aiming for here is a clear, concise introduction to your research – not a detailed account.

PS – If some of this terminology sounds unfamiliar, don’t stress – I’ll explain each of the concepts later in this post.

Dissertation writing

#2 – Background to the study

Now that you’ve provided a high-level overview of your dissertation or thesis, it’s time to go a little deeper and lay a foundation for your research topic. This foundation is what the second ingredient is all about – the background to your study.

So, what is the background section all about?

Well, this section of your introduction chapter should provide a broad overview of the topic area that you’ll be researching, as well as the current contextual factors . This could include, for example, a brief history of the topic, recent developments in the area, key pieces of research in the area and so on. In other words, in this section, you need to provide the relevant background information to give the reader a decent foundational understanding of your research area.

Let’s look at an example to make this a little more concrete.

If we stick with the skills development topic I mentioned earlier, the background to the study section would start by providing an overview of the skills development area and outline the key existing research. Then, it would go on to discuss how the modern-day context has created a new challenge for traditional skills development strategies and approaches. Specifically, that in many industries, technical knowledge is constantly and rapidly evolving, and traditional education providers struggle to keep up with the pace of new technologies.

Importantly, you need to write this section with the assumption that the reader is not an expert in your topic area. So, if there are industry-specific jargon and complex terminology, you should briefly explain that here , so that the reader can understand the rest of your document.

Don’t make assumptions about the reader’s knowledge – in most cases, your markers will not be able to ask you questions if they don’t understand something. So, always err on the safe side and explain anything that’s not common knowledge.

Dissertation Coaching

#3 – The research problem

Now that you’ve given your reader an overview of your research area, it’s time to get specific about the research problem that you’ll address in your dissertation or thesis. While the background section would have alluded to a potential research problem (or even multiple research problems), the purpose of this section is to narrow the focus and highlight the specific research problem you’ll focus on.

But, what exactly is a research problem, you ask?

Well, a research problem can be any issue or question for which there isn’t already a well-established and agreed-upon answer in the existing research. In other words, a research problem exists when there’s a need to answer a question (or set of questions), but there’s a gap in the existing literature , or the existing research is conflicting and/or inconsistent.

So, to present your research problem, you need to make it clear what exactly is missing in the current literature and why this is a problem . It’s usually a good idea to structure this discussion into three sections – specifically:

  • What’s already well-established in the literature (in other words, the current state of research)
  • What’s missing in the literature (in other words, the literature gap)
  • Why this is a problem (in other words, why it’s important to fill this gap)

Let’s look at an example of this structure using the skills development topic.

Organisational skills development is critically important for employee satisfaction and company performance (reference). Numerous studies have investigated strategies and approaches to manage skills development programs within organisations (reference).

(this paragraph explains what’s already well-established in the literature)

However, these studies have traditionally focused on relatively slow-paced industries where key skills and knowledge do not change particularly often. This body of theory presents a problem for industries that face a rapidly changing skills landscape – for example, the website development industry – where new platforms, languages and best practices emerge on an extremely frequent basis.

(this paragraph explains what’s missing from the literature)

As a result, the existing research is inadequate for industries in which essential knowledge and skills are constantly and rapidly evolving, as it assumes a slow pace of knowledge development. Industries in such environments, therefore, find themselves ill-equipped in terms of skills development strategies and approaches.

(this paragraph explains why the research gap is problematic)

As you can see in this example, in a few lines, we’ve explained (1) the current state of research, (2) the literature gap and (3) why that gap is problematic. By doing this, the research problem is made crystal clear, which lays the foundation for the next ingredient.

#4 – The research aims, objectives and questions

Now that you’ve clearly identified your research problem, it’s time to identify your research aims and objectives , as well as your research questions . In other words, it’s time to explain what you’re going to do about the research problem.

So, what do you need to do here?

Well, the starting point is to clearly state your research aim (or aims) . The research aim is the main goal or the overarching purpose of your dissertation or thesis. In other words, it’s a high-level statement of what you’re aiming to achieve.

Let’s look at an example, sticking with the skills development topic:

“Given the lack of research regarding organisational skills development in fast-moving industries, this study will aim to identify and evaluate the skills development approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK”.

As you can see in this example, the research aim is clearly outlined, as well as the specific context in which the research will be undertaken (in other words, web development companies in the UK).

Next up is the research objective (or objectives) . While the research aims cover the high-level “what”, the research objectives are a bit more practically oriented, looking at specific things you’ll be doing to achieve those research aims.

Let’s take a look at an example of some research objectives (ROs) to fit the research aim.

  • RO1 – To identify common skills development strategies and approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK.
  • RO2 – To evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies and approaches.
  • RO3 – To compare and contrast these strategies and approaches in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.

As you can see from this example, these objectives describe the actions you’ll take and the specific things you’ll investigate in order to achieve your research aims. They break down the research aims into more specific, actionable objectives.

The final step is to state your research questions . Your research questions bring the aims and objectives another level “down to earth”. These are the specific questions that your dissertation or theses will seek to answer. They’re not fluffy, ambiguous or conceptual – they’re very specific and you’ll need to directly answer them in your conclusions chapter .

The research questions typically relate directly to the research objectives and sometimes can look a bit obvious, but they are still extremely important. Let’s take a look at an example of the research questions (RQs) that would flow from the research objectives I mentioned earlier.

  • RQ1 – What skills development strategies and approaches are currently being used by web development companies in the UK?
  • RQ2 – How effective are each of these strategies and approaches?
  • RQ3 – What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these strategies and approaches?

As you can see, the research questions mimic the research objectives , but they are presented in question format. These questions will act as the driving force throughout your dissertation or thesis – from the literature review to the methodology and onward – so they’re really important.

A final note about this section – it’s really important to be clear about the scope of your study (more technically, the delimitations ). In other words, what you WILL cover and what you WON’T cover. If your research aims, objectives and questions are too broad, you’ll risk losing focus or investigating a problem that is too big to solve within a single dissertation.

Simply put, you need to establish clear boundaries in your research. You can do this, for example, by limiting it to a specific industry, country or time period. That way, you’ll ringfence your research, which will allow you to investigate your topic deeply and thoroughly – which is what earns marks!

Need a helping hand?

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

#5 – Significance

Now that you’ve made it clear what you’ll be researching, it’s time to make a strong argument regarding your study’s importance and significance . In other words, now that you’ve covered the what, it’s time to cover the why – enter essential ingredient number 5 – significance.

Of course, by this stage, you’ve already briefly alluded to the importance of your study in your background and research problem sections, but you haven’t explicitly stated how your research findings will benefit the world . So, now’s your chance to clearly state how your study will benefit either industry , academia , or – ideally – both . In other words, you need to explain how your research will make a difference and what implications it will have.

Let’s take a look at an example.

“This study will contribute to the body of knowledge on skills development by incorporating skills development strategies and approaches for industries in which knowledge and skills are rapidly and constantly changing. This will help address the current shortage of research in this area and provide real-world value to organisations operating in such dynamic environments.”

As you can see in this example, the paragraph clearly explains how the research will help fill a gap in the literature and also provide practical real-world value to organisations.

This section doesn’t need to be particularly lengthy, but it does need to be convincing . You need to “sell” the value of your research here so that the reader understands why it’s worth committing an entire dissertation or thesis to it. This section needs to be the salesman of your research. So, spend some time thinking about the ways in which your research will make a unique contribution to the world and how the knowledge you create could benefit both academia and industry – and then “sell it” in this section.

studying and prep for henley exams

#6 – The limitations

Now that you’ve “sold” your research to the reader and hopefully got them excited about what’s coming up in the rest of your dissertation, it’s time to briefly discuss the potential limitations of your research.

But you’re probably thinking, hold up – what limitations? My research is well thought out and carefully designed – why would there be limitations?

Well, no piece of research is perfect . This is especially true for a dissertation or thesis – which typically has a very low or zero budget, tight time constraints and limited researcher experience. Generally, your dissertation will be the first or second formal research project you’ve ever undertaken, so it’s unlikely to win any research awards…

Simply put, your research will invariably have limitations. Don’t stress yourself out though – this is completely acceptable (and expected). Even “professional” research has limitations – as I said, no piece of research is perfect. The key is to recognise the limitations upfront and be completely transparent about them, so that future researchers are aware of them and can improve the study’s design to minimise the limitations and strengthen the findings.

Generally, you’ll want to consider at least the following four common limitations. These are:

  • Your scope – for example, perhaps your focus is very narrow and doesn’t consider how certain variables interact with each other.
  • Your research methodology – for example, a qualitative methodology could be criticised for being overly subjective, or a quantitative methodology could be criticised for oversimplifying the situation (learn more about methodologies here ).
  • Your resources – for example, a lack of time, money, equipment and your own research experience.
  • The generalisability of your findings – for example, the findings from the study of a specific industry or country can’t necessarily be generalised to other industries or countries.

Don’t be shy here. There’s no use trying to hide the limitations or weaknesses of your research. In fact, the more critical you can be of your study, the better. The markers want to see that you are aware of the limitations as this demonstrates your understanding of research design – so be brutal.

#7 – The structural outline

Now that you’ve clearly communicated what your research is going to be about, why it’s important and what the limitations of your research will be, the final ingredient is the structural outline.The purpose of this section is simply to provide your reader with a roadmap of what to expect in terms of the structure of your dissertation or thesis.

In this section, you’ll need to provide a brief summary of each chapter’s purpose and contents (including the introduction chapter). A sentence or two explaining what you’ll do in each chapter is generally enough to orient the reader. You don’t want to get too detailed here – it’s purely an outline, not a summary of your research.

Let’s look at an example:

In Chapter One, the context of the study has been introduced. The research objectives and questions have been identified, and the value of such research argued. The limitations of the study have also been discussed.

In Chapter Two, the existing literature will be reviewed and a foundation of theory will be laid out to identify key skills development approaches and strategies within the context of fast-moving industries, especially technology-intensive industries.

In Chapter Three, the methodological choices will be explored. Specifically, the adoption of a qualitative, inductive research approach will be justified, and the broader research design will be discussed, including the limitations thereof.

So, as you can see from the example, this section is simply an outline of the chapter structure, allocating a short paragraph to each chapter. Done correctly, the outline will help your reader understand what to expect and reassure them that you’ll address the multiple facets of the study.

By the way – if you’re unsure of how to structure your dissertation or thesis, be sure to check out our video post which explains dissertation structure .

Keep calm and carry on.

Hopefully you feel a bit more prepared for this challenge of crafting your dissertation or thesis introduction chapter now. Take a deep breath and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – conquer one ingredient at a time and you’ll be firmly on the path to success.

Let’s quickly recap – the 7 ingredients are:

  • The opening section – where you give a brief, high-level overview of what your research will be about.
  • The study background – where you introduce the reader to key theory, concepts and terminology, as well as the context of your study.
  • The research problem – where you explain what the problem with the current research is. In other words, the research gap.
  • The research aims , objectives and questions – where you clearly state what your dissertation will investigate.
  • The significance – where you explain what value your research will provide to the world.
  • The limitations – where you explain what the potential shortcomings and limitations of your research may be.
  • The structural outline – where you provide a high-level overview of the structure of your document

If you bake these ingredients into your dissertation introduction chapter, you’ll be well on your way to building an engaging introduction chapter that lays a rock-solid foundation for the rest of your document.

Remember, while we’ve covered the essential ingredients here, there may be some additional components that your university requires, so be sure to double-check your project brief!

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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42 Comments

Derique

Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident enough in undertaking my thesis on the survey;The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that. Good luck with your thesis!

Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident now undertaking my thesis; The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction.

Emmanuel Chukwuebuka Okoli

Thanks so much for this article. I found myself struggling and wasting a lot of time in my thesis writing but after reading this article and watching some of your youtube videos, I now have a clear understanding of what is required for a thesis.

Saima Kashif

Thank you Derek, i find your each post so useful. Keep it up.

Aletta

Thank you so much Derek ,for shedding the light and making it easier for me to handle the daunting task of academic writing .

Alice kasaka

Thanks do much Dereck for the comprehensive guide. It will assist me queit a lot in my thesis.

dawood

thanks a lot for helping

SALly henderson

i LOVE the gifs, such a fun way to engage readers. thanks for the advice, much appreciated

NAG

Thanks a lot Derek! It will be really useful to the beginner in research!

Derek Jansen

You’re welcome

ravi

This is a well written, easily comprehensible, simple introduction to the basics of a Research Dissertation../the need to keep the reader in mind while writing the dissertation is an important point that is covered../ I appreciate the efforts of the author../

Laxmi kanta Sharma

The instruction given are perfect and clear. I was supposed to take the course , unfortunately in Nepal the service is not avaialble.However, I am much more hopeful that you will provide require documents whatever you have produced so far.

Halima Ringim

Thank you very much

Shamim Nabankema

Thanks so much ❤️😘 I feel am ready to start writing my research methodology

Sapphire Kellichan

This is genuinely the most effective advice I have ever been given regarding academia. Thank you so much!

Abdul

This is one of the best write up I have seen in my road to PhD thesis. regards, this write up update my knowledge of research

Amelia

I was looking for some good blogs related to Education hopefully your article will help. Thanks for sharing.

Dennis

This is an awesome masterpiece. It is one of the most comprehensive guides to writing a Dissertation/Thesis I have seen and read.

You just saved me from going astray in writing a Dissertation for my undergraduate studies. I could not be more grateful for such a relevant guide like this. Thank you so much.

Maria

Thank you so much Derek, this has been extremely helpful!!

I do have one question though, in the limitations part do you refer to the scope as the focus of the research on a specific industry/country/chronological period? I assume that in order to talk about whether or not the research could be generalized, the above would need to be already presented and described in the introduction.

Thank you again!

Jackson Lubari Wani

Phew! You have genuinely rescued me. I was stuck how to go about my thesis. Now l have started. Thank you.

Valmont Dain

This is the very best guide in anything that has to do with thesis or dissertation writing. The numerous blends of examples and detailed insights make it worth a read and in fact, a treasure that is worthy to be bookmarked.

Thanks a lot for this masterpiece!

Steve

Powerful insight. I can now take a step

Bayaruna

Thank you very much for these valuable introductions to thesis chapters. I saw all your videos about writing the introduction, discussion, and conclusion chapter. Then, I am wondering if we need to explain our research limitations in all three chapters, introduction, discussion, and conclusion? Isn’t it a bit redundant? If not, could you please explain how can we write in different ways? Thank you.

Md. Abdullah-Al-mahbub

Excellent!!! Thank you…

shahrin

Thanks for this informative content. I have a question. The research gap is mentioned in both the introduction and literature section. I would like to know how can I demonstrate the research gap in both sections without repeating the contents?

Sarah

I’m incredibly grateful for this invaluable content. I’ve been dreading compiling my postgrad thesis but breaking each chapter down into sections has made it so much easier for me to engage with the material without feeling overwhelmed. After relying on your guidance, I’m really happy with how I’ve laid out my introduction.

mahdi

Thank you for the informative content you provided

Steven

Hi Derrick and Team, thank you so much for the comprehensive guide on how to write a dissertation or a thesis introduction section. For some of us first-timers, it is a daunting task. However, the instruction with relevant examples makes it clear and easy to follow through. Much appreciated.

Raza Bukhari

It was so helpful. God Bless you. Thanks very much

beza

I thank you Grad coach for your priceless help. I have two questions I have learned from your video the limitations of the research presented in chapter one. but in another video also presented in chapter five. which chapter limitation should be included? If possible, I need your answer since I am doing my thesis. how can I explain If I am asked what is my motivation for this research?

Simon Musa Wuranjiya

Thank you guys for the great work you are doing. Honestly, you have made the research to be interesting and simplified. Even a novice will easily grasp the ideas you put forward, Thank you once again.

Natalie

Excellent piece!

Simon

I feel like just settling for a good topic is usually the hardest part.

Kate

Thank you so much. My confidence has been completely destroyed during my first year of PhD and you have helped me pull myself together again

Happy to help 🙂

Linda Adhoch

I am so glad I ran into your resources and did not waste time doing the wrong this. Research is now making so much sense now.

Danyal Ahmad

Gratitude to Derrick and the team I was looking for a solid article that would aid me in drafting the thesis’ introduction. I felt quite happy when I came across the piece you wrote because it was so well-written and insightful. I wish you success in the future.

ria M

thank you so much. God Bless you

Arnold C

Thank you so much Grad Coach for these helpful insights. Now I can get started, with a great deal of confidence.

Ro

It’s ‘alluded to’ not ‘eluded to’.

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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.

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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

You may also like.

Not sure how to write dissertation title page? All dissertations must have a dissertation title page where necessary information should be clearly presented

Not sure how to start your dissertation and get it right the first time? Here are some tips and guidelines for you to kick start your dissertation project.

Dissertation conclusion is perhaps the most underrated part of a dissertation or thesis paper. Learn how to write a dissertation conclusion.

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How to Write an Effective and Successful PhD Thesis Introduction

Like the cherry on the cake, PhD thesis writing is the crowning achievement of your research. While a PhD thesis summarises and presents the results of your long-term investigating efforts, an introduction is a showcase of your thesis.

The first thing a reader will look into is the introduction so that they can understand what your thesis is all about. Most importantly, they’re working out whether it is worth paying attention to it at all. If you’re not sure about the strength of your dissertation you can ask for PhD thesis writing help from professional writing services.

student writing their PhD thesis introduction on laptop

Your introduction will say a lot about the quality of the entire thesis, hence it is important to pay special attention to it. Normally, the introduction briefly outlines all other chapters of the thesis although does not describe them in detail. Here is a typical structure of a PhD thesis introduction.

An outsider reader is not familiar with the research field as closely as you are. Therefore, you have to introduce it to the public. What is the current state of affairs? What is the scope of the research? What is the context? By disclosing these points, you immerse the reader into the world of your work and show its significance.

Research problem, research question(s) and motivation for the research

The next thing you should reveal is why you are undertaking the research. It is most likely that there has been previous existing research on the topic. So, why are you doing this? The centre of the research is the problem that has not been addressed by the scholars. Formulate it appropriately to show the gap in the existing knowledge on the topic.

Moreover, you should substantiate why this problem is important and has to be solved. Next, you should formulate research questions so that answering them will help to solve the research problem. Finally, you should show why this problem has to be paid attention to and what your motivation for conducting the research is. These may be the interest and the perspective of the topic as well as your previous accomplishments in this sphere.

Research aim and objectives

Based on the research questions, you formulate the research aim. The aim is what you expect to obtain as a result of your efforts. It can be decomposed into research objectives in the format of particular actions such as exploring this, determining the factors of that, estimating the significance of the relationship between this and that, developing a model of this and testing it in a specific context. For each objective, you will further specify the research hypotheses which will present the expected outcomes of your actions.

Author’s contribution to the existing body of knowledge

One of the most interesting points of the thesis is the author’s contribution. It may not be worthy of the Nobel prize, but the PhD thesis implies independent research and adding something new and significant to the existing knowledge. Since the introduction will likely be written after conducting the main body of the research so that its main results will already be known, you should outline what you have attained in your work and what it gives to science in general.

Methodology of your PhD thesis

While there is no sense in describing the methodology in detail in your thesis introduction, as it will have its own chapter. It is a good idea to show the readers how exactly you are doing your research. What data have you used? Where have you taken them? What methods have you applied? According to these details, an experienced reader can get an idea of the course of the entire study.

Structure of the thesis

Finally, you should give a reader an idea of how your research is organised. If they are interested in the details of your study, they will be able to go to a particular chapter or section and obtain the required information.

If you are struggling to formulate and write an effective introduction, contact us today for our PhD thesis introduction writing help .

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How to write a good thesis introduction

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

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.

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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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what to include in a phd thesis introduction

How to Write Thesis Introduction Chapter: An Ultimate Guide

If you’ve landed here, you might be in the early challenging phase of penning down the dissertation introduction chapter. Well, we all know that it’s not an easy feat.

In this post, we will learn and review all the essential ingredients necessary for writing a strong dissertation and the details on which you should focus in this section.

Let’s get started by finding out what a thesis introduction is!

What Is Thesis Introduction?

The introduction is the first chapter of your dissertation that is placed right after the table of content. Your introduction should be intriguing and informative enough to draw your readers’ attention and set up the ground for your research with clarity, direction, and purpose on a relevant topic.

Your dissertation introduction should include;

  • Topic Introduction And Subject Background: This initial part serves as an introduction, providing a broad overview of your research and the necessary context for your project, explaining the factors surrounding it.
  • Research problem: This section highlights the gap or deficiency in current research that your study aims to address.
  • Focus And scope: Clearly articulate the specific achievements and inquiries your research intends to accomplish.
  • Relevance And importance: Justify the worth and value of your research, explaining why it is important to undertake and the contributions it will make.
  • Questions And objectives: Outline the specific research questions or objectives that this dissertation will address and achieve.
  • Limitations: Acknowledge and address the potential limitations inherent in your project and approach.
  • Structure Overview: Briefly outline the organisation and framework of your dissertation or thesis, helping the reader navigate its contents.

How To Start Writing The Dissertation Introduction

While the dissertation introduction traditionally serves as the opening section, it is not mandatory to write it first. In fact, it is often one of the final components to be written, usually preceding the abstract.

But we suggest you write a rough draft of your dissertation introduction before starting the research to guide you throughout the writing process. However, revise the introduction from time to time to ensure that it matches the content of all sections.

1.    Topic Introduction And Subject Background

Start by introducing your dissertation subject and providing essential contextual details. Define the significance of your research to educate your readers and grab their interest. It’s better to demonstrate the timeliness or importance of your topic, potentially by referring to a pertinent news article, ongoing academic discussion, or practical issue.

2.    Focus And scope

After providing a concise introduction to the broader field of study, it is essential to narrow your research focus and clearly delineate your investigation’s specific boundaries and objectives.

There are several ways through which you can narrow down your research focus, including:

  • Time period
  • Demographics
  • Geographical area
  • Topics, themes, and aspects

3.    Research Problem

Once you have provided your readers with an overview of your research area, it becomes essential to delve into the specifics of the research problem that your dissertation or thesis will address. While the background section may have hinted at potential research problems, this section aims to narrow down the focus and emphasise the specific research problem you will concentrate on.

Now, you might wonder, what exactly constitutes a research problem?

A research problem arises when there is a need to address a question or set of questions, but there exists a gap in the current literature, or the existing research presents conflicting or inconsistent findings.

To present your research problem effectively, it is crucial to clarify what is missing in the current literature and why it poses a problem. It is generally advisable to structure this discussion into three sections, namely:

  • The Current State Of Research: This entails highlighting what is already well-established in the existing literature.
  • The Literature Gap: Here, you identify the aspects or areas that are missing or inadequately addressed in the literature.
  • The Significance Of The Problem: This section elucidates why filling this gap in the literature is important and emphasises the implications and potential contributions of addressing the research problem.

By structuring your discussion in this manner, you can effectively convey the specific research problem and its importance within the existing academic landscape.

4.    Relevance And importance

To establish a strong foundation for your research, it is crucial to articulate your motivation behind undertaking this study and highlight its connection to existing scholarship. It is also important to outline the anticipated contributions and novel insights your research aims to offer.

Begin by providing a concise overview of the current state of research, including relevant literature citations. While it is important to acknowledge key sources, keep in mind that a more comprehensive survey of relevant literature will be conducted in the literature review section, thus avoiding excessive detail in the introduction.

Ultimately, your dissertation introduction should

  • Contributes to resolving the theoretical or practical problem.
  • Fills a gap in the existing literature.
  • Expands and builds upon previous research.
  • Introduces a new understanding of the topic.

5.    Questions And Objectives

Formulating research questions and objectives is critical to any introduction, as it establishes the framework for the subsequent thesis or dissertation. How you craft these questions and objectives will vary based on your field of study, subject matter, and specific focus.

Moreover, if your objective in conducting research is to evaluate hypotheses, you can express them in this section. Additionally, your introduction provides an opportune space to present a conceptual framework that proposes associations among variables.

6.    The limitations

After successfully defining your dissertation’s subject area and objectives, it is important to address the potential limitations of your research in a brief discussion.

Scope: It is crucial to acknowledge any narrow focus in your research that may overlook the interaction between certain variables.

Research Methodology: Critiques may arise regarding the subjectivity of qualitative methodologies or the oversimplification associated with quantitative methodologies.

Resources: It is important to consider limitations such as time constraints, financial constraints, equipment availability, and personal research experience.

Generalisability Of Findings: Keep in mind that findings obtained from studying a specific industry or country may not be readily applicable or generalised to other industries or countries.

7.    Structure Overview

The structural outline is the last component after effectively conveying the research topic, significance, and limitations. Its purpose is to give the reader a clear idea of the dissertation or thesis structure.

In this section, a concise summary of each chapter, including the introduction chapter, is necessary. A sentence or two that outlines the purpose and contents of each chapter will suffice to guide the reader. It’s important to avoid excessive detail as this section serves as an outline, not a comprehensive research summary.

Introduction Checklist

☐  I have captivated the reader with an interesting introduction to my research subject.

☐  I have presented essential background information to aid the reader’s comprehension of the topic.

☐  I have precisely indicated the main focus of my research.

☐  I have demonstrated the significance and relevance of the dissertation topic.

☐  I have clearly defined the problem or question my research aims to tackle.

☐  I have outlined the specific goals and objectives of the research.

☐  I have given a brief overview of the structure of the dissertation.

Wrapping Up!

By incorporating these elements into your dissertation introduction chapter, you will create a compelling opening that establishes a strong framework for the rest of your dissertation. It’s important to note that your university might have specific requirements or additional components for the introduction, so make sure to review your project guidelines thoroughly.

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If you find it tricky to write the introduction chapter of a PhD thesis, rest assured that you’re not alone. The introduction can be one of the hardest sections to write for any piece of research writing. However, the introduction is also one of the most important sections as it lays the groundwork for the following chapters and offers a first impression of the rest of the research that you are about to share. This article discusses some of the key things to consider as you write your introduction.

Write your introduction last

It is very common practice for most researchers to write the introduction chapter last. You might be wondering why that is, since it is the first chapter of the thesis. However, think of it in this way: you cannot introduce something until you know exactly what you are introducing .

You will have a complete overview and understanding of the entire project only when you have largely completed it and written all the other constituent parts. By writing the introduction at the end of your project, you’ll be able to look back over your initial research questions , the way you conducted the research, the results you generated and the conclusions you formed. You will then be in a better position to present and introduce the research as a whole, coherent piece of work. 

Provide an overview 

The introduction should offer the reader an overview of the research that you have conducted. You are setting the scene for your reader and giving them a broad idea of what they can expect throughout the rest of the thesis. As such, you don’t need to go into too much depth at this stage – the details can come later in the following chapters. In particular, you need to talk about what you are studying and why.

What are you studying?

The introduction is the best place to outline your working hypothesis and/or research questions . After all, this is what the rest of your thesis will entail.

Make it very clear for your reader exactly what you are setting out to investigate.

What are you trying to find out? What are you testing? What answers or results are you hoping to obtain by doing this study?

You might find it easier and clearer to outline your research questions as distinct bullet points . Then, you can follow this list with a more detailed discussion of each of the questions or hypotheses – for example, why you are asking each question, what you hope to find out from each question and what methods you will use to answer those questions. 

Why are you doing this research? 

Apart from giving your reader an idea of what your thesis is about, it is important to explain in the introduction why you are doing this research. Start by highlighting exactly what issue(s) you are addressing in this research, then outline why this research is important and why there is a need for this study to be conducted.

Although you shouldn’t give everything away and reveal all your findings and conclusions at the beginning of the thesis, you can begin to hint at the potential impact and implications that such a study could create, either for your specific field, or for society more generally. This will again emphasise the significance and relevance of this research. 

Offer some background

In order to effectively set the scene, you can also begin to introduce some of the most prominent work that has already been done on the subject. This chapter is a good place to contextualise your research within the broader, existing body of work. Again, you don’t need to go into great detail – that will be covered in the literature review – but it can be helpful to briefly mention some of the existing relevant work that has informed and motivated your unique study.

For example, perhaps your research responds directly to a recent scientific discovery. You can use the introduction to refer to this previous study and explain how you are addressing the limitations and problems of that study or exploring the effects of using an alternative method.

How are you conducting this research?

When you’ve introduced the reasons informing your study and explained what you will be investigating, you will then want to offer a brief explanation of how you have designed and conducted this research. Again, as you are only giving an overview at this stage, you don’t need to go into too much detail – further explanations will come later in your methods /methodology chapter.

Remember that you want to offer your reader a broad idea of what the overall research project entails. Naturally, this includes some discussion of the main approaches and directions you took in your research to adequately answer the questions that you set out to investigate.

Offer a clear chapter outline

It is a good idea to include a section within your introduction that clearly outlines what each of the proceeding chapters will include. As you write these chapter outlines, think of them as small summaries, or mini abstracts, of each chapter .

Your reader will then have a much firmer and focused idea of what is to come next, and how each chapter will connect with and links to each other. Think of the chapter outline as something like a recipe or a roadmap laying out the steps that the reader will follow. 

In conclusion

Although it can feel a bit overwhelming to have to summarise all your research into a single introductory chapter, it might help to place yourself in the position of your ideal reader or examiner .

What would you like them to know as they start reading your thesis? What important pieces of information would they need here in order to fully appreciate and understand the rest of your paper?

Think about what you would like to see and what details you appreciate when you read introductory chapters, and try to recreate that same clarity for your reader.

Read next (final) in series:  PhD Writing 4: How to write the conclusion chapter of your thesis

Read previous in series: PhD Writing 2: How to improve your writing skills in preparation for writing your thesis

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How to write an introduction chapter for a thesis

Louisa Hill is a Senior Teaching Fellow and delivers workshops for Postgraduate Researchers who want to teach.

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When writing a thesis, you will need to write an introductory chapter. This chapter is critical as it is the first thing that the examiner will read and it is therefore important to make a good first impression. 

A good introduction chapter should incite the reader to read the rest of the thesis by establishing the context of your topic, the motivation for undertaking your work and the importance of your research.

As a lecturer and supervisor, I have read many introductory chapters for research projects such as theses. Here is my advice to those undertaking a research project and writing a thesis.

Capture the reader’s interest

Initially you need to capture the reader’s attention with a discussion of a broader theme relating to your research. To add impact draw on research, data and quotations from international or national professional bodies, governmental organisations or key authors on the topic of study.

Give an overview of your research topic

Your discussion should then begin by detailing the broader aspects of the topic more, before focussing on the specific topic of your research. It is a good idea when you do this to assume that the reader knows nothing about your topic. Therefore definitions, drawing on key research, need to be clarified and explained. Alternatively, if having read key literature for the literature review chapter, you are not satisfied with existing definitions, then draw on these, to devise your own (but make it clear you have done this).

Detail how your research is going to make a contribution

You must then sell your idea for undertaking the research topic, demonstrating the main reasons why the research will make a significant contribution to the current body of research. This can be achieved by demonstrating a gap or limitation with existing research, then showing how your research will resolve this. There are different types of contribution (see  Constructing Research Questions: Doing Interesting Research ).

Explain what your interest is in the topic

Next you need to demonstrate your personal reasons for choosing the topic. These could relate to your previous research, work or experiences.

List your research objectives

You need to include your three or four overarching research objectives. Also include corresponding research questions if it is a qualitative piece of research or hypotheses if it is quantitative-based. The former are usually derivatives of the research objectives. Note though that these objectives and questions or hypotheses are fluid in nature and can be tweaked as you undertake the research.

Give a forthcoming chapter overview

The final part of the introduction is an overview of the rest of the chapters in the thesis. The other sections can go in any order, providing it is a logical sequence.

Learn from others

Look at other theses for example from  White Rose etheses  or your university library’s website. The majority of journal articles that you will read in the content of your topic will also provide useful insights.

Speak with your supervisor

Remember to always speak with your supervisor and have regular catch-ups. They will be able to offer guidance and encouragement, and steer you in the right direction.

Related content

  • Writing a research PhD proposal
  • Presenting with impact
  • The benefits of undertaking a placement alongside your PhD

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Sharing PhD experiences across the University of Warwick and beyond

Your Thesis Introduction

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

November might be over, but we know your thesis is still there. Writing the introduction and conclusion sounds like a breeze after wrestling with all the other chapters, but these two might be tricky… Emma shares some fantastic advice on writing the Introduction Chapter. 

To clarify this blog is about the introduction of the thesis, not about the introduction for each thesis chapter (which is blogged about already).

I could not find a blog on introductions, perhaps because they are usually written last, near the end, when no one wants to write anything additional by that point.

Image credits: Youske Muroya / CC

But I have been struggling with the introduction. Introducing someone to your work in an interesting way yet ticking all those thesis boxes is tough. I rapidly realised that my introduction was becoming a literature review. I was confused where to situate the study because my method was exploratory, involving storytelling. The study was conducted with a school, but was also connected to several other areas such as theatre and drama studies, arts in education, psychology, and youth studies, to name a few.

I had written 15 pages of rubbish and needed help. I showed my work to someone that knows about writing. They advised me to start again.

From my experience no one can tell you exactly how to write the introduction because they are all different. But here are some tips to get started which will enable your supervisor to polish it further to fit with the rest of your thesis.

  • Imagine that you are telling someone you have just met about the motivation or inspiration for your study. Aim for 250 words or a page. Don’t look at your thesis questions or anything previously written. Write on a sheet of paper if that helps.
  • Take the time to select one area to connect your work to, even if it connects to several areas. Summarise this in a paragraph from your head (yes, again that means without looking at all those carefully taken notes and previous scribbles).
  • Are you using an epistemological stance/theoretical point of view? Tell the reader about it in a paragraph.
  • Rethink and add your research questions (you can look at previous drafts here, depending on the field your research questions may have changed quite a bit).
  • Write an outline of what is being discussed in the thesis chapter by chapter. Have a look at some thesis documents from your field in the Modern records centre part of the library/online to see how others do this.

This won’t write your introduction for you, but it does provide a place to work from. Now show this to someone who knows nothing about your work. See what questions they have and address them in the text.

Don’t worry if you get comments like this:

  • needs transition
  • structure of ideas is not right/I don’t understand what you mean here

Put it in a draw, have a break, now go back to it. Now check the order, summarize what each paragraph is about or how it fits into your analysis as a whole.

Are there transitions for the reader? You can find examples of transition words here .

Then work on connecting ideas, and paragraphs, using transition words. There is  help  on how to use the transition words if you get stuck.

So you’ve done a first draft, checked the order, and used transition words to help the readers follow your ideas.

The next step is to look at how you have started the chapter, referring to the usual route in your field this could be with a vignette, or the methods.

If you are not sure about the order ask:

Does this make the thesis sound interesting? Is the most important point first or at the forefront of the argument?

Now show your draft to your supervisor.

These are some ideas to get you started; of course your supervisor will have some better suggestions once you have a basic outline.

Emma Parfitt is a PhD researcher in Sociology at the University of Warwick, otherwise known as the storytelling researcher. Her research interests include storytelling, creative writing, emotions and behaviour. She has a degree in Environmental Science and an MA in literature from St Andrews University. Emma had also published an Ebook called Temptation and Mozzarella . Read more about her research in Emma’s  publications  and blog .

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8 thoughts on “ your thesis introduction ”.

This is the one of best blog. I was confused for writing a thesis, that time I got this blog; after I read this blog I got an idea about thesis writing. This is the one of best blog. Thesis writing is not tough one. While reading this blog you may get an idea and surly can write the best thesis.

The Italian philosopher sets out a number of considerations to take into account when choosing the topic, search the material the work plan, involving timing and wording .

Thanks for sharing us nice post to gain interesting knowledge to complete my Thesis.

  • Pingback: How to Write a Good PhD Introduction: Collected Resources | Turbulent London

You know, this is really great. I note ‘…not about the introduction for each thesis chapter (which is blogged about already)…’- where is that then? It’s a much smaller form of introduction but perhaps even harder in its concision. Thanks very much! Ed

Thanks for your comment, Ed. I don’t think Emma was referring to a particular post on PhD Life (we would have have linked it), but generally noted that she found resources to help her with that, but fewer that deal with the Introduction Chapter itself.

This post might be a good start: https://patthomson.net/2014/01/16/connecting-chapterschapter-introductions/

All the best, Ana (PhD Life)

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How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

The research paper introduction section, along with the Title and Abstract, can be considered the face of any research paper. The following article is intended to guide you in organizing and writing the research paper introduction for a quality academic article or dissertation.

The research paper introduction aims to present the topic to the reader. A study will only be accepted for publishing if you can ascertain that the available literature cannot answer your research question. So it is important to ensure that you have read important studies on that particular topic, especially those within the last five to ten years, and that they are properly referenced in this section. 1 What should be included in the research paper introduction is decided by what you want to tell readers about the reason behind the research and how you plan to fill the knowledge gap. The best research paper introduction provides a systemic review of existing work and demonstrates additional work that needs to be done. It needs to be brief, captivating, and well-referenced; a well-drafted research paper introduction will help the researcher win half the battle.

The introduction for a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your research topic
  • Capture reader interest
  • Summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Define your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Highlight the novelty and contributions of the study
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The research paper introduction can vary in size and structure depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or is a review paper. Some research paper introduction examples are only half a page while others are a few pages long. In many cases, the introduction will be shorter than all of the other sections of your paper; its length depends on the size of your paper as a whole.

  • Break through writer’s block. Write your research paper introduction with Paperpal Copilot

Table of Contents

What is the introduction for a research paper, why is the introduction important in a research paper, craft a compelling introduction section with paperpal. try now, 1. introduce the research topic:, 2. determine a research niche:, 3. place your research within the research niche:, craft accurate research paper introductions with paperpal. start writing now, frequently asked questions on research paper introduction, key points to remember.

The introduction in a research paper is placed at the beginning to guide the reader from a broad subject area to the specific topic that your research addresses. They present the following information to the reader

  • Scope: The topic covered in the research paper
  • Context: Background of your topic
  • Importance: Why your research matters in that particular area of research and the industry problem that can be targeted

The research paper introduction conveys a lot of information and can be considered an essential roadmap for the rest of your paper. A good introduction for a research paper is important for the following reasons:

  • It stimulates your reader’s interest: A good introduction section can make your readers want to read your paper by capturing their interest. It informs the reader what they are going to learn and helps determine if the topic is of interest to them.
  • It helps the reader understand the research background: Without a clear introduction, your readers may feel confused and even struggle when reading your paper. A good research paper introduction will prepare them for the in-depth research to come. It provides you the opportunity to engage with the readers and demonstrate your knowledge and authority on the specific topic.
  • It explains why your research paper is worth reading: Your introduction can convey a lot of information to your readers. It introduces the topic, why the topic is important, and how you plan to proceed with your research.
  • It helps guide the reader through the rest of the paper: The research paper introduction gives the reader a sense of the nature of the information that will support your arguments and the general organization of the paragraphs that will follow. It offers an overview of what to expect when reading the main body of your paper.

What are the parts of introduction in the research?

A good research paper introduction section should comprise three main elements: 2

  • What is known: This sets the stage for your research. It informs the readers of what is known on the subject.
  • What is lacking: This is aimed at justifying the reason for carrying out your research. This could involve investigating a new concept or method or building upon previous research.
  • What you aim to do: This part briefly states the objectives of your research and its major contributions. Your detailed hypothesis will also form a part of this section.

How to write a research paper introduction?

The first step in writing the research paper introduction is to inform the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening statement. The second step involves establishing the kinds of research that have been done and ending with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to address. Finally, the research paper introduction clarifies how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses. If your research involved testing hypotheses, these should be stated along with your research question. The hypothesis should be presented in the past tense since it will have been tested by the time you are writing the research paper introduction.

The following key points, with examples, can guide you when writing the research paper introduction section:

  • Highlight the importance of the research field or topic
  • Describe the background of the topic
  • Present an overview of current research on the topic

Example: The inclusion of experiential and competency-based learning has benefitted electronics engineering education. Industry partnerships provide an excellent alternative for students wanting to engage in solving real-world challenges. Industry-academia participation has grown in recent years due to the need for skilled engineers with practical training and specialized expertise. However, from the educational perspective, many activities are needed to incorporate sustainable development goals into the university curricula and consolidate learning innovation in universities.

  • Reveal a gap in existing research or oppose an existing assumption
  • Formulate the research question

Example: There have been plausible efforts to integrate educational activities in higher education electronics engineering programs. However, very few studies have considered using educational research methods for performance evaluation of competency-based higher engineering education, with a focus on technical and or transversal skills. To remedy the current need for evaluating competencies in STEM fields and providing sustainable development goals in engineering education, in this study, a comparison was drawn between study groups without and with industry partners.

  • State the purpose of your study
  • Highlight the key characteristics of your study
  • Describe important results
  • Highlight the novelty of the study.
  • Offer a brief overview of the structure of the paper.

Example: The study evaluates the main competency needed in the applied electronics course, which is a fundamental core subject for many electronics engineering undergraduate programs. We compared two groups, without and with an industrial partner, that offered real-world projects to solve during the semester. This comparison can help determine significant differences in both groups in terms of developing subject competency and achieving sustainable development goals.

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With Paperpal Copilot, create a research paper introduction effortlessly. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through how Paperpal transforms your initial ideas into a polished and publication-ready introduction.

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

How to use Paperpal to write the Introduction section

Step 1: Sign up on Paperpal and click on the Copilot feature, under this choose Outlines > Research Article > Introduction

Step 2: Add your unstructured notes or initial draft, whether in English or another language, to Paperpal, which is to be used as the base for your content.

Step 3: Fill in the specifics, such as your field of study, brief description or details you want to include, which will help the AI generate the outline for your Introduction.

Step 4: Use this outline and sentence suggestions to develop your content, adding citations where needed and modifying it to align with your specific research focus.

Step 5: Turn to Paperpal’s granular language checks to refine your content, tailor it to reflect your personal writing style, and ensure it effectively conveys your message.

You can use the same process to develop each section of your article, and finally your research paper in half the time and without any of the stress.

The purpose of the research paper introduction is to introduce the reader to the problem definition, justify the need for the study, and describe the main theme of the study. The aim is to gain the reader’s attention by providing them with necessary background information and establishing the main purpose and direction of the research.

The length of the research paper introduction can vary across journals and disciplines. While there are no strict word limits for writing the research paper introduction, an ideal length would be one page, with a maximum of 400 words over 1-4 paragraphs. Generally, it is one of the shorter sections of the paper as the reader is assumed to have at least a reasonable knowledge about the topic. 2 For example, for a study evaluating the role of building design in ensuring fire safety, there is no need to discuss definitions and nature of fire in the introduction; you could start by commenting upon the existing practices for fire safety and how your study will add to the existing knowledge and practice.

When deciding what to include in the research paper introduction, the rest of the paper should also be considered. The aim is to introduce the reader smoothly to the topic and facilitate an easy read without much dependency on external sources. 3 Below is a list of elements you can include to prepare a research paper introduction outline and follow it when you are writing the research paper introduction. Topic introduction: This can include key definitions and a brief history of the topic. Research context and background: Offer the readers some general information and then narrow it down to specific aspects. Details of the research you conducted: A brief literature review can be included to support your arguments or line of thought. Rationale for the study: This establishes the relevance of your study and establishes its importance. Importance of your research: The main contributions are highlighted to help establish the novelty of your study Research hypothesis: Introduce your research question and propose an expected outcome. Organization of the paper: Include a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences that highlights your plan for the entire paper

Cite only works that are most relevant to your topic; as a general rule, you can include one to three. Note that readers want to see evidence of original thinking. So it is better to avoid using too many references as it does not leave much room for your personal standpoint to shine through. Citations in your research paper introduction support the key points, and the number of citations depend on the subject matter and the point discussed. If the research paper introduction is too long or overflowing with citations, it is better to cite a few review articles rather than the individual articles summarized in the review. A good point to remember when citing research papers in the introduction section is to include at least one-third of the references in the introduction.

The literature review plays a significant role in the research paper introduction section. A good literature review accomplishes the following: Introduces the topic – Establishes the study’s significance – Provides an overview of the relevant literature – Provides context for the study using literature – Identifies knowledge gaps However, remember to avoid making the following mistakes when writing a research paper introduction: Do not use studies from the literature review to aggressively support your research Avoid direct quoting Do not allow literature review to be the focus of this section. Instead, the literature review should only aid in setting a foundation for the manuscript.

Remember the following key points for writing a good research paper introduction: 4

  • Avoid stuffing too much general information: Avoid including what an average reader would know and include only that information related to the problem being addressed in the research paper introduction. For example, when describing a comparative study of non-traditional methods for mechanical design optimization, information related to the traditional methods and differences between traditional and non-traditional methods would not be relevant. In this case, the introduction for the research paper should begin with the state-of-the-art non-traditional methods and methods to evaluate the efficiency of newly developed algorithms.
  • Avoid packing too many references: Cite only the required works in your research paper introduction. The other works can be included in the discussion section to strengthen your findings.
  • Avoid extensive criticism of previous studies: Avoid being overly critical of earlier studies while setting the rationale for your study. A better place for this would be the Discussion section, where you can highlight the advantages of your method.
  • Avoid describing conclusions of the study: When writing a research paper introduction remember not to include the findings of your study. The aim is to let the readers know what question is being answered. The actual answer should only be given in the Results and Discussion section.

To summarize, the research paper introduction section should be brief yet informative. It should convince the reader the need to conduct the study and motivate him to read further. If you’re feeling stuck or unsure, choose trusted AI academic writing assistants like Paperpal to effortlessly craft your research paper introduction and other sections of your research article.

1. Jawaid, S. A., & Jawaid, M. (2019). How to write introduction and discussion. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 13(Suppl 1), S18.

2. Dewan, P., & Gupta, P. (2016). Writing the title, abstract and introduction: Looks matter!. Indian pediatrics, 53, 235-241.

3. Cetin, S., & Hackam, D. J. (2005). An approach to the writing of a scientific Manuscript1. Journal of Surgical Research, 128(2), 165-167.

4. Bavdekar, S. B. (2015). Writing introduction: Laying the foundations of a research paper. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 63(7), 44-6.

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  • Manuscript Preparation

Know How to Structure Your PhD Thesis

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Table of Contents

In your academic career, few projects are more important than your PhD thesis. Unfortunately, many university professors and advisors assume that their students know how to structure a PhD. Books have literally been written on the subject, but there’s no need to read a book in order to know about PhD thesis paper format and structure. With that said, however, it’s important to understand that your PhD thesis format requirement may not be the same as another student’s. The bottom line is that how to structure a PhD thesis often depends on your university and department guidelines.

But, let’s take a look at a general PhD thesis format. We’ll look at the main sections, and how to connect them to each other. We’ll also examine different hints and tips for each of the sections. As you read through this toolkit, compare it to published PhD theses in your area of study to see how a real-life example looks.

Main Sections of a PhD Thesis

In almost every PhD thesis or dissertation, there are standard sections. Of course, some of these may differ, depending on your university or department requirements, as well as your topic of study, but this will give you a good idea of the basic components of a PhD thesis format.

  • Abstract : The abstract is a brief summary that quickly outlines your research, touches on each of the main sections of your thesis, and clearly outlines your contribution to the field by way of your PhD thesis. Even though the abstract is very short, similar to what you’ve seen in published research articles, its impact shouldn’t be underestimated. The abstract is there to answer the most important question to the reviewer. “Why is this important?”
  • Introduction : In this section, you help the reviewer understand your entire dissertation, including what your paper is about, why it’s important to the field, a brief description of your methodology, and how your research and the thesis are laid out. Think of your introduction as an expansion of your abstract.
  • Literature Review : Within the literature review, you are making a case for your new research by telling the story of the work that’s already been done. You’ll cover a bit about the history of the topic at hand, and how your study fits into the present and future.
  • Theory Framework : Here, you explain assumptions related to your study. Here you’re explaining to the review what theoretical concepts you might have used in your research, how it relates to existing knowledge and ideas.
  • Methods : This section of a PhD thesis is typically the most detailed and descriptive, depending of course on your research design. Here you’ll discuss the specific techniques you used to get the information you were looking for, in addition to how those methods are relevant and appropriate, as well as how you specifically used each method described.
  • Results : Here you present your empirical findings. This section is sometimes also called the “empiracles” chapter. This section is usually pretty straightforward and technical, and full of details. Don’t shortcut this chapter.
  • Discussion : This can be a tricky chapter, because it’s where you want to show the reviewer that you know what you’re talking about. You need to speak as a PhD versus a student. The discussion chapter is similar to the empirical/results chapter, but you’re building on those results to push the new information that you learned, prior to making your conclusion.
  • Conclusion : Here, you take a step back and reflect on what your original goals and intentions for the research were. You’ll outline them in context of your new findings and expertise.

Tips for your PhD Thesis Format

As you put together your PhD thesis, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed. Here are some tips that might keep you on track.

  • Don’t try to write your PhD as a first-draft. Every great masterwork has typically been edited, and edited, and…edited.
  • Work with your thesis supervisor to plan the structure and format of your PhD thesis. Be prepared to rewrite each section, as you work out rough drafts. Don’t get discouraged by this process. It’s typical.
  • Make your writing interesting. Academic writing has a reputation of being very dry.
  • You don’t have to necessarily work on the chapters and sections outlined above in chronological order. Work on each section as things come up, and while your work on that section is relevant to what you’re doing.
  • Don’t rush things. Write a first draft, and leave it for a few days, so you can come back to it with a more critical take. Look at it objectively and carefully grammatical errors, clarity, logic and flow.
  • Know what style your references need to be in, and utilize tools out there to organize them in the required format.
  • It’s easier to accidentally plagiarize than you think. Make sure you’re referencing appropriately, and check your document for inadvertent plagiarism throughout your writing process.

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Want some support during your PhD writing process? Our PhD Thesis Editing Plus service includes extensive and detailed editing of your thesis to improve the flow and quality of your writing. Unlimited editing support for guaranteed results. Learn more here , and get started today!

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DuVernay on exploring racism, antisemitism, caste in 'Origin'

what to include in a phd thesis introduction

Introduction

By Clea Simon | Harvard Correspondent April 25, 2024

In a talk at the Kennedy School Wednesday, award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Ava DuVernay said the impetus for her latest film, "Origin" — an adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s nonfiction book "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" — wasn’t racism, antisemitism, or caste.

"I have to be motivated by human emotions," said the "Selma" and "13th" director, explaining her decision to make the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wilkerson the protagonist of the film.

"I went in thinking, 'I'm going to write a story about a woman writing a book,'" DuVernay said. Centering Wilkerson allowed her to explore "the interiority of the character. To write a movie about a woman on a journey."

In "Caste," Wilkerson explores underlying systems of social hierarchy, exploring connections between American racism, the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, and the subjugation of Dalits in India.

DuVernay said that after a second reading, she realized that Wilkerson was an obvious protagonist. This was partly because the author had shared on social media about the recent deaths of her parents and her husband.

"I realized those losses happened when she was writing 'Caste,'" DuVernay recalled. "She's traveling the world. Her losses — and what she's finding and gaining — all of those collide and all of those make their way into the book somehow."

In some ways, DuVernay said, Wilkerson's journey paralleled her own. In 2020, when "Caste" came out, DuVernay had recently lost a close family member. In addition, due to the pandemic, she recalled "everyone [feeling] afraid." Soon after, the murder of George Floyd added to the "heightened emotions" of the day.

Wilkerson's personal story "ignited" the historical information for DuVernay. "Origin" juxtaposes the contemporary story of Wilkerson and her book's historical material, which "spans 400 years and seven different time periods."

DuVernay said depicting the experience of the Dalits, the caste in India relegated to the lowest and most degrading work, was uncomfortable. She felt that as a non-Dalit, "I shouldn’t be doing it." While she felt obligated to include such a major part of the book in her film, the experiences didn't feel like hers to tell. In fact, for the filmmaker, it harkened back to another era — and another kind of injustice. "I likened it to well-meaning white people depicting African American life when Black people were not allowed to make films or given access to filmmaking," she said. Without representation in the process, she concluded, "there's usually a little something missing."

DuVernay was joined on stage for the talk by Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School.

"You've been making films about systemic racism for a long time, so what convinced you in the story of 'Caste' that Isabel Wilkerson had gotten it right?" asked Muhammad. "That somehow our language wasn't quite right to capture … And I have a line here from the film, 'Racism as the primary language to describe everything is insufficient.' So talk us through your adaptation of this thesis."

"I don't say that she got it right," DuVernay responded. "I think that her pursuit of her idea is fascinating."

Describing the two years she spent interviewing Wilkerson, DuVernay explained her nuanced take.

"There are commonalities and there is an entry point that is shared across oppressions," she said. "We don’t have to compete in the 'oppression Olympics' to see who is suffering more. This very simple idea of hierarchy of human beings based on a random set of traits is at the core of all of the -isms," she concluded, naming racism and antisemitism along with Islamophobia and homophobia.

Despite the horrors in "Origin," DuVernay said she sees her film as "a collection of love stories."

"I don't see my work as being about trauma. I see all my work as being about triumph, and you cannot triumph if you do not know what you are overcoming."

Photo by Martha Stewart

Read the original article here.

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COMMENTS

  1. 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

  2. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    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. Note.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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    3. An introduction is a funnel into your work, be it a paper or a thesis. The basic idea is to start by providing the wider scope within which your work resides. You then focus in on your part of the field or research question through a few steps.

  6. How to Write an Effective and Successful PhD Thesis Introduction

    While a PhD thesis summarises and presents the results of your long-term investigating efforts, an introduction is a showcase of your thesis. The first thing a reader will look into is the introduction so that they can understand what your thesis is all about. Most importantly, they're working out whether it is worth paying attention to it at ...

  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 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.

  9. How to Write Thesis Introduction Chapter: An Ultimate Guide

    Your dissertation introduction should include; Topic Introduction And Subject Background: This initial part serves as an introduction, providing a broad overview of your research and the necessary context for your project, explaining the factors surrounding it. Research problem: This section highlights the gap or deficiency in current research ...

  10. A Guide to Writing a PhD Thesis

    The PhD thesis is the most important part of a doctoral degree. This page will introduce you to what you need to know about the PhD dissertation. ... Introduction - This sets out the key objectives of your project, ... Bibliography and appendices - At the end of your thesis, you'll need to include a full list of the books, articles and ...

  11. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer). Argumentative paper: Thesis statement. The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two ...

  12. How to write the introduction chapter of a thesis

    The introduction should offer the reader an overview of the research that you have conducted. You are setting the scene for your reader and giving them a broad idea of what they can expect throughout the rest of the thesis. As such, you don't need to go into too much depth at this stage - the details can come later in the following chapters.

  13. How to write an introduction chapter for a thesis

    A good introduction chapter should incite the reader to read the rest of the thesis by establishing the context of your topic, the motivation for undertaking your work and the importance of your research. As a lecturer and supervisor, I have read many introductory chapters for research projects such as theses.

  14. Tips for writing a PhD dissertation: FAQs answered

    A PhD thesis (or dissertation) is typically 60,000 to 120,000 words ( 100 to 300 pages in length) organised into chapters, divisions and subdivisions (with roughly 10,000 words per chapter) - from introduction (with clear aims and objectives) to conclusion. The structure of a dissertation will vary depending on discipline (humanities, social ...

  15. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  16. PDF PhD Thesis Writing Process: A Systematic Approach—How to Write ...

    (Al-Raqqad et al., 2017). The following are the process of PhD thesis writing process. 4.1. Introduction Writing Process An introduction is the most difficult parts of a PhD thesis. The introduction opens a dialogue with your examiner or reader. As such, a good introduction is critical to capturing the attention of your readers and engaging ...

  17. How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Or Thesis ...

    Learn how to craft a top-notch dissertation introduction or thesis introduction in 7 easy steps. We explain how to develop a high-quality introduction chapte...

  18. Your Thesis Introduction

    Write an outline of what is being discussed in the thesis chapter by chapter. Have a look at some thesis documents from your field in the Modern records centre part of the library/online to see how others do this. This won't write your introduction for you, but it does provide a place to work from. Now show this to someone who knows nothing ...

  19. How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

    Define your specific research problem and problem statement. Highlight the novelty and contributions of the study. Give an overview of the paper's structure. The research paper introduction can vary in size and structure depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or is a review paper.

  20. How To Write A Thesis Introduction Like An Expert In 2023

    A good introduction should provide enough background details to allow the reader to understand the goal of the study. Ensure to include the following details in your thesis introduction: Motivation of the study. Description of the study topic. Explanation of the relevance of the study. Explanation of the scope of the study.

  21. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organizational structure of your thesis or dissertation. This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline. Tip You can find a thesis and dissertation outline template below, as well as a chapter outline example, and example sentences ...

  22. Know How to Structure Your PhD Thesis

    Introduction: In this section, you help the reviewer understand your entire dissertation, including what your paper is about, why it's important to the field, a brief description of your methodology, and how your research and the thesis are laid out. Think of your introduction as an expansion of your abstract. ... As you put together your PhD ...

  23. Building 6C

    The center unifying the Department of Physics in Building 6C is the cornerstone of a significant infrastructure upgrade of MIT's historic Bosworth Buildings 4, 6, and 8, completed in 2007. The Green Center enhances interactions among faculty, students, and staff, allowing them to share ideas and create collaborations. This five-story contemporary glass structure was constructed inside an ...

  24. DuVernay on exploring racism, antisemitism, caste in 'Origin'

    DuVernay said depicting the experience of the Dalits, the caste in India relegated to the lowest and most degrading work, was uncomfortable. She felt that as a non-Dalit, "I shouldn't be doing it." While she felt obligated to include such a major part of the book in her film, the experiences didn't feel like hers to tell.

  25. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Hook your reader. Step 2: Give background information. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. Step 5: Check and revise. More examples of essay introductions. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.