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How to Write the Introduction of a Dissertation

Published by at August 31st, 2021 , Revised On June 28, 2022

Introducing your Dissertation to the World

What would you tell someone if they asked you to introduce yourself? You’d probably start with your name, what you do for a living…etc., etc., etc. Think of your dissertation. If you had to introduce it to the world for the first time, how would you go about it?

For the remainder of this guide, keep this forefront in your mind: you are introducing your research to the world who doesn’t even know it exists. Every word, phrase and line you write in your introduction will stand for the strength of the character your dissertation has.

This is not that much different from how, in real life, if someone fails to introduce themselves properly (such as leaving out what you do for a living, where you live, etc.) to a stranger, it leaves a lasting impression on the stranger.

Don’t leave your dissertation a stranger among other strangers. Let’s review the little, basic concepts we already have at the back of our minds, perhaps, to piece them together in one body: an introduction.

What Goes Inside an Introduction

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 in one sequence or another to introduce an academic argument.

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 of the study, a list of your objectives, a reference to viewpoints of other researchers and a justification for the research.

Topic Discussion versus Topic Introduction

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 trickier.

The 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 starting the actual write up.

When writing a dissertation introduction, one has to explain the title, discuss the topic and present a background so that readers understand what your research is about and what results in 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 the 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 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.

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

Guidelines to Get Started

1.  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 help 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).

All about research strategy should be covered in the methodology chapter. 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.

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2.     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 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.

3.     Research Problem

Once you’ve described the main research problem and the importance of your research, the next step would be to present your problem statement 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 the job satisfaction of a specific organisation, 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 elaborate on 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.

4.     Research Question(s)

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.

Your research question is what your research aims to answer and around which your whole dissertation will revolve. The research question should be specific and concise.

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 and research question examples here.

Once you’ve formed your research question, pick out vital elements from it, based on which you will prepare your theoretical framework and 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 resultsdiscussion and analysis.

A sample hypothesis could be, job satisfaction is positively linked to employee job performance. Results of your dissertation could be in favour of this dissertation or against it.

Tip: Read up about what alternative, null, one-tailed and two-tailed hypotheses are so you can better formulate the hypothesis for your own dissertation. Following are the definitions for each term, as retrieved from Trochim et. al’s Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base (2016):

  • Alternative hypothesis (H1): “A specific statement of prediction that usually states what you expect will happen in your study.”
  • Null hypothesis (H0): “The hypothesis that describes the possible outcomes other than the alternative hypothesis. Usually, the null hypothesis predicts there will be no effect of a program or treatment you are studying.”
  • One-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that specifies a direction; for example, when your hypothesis predicts that your program will increase the outcome.”
  • Two-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that does not specify a direction. For example, if your hypothesis is that your program or intervention will have an effect on an outcome, but you are unwilling to specify whether that effect will be positive or negative, you are using a two-tailed hypothesis.”

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Interesting read: 10 ways to write an effective introduction fast.

Get Help With Any Part of Your Dissertation!

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5.     Research Aims and Objectives

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 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 serve as steps that communicate how your research question will be answered.

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 the aims and objectives, you communicate to your readers what aspects of research you’ve taken into consideration and how 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. More examples here.

Your aims and objectives should be interrelated and 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 on how the findings, analysis, and discussion of your dissertation related to your aims and objectives and how your research has helped in achieving them.

6.     Research Limitations

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 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 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 research with accurate results the academic community can reply on.

Also read: How to Write Dissertation Methodology.

7.     Outline of the Dissertation

Even though this isn’t a mandatory sub-section of the introduction chapter, good introductory chapters in dissertations outline what’s to follow in the preceding chapters.

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 research 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 research, cover them, they’d provide their feedback for you to improve.

Usually, this section talks about 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 reviewmethodologyresults 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. To 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.

“If you find yourself stuck at any stage of your dissertation introduction, get introduction writing help from our writers! At Research Prospect, we not only offer a dissertation writing service, but our qualified team of writers will also assist you in conducting in-depth research for your dissertation.

Dissertation Introduction Chapter – Do’s and Don’ts

Dissertation Introduction Chapter – Do’s and Don’ts

Samples

Check out some basic samples of dissertation introduction chapters to get started.

So, to conclude…

Steps to Writing a Dissertation Introduction

FAQs about Dissertation Introduction

It’s used to introduce key constructs, ideas, models and/or theories etc. relating to the topic; things that you will be basing the remainder of your dissertation on.

There is more than one way of starting a dissertation’s introductory chapter. You can begin by stating a problem in your area of interest, review relevant literature, identify the gap, and introduce your topic. Or, you can go the opposite way, too. It’s all entirely up to your discretion. However, be consistent in the format you choose to write in.

It can range from 1000 to 2000 words for a master’s dissertation, but for a higher-level dissertation, it mostly ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 words’ introduction chapter. In the end, though, it depends on the guidelines provided to you by your department.

About Carmen Troy

Troy has been the leading content creator for Research Prospect since 2017. He loves to write about the different types of data collection and data analysis methods used in research. Troy has also been lucky enough to work as an editor for BBC.