How to Write a Dissertation Introduction: Types, Steps, & Examples
If you’re here reading this guide, you’re probably composing the introduction chapter for your dissertation or thesis. We understand how intimidating it can be.
It is reasonable to assume that since the introduction is the first section people read while reviewing your dissertation, it must also be written first. However, this is not the case. When writing your dissertation, it is best to write your introduction and abstract after completing all the other sections.
In this post, we’ll look at the seven essential components of a great introduction chapter of a dissertation, as well as the key points to remember as you write each section. We’ll also provide some helpful pointers to help you optimise your dissertation writing approach.
Dissertation Introduction Chapter
To write a great dissertation or research introduction chapter, you must first understand what this chapter is supposed to accomplish. In other words, what is its primary purpose? As the name suggests, the introduction chapter should introduce the readers to your research, so they learn what you’re trying to figure out or what problem you’re trying to solve. In particular, you should answer four critical research questions in your introductory part.
- What will you be looking into while researching? Why is it valuable?
- What would the scope of your study be?
- What will you cover in your research, and what will you not cover?
- What will your research’s barriers be? What are the potential flaws in your research?
Design Your Dissertation Introduction Writing Structure
Not all dissertations are structured in a similar way. The form your study takes depends on your topic, subject, discipline, and method.
For instance, dissertations are often structured more like a long essay, building an overall argument to support a central thesis, with chapters organised around diverse case studies or themes.
But if you’re conducting experiential research, your dissertation should generally contain all of the following elements. Each will be a separate chapter in many cases, but sometimes you might combine them. For example, the results and discussion will be woven together rather than separated in qualitative social science.
The order of sections can also vary between different subjects and universities. For example, some universities want the conclusion section before the discussion.
If you are not sure how your thesis or dissertation should be structured, always check with your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.
Writing a Dissertation Introduction – The Background
The main purpose of providing a background in your introduction is to ease the reader’s grasp of the topic.
One common mistake students make to justify their research is stating how interesting the topic is. While it is important to work on something that interests you – a dissertation needs to go beyond this, answer the research question and why there is a particular need for this research. It can only be done by providing a background for your research.
Students should begin outlining the background by identifying crucial parts of the topic. A good starting point can be a list of the top 3-5 authors you found most influential (as demonstrated in your literature review). Write some brief notes on why they were so influential and how they fit together in your research and overall topic.
Also, think about what key terminology is important to the reader understanding your dissertation. The background offers an opportunity for you to highlight two or three essential terms. Moreover, if you think you are stuck at some point and need help, you can reach out to online academic writing experts for dissertation proposal writing. They will help you with your research work.
There are two common mistakes students make when writing the background: it is either too short or too long. Remember, 1 to 2 pages are enough for the introduction section. You need to arrive at your research focus quickly and only provide the basic information that allows your reader to get an idea about your research.
Dissertation or Thesis Introduction – The Research Focus
The research focus is about two things:
- Providing information on the research
- Supporting the reasoning for the study
It is crucial to clarify the area(s) you intend to research and explain why you have attempted the research in the first place. Also, keep in mind your research focus must link to the background information provided in the introduction section. Although you might write the segments on different days or months, it all has to be in a continuous flow.
This section of your introduction leads to the aims and research objectives. You might want to consider it as the tie between anything that has already been done and the direction of your research. Therefore, consider introducing the main research focus, then explain the overall significance of the research in the particular field. Following this method will help you present your aims and research objectives in the introduction of your dissertation.
Dissertation Introduction Examples
Here is an example of an introduction written by Rodger E. Broomé for his research ‘DESCRIPTIVE PHENOMENOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL METHOD’. This will briefly explain the steps mentioned above and how the introduction should be written
This study focuses on the ‘Descriptive Phenomenological Psychological Method’ of research as it has been taught to me by Amedeo P. Giorgi. Giorgi (2009) based on the method of Husserl’s descriptive phenomenological philosophy as an alternative epistemology for human science research. This method section references Giorgi’s work and the phenomenological tradition of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and others. Each step of Giorgi’s (2009) modified Husserlian method is described and explained in the context of doing psychological research on the live experience of the participants in my dissertation research. The steps are: (1) assume the phenomenological attitude, (2) read the entire written account for a sense of the whole, (3) delineate meaning units, (4) transform the meaning units into psychologically sensitive statements of their lived meanings, and (5) synthesise a general psychological structure of the experience base on the constituents of the experience. It is the first-person psychological perspective that is sought so the end-user of the research can adopt an empathetic position.
As you can see, this Example Dissertation Introduction paragraph clearly explains how the research will help assume the phenomenological attitude and transform the meaning units into psychologically sensitive statements of participants.
The introduction doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it should be convincing. It would help if you sell the idea behind your research and its importance so the readers understand why it’s worth reading and following. Your research abstract or introduction should be the selling point of your research. So, spend time and think about how your research will make an exceptional contribution to the world and how the knowledge you create would benefit both the academia and the industry. Use the introduction section to grasp the attention of your readers.
Conclusion – How to Write the Introduction of a Dissertation
The introduction section of your dissertation should include the following:
- It should provide initial background information for your research
- It should explain the focus of your research
- It should specify the importance of your research
- It should specify your research aims and objectives
A dissertation or thesis introduction provides opportunities beyond the above four points. Some students like to add their research questions in the introduction to give their readers a perspective of what they should expect in the later sections. Whatever approach you choose, make sure your introduction piques the attention of the readers.
Also, there are no certain rules about how long a dissertation introduction needs to be. Generally, the introduction should consist of 5-7% of the total dissertation length.
Moreover, if you are stuck with your dissertation introduction and see no way out, you can always contact experts for dissertation help. Dissertation writing experts can help you write your introduction and other sections of the dissertation.
How do you start a dissertation introduction?
You should start your dissertation keeping in mind the following points:
- Provide initial background knowledge that frames your research.
- Clarify the scope of your research.
- Emphasise the importance of your research (including secondary research)
- Describe your research’s specific goals and objectives.
What is the introduction of the dissertation?
The introduction establishes the reasoning for your dissertation, thesis, or other research work: what you are attempting to answer and why this research is necessary. An introduction should include a clear explanation of the research proposal and the research objectives (closely related to the research question).
What are the five chapters of a dissertation?
Dissertation body consists of the following five chapters:
- Introduction to the research.
- A review of the literature.
- Methodology including the research design and methods
- Research results
- Discussion, implications, and conclusions