Easily understand how to write a PhD thesis introduction
Feb 26, 2019
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Get the introduction right and the rest of your dissertation will follow.
What is the purpose of a PhD thesis introduction?
1. establish your research territory (by situating your research in a broader context), 2. establish and justify your niche (by describing why your research is needed) , 3. explain the significance of your research (by describing how you conducted the research).
- What your thesis is about
- Why it is important
- How it was conducted
- How it is laid out
The introduction as a whole should outline the significance and relevance of the thesis. The main criteria for a PhD is its role as an original contribution to knowledge, so the introduction is the space in which you very clearly outline that contribution.
How to structure an PhD thesis introduction
A typical PhD thesis introduction follows the following format:
- Introduction to the introduction: a short version (of only a few paragraphs) of the thesis’ aims, research questions, contribution, objectives and findings.
- State the overarching topic and aims of the thesis in more detail Provide a brief review of the literature related to the topic (this will be very brief if you have a separate literature review chapter)
- Define the terms and scope of the topic
- Critically evaluate the current state of the literature on that topic and identify your gap
- Outline why the research is important and the contribution that it makes
- Outline your epistemological and ontological position
- Clearly outline the research questions and problem(s) you seek to address
- State the hypotheses (if you are using any)
- Detail the most important concepts and variables
- Briefly describe your methodology
- Discuss the main findings
- Discuss the layout of the thesis
Much like the abstract, the reader shouldn’t have to wait long before they understand the contribution, what you are doing and how you are doing it. So, you’ll start by presenting your research in a clear, concise way in the opening few paragraphs. These opening paragraphs should briefly summarise the aims, objectives, research questions, main argument and contribution.
The reader shouldn’t have to wait long before they understand the contribution, what you are doing and how you are doing it.
A useful exercise here is to try and write the core elements of an introduction on a Post-it note. Keep trying until they fit. When they do, use that as the basis for these first few paragraphs. This is the same technique you use when filling out the PhD Writing Template .
As you go through the chapter, you will dial down into more and more detail. That means that the next stage, after the first few paragraphs, is to provide some context (steps 2-10 above).
Here you provide all the detail necessary to situate the study and make sense of the opening few paragraphs.
But, there are two things to bear in mind.
You will need to ease into the detail gently. Don’t launch straight from your opening paragraphs into huge amounts of detail. Follow the order of the 13 steps above and you will gradually ease into your discussion.
The danger of presenting too much information too soon is that you will confuse the reader. They will struggle to understand how the information you present is relevant and will struggle to understand how it relates to your thesis aims and objectives.
Simply follow the steps above.
You need to bear in mind that the level of detail you will go into (and therefore the length of the introduction) depends on the structure of your thesis.
If you have a standalone literature review, you will go into less detail about the current state of the literature and the gaps within it.
Similarly, if you have a dedicated theory chapter, you will not need to spend too much time on developing your theory framework.
The same is true for your methods.
The goal in any case is to present enough context to situate and make sense of your research questions but not overburden the reader with information that is superfluous to the goal of situating the research and which you will repeat at a later juncture anyhow.
Your PhD thesis. All on one page.
Use our free PhD structure template to quickly visualise every element of your thesis.
Common problems when writing your introduction
When we proofread PhDs , we see the same mistakes again and again.
Providing too much detail
There is a tendency to provide too much background information in the introduction. As we saw above, quite how much information you present in your thesis will depend on whether you have a standalone literature review or methods chapter. What you want to avoid is any unnecessary repetition.
Sometimes there is necessary repetition though. You need to present just enough information to contextualise your study and to be able to situate your aims, research questions an argument, but not too much that you end up confusing and bombarding the reader. Keep things simple here; it’s fine to overlook some of the more technical detail at this stage. Think of a newspaper article: the first couple of paragraphs provide a brief overview of the story. The detail comes later.
Not providing enough detail
On the flip side, some students don’t provide enough detail. The danger here is that the reader is left asking questions at the end of the introduction. Remember: they should be able to understand what your thesis is about, how it was conducted and why it is important just from reading the introduction. If you present too little detail then they won’t be able to. Read through your own introduction; is it clear what your contribution is and why it is important? If not, you haven’t got enough detail.
Launching into too much detail
Make sure you introduce gently. Don’t suddenly rush into lots of detail. Instead, you should make the aims, questions and contribution clear in the opening lines and then gradually layer on more detail. That way, the reader can keep up. Present too much detail too soon and the reader will become confused. The last place you want confusion is in the introduction; if the reader can’t follow your introduction, they won’t understand the thesis.
Not following a coherent structure so that the reader is left confused
Some students don’t follow a coherent logic when they write their introductions, which means that the reader is left confused.
For example, if you present too much background information and literature review before you outline the aim and purpose of the research, the reader will struggle to follow, because they won’t know why the background information is important.
The same is true if you discuss the methods before your research questions.
What we see often is important information being spread throughout the introduction in such a way that the reader has to hunt for it. Follow our layout guide above so that each piece of vital information is contained in its own mini section. Make your reader’s job as easy as possible.
Using too much technical language not properly defined
It’s more than likely that your research relies upon lots of technical terms, concepts and techniques. If you must talk about any of these in the introduction, be sure to offer clear and concise definitions. A failure to do so means that the reader is left confused.
Conducting a literature review
Unless you are explicitly avoiding a standalone literature review chapter, the introduction is not the place to review the literature. Sure, you will need to situate your study in a body of literature, but the introduction isn’t the place to critically discuss it or justify its inclusion in that literature. It’s enough to say that you will contribute to X body of literature and briefly discuss its core features and shortcomings. The literature review is the place to justify that decision and elaborate upon its features. Read our guide to writing literature reviews and our guide to being critical when you do so.
Finalising your thesis introduction
Once you have finished your thesis, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the first line of the introduction discuss the problem that your thesis is addressing and the contribution that it is making?
- Does the introduction provide an overview of the thesis and end with a brief discussion on the content of each chapter?
- Does the introduction make a case for the research?
- Have the research questions/problems/hypotheses been clearly outlined (preferably early on)?
Now you know how to present your research as clearly and concisely as possible. Your reader (and examiner) will thank you, because they’ll be able to understand exactly what your study is about just from reading the introductory pages. Keep this guide to hand, whatever stage of the writing process you are at.
Have you downloaded our free one page PhD Writing Template ? It’s a really effective way to visualise your entire thesis on one page.
If you’re still struggling to structure your introduction, or you need any other support as you write your thesis, check out our one-on-one PhD coaching . It’s like having a personal trainer, but for your PhD.
I was struggling with writing the introduction chapter. Really had no idea on how to organise my ideas. Completely lost and desolate. I have no one to encourage or support me. I prayed to God to give me knowledge and wisdom and guide me. After a while I found this site. Praise the Lord. I can’t thank u enough for addressing exactly what’s in my mind. Thank you. Glory be to God for directing me to this site.
All we aim to do here is to make life a little bit easier for PhD students. I know how hard I found it when I was completing mine, so I want to give something back to the community. I’m so pleased you found it useful. Good luck with writing up. If you need any support or if you have any questions at all, email me: [email protected]
Thank you very very much for your information it is resourceful. I was having a problem how to start my introduction.
It’s great to hear you found it useful. Thanks!
Hey, this is so useful thankyou! I’m wondering does this apply broadly to all PhD’s including humanities?
Yep – it sure does.
I found this piece of information helpful. I am preparing for my proposal defense in two weeks and needed to refine my introduction. Thank you very much. God bless you richly. I wish we can have a skype conversation.
Thank you again.
thank you, learned from this
Your advice and guidance has become my constant companion in what has been a very stressful time. You write with empathy and understanding. What a wonderful job you are doing for those of us who are too proud to seek advice and support from supervisors or colleagues. Sincerest thanks for taking the loneliness out of writing.
Such nice words. Thank you so much.
this is really useful!!!
Thanks Nora! I’m glad you found it useful.
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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
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.
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.
#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.
“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.
#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.
#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 eluded 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?
#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.
#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!
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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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
Glad to hear that. Good luck with your thesis!
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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.
Thank you Derek, i find your each post so useful. Keep it up.
Thank you so much Derek ,for shedding the light and making it easier for me to handle the daunting task of academic writing .
Thanks do much Dereck for the comprehensive guide. It will assist me queit a lot in my thesis.
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Thanks so much ❤️😘 I feel am ready to start writing my research methodology
This is genuinely the most effective advice I have ever been given regarding academia. Thank you so much!
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I was looking for some good blogs related to Education hopefully your article will help. Thanks for sharing.
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.
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!
Phew! You have genuinely rescued me. I was stuck how to go about my thesis. Now l have started. Thank you.
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!
Powerful insight. I can now take a step
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.
Excellent!!! Thank you…
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?
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.
Thank you for the informative content you provided
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.
It was so helpful. God Bless you. Thanks very much
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?
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.
I feel like just settling for a good topic is usually the hardest part.
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 🙂
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.
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.
thank you so much. God Bless you
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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.
PhD Thesis Editing Plus
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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Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started
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The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.
Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]
This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.
Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)
This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.
Creating a Roadmap (PDF)
Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.
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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.
A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.
A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.
When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.
Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.
Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.
Descriptive thesis (not arguable)
While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.
This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.
Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)
Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.
This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.
Arguable thesis with analytical claim
While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.
This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.
Arguable thesis with normative claim
Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.
This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.
Questions to ask about your thesis
- Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?
- Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?
- Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?
- Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?
- Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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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)
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 5.4 (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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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction
Published on 9 September 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes.
The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction.
Your introduction should include:
- Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
- Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
- The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
- Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
- An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?
Table of contents
How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, frequently asked questions about introductions.
Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write – in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).
It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.
Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.
Begin by introducing your research topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualise your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.
After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.
You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:
- Geographical area
- Time period
- Demographics or communities
- Themes or aspects of the topic
It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.
Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.
Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.
Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:
- Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
- Addresses a gap in the literature
- Builds on existing research
- Proposes a new understanding of your topic
Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.
If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .
- Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
- Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
- Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.
To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.
Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.
Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.
I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.
I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.
I have clearly specified the focus of my research.
I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .
I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.
I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .
I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .
You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an outline of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.
They summarise the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.
Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .
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Introduction and conclusion thesis chapters
Both the introduction and conclusion chapters frame your thesis. The introduction gives a preview of the thesis and often indicates the standard of the thesis. The conclusion gives a convincing summary of the thesis’s findings.
- The introduction chapter
- The conclusion chapter
The introduction allows you to orient the reader to your research project and preview the organisation of your thesis. In the introduction, state what the topic is about, explain why it needs to be further researched and introduce your research question(s) or hypothesis.
Whilst patterns of organisation in introductions vary, there are some common features that will help you to achieve an informative and engaging introduction. Let’s identify these features:
- Introduce the topic
- Define key terms and concepts
- Give background and context for the topic (this may include a brief literature review)
- Review and evaluate the current state of knowledge in the topic (this may include a brief literature review)
- Identify any gaps, shortcomings and problems in the research to date
- Introduce your research question(s) or hypothesis
- Briefly describe your methodology and/or theoretical approach
- Explain the aim of your research and what contribution it will make to the topic
- Give an overview of the chapter outline of the thesis.
It’s important to note that, depending on your field of study and the faculty requirements of your thesis, not all of these features will be relevant. Also, these features may occur in varied orders.
Most people write many drafts of their introduction. It can be useful to write one early in the research process to clarify your thinking. You will need to write a version for your confirmation proposal and other milestones. As your research progresses and your ideas develop, you will need to revise it. When the final draft of chapters is complete, check the introduction once more to make sure that it accurately reflects what you have actually done.
Check your understanding View
Read the following sentences from a doctoral thesis introduction. The research topic is Motivations for multiple tattoo acquisition (Applied Psychology).
Determine what introduction feature is demonstrated in the extract and scroll down to check your response before moving on to the next part of the activity.
Source: Stephanie Kalanj-Mizzi (2021). Motivations for multiple tattoo acquisition. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Depending on the type of research presented in the thesis, conclusion chapters or sections tend to include at least some of the following:
- A clear answer to your research question or hypothesis
- Summary of the main findings or argument
- Connections between your findings or argument to other research
- Explanation and significance of the findings
- Implications of the findings
- Limitations of the research and methodology
- Recommendations for future research
Your conclusion chapter is the place to emphasise the new knowledge that you’ve contributed to the field of study and explain its significance. This chapter is your opportunity to leave a strong impression on the reader (assessors) about the strength and relevance of your research, and your skills as a researcher.
Importantly, the conclusion chapter must link with your introduction chapter to complete the framing of the thesis and demonstrate that you have achieved what you set out to do.
Read the following sentences from a doctoral thesis conclusion. The research topic is Investigating the Role of Myeloid Cell Autophagy in Autoimmune Disease (STEM).
Source: Md Abul Hasnat (2021). Investigating the Role of Myeloid Cell Autophagy in Autoimmune Disease. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)
The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.
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?
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.
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10 tips for writing a PhD thesis
Ingrid curl shares simple rules for keeping your work clear and jargon-free.
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Writing up a PhD can often take place in a frenzy of activity in the last few months of your degree study, after years of hard work. But there are some steps that you can take to increase your chances of success.
- Do not be daunted by the task of “writing up”. Work on the text as your PhD takes shape, remember that all writers need editing, and help yourself by using these basic tips to make life easier. Read what great writers say about how to write before you start, and take their advice to heart. There is no dark art to clear, concise work; it is mostly a result of editing, and editing again. Above all, keep Elmore Leonard’s advice in mind: “If it reads like writing…rewrite it.”
- Plan the structure of your thesis carefully with your supervisor. Create rough drafts as you go so that you can refine them as you become more focused on the write-up. Much of writing comprises rewriting so be prepared to rework each chapter many times. Even Ernest Hemingway said: “The first draft of everything is shit.”
- Academic writing does not have to be dry. Inject some flair into your work. Read advice on writing and remember George Orwell’s words in Why I Write : “Never use the passive where you can use the active”; and Mark Twain’s on adjectives: “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” If you prefer, Stephen King said: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
- Do not write up in chronological order. Work on each chapter while it is fresh in your mind or pertinent to what you are doing at that moment, but come back to it all later and work it up into a consistent, coherent piece, restructuring sections where necessary.
- Think carefully about your writing. Write your first draft, leave it and then come back to it with a critical eye. Look objectively at the writing and read it closely for style and sense. Look out for common errors such as dangling modifiers, subject-verb disagreement and inconsistency. If you are too involved with the text to be able to take a step back and do this, then ask a friend or colleague to read it with a critical eye. Remember Hemingway’s advice: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” Clarity is key.
- Most universities use a preferred style of references. Make sure you know what this is and stick to it. One of the most common errors in academic writing is to cite papers in the text that do not then appear in the bibliography. All references in your thesis need to be cross-checked with the bibliography before submission. Using a database during your research can save a great deal of time in the writing-up process. Helpful software includes EndNote or Paperpile. Managing your bibliography from day one may seem obsessive but it will save you a great deal of time and stress by the end of the PhD process.
- Use a house style. Professional publications such as Times Higher Education use a house style guide to ensure consistency in spelling. For example, do not use both -ise spellings and -ize spellings, stick to British spelling and be consistent when referring to organisations or bodies. Because dictionaries vary in their use of hyphenation, use one dictionary and stick to it throughout the writing process. If you consult the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors , you will note the extraordinary number of words with alternative spellings. It can also be a very useful guide to preferred spellings, use of italicisation and foreign phrases.
- Take care when quoting from other sources. Ensure you note whether the italic emphasis is in the original and take careful notes when you are collecting quotes for your thesis. Transcribe them accurately to save work later and keep original spellings (even if they differ from your chosen style) to ensure fidelity to your source.
- Think about plagiarism. If you are quoting from works, quote from them accurately and paraphrase where necessary for your argument. This is where careful note-taking and use of references is invaluable and will help you to avoid even inadvertently plagiarising another work.
- Remember that your thesis is your chance to present your work in the best possible light. Consider your opening paragraphs, entice your reader with your writing and above all be clear about your hypothesis and your conclusion. Append material where it adds value but not where it merely bulks out your work. Consider your reader at all times. This is your chance to showcase your work.
If you stick to these simple rules, your writing will be clear and jargon-free. Above all, take to heart Orwell’s advice: “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”
Ingrid Curl is associate editor of Times Higher Education , and a former PhD student.
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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.
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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Writing A Thesis Introduction
Thesis Introduction: A Step-by-Step Guide With Examples
11 min read
Published on: Apr 11, 2019
Last updated on: Nov 11, 2023
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You're staring at a blinking cursor, trying to figure out where to start your introduction for your thesis writing.
It's hard to know where to start, and even harder to keep your introduction engaging and on-topic.
We've written this guide that will take you step-by-step through the process of writing an amazing introduction. You'll also find examples of introductions for different types of papers.
So let's get started!
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What is a Thesis Introduction?
A thesis introduction is the opening section of a research paper or thesis writing that serves as a roadmap for the entire study.
It provides context and background information for the research topic. The introduction outlines the study's purpose, problem statement, and methodology.
It engages readers, captures their interest, and sets expectations for the rest of the paper.
Importance of Writing a Good Thesis Introduction
Let’s see why a good introduction is important in thesis writing:
- First Impressions: The introduction is your first opportunity to make a positive impression on readers. It's crucial in piquing their interest.
- Contextual Understanding: It offers the necessary background information, ensuring that readers comprehend the research's significance and relevance.
- Problem Statement: The introduction presents the research problem, outlining what the study aims to address, and emphasizing its importance.
- Clarity: A well-structured introduction enhances the clarity of your work, making it easier for readers to follow your thesis.
- Guidance: It serves as a guide for the reader, providing a clear path of what to expect throughout the research, including the methodology and expected outcomes.
How Long is a Thesis Introduction?
The introduction of your thesis paper makes up roughly 10% of your total word count. Therefore, a PhD thesis paper introduction would be 8000 - 10000 words. However, a Master's thesis would be 1500 - 2000 words long.
Although the thesis introduction length can be increased if the writer includes images, diagrams, and descriptions.
Components of Thesis Introduction
The thesis introduction format comprises several essential components that collectively set the stage for your research. These components include:
- Hook or Attention-Grabber
- Background Information
- Problem Statement
- Purpose of the Study
- Significance of the Research
- Overview of the Methodology
Thesis Introduction Outline
A thesis introduction chapter structure contains the following sections:
Thesis Introduction Outline Sample
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How to Start a Thesis Introduction?
Starting a thesis introduction can be overwhelming, but there are some steps you can follow to make it easier:
- Choose a Topic Select a topic that you are passionate about and that aligns with your research interests. Your topic should also be relevant to your field of study and have enough existing research to support your thesis. You can also choose unique ideas from our compiled list of thesis topics .
- Research the Content Conduct thorough research on your topic by reviewing the literature, collecting data, and analyzing existing research in your field. This will help you identify gaps in the literature that your thesis will address.
- Organize the Ideas Organize and compile the main arguments, ideas, and claims in the next step. These thoughts will be helpful to describe and present the thesis statement . Logically organizing your thoughts is crucial for developing an effective and coherent paper. You can create a clear story from the start of your paper to the end. Also, include a table of contents at the beginning of your thesis. It serves as a mind map to discuss the layout of your research proposal .
- Define the Subject and Relevant Themes Define the subject and the relevant themes before starting your thesis introduction. The subject of a thesis is the central topic or idea that it addresses. It should be specific enough to be covered by the scope of the thesis, yet broad enough to allow for meaningful discussion. Relevant themes are those ideas that are most applicable to the subject of the thesis. These themes often come from other fields and add depth to the argument being made in the thesis. This way it would be easier for the reader to skim and get a good idea by going through it.
- Define Your Thesis Statement Once you have conducted your research, define your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should clearly articulate the main argument or point you will be making in your thesis.
Check out this video to learn more about writing a good introduction for your thesis!
How to Write a Thesis Introduction?
Once you are done with the prewriting steps discussed above, you are now ready to dive into actual writing. Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow while writing a thesis introduction.
A detailed description of the steps to write an introduction is given below.
Step 1: Hook the Reader’s Interest
A writer should begin writing the introduction with a hook statement to draw the reader’s interest. It can be a question, quotation, or interesting transitions into your arguments. Also, make a list of interesting, current events or controversies related to your topic. It will help in creating a strong introduction and thesis statement.
Step 2: Mention the Research Gap
Review and evaluate the existing literature critically. It will help the researcher in finding and addressing the research gap.
Step 3: State the Background Information
A good introduction to the thesis always states the historical background of the chosen topic. It is usually cited in the first paragraph and shows the current position of the subject.
Step 4: Back Your Topic with Relevant Literature
The introduction is a mix of previous research and a literature review. Thus, the topic should be backed with relevant resources. It is also used to explain the context and significance of previous studies. Moreover, it further acknowledges credible sources of information to solidify your claim.
When choosing relevant literature, there are a few things to consider.
- Firstly, the literature should be from reputable sources such as scholarly journals or books.
- Secondly, it should be related to your topic and provide evidence for your claims.
- Lastly, it should be up-to-date and accurate.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your work is well-informed and credible.
Step 5: Mention the Hypothesis
Formulate a hypothesis for your research work. It will discuss what you aim to achieve along with the possibilities.
A valid hypothesis must be testable, measurable, and based on evidence from existing literature or theoretical frameworks.
The hypothesis should also provide a logical explanation for the relationship between the variables in question.
Step 6: Provide Significance of Your Research
The gap will help to evaluate the situation and explain the significance of the current research. Thus, add the purpose of your paper explaining why the research is done. It will also demonstrate the possible contributions of the research work in the future.
Step 7: Outline the Research Questions
The next step is to outline your research questions. These should be relevant to the purpose of your study. Moreover, it will also help you discuss the problems that you seek to address.
Step 8: State Research Objectives
State the research aims and objectives to define the primary purpose of the work. It should give a direction to the research by providing an overview of what it aims to achieve.
Step 9: Discuss the Research Methodology
The next step is to define the terms and methodology you are going to apply in your research. It is a good technique to make your study authentic, credible, and useful.
Step 10: Finalize your Introduction
Ask yourself the following questions after finishing writing the introduction.
- Does your introduction discuss the problem your thesis is addressing?
- Does this section address the contribution the research work is making?
- Does it provide a detailed overview of your thesis?
- Does it end by briefly discussing the content of each chapter?
- Does it make a case for the research?
- Does it outline research questions, problems, and hypotheses clearly?
Thesis Introduction Examples
Below are sample thesis introductions to help you compose perfect introductions.
Ph.D. thesis introduction
Master thesis introduction example
Bachelor thesis introduction example
Thesis introduction sample for criminology
Thesis Introduction Writing Tips
The following are some writing tips to help you draft perfect thesis introductions.
- Highlight the importance of your research early on to engage the reader's interest.
- Introduce the key aspects of the topic to provide context and understanding.
- Craft a dissertation introduction that clearly sets the stage for your research.
- Offer a concise overview of the structure to help the reader navigate your thesis effectively.
- It must follow a coherent thesis format by providing concise information.
- Do not use technical language as it will leave the reader confused.
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Introduction Writing Checklist
Use the below checklist to assess your introduction and identify what information is missing. This should help you ensure that your intro has all of the necessary components for a successful outcome.
In conclusion, crafting a strong thesis introduction is a crucial element of any academic paper. It sets the tone for your entire essay and provides a roadmap for your reader to follow. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can create a well-structured introduction for your thesis.
However, if you are still struggling to write a compelling thesis introduction, don't worry. MyPerfectWords.com is here to help. With qualified writing experts, we provide the best thesis writing service at student-friendly costs.
So, contact us today to discuss your thesis paper, and let us help you achieve your academic goals. Using our online paper writing service , you can be confident that your thesis introduction will be crafted perfectly to help you succeed.
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Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
- Ad hominem fallacy
- Post hoc fallacy
- Appeal to authority fallacy
- False cause fallacy
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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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Writing the Introductory Chapter of Your PhD Thesis
By prof. jonathan edward tetteh kuwornu-adjaottor posted 9th august 2020 post views: 949.
T he introductory chapter of your thesis is chapter one of your study; as such, it must be written well. It is normally given the title, “General Introduction.” Sections of this chapter are the background to the study; statement of problem; research question; objectives of the study; significance of the study; methodology for the study; delimitation of the study; and organization of the chapters.In this article, I discuss these points to assist you in writing your introductory chapter.
- Background to the Study
The background to the study establishes the context of the research. It explains why your research is important. In this section, you outline the historical developments in the literature that led to the current topic. If the study is interdisciplinary, it should describe how different disciplines are connected and what aspects of each discipline would be studied. The student should highlight the development of his or her research topic and identify the main gaps that need to be addressed. A good background to a study should be organized by finding answers to the following questions: (1) What is known about the broad topic? (2) What are the gaps or missing links that need to be addressed? (3) What is the significance of addressing those gaps? (4) What are the rationale and hypothesis of your study? The background section should discuss your findings in a chronological manner to accentuate the progress in the field and the missing points that need to be addressed. The background should be written as a summary of your interpretation of previous research and what your study proposes to accomplish.
- Statement of Problem
The heart of any research project is the problem. This must be stated clearly and completely. At a minimum, you should describe it in one or more grammatically complete sentences. Your research problem should be stated in such a way that it answers the following questions: (1) What am I researching? (2) For what purpose am I conducting the research? Finding answers to such questions could help you focus your problem statement.
- Research Question(s)
A research question is a question that your research study or project sets out to answer. You should have a main research question; and from the main, you could have minor questions that help to provide information for answering the main research question. Ask open-ended “how” and “why” questions about your general topic. Your questions should be specific, clear and focused. Don’t ask questions that demand “yes” and “no” answers. Such questions have no space for explanations.
- Objective(s) of the Study
What do you hope to achieve at the end of the study? Your objectives should be stated in measurable terms. The number of objectives must align with the number of research questions. This is because at the end of your study, you would take each research question and state whether the objective for that particular question has been answered. It is important to state here that each research question and objective could be repackaged into a publishable journal article.
- Significance of the Study
How important would your study be to academia? How important would it be for policy formation? These are questions that you should be answering as you state the significance of your study. Don’t state how the findings of your research will help your church or a group. Even though they might have sponsored your study, remember that you will be given an academic degree by a university on completion.
- Methodology for the Study
There are basically three types of research methodologies: Quantitative, qualitative and a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods known as the mixed method. The quantitative research method is number driven; the data is collected by recording numbers. With qualitative research, data is collected through what people say; and the mixed method generates data through numbers and words. The research methodology is treated in detail later in the study.
- Delimitation of the Study
This simply means that you have to set boundaries within which you would conduct your study. You have to focus on where you would collect data and who would be your interviewees and respondents. If you don’t do that you would end up collecting data from places outside the domain of your study. For instance, you would collect data from Kumasi Municipality whilst the study is situated at Ejisu; you would collect data from people you meet on the street whilst you stated in your methodology that you would interview 10 pastors of Pentecostal Churches at Ejisu.
- Organization of the Chapters
In this section, you outline what each chapter would entail. Chapter one – General Introduction. You state all the topics discussed above. Chapter two – Literature Review. State the literature you would review in themes. Chapter Three – Methodology. Describe in detail the approach for the study. Chapter Four – Data interpretation, analysis, findings and discussion of findings. Chapter Five – Conclusion. This includes what you set out to research; summary of the research process; summary of findings; contribution to knowledge; issues emerging out of the study; recommendations; and conclusions.
This article provides readers with the basic outline of writing the introductory chapter to your PhD Thesis. On your own try to write an introduction to your thesis project using the provided guide.
This article is published with the kind courtesy of the author – Prof. Jonathan Edward Tetteh Kuwornu-Adjaottor. He is an Associate Professor of New Testament and Mother Tongue Biblical Hermeneutics in the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
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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
- 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.
☐ 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.
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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