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How to Write the Introduction of a Dissertation

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The exact ingredients of a dissertation or thesis introduction chapter vary depending on your chosen research topic, your university’s guidelines and your academic subject – but they are generally mixed together in one sequence or another to introduce an academic argument. Some of the key elements of a great dissertation introduction include a definition of the selected research topic, reference to previous studies on the subject, a statement of the value of the subject for academic and scientific communities, a clear aim/purpose the study, a list of your objectives, a reference to viewpoints of other researchers and a justification for research. Discussing a topic and introducing it are two extremely different aspects of dissertation introduction writing. You might find it easy to discuss a topic, but introducing it is much more tricky. Introduction is the first thing that a reader reads, thus it is essential that it is to the point, informative, engaging and interesting. Even if one of these elements is missing, the reader will not be motivated to continue reading the paper and will move on to something different. So it’s of critical importance to fully understand how to write the introduction of a dissertation before the starting the actual write up.

When writing a dissertation introduction, one has to explain the title, introduce the topic and present a background so that readers understand what your research is about and what results you expect to achieve at the end of the research work. As a standard practice, you might work on your dissertation introduction chapter a couple of times. Once when you’re working on your proposal and the second time when writing your actual dissertation.

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“Many academics argue that the Introduction chapter should be the last section of dissertation paper you should complete but by no means it is the last part you would think of because this is where your research starts from. Write the draft introduction as early as possible. It is recommended to write it at the same time as proposal submission, although you will have to revise and edit it many a times before it takes the final shape.

Considering its importance, many students remain unsure how to write the introduction of a dissertation. Here are some of the most essential elements of “how to write the introduction of a dissertation” that’ll provide the much needed dissertation introduction writing help.

Here are some guidelines for you to learn to write a flawless first class dissertation paper.

Background of the Research – Writing a Dissertation Introduction

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 does not include research design and data collection method(s). All about research strategy should be covered in the methodology section (Student.unsw.edu.au, 2017). 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 take generally about job satisfaction and the impact it has.

Significance of the Research 

As a researcher, you will be required to demonstrate how your research will provide value to the scientific and academic communities. If your dissertation is based on a specific company or industry, you need to explain why that industry and company was chosen. If you’re comparing, explain why you’re doing so and what this research will yield. Regardless of the research topic you choose, explain thoroughly in this section as to why this research is being conducted and what benefits it will serve. The idea here is to convince your supervisor and readers into believing that the concept should be researched to find a solution to a problem that actually exists.

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Research Problem 

Once you’ve described the main research problem and the importance of your research, the next step would be to present your research problem i.e. why this research is being conducted, what purpose it will service. This is one of the most essential aspects of how to write the introduction of a dissertation. Doing so will help your readers understand what you intend to do in this research, as well as, what they should expect from this study. Presenting the research problem in a competent manner holds the key to persuading your readers into reading other parts of the dissertation paper. This research problem is the crux of your dissertation i.e. it gives a direction as to why this research is being carried out, and what issues the study will take into consideration.

For example, if your dissertation is based on measuring job satisfaction of a specific organization, your research problem should talk about the problem the company is facing and how your research will help the company to solve that. If your dissertation is not based on any specific organization, you can explain the common issues that companies face when they do not consider job satisfaction as a pillar of business growth and how your research will help them realize its importance.

“Citing too many references in the introduction chapter isn’t considered a recommended practice because here you are expected to explain why chose to study a certain area and what your research will accomplish. Any citations are only to set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

Research Question 

Now comes the main part of your introduction – the research question, which should be based on your research problem and the dissertation title. Combining these two aspects together will help you formulate a perfect research question that is interesting yet manageable.

Research Limitations

Your research question is what your research aims to answer and around which your whole dissertation will revolve. Research question should be specific, concise and to the point. It should be a one or two line question that you’ve set out to answer through your dissertation. For the job satisfaction example, a sample research question could be ‘how does job satisfaction have a positive impact on employee’s job performance?’ Look up dissertation introduction examples on the internet or ask your friends to get an idea how an ideal research question is formed. Or you can review our dissertation introduction example here.

Once you’ve formed your research question, pick out vital elements from it, based on which you will prepare your literature review. You will come back to your research question again when concluding your dissertation. In some cases, you might have to formulate a hypothesis in place of a research question. Hypothesis is a simple statement, which you prove with your results, discussion and analysis. A sample hypothesis could be ‘job satisfaction is positively linked to employee job performance’. Results of your dissertation could be in favor of this dissertation or against it.

Research Aims and Objectives – Writing a Dissertation Introduction

Next come research aims and objectives. Aims and objectives are broad statements of desired results of your dissertation. They reflect the expectations of the topic and research, and also address the long-term project outcomes. These statements should use the concepts accurately, must be focused, should be able to convey your research intentions, and also serve as steps that communicate how your research question will be answered (Libguides.usc.edu, 2017).

Based on your topic, research question or hypothesis, you should formulate your aims and objectives. These are simple statements and are an extension of your research question. Through these aims and objectives, you communicate to your readers as to what aspects of research you’ve taken into consideration and how do you intend to answer your research question.

Usually these statements initiate with words like, ‘to explore’, ‘to study’, ‘to assess’, ‘to critically assess’, ‘to understand’, ‘to evaluate’ etc. You could ask your supervisor to provide you with some thesis introduction examples to help you understand better how aims and objectives are formulated.

Your aims and objectives should be interrelated and should connect to your research question and/or research problem. If they do not, they’ll be considered vague and too broad in scope. Always make sure that your research aims and objectives are concise, brief and relevant. You have to make sense in only a few statements, thus make use of them very wisely.

Once you reach the conclusion of your dissertation, you will have to revert back in order to address whether your research aims and objectives have been met or not. You will have to reflect as to how the findings, analysis and discussion of your dissertation relate to your aims and objectives and how your research has helped in achieving them.

Also Read: How to write introductions for dissertations and thesis? 

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Research Limitations – Writing Dissertation Introduction

This section is sometimes a part of the dissertation methodology section; however, most of the times it is included in the introduction of a dissertation. Every research has some limitations, thus it is absolutely normal for you to experience certain limitations when conducting your study. You could experience research design limitations, data limitations or even financial limitations.  Regardless of which type of limitation you may experience, your dissertation would be impacted, thus you should mention them without any hesitation.

When including this section in the introduction, make sure that you clearly state the type of constraint you experienced . This will help your supervisor understand what problems you went through while working on your dissertation. However, one aspect that you should take care of is that your results, in no way, should be influenced by these restrictions. The results should not be compromised, or else your dissertation will not be deemed as authentic and reliable.

After you’ve mentioned your research limitations, discuss how you overcame them to produce a perfect dissertation. Also mention that your results are in no way adversely impacted by your limitations, and that you’ve produced a research with accurate results the academic community can reply on.

Here is an article on How to Write Dissertation Methodology.

Outline of the Dissertation

It is also usual to set out an outline of the rest of the dissertation. Depending on your university and academic subject, you might be asked to include it in your proposal, as well. Because your tutor might want to glance over it to see how you plan your dissertation and what sections you’d include. Based on what sections you include and how you intend to cover them, they’d provide their feedback for you to improve.

Usually this section talks about how you plan your research, what sections do you plan to include and what concepts and aspects would each section entail. A standard dissertation consists of five sections, also known as chapters, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and discussion and conclusion. Some dissertation assignments do not use the same chapter for results and discussion, instead they split it into two different chapters, making six chapters. Check with your supervisor regarding which format you should follow.

When talking about the outline of your dissertation, keep in mind that you’d have to mention what each section involves. Discuss all the major aspects of each section to give a brief overview of what your dissertation contains, and this is exactly what our dissertation outline service provides.

Writing a dissertation introduction might seem difficult, but it is not if you understand what is expected of you. So understand the required elements and make sure that you focus on all of them. Include all the aspects to make sure that your supervisor and other readers can easily understand how you intend to undertake your research.

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