How to write dissertation introduction section guide


How to write dissertation introduction section guide

When writing dissertations, remember that their opening chapter is an important part because it’s the first thing that all readers notice, besides abstracts and titles. A dissertation introduction should provide a brief overview of your entire work, set its tone, explain basic purposes, and leave a positive impression on people who read it. A bad start can ruin even your perfect piece of writing.

Find some time to study the main elements of any winning dissertation introduction, such as cogence, succinctness, and clarity. Adhere to your chosen topic strictly because it will set you on the right track as you continue writing every subsequent section of this complex academic project or - turn for professional help.

What is a dissertation introduction?

All students to ask this question should know that it’s an opening chapter or starting point of their academic project where they need to describe its subject, include a clear problem statement, and an overview of their further work.

Research Background - Writing a Dissertation Introduction

This is the very first section of your introduction. Building a background of your chosen topic will not only help you in understanding more about the topic, but also helps readers in knowing about why the general research area is problematic, interesting, central and important etc.

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

Introduction to a dissertation shouldn't talk only about other research work in the same area as this will be discussed in the literature review section. Moreover, this section should not include research design and data collection method(s). Background to research only helps to build up your research in general. For instance, if your research is based on job satisfaction measures of a specific country, the content of the introduction chapter will generally be about job satisfaction and the impact it has.

Components of an Introduction

When you’re writing an introduction, it’s important to understand the main parts it should contain. Here are the main components your introduction should consist of:

  • Topic and context: what does your audience need to know to understand your paper?
  • Focus and scope: what aspects of the interesting topic you will highlight in the document?
  • Importance relevance: how does your research discussion impact existing documents on this subject?
  • Questions and research objectives: what’s the main goal of your research?

How to Start Your Introduction?

Despite the introduction’s function is to open your dissertation, this part shouldn’t be written first. In fact, you have to complete the introduction paragraph and the abstract at the end of your work when all other chapters are fully completed.

We suggest making a draft of this paragraph just when you started your research. You can use a research proposal as a template to create an introduction because it has almost the same elements. During the writing, you need to revise and change your introduction part constantly to make sure it matches your whole dissertation. 

Make sure you have included all the following elements to create an effective introduction.

Topic and Context

Start your academic assignment by introducing the topic of your paper. Provide your readers with the needed background data to understand the subject better. Show your audience why your topic is important (as an example, mention a practical problem, academic debate, or relevant news). 

Example topic

Youth’s attitude to changes in US politics

Example context

Recent news about the youth’s strike, and the importance of young people's engagement with government politics.

Focus and Scope

When you’ve introduced the topic of your research, it’s time to narrow it and show to readers the scope of your work. Follow the examples:

  • What area are you going to investigate?
  • What time does your investigation cover?
  • What communities or groups are you investigating?
  • What concrete aspects or themes of the topic does your document bring?
  • What academic disciplines does your dissertation include?

Example focus

The USA students’ engagement with the US politics

Example scope

The concerns, knowledge, actions, and perceptions of Washington high school students towards the current USA government’s politics.

Importance and Relevance 

It’s quite important to show the readers your motivation for doing the research, how it impacts existing papers on this subject, and what new things it contains. 

We suggest providing a short overview of the current situation of research. Mention relevant sources and write how your work will address a problem in a particular field. You will have to create a more detailed list of relevant sources in the literature review chapter of your future dissertation.

Depending on the chosen subject, the importance of your whole work may be focused on its practical or theoretical application. In many cases, a dissertation does both. 

Remember that you have to explain how your research:

  • Solves or helps to solve a theoretical or practical problem
  • Builds on existing papers and research
  • Gives a new understanding of the subject
  • Shows a gap in the literature

Example importance and relevance

Young students will define the future of US politics and government, and it’s quite important to make a deep investigation of their engagement with this sphere. There was some research on the American young people to the US government but none of them has shown precisely their engagement with the current US politics. In previous years, the students’ reaction to the US government changing was quite notable, and it’s very important to build this research on previous work in this field and expand knowledge of this question. 

Questions and Research Objectives

It’s the most important part of your whole research because here you set the expectations of your dissertation. Here you need to make your research questions and objectives that depend on your subject, discipline, and focus. Keep in mind you have to state the central goal of your work.

Here you may specify the research methods used for your research, but the most detailed review should be placed in a methodology chapter of your dissertation. Do not write too many details in the introduction.

If your dissertation’s goal is to test hypotheses, you may include them here. But sometimes the hypotheses are placed later in the paper, after the literature review chapter, so it’s on your choice where to write it.

Example research question

How do high school students in Washington engage with the US government’s politics?

Example objectives

  • Get and make an analysis of quantitative data on high school students’ levels of concern, knowledge, and perceptions (positive and negative) of the US politics
  • Define if high levels of concern are connected with gender, social class, and age
  • Make qualitative research to investigate high school students’ perceptions, attitudes, and level of engagement with the US politics

Extra Questions and Tips

How important is the introduction to my dissertation? Both very and not very. The introduction matters because it’s the reader’s first impression of your dissertation. But it matters less because it won’t get as many eyes as the most important chapters of your thesis.

When should I write my introduction? Both all along and at the very end. Start almost in the middle, at some point where you already know what you want to say. As you write, accumulate thoughts and ideas that might belong in an introduction, and gather them into a separate pile. For longer works, try to create an "Introduction" folder and just dump those thoughts into it. Then, at the end of the process, return to that folder and mine it. It usually will contain most of what you need, and with a little polish and a few additions, finish it in the end.

If I have an introduction, do I also need a conclusion? For a dissertation? Not necessarily. Books need a conclusion, and so do essays. But dissertations are not books. They’re part of your education, not just a demonstration of it, and they point toward your intellectual future. That said, you may want to write a conclusion, or an epilogue. But that’s a subject for another day.