How to Write a Dissertation Introduction

Alex

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How to Write a Dissertation Introduction

Just like the introduction of an essay, a dissertation introduction serves a similar purpose. An introduction is the first section that anybody reads. It should be engaging and must stand out. It is like setting the stage for your thesis. After going through it, the reader should have an idea about the dissertation's purpose. To nail the first part of your thesis, you must include the following:

  • The topic and brief context: it is crucial to inform the reader about what the paper will be about.
  • Scope of dissertation: what aspect of the topic will you be addressing in writing.
  • Importance: what gap does your research fill?
  • Objectives: the list of goals that your dissertation aims to achieve.
  • Structure: specify how each chapter is going to contribute to the overall objectives.

What Is a Dissertation Introduction?

Before we move towards the ingredients that make up it, let us first define dissertation introduction. Just like the name suggests, it must introduce your paper to the reader. By the time the readers are done with this part, they will know what you are researching and fill a gap. They will also be able to identify the stakeholders that are going to benefit from your dissertation. In a nutshell, you will be answering “what, why, who, and how” questions. This means that an introduction is a rationale for your dissertation. Your reader will know what follows and what to expect from the writing.

This may seem very simple. Well, yes! The trick is writing it while thinking of your audience as they are unaware of the dissertation area. Keep it more need-to-know content. You can pepper these details afterward with the addition of what you gathered from your analysis. Try not to bore or perplex them by entangling a multitude of concepts. Keep it crisp and to the point.

Key Elements You Should Include

Once we have understood what a dissertation introduction is, we must now move towards what encompasses or the recipe of an engaging introduction. Several key ingredients will be discussed in detail. Try not to miss out on any of these. Each point serves a distinct purpose. If you discard any one of these, the first section will not give a holistic view of the dissertation. So, let us now go through each of the elements one by one.

Topic and Context

Start by writing about your topic details. Give a brief introduction. Yes, there is an introduction to an introduction. Start with a sentence that lures the person into reading the entire dissertation. Keep it very formal and professional. Try to emphasize that what you have written is of high importance and covers the cracks missed by other dissertations. Doing this will generate the interest of the reader. It also gives a reader a hint of what is to come next because this will set up the stage for everything that follows. It will also give the impression that you know what you are talking about. Some dissertations are nothing but words. The first section will help the readers decide whether the content is of high quality or not. You must never forget that people have a limited amount of time and that the internet is full of them. If they do not find it useful, they will move towards another one. Some people go through just the abstract and the introduction. These two sections are enough for them to decide whether to spend the next half an hour on your dissertation or not.

Scope

After you are done with the context and topic details, it's now time to divert your focus towards the dissertation's scope. In this part, try to be brief and write it from a 360-degree viewpoint. You can provide details about the geographical area that you investigated. Then comes the time in which you researched the topic. You will answer the “who” part. Who were the people that you studied? It would be best if you specified the themes that the dissertation addresses. A phd dissertation will be very detailed and written after a lot of investigation and simulations. Try to include the entire scope so that the reader knows the “what, why, who, and how” part.

Motivation

This will be a significant part of your introduction to your dissertation. Having a brief background for your chosen topic will help the audience understand the topic better. This background information should contain all the significant concepts that are in your dissertation. You should include why you chose this topic and explain the way you researched this. You will also explain what your research includes and what areas you have worked on. The introduction should talk about what led you to pick this topic. Try not to include the following:

  • Literature review;
  • Research design;
  • Methods of data collection.

Suppose that if your topic revolves around worker turnover rates of a country, then do not explain how you gathered the statistics related to it. You must generally describe the issue of turnover rates and the impact on the organization. This part will only answer the question of “why” and why the dissertation was written on this specific topic. If you are still confused about a dissertation or a thesis meaning, then go check out some samples online.

Significance of the Research

The main point of writing a dissertation is to convince your readers that a problem exists and why solving it matters. You will state the findings, and in the end, you will suggest or present your recommendations. The significance part will show what purpose your research will serve. In other terms, you will contribute a case to the scientific and academic communities that how you work will add real value. If your dissertation is based on a specific industry or a company, you must explain why you chose it. Supervisors can be very critical of a student’s work. This is the part that will convince them that the concept or the topic must be researched upon. Just as lawyers present a case to the judge and hope to win, similarly, you will have to provide a ground for your topic to present it to your academic judge.

Research Problem

After explaining to your reader the significance of your research, you will move onto writing a good problem statement.

This is an integral part of your dissertation introduction, as it will help readers know what to expect.

In short, it will persuade them to read the entire dissertation. It serves as the crux of the dissertation. It possesses the power of generating interest in your readers. While writing this statement, keep your main dissertation objectives and the motivation to write it in view.

Bonus point: Do not cite any references in this section. This area is all about why the topic was chosen, along with some other details. Leave the bulk out of this section.

Research Question

The research question is the central part of your introduction. It is based on the research problem and the title of your dissertation. You will combine both of the aspects to formulate a question that has much depth to it. Your dissertation will be based solely on this question. If you fail to answer this question, your supervisor might not let this work pass. There is no wiggle room here. So, make the research question short, specific, and to the point. It must not be more than one to two lines. In some cases, you will be asked to draw a hypothesis. You will then have to prove those hypotheses through your work.

Research Aims and Objectives

These are broad statements that will inform the readers of what you expect to achieve from the dissertation. These serve as extensions to the research question. You will have to start such statements by using “to study, understand, explore or evaluate..”. Try looking for examples online before attempting to write them on your own. Both of these parts, “aims and objectives”, must be interrelated and should be in line with the main topic and the question. Do not give sweeping statements.

Research Limitations

After you write the methodology, explain the limitations of your work. Shake off the thought that this is a negative aspect. Every dissertation has some limitations, which is normal. You can state data or financial limitations. Take help from your supervisor when writing this part, both in the introduction and at the end of the dissertation. If you do not know how to write a dissertation or even how to write a conclusion, go through some samples.

Key Terms

At times, you will be using terms and jargon in your paper, which will not be understandable for everybody. Hence, your abstract requires a separate section to define all of these acronyms and terminology beforehand to prevent confusion later on.

One common mistake students tend to make is by going overboard with providing these definitions, and at other times, providing very little of these. It is worth remembering that your work will be studied by other researchers and scholars mostly, but students also make a considerable segment of your audience. Hence, explaining everything will help enhance their understanding and takeaways from your paper.

Explanation of Your Methodology

Here, you have to include the methods, techniques, and procedures you employed during your research. It should explain the process you undertook and how you did it. It can also include your rationale behind your selection process. By discussing what you did, you are aiming to make your work more credible and reliable in the readers' eyes. Try going through the dissertation methodology structure by reading some samples.

Preview of The Research

Suppose you are given a scientific essay topic, and you are told to write it in detail because the topic in concern is not mainstream. You will have to provide some ground to bring your reader up to speed. Similarly, when writing a dissertation introduction, you must give a preview of the methodology. In this way, you will be able to capture the interest of the audience. They will know what you expect in the coming sections. Writing a preview is not a time-consuming task. Try to summarize the hypothesis, methodology, and findings. Limit these to a few sentences as you must not give away much detail. This is because the rest of the sections are dedicated explicitly to these parts. The reader will get a roadmap of your dissertation and can even decide whether they can cite this or not. You will also be able to provide the rationale that what is the gap that the previous dissertations missed that you are covering.

Outline of the Dissertation

Depending on which university, program, and subject you are enrolled in, it is common to design an overall outline for the rest of your dissertation. This will also be helpful before you complete the entire research. By showing this outline to your instructor or tutor, you will enable them to check your intended research and point out any mistakes or additions needed to be made. Hence, feedback becomes easier. The section of a dissertation proposal outline will state all the aspects, sections, and concepts you plan to include in it. A standard dissertation has five sections or chapters; introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion.

Few dissertation based assignments do not utilize these chapters for the findings and discussions. Instead, they make a sixth chapter by splitting the two. You should check the requirements for formatting with your instructor beforehand. While writing the outline, do not forget to include what each section will contain to provide a brief overview and a general idea regarding your paper.

Writing an abstract and introduction for your dissertation might feel overwhelming and daunting, but it does not remain as confusing once you get a firm grip on the sections and aspects to include in it. A clear understanding is crucial for you to focus on all the required elements.

If you feel like you have been stuck in the doldrums, turning towards a professional is not a bad idea. A dissertation is a requirement for your undergraduate or postgraduate degree, and you need to ace it to score high. You can seek assistance from your instructor, but they can only provide their input to a minimal extent.

You are mostly independent in this regard. Hence, it is advisable to go through a few ideal dissertation examples for the dissertations on the internet to analyze their structure and what makes them stand out. Other than this, acquiring professional help can guide you in the right direction.

Originally published Feb 09, 2021, updated Feb 18, 2021
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