Dissertation Introduction: Tips on Successful Writing
A dissertation introduction is the very first section of your dissertation where you start off for developing further ideas and details. You need to provide a short summation of your topic, put forward the core research problem in form of a strong statement, and provide a general layout of the whole dissertation.
Check out the information below if you want to find out how to write a dissertation introduction:
- Introduce the topic and the subject area you are writing in. Writing a dissertation introduction entails identifying the paper purpose and depicting the topic in depth. Make sure to provide sufficient background information to make the topic understandable or the reader: apart from getting the core notions of the very subject of your writing, make sure the reader knows the general context. Besides, provide appealing and interesting facts that will grasp attention of your readers. For example, you might use some controversial fact or idea and implement it in text. Find some examples from the recent news or from daily experience. To make the process of organizing your introductory paragraph easier, please draft a dissertation introduction outline.
- Pinpoint to the significance of the study and the importance that lies behind the research. Make sure you provide convincing evidence to persuade the reader in the theoretical and practical value of your dissertation.
Introductory Parts are the Following
- Motivation behind the study.
- Scope of research.
- Theoretical and practical value of the conducted study.
- The ongoing situation with the topic in the corresponding research field.
- Aims and objectives of the dissertation with a properly formulated problem statement at the end of the paragraph.
- Short discussion of the research model.
How to Write a Good Introduction: Sample Introduction for a Dissertation
Preparing an introduction outline is one of the underlying steps how to write a good introduction. Check out the following template with details interpretation and get to know what information you should include in the introductory section:
- Identify the problem (or mention what motivation lies behind the research). What is the main motif of conducting research on your selected topic? Has the topic recently appeared or has it existed for a long time and grasped your interest for many years? Regardless of the topic you have selected, make sure you introduce it to your target audience in an interesting way. If a reader’s attention is hooked starting from the introduction, it is more likely that the reader will want to read your paper till the end.
- Scope of research. Having finished with describing the motivation for the study and identifying the research problem, now you need to switch over to the topic of the dissertation paper. Many PhD students have questions regarding, “How long should an introduction be?” Regardless of this aspect, the scope of research should be defined as briefly and succinctly as possible. Do not get into a trap of researching too much because your paper will be fragmented and not properly organized.
- Theoretical and practical value of the dissertation. Make sure to provide sufficient arguments when you write about the significance of your research both in terms of theory and practice. This is one of the ways how to begin an introduction main body. When providing supporting evidence, make sure it is taken from credible and reliable sources. As such, as you wonder how to start an introduction, make sure you also know how to search for plausible books and other scientific materials. While writing a dissertation, theoretical or research significance may be more challenging to demonstrate rather than practical value.
- Present scientific situation related to your research topic. When writing an introduction, you also need to focus on the most significant scholarly articles related to your topic and shortly discuss them. Thus, you will highlight that there exists some research conducted previously that is related to your topic. Besides, by stating this, you will pinpoint that you can rely on studies of other scholars if you need to get some support for your claims and arguments.
- Aims and objectives of the dissertation along with the core research question. Here, the purpose of introduction is to highlight the main study objectives and formulate a strong problem statement. Keep in mind that these things are different. For a better formulation of a problem statement, come up with a few research questions that you intend to answer in the study. In case you write research hypotheses, include them in the introduction as well.
- Describe the chosen research model and general study design. When you ask yourself what should an introduction include, make sure to provide details of your research design as well as how, when, with whom, and where the study will be carried out.
If you wish to find out how to write a research introduction outline, you need to read the following tips. Before writing an outline, make sure you get familiar with its structure and way of organization. Make sure to concisely sum up each of the introduction constituents. Also make sure you get the difference between introduction and background. When summarizing parts of the introduction, do it as briefly as possible: preferably within one or two sentences instead of the whole paragraph.
A research proposal otherwise known as a plan of action for your research is a great starting point for designing your introduction. When you need to organize the final research paper after submitting the proposal, you will see that many parts of the introduction will repeat in the introductory paragraph. There is also nothing bad in changing specific parts in the introduction as you are providing the final draft of the paper. It is natural that you will not write a perfect introduction at once.
When introducing your topic and indicating paper aims, make sure to use present simple tense and be consistent with the narrative mode. In case of background narration, use past simple or present perfect.
Concerning the length of the dissertation introductory paragraph, there are no particular guidelines how long it should be. Therefore, there is no point in doing your best to squeeze the presented information into one page. Since a dissertation is a relatively long paper, the introductory section may be longer than usual as well.
Writing a Thesis Introduction
A dissertation or thesis introduction should be last or pre-last part to complete along with the abstract. Even though the introduction is one of the first dissertation sections, it is advisable to complete it after the main body discussion since only after you have discussed and analyzed the topic, you will be able to write a comprehensive introductory section. Nonetheless, you should not think about writing the introduction in the last place. Before molding the final version of the introduction, you might well try to provide at least two or three drafts of your introductory section. The body of the drafts might change depending on the twists and turns in the dissertation structure. So, you are free to adjust the parts of introduction any time you need. Do not think that the paper structure and ways of paragraph organization should be adjusted to the introduction – it is actually vice versa.
When writing a dissertation introduction, you have to provide a rationale for your study by answering the central research question why the study is significant. Besides, you need to pinpoint to the results and outcomes that will come by together with the research success.
When composing a dissertation outline, make sure to provide a clearly formulated, argumentative problem statement and the research objectives. This is one of the underlying principles how to introduce a topic. Moreover, it is vital to provide a brief and concise review of literature and provide explanation of the theoretic framework for the study. You should also include the information indicating how the conducted research paper will contribute to the general theoretical understanding of the subject.
The introduction written in your thesis paper or dissertation will probably look like the one composed in the thesis proposal. However, it will be modified according to the ideas you present in the main body of the paper. The introductory section should provide the setting or the background information for the further paper and give a general notion of the core claims and arguments presented in the preceding research studies. Besides, the introduction should provide the idea on why you have opted for the topic, why have chosen a specific subject area, why have chosen specific literature, etc.
Unlike in the case of research proposal writing, now you have a finished paper with the main idea, results, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Therefore, the introduction you present for the final thesis paper should be clearer and pinpoint to the specific reasons why the topic of your choice bears significance to the subject area in general.
Regardless of whether you are writing the introduction for the proposal paper or for the final dissertation, the introduction is the starting point of the journey through your paper. Make sure that you keep some secrets about the conclusions, results, and implications of your study as the paper will not be interesting to read further if you disclose all the information from the beginning.
How to Write a Thesis Introduction in the Best Way
- An appealing and attention-grabbing thesis statement is a key to how to write a perfect thesis. It is a statement that will help you hold attention of your audience.
- Do not try to mention all information in the introduction. Many writers are tempted to write all the important facts but in reality most of them are totally irrelevant for the argument development.
- Make sure you do not hint at some aspects or do not promise anything that you do not plan to discuss in the dissertation body.
- Make the language simple and clear. Do not confuse the reader from the beginning, so try to avoid specific terms. Upon seeing a vast variety of specific terms and professionalisms, the reader might be shocked and would not want to read on the paper.
- Do not include many citations in the introduction. Remember: you only provide justification for your study and a brief summary of what your paper is about. You do not have to discuss literature or provide any findings.
Get Started with an Effective Introduction
First of all, include background information that provides a setting or context for the paper. Second, highlight the central focus of the research and pinpoint to the significance of the research in the study realm. Third, outline the core aims and objectives you plan to achieve.
There are no set rules on how to organize the introduction in terms of the three aforementioned points. Try to arrange them in a way to suit the core purpose of the dissertation or thesis. Apart from these three core aspects, there are possibilities to add some more information, for example some specific steps where the research is heading.
When it comes to the paper length, there are no specific rules concerning how long the introduction should be as its length totally depends on the word count of the very dissertation. However, an acceptable approach is to make the length of the introduction 5-7% from the overall paper length.
The introductory section can comprise of subsections with corresponding subheadings. Each of the subsections should be devoted to a separate subtopic or aspect. As a rule, the introduction may contain the following subsections:
When providing the background section, you should persevere the core aim of easing the process of reading the dissertation to the reader. It is not enough to simply state the the brief context as well as the main focus of the study. It is necessary to outline why the research was worth doing, whether there were limitations in the former studies, and what originality and novice of research you plan to bring. Remember that the justification for the significanc of the study should be more than simply, “The topic is interesting to me.” This reason may suffice for essay writing but when it comes to dissertation or thesis writing, the justification should be far more than just interesting. It is also advisable to mention the core scholarly books, journals or other materials that were consulted in the discussion and analysis sections. Provide concise notes about them and indicate why they bear utmost importance.
While it is recommended not to write in sophisticated manner and avoid using excessive terminology in the body of the introduction, it is still advisable to introduce the reader to a few most frequently used key terms. Many writers compose a glossary that they add up to the appendix at the end of the paper but it is still recommended to pick some key terms (2-5) and mention them in the background subsection. Concerning the length of the background section, it is acceptable to write one or two pages. Try to provide only the most crucial information without delving into details too much.
Focus of the Research
When you define the focus of the research, you provide the information about the central point of the research as well as give rationale for the study. The most important thing is to identify the focal point and be ready to explain why the research was carried out. As you identify the focus, make sure this subsection is a logical continuation of the previous one, so connect the identification of the paper focus with the discussion of the study background. In its turn, the discussion of the dissertation focus should be connected to the overview of aims, objectives, and importance of the paper.
The subsection dealing with the discussion of paper significance or value is crucial, especially if some special committee will decide on the role of the paper, its originality, novelty of ideas, and overall contribution to the study realm. There are many options on how to present the value of your dissertation writing. For example, you might state that the topic you have chosen lacks in-depth research or that you aim to look at the topic from a different perspective. Whatever the reason is, make sure it is clearly addressed.
Aims and Objectives of the Research
First and foremost, you need to understand that aims and objectives are different things and should be discussed separately. Aims and organizations are required to be included into the research proposal, so you do not need to formulate them from scratch – you just need to organize them in a logical and consistent manner in the final draft.
The aim of the project should be conveyed in a direct and straightforward way. Besides, with the help of objectives, you need to mention how you will meet the aim. When enlisting objectives, you need to remember about the following characteristics:
- Clarity (no controversy behind the objectives formulation).
- Appropriateness (the objectives need to be relevant to the topic issues).
- Achievability (objectives should be realistic and easily attained over the set timetable).
- Distinctness (each objective should equally contribute to achieving the core aim and should be focused).
To formulate dissertation objectives properly, you need to follow these tips:
- Start each objective with a key word, such as: explore, determine, assess, examine, identify, evaluate, investigate, etc.
- If you have a list of objectives, start with the simplest ones.
- Provide a balanced set of objectives (from 3 to 5 depending on the topic).
The most fundamental thing about research objectives is that you have to refer to them from time to time within the body of the paper and not just mention them briefly in the introduction and forget afterwards.
Composing an introductory paragraph is frequently regarded as a direct aspect of the academic writing process. One of the basic reasons is because an introductory paragraph is the basic part of any academic writing assignment. Nonetheless, even though all students are familiar with writing introductions, the very process is rather challenging, as you have to stay focused and concentrated on the narrowed issue. If you provide a fragmented introduction that is either too short or too long and unfocused, it will not create a positive impression on your target audience. Another thing to remember while writing a good academic introduction is to use appropriate language tone: you are not telling a simple story, so avoid anecdotal hooks, rhetorical questions, etc.
Tips for writing an effective introduction according to Trzeciak and Mackay (1994):
- Specifically state the significance of the chosen topic of the subject area.
- Indicate whether the topic has been previously researched.
- Justify your choice of the subject.
- Provide a list of objectives after introducing the core aim.
- Pinpoint to the paper limitations.
- Introduce other perspectives on the topic and provide contrary viewpoints.
- Provide a clear definition of the analyzed topic.
Tips for writing a terrific introduction according to Swales and Feak (2004):
Define a research area
Provide background information about the “research territory” and describe whether it is a burning issue, a problematic aspect, a poorly researched idea, etc. Briefly mention previously conducted research on the topic and introduce the main researchers who studied the issue.
Establish a research niche
Either highlight the study limitations due to former insufficient research or make sure to add up to the already existing knowledge.
Occupy the niche
Make sure to mention the purpose and the underlying reasons for the current research. Also be sure to enlist research hypotheses and questions. Inform about the core findings on the topic. Highlight the importance of the previously conducted studies. Briefly describe the paper structure.
Since the Internet is bursting with a plethora of tips and pieces of advice on how to write a successful introduction, there is a good question from students: “Which of the introduction-organizing techniques should we follow?” Actually, there is no one specific standard on how to organize the introduction unless you get specific guidelines from your professor or academic supervisor.
In case all students opt for using the same structure for the introduction, all papers may seem predictable. Therefore, it is advisable to take into account the subsections needed to be included in the paper but to bring some originality of writing. Alongside with precision and the ability to structure papers well, students should also demonstrate creativity and enthusiasm.
Besides, the type of introduction and the presence of subsections also depend on the discipline you are writing a dissertation in. One thing that might bring some confusion is the fact that any disciplines demand an introduction that grabs attention and contains some surprising or shocking fact. When it comes to thesis or dissertation writing, it is hard to achieve this aim, so make sure to sound more formal and adhere to the academic style.
Thesis and Dissertation Writing
As a rule, the tactics in writing an introduction remain the same for extended papers such as theses or dissertations. As such, it is important to provide attention-grabbing opening sentences that keep the readers focused and make them read the paper further. Further, the information provided in the introduction should be clearly and succinctly presented in order to serve as a hint for subsequent discussion. The writer should not let in on all “secrets” as the paper should be logically developed and interesting to read. In other words, it is wrong to provide conclusions and research outcomes in the introductory paragraph. Make sure you do not promise what you are not going to do in terms of research, analysis or evauation.
Apart from the generally known introduction, you need to be aware that each of the paper sections should have a brief opening (or introductory) paragraph at the beginning. This somewhat resembles the presence of a topic sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph in shorter papers. Besides, each section in a thesis or a dissertation should also have a conclusion paragraph that sums up the main ideas provided. These constituents are necessary because of the paper length. These introductory paragraphs at the beginning of each subsequent paper sections or subsections also aim to remind the reader what the previous chapter dealt with.