How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)
Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction
Ways to capture the reader’s attention, open with a (personal) story.
An established way to capture the reader’s attention in a thesis introduction is by starting with a story. Regardless of how abstract and ‘scientific’ the actual thesis content is, it can be useful to ease the reader into the topic with a short story.
Start by providing data or statistics
Data and statistics are another established way to immediately draw in your reader. Especially surprising or shocking numbers can highlight the importance of a thesis topic in the first few sentences!
Begin with a problem
Emphasising the thesis’ relevance.
A good thesis is a relevant thesis. No one wants to read about a concept that has already been explored hundreds of times, or that no one cares about.
Define a clear research gap
Describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, formulating a compelling argument.
Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights. Think of an argument as an umbrella statement, or core claim. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.
Write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences
Support your argument with sufficient evidence.
The core claim of your thesis should be accompanied by sufficient evidence. This does not mean that you have to write 10 pages about your results at this point.
Consider possible objections
Think about reasons or opposing positions that people can come up with to disagree with your claim. Then, try to address them head-on.
Providing a captivating preview of findings
Similar to presenting a compelling argument, a fantastic thesis introduction also previews some of the findings. When reading an introduction, the reader wants to learn a bit more about the research context. Furthermore, a reader should get a taste of the type of analysis that will be conducted. And lastly, a hint at the practical implications of the findings encourages the reader to read until the end.
Address the empirical research context
Give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, presenting a crystal clear thesis structure, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.
Especially for longer theses, it tends to be a good idea to design a simple figure that illustrates the structure of your thesis. It helps the reader to better grasp the logic of your thesis.
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How to Write a Thesis Introduction
What types of information should you include in your introduction .
In the introduction of your thesis, you’ll be trying to do three main things, which are called Moves :
- Move 1 establish your territory (say what the topic is about)
- Move 2 establish a niche (show why there needs to be further research on your topic)
- Move 3 introduce the current research (make hypotheses; state the research questions)
Each Move has a number of stages. Depending on what you need to say in your introduction, you might use one or more stages. Table 1 provides you with a list of the most commonly occurring stages of introductions in Honours theses (colour-coded to show the Moves ). You will also find examples of Introductions, divided into stages with sample sentence extracts. Once you’ve looked at Examples 1 and 2, try the exercise that follows.
Most thesis introductions include SOME (but not all) of the stages listed below. There are variations between different Schools and between different theses, depending on the purpose of the thesis.
Stages in a thesis introduction
- state the general topic and give some background
- provide a review of the literature related to the topic
- define the terms and scope of the topic
- outline the current situation
- evaluate the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages) and identify the gap
- identify the importance of the proposed research
- state the research problem/ questions
- state the research aims and/or research objectives
- state the hypotheses
- outline the order of information in the thesis
- outline the methodology
Example 1: Evaluation of Boron Solid Source Diffusion for High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cells (School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering)
Example 2: Methods for Measuring Hepatitis C Viral Complexity (School of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences)
Note: this introduction includes the literature review.
Now that you have read example 1 and 2, what are the differences?
Example 3: The IMO Severe-Weather Criterion Applied to High-Speed Monohulls (School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering)
Example 4: The Steiner Tree Problem (School of Computer Science and Engineering)
Example 5.1 (extract 1): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)
Example 5.2 (extract 2): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)
Example 5.4 (extract 4): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)
Example 5.5 (extract 5): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)
Example 5.6 (extract 6): The effects of Fluoride on the reproduction of three native Australian plant Species (School of Geography)
Well, firstly, there are many choices that you can make. You will notice that there are variations not only between the different Schools in your faculty, but also between individual theses, depending on the type of information that is being communicated. However, there are a few elements that a good Introduction should include, at the very minimum:
- Either Statement of general topic Or Background information about the topic;
- Either Identification of disadvantages of current situation Or Identification of the gap in current research;
- Identification of importance of proposed research
- Either Statement of aims Or Statement of objectives
- An Outline of the order of information in the thesis
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How to write a good thesis introduction
For many people, getting started with the thesis introduction is the most scary part. Writing introductions can be intimidating. At this point, most of your research/prep work should be done and you should be ready to start your introduction. But often, it is not clear what needs to be included and how to make a good first impression to your reader. If you feel stuck at this point not knowing how to start, this guide can help.
First of all, make sure to really start with the introduction. If you are having trouble putting together a good introduction, start with a placeholder. That placeholder does not need to be as strong as you would like it to be, but you can always come back to it and edit it. Having a brief introduction that sets the direction will help you a lot as you write. Waiting to write the introduction until the end can leave you with a poorly written setup to an otherwise well-written paper.
A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire paper. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic, but the points below can act as a guide. These points can help you write a good thesis introduction:
- 1. Identify your readership
Before even starting with your first sentence, ask yourself the question who your readers are. Your first and most important reader is your professor grading your work and the people ultimately responsible for you getting your diploma. You should also consider readers of your thesis who are not specialists in your field. Writing with them in your mind will help you to be as clear as possible which will make your thesis better understandable and more enjoyable overall.
- 2. Hook the reader and grab their attention
The first sentence of the paper is crucial. Looking back at your own research, how many papers have you skipped just because reading the first few sentences they couldn't grab your attention? It is common to start with a question or quotation, but these types of hooks have become overused. The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and seamlessly transitions into your argument. Also, starting with a broader statement will appeal to a wider audience. Consider who the paper is aimed at informing and then think of something that would grab their attention. Make a list of what is interesting about your topic. Are there any current events it relates to or controversies associated with it that might be interesting for your introduction? Start out broad and then narrow down to your specific topic and thesis statement.
- 3. Provide relevant background
A good introduction also needs to contain enough background information to allow the reader to understand the thesis statement and arguments. The amount of background information required will depend on the topic. There should be enough background information so you don't have to spend too much time with it in the body of the thesis, but not so much that it becomes uninteresting.
- 4. Give the reader a general knowledge of what the paper is about
Let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:
- Briefly describe the motivation for your research (if you haven't already in the first sentence)
- Describe the topic and scope of your research
- Explain the practical relevance of your research
- Explain the scientific situation related to your topic - you can include the most important scientific articles and briefly explain them and how they are related to your research
- 5. Preview key points and lead into thesis statement
The introduction to your thesis should preview what is to come and interest the reader with enough understanding of the key points, but still leave the best for the main part. While the body of your thesis will explain the main argument, you might want to lead into the thesis statement by briefly bringing up a few of your main supporting details.
- Frequently Asked Questions about writing a good thesis introduction
A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire paper. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic, but these tips will help you write a great introduction:
- Identify your readership
- Grab the reader's attention
- Provide relevant background
- Preview key points and lead into the thesis statement
A good introduction needs to contain enough background information, and let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:
The length of the introduction will depend on the length of the whole thesis. Usually, an introduction makes up roughly 10 per cent of the total word count.
The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and seamlessly transitions into your argument. Also, starting with a broader statement will appeal to a wider audience. Consider who the paper is aimed at informing, and then think of something that would grab their attention.
In Open Access: Theses and Dissertations you can find thousands of recent works. Take a look at any of the theses or dissertations for real-life examples of introductions that were already approved.
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How To Write A Thesis
Last updated on: Jan 2, 2023
How to Write an Engaging Thesis Introduction?
By: Nathan D.
Reviewed By: Melisa C.
Published on: Jan 3, 2023
Stuck with your thesis introduction chapter? You are not alone.
Writing a thesis is already hard and writing the thesis introduction is even harder. It is the first part of the thesis and probably also the most important one. It will do more than inform the readers about what you have discussed in your thesis.
It will also engage the readers and keep them glued to your paper. It is an important factor that you give reasons for your readers to continue reading your paper.
Unfortunately, many thesis papers fail because they lack this factor.
Read this blog to learn how to write an engaging and winning thesis introduction.
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What is a Thesis Introduction?
A thesis introduction is the first chapter of your thesis. It informs the readers about several elements of your paper. These include the research objectives, the scope of the topic, and its usefulness.
It gives the reader an overview of what to expect in your thesis and the direction that your paper follows.
There are three important qualities that you need to add in a good introduction chapter.
These are sharpness, pertinence, and clarity.
Sharpness is the ability to directly communicate what your paper will discuss. It means that you should be specific in your thesis statement about the research aims and what you are going to focus on in your research.
You should also make sure that the topic for discussion is clearly defined.
When you are writing your thesis introduction, make sure that what you write is relevant to the topic of discussion. It should help the readers understand the thesis topic clearly and easily.
Last but not least clarity means that what you are going to discuss should be clear in the thesis introduction. You need to ensure that anyone who reads the beginning of your paper would be able to develop a good idea of your research’s aim.
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Components of a Good Thesis Introduction
Here are the components of a good thesis introduction;
- It provides the reader with a brief overview of the goal(s) of your paper.
- It paves the way for an enhanced understanding of your topic.
- It does not overwhelm the reader with too much information.
- It is concise and to the point.
- It uses effective language and generates excitement about what you will discuss later on in the paper.
- It contains an appropriate thesis statement that is supported by the rest of your paper.
A good thesis introduction chapter informs and engages the readers. It discusses the aims and objectives of the paper and the important aspects of the topic.
Thesis Introduction Outline
'How to develop a thesis introduction chapter outline?'
Here are the steps to develop a thesis introduction chapter outline;
Step 1: Start with the Introduction Hook
Your introduction must have a hook to interest your readers. It can be in the form of previous researches, an unusual phenomenon that you observed, or something that has made you curious about the subject.
Step 2: Give a Brief Background Note
It is necessary to give a background note in order to have a good thesis introduction. It will provide the necessary information about the topic of discussion. It can include previous researches, theories, assumptions, and ideas that are relevant to this paper.
Step 3: Give Your Thesis Statement
This will present what you are going to discuss. It is usually written in one sentence and this should be stated in simple terms so that it will be clear to the readers what your paper is about.
Step 4: Give the Main Points of Discussion
You have to state the main points of discussion or what you are going to present in your research. You must organize your paper in a way that will be easy for the readers to understand and follow. The main points should be briefly discussed and organized so that they would easily fit in one paragraph.
How to Write a Thesis Introduction?
Writing an engaging thesis introduction is among the most important parts of your research paper. As a thesis statement is what you will focus on, it must be clearly presented so that the readers would have an easier time understanding what your paper is all about.
Here are the steps to write a winning thesis introduction;
1. Identify Your Readership
You need to know who your audience is in order to make them fully understand what you are going to discuss. Identifying your readership will help you decide the style of writing that would engage them most.
It is better to write for the specialized as well as the people who do not specialize in your field. This will help you in making your thesis introduction more engaging.
2. Grab Your Readers Attention with a Hook
You need to write your paper in a way that will interest the readers. The best way of doing this is by having an introduction hook. This must be something interesting and appealing so that everyone would want to continue reading your thesis.
You can also use specific examples or statistics to show authority on the topic you are discussing.
3. Add Relevant Background Information
To make sure that the readers will understand what you are going to say in your paper, you need to include relevant background information. This can be done by referring to previous researches or theories which prove your point of view about the topic.
4. Inform the Readers What the Paper is About
Your thesis statement must be presented clearly to make sure that the readers will understand what you are striving to discuss. Include the following information here;
- If you haven't already, in the first sentence, briefly state your motivation for your study.
- What is the focus of your study and to what extent has it been researched?
- Explain how your study's findings might be applied in real life.
- Explain the scientific context of your topic, including the most important scientific studies and their connection to your study.
5. Briefly Discuss Some Important Points
The introduction to your thesis should pique the reader's interest while still leaving enough of the main points for the rest of the essay.
While the body of your thesis will clarify the major argument, you may want to mention a few of your primary supporting facts before getting into the thesis statement.
Unlike the abstract, the introduction chapter is added to the table of content of the thesis.
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Example of a Good Thesis Introduction
The following is a thesis introduction example:
"The driving forces behind the globalization of markets and businesses are technology, political shifts, and social movements. In this paper, I intend to discuss how the increasing rate of technological advancements has been changing the way people do business both locally and internationally. I will also discuss how the political landscape has been shifting throughout the years and how this has affected corporations. Finally, in my paper, I intend to show that social movements and changes in values have greatly impacted how people work with each other in order to achieve common goals."
This thesis introduction example is long and complicated. It tries to do too many things in the thesis introduction. It is also vague and does not focus on a single topic.
This would probably lose the interest of your readers from the beginning.
The following is a more effective thesis introduction example:
"The impact of technology on political stability in developing countries has not been studied extensively by researchers (Dahman, 2003). However, with the recent wave of revolutions taking place throughout the Middle East, political scientists are now looking into the role that technology has played in destabilizing regimes. The internet and social media have made it easier for people to organize themselves and gather information about their surroundings. It is therefore not surprising that many of these revolutions were organized through online networks."
This thesis introduction example is better than the first example because it is specific and only discusses one thesis topic . The reader knows exactly what to expect in the thesis and can easily compare it with what happens later on in the paper.
Furthermore, the writer used a great opening sentence that immediately grabs the attention of the reader.
Below is a downloadable PDF of a detailed thesis introduction sample;
Thesis Introduction Chapter Sample
Tips to Write a Thesis Introduction
Here are some helpful tips to write a great thesis introduction;
- The introduction to your thesis must describe and define the scope of your study.
- It has enough information to back up your claims.
- The subject must describe the area and its terms and scope for the introduction to make sense.
- It sets the tone of the paper by narrowing the issues you will discuss in your thesis body.
- A strong beginning explains the purpose and objective. It will lead the reader to choose which method of study the author intends to take next.
- It provides the groundwork for your thesis by including the background information.
- The introduction must first state hypotheses, research questions, and goals.
- This content here must be entirely unique and free of plagiarism.
- It must adhere to a clear thesis structure by providing relevant information.
- Use simple language rather than technical phrases since they might confuse the readers.
Starting your thesis with a strong introduction chapter is essential to hook your readers. When writing the introduction, it is important that you add enough details in it to engage the readers.
If you need help, GradSchoolGenius.com is here to help you with it. GIve us a call or order through our online form.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the key to a successful thesis introduction.
A strong opening entices readers in while laying the groundwork for the rest of the paper. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to producing an introduction, but these suggestions can assist you to write a decent beginning:
- Determine who your target audience is.
- Capture the reader's attention.
- Provide relevant context.
- Lead into the thesis statement with a short preview of important points.
What should I include in my thesis introduction?
A good beginning should provide enough background information while also informing the reader of the study's objective. Remember to include the following points:
- Describe your area of study, its purpose, and scope.
- Explain how your study's findings might be applied.
- Explain the scientific context of your thesis topic — you may include the most important scientific articles and briefly explain them and how they are connected to your study.
How long should my thesis introduction be?
The introduction's length is determined by the thesis's length. The typical word count for an introduction is around 10% of the whole thesis document.
How do I write an interesting thesis introduction?
The ideal beginning for your introduction is a sentence that is broad and intriguing, which smoothly transitions into your paper. Also, starting with a more general statement will appeal to a larger audience. Consider whom the paper is intended to inform and then come up with something that would pique their interest.
What are the 3 parts of an introduction paragraph?
An introduction paragraph will include the following three elements: a hook, background information, and a thesis statement. Each of these components is essential in letting the reader know what your paper is about and why it is written.
Nathan is a highly experienced writer and author. With a Ph.D. degree in journalism, he has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with the world. Nathan is passionate about writing, and his work has been featured in some of the most respected publications. His clients and colleagues respect him deeply for his knowledge and insight into the writing process.
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Thesis Introduction Examples
- State the general topic and give some background.
- Provide a review of the literature related to the topic.
- Define the terms and scope of the topic.
- Outline the current situation.
- Evaluate the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages) and identify the gap.
- Identify the importance of the proposed research.
- State the research problem/questions.
- State the research aims and/or research objectives
- State the hypotheses.
- Outline the order of information in the thesis.
- Outline the methodology.
Thesis table of contents template.
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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction
Published on 9 September 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes.
The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction.
Your introduction should include:
- Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
- Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
- The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
- Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
- An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?
Table of contents
How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, frequently asked questions about introductions.
Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write – in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).
It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.
Begin by introducing your research topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualise your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.
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After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.
You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:
- Geographical area
- Time period
- Demographics or communities
- Themes or aspects of the topic
It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.
Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.
Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.
Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:
- Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
- Addresses a gap in the literature
- Builds on existing research
- Proposes a new understanding of your topic
Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.
If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .
- Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
- Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
- Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.
To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.
Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.
Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.
I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.
I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.
I have clearly specified the focus of my research.
I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .
I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.
I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .
I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .
You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an outline of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.
They summarise the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.
Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .
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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2022, September 09). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction. Scribbr. Retrieved 27 February 2023, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/introduction/
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How to write an introduction
How do you like this article, a guide to writing good introductory paragraphs.
- 1 What Is an Introduction?
- 3 Contents of a Introduction
- 4 Structure & Key Aspects
- 6 Introduction for your Thesis
- 7 Introduction vs. Closing Paragraph
- 8 In a Nutshell
What Is an Introduction?
The introduction is the beginning of every academic paper. Therefore, it forms one of the three cornerstones of every academic text, next to the main body and conclusion of your paper.
A good introduction skillfully draws the reader’s attention to the topic and arouses interest. The introductory paragraph also needs to describe the objective of your paper, and state the methods you will use to achieve your goal.
What is an introduction?
An introduction primarily states the purpose of an academic paper. It conveys the central or main points that will be covered. The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction, with any background information given beforehand. Introductions come right after the table of contents page, but before the body of the essay or thesis.
What are the contents of an introduction?
Every introduction should clearly state the purpose of your essay or thesis with a summary of the main points that will be discussed. It should be enough to give the reader an overview of the what to expect in the main body of the writing. It can also include an explanation of elements that are not mentioned within the scope of the remaining writing, such as background information that may be relevant to the thesis statement. The thesis statement should always be placed towards the end of the introduction.
How do you write a good introduction?
A good introduction captures the reader’s attention immediately, which in turn makes them want to read the remaining pages of the thesis or essay. It should clearly state the main topic, provide relevant context and explain your specific area of focus. Ultimately, it should provide the most relevant and helpful information about your research topic . The reader should be informed of any background information prior to reading the body of the thesis or essay.
How important is an introduction?
An introduction is one of the three most important sections of any academic essay or dissertation . The fact that it introduces the topic and main arguments of your text makes it very relevant. That, in essence, helps the reader to understand the explanation of the central ideas or topics covered in the remaining text.
What is the difference between a summary and an introduction?
The main difference between an introduction and a summary is their purpose. In academic writing , the introduction gives the reader a brief description of the topic and the main ideas that will be covered. A summary on the other hand, briefly explains everything that is covered in a text in a few condensed sentences. Therefore, a summary is more general while an introduction points to the main topics and relevant ideas of the academic text.
Contents of a Introduction
The answers to How to write a good introduction is manifest in three key aspects, namely:
1. Relevance: Why is the research topic important?
2. Research topic: What is the research question and/or topic that will be covered? and
3. Procedure: What procedure will you to answer the research question? (cf. Karmasin & Ribing 2014: 29).
In short, the introduction introduces the area of research as well as the research question derived from it. A good introduction tells the reader why answering the research question will lead to new, important insights.
Derntl (2014: 110) summarizes three tasks that a good introductory paragraph needs to fulfil, which are in line with the above-mentioned (1) relevance; (2) research topic; and (3) procedure:
Equally important is the outline of the methods used to answer the research question.
The University of Leicester gives a concise overview of what you need to achieve when writing a good introduction to your research paper – and when to write the introductory paragraph (University of Leicester [a]):
In the introductory paragraph you need to justify how and why you have narrowed down your topic. This will be summarized by a short description of your line of argument and the structure of your paper.
Like the concluding paragraph, the introductory paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis must not be a fragment but be consistent and understandable in and by itself. This means that the reader does not need to rely on insights established within the main body of the paper in order to understand the introductory paragraph (cf. Brauner & Vollmer 2004: 121).
Structure & Key Aspects
Find more detailed information below by clicking on the relevant aspect.
How to write an Introduction – Step #1: Leading to the topic
There are numerous ways to lead the reader to your research topic:
- Provocative proposition
(adapted from Brück 1997, quoted in Franck & Stary 2009: 146)
“Sociology can no longer be dissociated from insights and findings on women’s situation in society that have been developed by feminist scientists over the last 20 years.”
e.g. What can the differences between individuals be attributed to? Is it genetics or environmental factors? And what comprises the practical relevance of this question? (cf. Franck 2004: 64)
This question may also be quite thought-provoking (UNC College of Arts & Sciences 2018):
- Experiential report that leads to the research topic
(adapted from Faulstich-Wieland 1995, quoted in Franck & Stary 2009: 147)
“Over the last few weeks I have interviewed former teachers of a primary school for girls on the immediate post-war era. Amongst other things I wanted to find out what it meant to them to have taught girls. Unanimously, the pedagogical ambition was found to be the same, regardless of the students being boys or girls.”
- Description which outlines the problem and/or research topic
(cf. Franck 2004: 65) – this can also be a puzzling scenario (UNC College of Arts & Sciences 2018):
(UNC College of Arts & Sciences 2018):
Make sure the quote is relevant to your research paper and that you do not just use a “famous” quote for the sake of using a “famous” quote.
Generally, the following overview might be useful when writing your introductory paragraph (De Montfort University 2017):
Structuring an introductory paragraph
Introduce the context or background to the topic: Perhaps you could explain the title in your own words or use a quotation from an author who offers a supporting or contradictory statement about your topic area.
What is the purpose of writing about this topic? Is there a problem or controversy with the topic?
Definitions: Are you using any complex terminology or acronyms that need defining? Try to use a working definition from an expert in your subject area rather than referring to a general dictionary definition.
Introduce the main ideas that stem from your topic: You cannot write about everything for a 2000-word assignment; select between three and five key ideas and introduce them in the order in which they will be discussed.
How to write an Introduction – Step #2: Justification of the topic’s relevance
The introductory paragraph of your thesis or research paper contextualizes your research topic within the greater context of the research area and establishes a connection to the specialist area from general field of study (cf. Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 71).
The following three examples are a guideline as to how you can best tie in with the most current research ( University of Delaware n.d. ):
The following example illustrates how you can point the reader to your topic’s significance ( Regoniel 2015 ):
Looking at this example of an introductory paragraph, which highlights the relevance of your endeavor, you can see that the author proceeded as follows ( Regoniel 2015 ):
How to write an Introduction – Step #3: Subject of your research paper or essay
When writing the introduction to your research paper or an introductory paragraph for your essay , it is crucial to name what you will be researching.
The research question is derived from the research topic and, therefore, the research question needs to be linked to the research topic you will tackle in your research paper or essay (compare also article Research Question).
How to write an Introduction – Step #4: Objectives of your research paper
Another vital question to answer in the introductory paragraph is: Which objective are you pursuing, and which outcome is anticipated? (cf. Franck & Stray 2009: 144).
The title of your research paper is not identical to your objectives: Usually, the title of your research paper or essay describes the general subject area as opposed to the niche you want to cover (Stickel-Wolf & Wolf 2013: 202).
The introductory paragraphs below show how best to describe the objective of your paper in one sentence (Penn State 2019):
How to write an Introduction – Step #5: Methods
Knowing how to write an introduction also means having a firm grasp of the methods you will be using to achieve your research goal. The way in which you anticipate achieving your objectives needs to be pointed out in the introduction paragraph of your essay or the introduction of your research paper.
This is where you explain how you will go about gathering answers to your research question (cf. Samac, Prenner & Schwetz 2009: 60). Regarding the theory your research paper is based on, this involves outlining the theoretical underpinnings of your research paper (incl. the most important literature you use).
In an empirical research paper like your dissertation, which includes empirical studies, the introduction needs to explain the methods used to analyze the data you gathered in your study and how you analyzed this data (cf. Kornmeier 2013: 105).
Where appropriate, you could mention related background in the introduction paragraph, such as work experience or research stays. However, this information should be kept to a minimum (cf. Oertner, St. John & Thelen 2014: 31).
How to write an Introduction – Step #6: Dissociations and limitations of your research questions and their reasons
Knowing how to write an introduction also means knowing your limits. The introduction paragraph hence dissociates your research topic from other fields in this research area (cf. Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 71).
Knowing how to write a good introduction also means to giving valid reasons for any limitations and restrictions you place on your research paper. The introduction paragraph of your research paper clarifies why you restrict your research topic to a certain, potentially very specific research area, and why this is important to achieve the goals you set out to whether this pertains to a bachelor’s thesis, or any other research paper (cf. Stickel-Wolf & Wolf 2013: 202).
How to write an Introduction – Step #7: Differentiation and disambiguation of terms
The introduction paragraph of your research paper, bachelor’s thesis or master’s thesis, needs to explain basic but fundamental terms that are vital to understanding your research topic.
Explanations of terms that are only relevant to individual segments of your research paper should not be part of the introduction paragraph (cf. Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 71). Focus on terms that you might use (slightly) differently than your readers might expect, and define them accordingly (Case Western Reserve University 2018).
How to write an Introduction – Step #8: Outlinging the structure of your research paper or essay
Knowing how to write an introduction also includes knowing the structure of your research paper. In a few sentences in the introduction paragraph you should outline your line of argument, which emerges from the outline (table of contents) of your bachelor’s thesis, master’s thesis or dissertation .
Generally speaking, you give an outline of how you will go about answering your research question, which is mirrored in the structure of your research paper (cf. Kornmeier 2013: 106). Also, giving an outline of your research paper in the introduction paragraph will help the reader to remain focused.
Below you can find two examples from term papers (Tossey, Lisa. (n.d.); Wilson, Lily. 2016):
- The main purposes of the investigation into children’s Internet addiction are to study the phenomenon, learn about both views, reveal the true opinion, and create a list of recommendations for parents.
- I will be exploring how these POV cameras are being utilized in teaching, with a focus on science education, to gather data and provide virtual experiences – both in the lab and in the field.
The University of Leicester gives an example of a good essay introduction. Be aware that essays are a particular kind of research paper and differ from e.g., articles or ‘scientific’ term papers. In the following example you see how to write a good introduction to the essay question “What is the importance of imitation in early child development?”(University of Leicester [b]):
Introduction for your Thesis
„We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax.”
Samuel Goldwyn, film producer and publisher.
While a scientific research paper is not a film script and no professor will expect an earthquake when sitting down to read the introduction paragraph of your research paper, you still want to achieve a similar effect with your introduction paragraph:
Your introduction paragraph needs to captivate and win over the reader immediately. In doing so, the introduction guarantees that the reader will keep reading your paper with interest.
The introduction paragraph is the actual beginning of your paper, as neither abstract, nor foreword, nor table of contents belong in the actual body of the research paper.
In the introduction paragraph you reach out to the reader for the first time (cf. Esselborn-Krumbiegel 2002: 132), and ideally you want to leave a good impression. In providing a short guide the structure of your paper, the introduction paragraph is the flagship of your research paper (cf. Stickel-Wolf & Wolf 2013: 200).
How to write an Introduction: Length of the introduction paragraph
Planning your writing is quite a pragmatic endeavor. This includes deciding on how long each part of the text needs to be. The lengths of individual parts of your research paper depend on the overall length of your paper.
While the main body of your research paper will be the longest, the introduction paragraph will account for up to 15% of the scope of your text (cf. Stickel-Wolf & Wolf 2013: 201). Gruber, Huemer & Rheindorf advise you to restrict your introduction to only 5%, which is one page in a 20-page research paper (2009: 98), and Esselborn-Krumbiegel (2002: 142) advise 10%.
The introduction paragraph of your research paper , essay or bachelor’s thesis should hence account for 5-15% of your paper . Andermann, Drees & Grätz (2006: 86) suggest you write your introduction paragraph in such a manner that it holds a sensible relation to the rest of the text. Writing a good introduction is not an easy endeavor just because it is comparatively short in size. Be short and precise, boil everything down to its essence and save the longer versions of explanations for the main body of the text.
Introduction vs. Closing Paragraph
Where to start on that blank piece of paper in front of you? As ironic as it might sound, it is a just and well debated question. The introduction paragraph and the closing paragraph are closely linked. While the closing paragraph summarizes the main body of your research paper, the introduction paragraph prepares the reader for it. Hence, both conclusion and introduction are part of brackets that parenthesize your research paper (Brauner & Vollmer 2004: 120).
Theisen suggests, you write the introduction paragraph as the last part of your paper . This is because you, the author of your paper, are likely to know only at the end of your work what you could actually achieve (Theisen 2013: 152).
The introduction is considered to be the most difficult part, which is why it can be easier to write an introduction at the end once you know where you are headed. It is advisable to start off your paper by one of the chapters of the main body. This strategy can also prevent a writer’s block . This could be done through an appropriate quote that gets the reader started and is then followed by the research context and a research question.
Several authors also emphasize that it is important you have gained a thorough overview of your research topic before you can write your introduction well enough to truly captivate the reader. Hence, they too consider writing the introduction paragraph towards the end of the entire writing process of your research paper or essay (cf. Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 71; Bänsch & Alewell 2013: 79; Stickel-Wolf & Wolf 2013: 201).
Contrary to this view, Kornmeier argues that even the author of a research paper should know no more at the point of the introduction than they do at the point they start their writing process (Kornmeier 2013: 109). The research question, too, should not be inserted afterwards (cf. Samac, Prenner & Schwetz 2009: 61).
How not to write a good introduction
The following table summarizes important aspects you should refrain from when writing your introduction (adapted from Franck & Stary 2009: 144-146):
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In a Nutshell
- The introduction paragraph is part of the actual research paper (other than the pretext and indices). The introduction paragraph establishes the first contact with the reader, introducing the topic and encouraging the reader to continue reading your research paper.
- The introduction paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis should account for 5-15% of the overall length of your research paper.
- It is advisable to write the introduction paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis or research paper once you have finished the main body and closing paragraph of your research paper. Only then will you know what you managed to achieve in your research paper and hence you only fuel realistic expectations in the reader through your introduction paragraph.
- Essential parts of the introduction paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis also include your research question; the aims of your research paper; and the methods applied to achieve those goals.
- Make sure to briefly explain how and why you limit your topic. Refrain from phrases like “This is beyond the scope of this paper” as this is not a sufficient or a satisfactory explanation.
- Finish off your introduction paragraph with an outline of your research paper, i.e. the sequence of the chapters: How the chapters are sequenced, which line of argument you will be following, etc. Make sure you do not simply repeat your table of contents.
- Avoid personal confessions and subjective opinions. Neither of them has their place in the introduction paragraph of your research paper to justify the choice of your research topic or method.
Andermann , Ulrich, Martin Drees & Frank Götz. 2006. Wie verfasst man wissenschaftliche Arbeiten? 3. Ed. Mannheim: Dudenverlag.
Bänsch , Axel & Dorothea Alewell. 2013. Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten . 11. Ed. München: Oldenbourg Verlag.
Brauner , Detlef Jürgen & Hans-Ulrich Vollmer. 2004. Erfolgreiches wissenschaftliches Arbeiten – Seminararbeit Diplomarbeit Doktorarbeit . Sternenfels: Verlag Wissenschaft und Praxis.
Case Western Reserve University . 2018) . “Division of student affairs. Presenting key terms and concepts”, in: Case Western Reserve University. https://students.case.edu/academic/resources/writing/tone/tone2c.html . Last accessed 12th Aug 2018.
De Montfort University. 2017 . “Structuring an introduction, a paragraph and a conclusion“, in: De Montfort University. http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Heat/index.php?page=485 . Last accessed 12 th Aug 2018.
Derntl , Michael. 2014. “Basics of research paper writing and publishing.” International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning 6(2). 105-123.
Eco , Umberto. 2010. Wie man eine wissenschaftliche Abschlußarbeit schreibt . 13. Ed. Wien: Facultas. wuv.
Esselborn-Krumbiegel , Helga. 2002. Von der Idee zum Text – Eine Anleitung zum wissenschaftlichen Schreiben . Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.
Franck , Norbert. 2004. Handbuch Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten . Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag.
Franck , Norbert & Joachim Stary. 2009. Die Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens . 15. Ed. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.
Gruber , Helmut, Birgit Huemer & Markus Rheindorf. 2009. Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten – Ein Praxisbuch für Studierende . Wien: Böhlau Verlag.
Karmasin , Matthias & Rainer Ribing. 2014. Die Gestaltung wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten. 8. Ed. Wien: Facultas.
Kornmeier , Martin. 2013. Wissenschaftlich schreiben leicht gemacht – für Bachelor, Master und Dissertation . 6. Ed. Bern: Haupt.
Nitsch , Jürgen R. et al. 1994 . Der rote Faden – Eine Einführung in die Technik wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens [Betrifft: Psychologie & Sport: Sonderband 22]. Köln: bps-Verlag.
Oertner , Monika, Illona St. John & Gabriele Thelen. 2014. Wissenschaftlich Schreiben – Ein Praxisbuch für Schreibtrainer und Studierende . Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink.
Penn State (n.d.). “Essays and Term Papers“, in: Penn State. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/styleforstudents/c6_p13.html . Last accessed 23 Apr 2019.
Regoniel , Patrick A. Feb 9, 2015. “Two tips on how to write the significance of the study“ , in: SimplyEducate.Me. https://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/09/two-tips-on-how-to-write-the-significance-of-the-study/ Last accessed 12th Aug 2018.
Rossig , Wolfram E. & Joachim Prätsch. 2005. Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten . 5. Ed. Weyhe: PRINT-TEC.
Samac , Klaus, Monika Prenner & Herbert Schwetz. 2009. Die Bachelorarbeit an Universität und Fachhochschule . Wien: Facultas.
Stickel-Wolf , Christine & Joachim Wolf. 2013. Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten und Lerntechniken – Erfolgreich studieren – gewusst wie! 7. Ed. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.
Theisen , Manuel René. 2013. Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten – Erfolgreich bei Bachelor- und Masterarbeit . München: Franz Vahlen.
Tossey, Lisa. (n.d.). “Using POV cameras in education to capture personal and unique perspectives – how are emerging visual technologies being used to further learning?“, in: Course Hero. https://www.coursehero.com/file/32193388/Lisa-Tossey-POV-Cameras-Educationdocx/ . Last accessed 23th Apr 2019.
UNC College of Arts & Sciences .n.d. “The writing center. Introductions“, in: UNC College of Arts & Sciences. https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/ .Last accessed 12 th Aug 2018.
University of Delaware (n.d.). “Examples of Term Papers that Got an A”, in: University of Delaware. https://www1.udel.edu/edtech/gallery/sample-papers.html . Last accessed 23th Apr 2019.
University of Leicester [a]. (n.d.). “Writing a dissertation. Study guide“, in: University of Leicester. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/writing-resources/writing-dissertation .Last accessed 12 th Aug 2018.
University of Leicester [b]. (n.d.). “Student learning development. Introduction to an essay: example“, in: University of Leicester. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/diagnostic/p/pintrotoanessay . Last accessed 12th Aug 2018. Wilson, Lily. 7 December 2016. “Term Paper Introduction Example“, in: The Pensters. https://blog.thepensters.com/term-paper-introduction-example/ . Last accessed 23th Apr 2019 .
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How to Write an Introduction
An introduction for an essay or research paper is the first paragraph, which explains the topic and prepares the reader for the rest of the work. Because it’s responsible for both the reader’s first impression and setting the stage for the rest of the work, the introduction paragraph is arguably the most important paragraph in the work.
Knowing how to write an introduction paragraph is a great skill, not just for writers, but for students and researchers as well. Here, we explain everything you need to know to write the best introduction, such as what to include and a step-by-step process, with some introduction paragraph examples.
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What is an introduction?
Your introduction is a way of preparing your reader for your paper. As the first paragraph of your writing , it makes the first impression and sets the reader’s expectations for tone, voice, and writing style. More importantly, your introduction provides the necessary background for your reader to understand your paper’s purpose and key points.
The introduction is also a way to engage and captivate your reader. An interesting, thought-provoking, or generally entertaining introduction makes your reader excited to keep reading—and an eager reader is an attentive reader.
What to include in an introduction
Introductions generally follow the writing style of the author and the format for the type of paper—for example, opening with a joke is appropriate for some essays, but not research papers . However, no matter what your writing style is or what kind of paper you’re writing, a good introduction includes at least three parts:
- A hook to capture the reader’s attention
- Background for context
- A clearly defined thesis statement or main point of your paper
How to write a hook
The hook refers to anything that grabs (or “hooks”) your reader’s attention and makes them interested. This could be a mystery, such as posing a question and only answering it at the end of your paper. Or it could be a shocking statistic, something that makes your reader rethink what they thought they knew and become curious for more information.
Hooks can be even more creative. Some papers start with an analogy or parable to present complicated topics in a way that someone with little experience can understand. Likewise, many writers opt to use personal anecdotes to show a more human side and spark an emotional connection with the reader.
When all else fails, you can use a poignant quote. If you’re having trouble putting your thoughts into words, maybe one of the great minds from history has already said it well.
You can read all about how to write a hook here, including more detailed instructions and examples.
How to add background information
Not every paper requires background knowledge, but sometimes your reader needs to catch up or understand the context before you make your original points.
If you’re writing about something factual, such as a scientific or historical paper, you may need to provide a small lesson on the basics. For example, if you’re writing about the conflict between ancient Egypt and Nubia, you might want to establish the time period and where each party was located geographically.
Just don’t give too much away in the introduction. In general, introductions should be short. If your topic requires extensive background to understand, it’s best to dedicate a few paragraphs to this after the introduction.
How to write a thesis statement
Every good introduction needs a thesis statement , a sentence that plainly and concisely explains the main topic. Thesis statements are often just a brief summary of your entire paper, including your argument or point of view for personal essays. For example, if your paper is about whether viewing violent cartoons impacts real-life violence, your thesis statement could be:
Despite the rhetoric and finger-pointing, no evidence has connected live-action role-play violence with real-world violence, but there is plenty of evidence for exoneration, as I explain here.
Learning to write a good thesis statement is an essential writing skill, both in college and the world of work, so it’s worth taking the time to learn. The rule of thumb for thesis statements is not to give everything away all at once. Thesis statements, and more broadly introductions, should be short and to the point, so save the details for the rest of the paper.
How to write an introduction paragraph in 6 steps
1 decide on the overall tone and formality of your paper.
Often what you’re writing determines the style: The guidelines for how to write an introduction for a report are different from those for how to write an English essay introduction. Even the different types of essays have their own limitations; for example, slang might be acceptable for a personal essay, but not a serious argumentative essay.
Don’t force yourself to write in a style that’s uncomfortable to you. If you’re not good at making jokes, you don’t need to. As long as your writing is interesting and your points are clear, your readers won’t mind.
2 Write your thesis statement
At the beginning of writing a paper, even before writing the research paper outline , you should know what your thesis is. If you haven’t already, now is the time to put that thesis into words by writing your thesis statement.
Thesis statements are just one sentence, but they are usually the most important sentence in your entire work. When your thesis is clearly defined, your readers will often use it as an anchor to understand the rest of the writing.
The key to writing a good thesis statement is knowing what to ignore. Your thesis statement should be an overview, not an outline. Save the details, evidence, and personal opinions for the body of the paper.
If you’re still having trouble, ask yourself how you’d explain this topic to a child. When you’re forced to use small words and simplify complex ideas, your writing comes across more clearly and is easier to understand. This technique also helps you know which details are necessary up front and which can wait until later .
3 Consider what background information your reader needs
Don’t take your own experience for granted. By this point in the writing process , you’ve probably already finished your research, which means you’re somewhat of an expert on the topic. Think back to what it was like before you learned: What did you wish you had known then?
Even if your topic is abstract, such as an ethical debate, consider including some context on the debate itself. How long has the ethical debate been happening? Was there a specific event that started it? Information like this can help set the scene so your reader doesn’t feel like they’re missing something.
4 Think of a good hook
Writing a hook can be the most difficult part of writing an introduction because it calls for some creativity. While the rest of your paper might be presenting fact after fact, the hook in your introduction often requires creating something from nothing.
Luckily, there are already plenty of tried-and-true strategies for how to start an essay . If you’re not feeling very creative, you can use a method that’s already been proven effective.
Just remember that the best hooks create an emotional connection—which emotion is up to you and your topic.
5 Write a rough draft of your introduction without pressure
It’s normal to clam up when writing a rough draft of your introduction. After all, the introduction always comes first, so it’s the first thing you write when you finally begin.
As explained in our guide to writing a rough draft , the best advice is not to pressure yourself. It’s OK to write something that’s messy—that’s what makes this draft rough . The idea here is to get words on paper that make your point. They don’t have to be the perfect words; that’s what revisions are for.
At the beginning, just worry about saying what needs to be said. Get down your hook and thesis statement, and background information if necessary, without worrying about how it sounds. You’ll be able to fix the problems later.
6 Revise your introduction after you’ve written your whole paper.
We recommend finishing the first draft of your entire paper before revising the introduction. You may make some changes in your paper’s structure when writing the first draft, and those changes should be reflected in the introduction.
After the first draft, it’s easier to focus on minutiae like word choice and sentence structure, not to mention finding spelling and grammar mistakes.
Introduction for an essay example
While other kids’ memories of circuses are happy and fun, what I recall most from my first time at a circus was feeling sorry for the animals—I can still remember the sadness in their eyes. [HOOK] Although animal rights in the circus have come a long way, their treatment of animals even under the new laws is still cruelty plain and simple. [BACKGROUND] The way circuses abuse animals needs to be abolished immediately, and we need to entirely rethink the way we use animals for entertainment. [THESIS STATEMENT]
Introduction for a research paper example
What would happen to humanity if everyone just stopped having babies? [HOOK] Although more endemic in some places than others, the global decline in birth rates has become a major issue since the end of the pandemic. [BACKGROUND] My research here shows not only that birth rates are declining all over the world, but also that unless the threats are addressed, these drastic declines will only get worse. [THESIS STATEMENT]
An introduction is the first paragraph in an essay or research paper. It prepares the reader for what follows.
What’s the purpose of an introduction?
The goal of the introduction is to both provide the necessary context for the topic so the reader can follow along and also create an emotional connection so the reader wants to keep reading.
What should an introduction include?
An introduction should include three things: a hook to interest the reader, some background on the topic so the reader can understand it, and a thesis statement that clearly and quickly summarizes your main point.
Thesis and Dissertation Guide
- « Thesis & Dissertation Resources
- The Graduate School Home
Dedication, acknowledgements, preface (optional), table of contents.
- List of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
List of symbols.
- Non-Traditional Formats
- Font Type and Size
- Spacing and Indentation
- Tables, Figures, and Illustrations
- Formatting Previously Published Work
- Internet Distribution
- Open Access
- Registering Copyright
- Using Copyrighted Materials
- Use of Your Own Previously Published Materials
- Submission Steps
- Submission Checklist
- Sample Pages
I. Order and Components
Please see the sample thesis or dissertation pages throughout and at the end of this document for illustrations. The following order is required for components of your thesis or dissertation:
- Dedication, Acknowledgements, and Preface (each optional)
- Table of Contents, with page numbers
- List of Tables, List of Figures, or List of Illustrations, with titles and page numbers (if applicable)
- List of Abbreviations (if applicable)
- List of Symbols (if applicable)
- Introduction, if any
- Main body, with consistent subheadings as appropriate
- Appendices (if applicable)
- Endnotes (if applicable)
- References (see section on References for options)
Many of the components following the title and copyright pages have required headings and formatting guidelines, which are described in the following sections.
Please consult the Sample Pages to compare your document to the requirements. A Checklist is provided to assist you in ensuring your thesis or dissertation meets all formatting guidelines.
The title page of a thesis or dissertation must include the following information:
- The title of the thesis or dissertation in all capital letters and centered 2″ below the top of the page.
- Your name, centered 1″ below the title. Do not include titles, degrees, or identifiers. The name you use here does not need to exactly match the name on your university records, but we recommend considering how you will want your name to appear in professional publications in the future.
Notes on this statement:
- When indicating your degree in the second bracketed space, use the full degree name (i.e., Doctor of Philosophy, not Ph.D. or PHD; Master of Public Health, not M.P.H. or MPH; Master of Social Work, not M.S.W. or MSW).
- List your department, school, or curriculum rather than your subject area or specialty discipline in the third bracketed space. You may include your subject area or specialty discipline in parentheses (i.e., Department of Romance Languages (French); School of Pharmacy (Molecular Pharmaceutics); School of Education (School Psychology); or similar official area).
- If you wish to include both your department and school names, list the school at the end of the statement (i.e., Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine).
- A dissertation submitted to the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Public Policy.
- A thesis submitted to the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the School of Dentistry (Endodontics).
- A thesis submitted to the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
- A dissertation submitted to the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education (Cultural Studies and Literacies).
- The words “Chapel Hill” must be centered 1″ below the statement.
- One single-spaced line below that, center the year in which your committee approves the completed thesis or dissertation. This need not be the year you graduate.
- Approximately 2/3 of the way across the page on the right-hand side of the page, 1″ below the year, include the phrase “Approved by:” (with colon) followed by each faculty member's name on subsequent double-spaced lines. Do not include titles such as Professor, Doctor, Dr., PhD, or any identifiers such as “chair” or “advisor” before or after any names. Line up the first letter of each name on the left under the “A” in the “Approved by:” line. If a name is too long to fit on one line, move this entire section of text slightly to the left so that formatting can be maintained.
- No signatures, signature lines, or page numbers should be included on the title page.
Include a copyright page with the following information single-spaced and centered 2″ above the bottom of the page:
© Year Author's Full Name (as it appears on the title page) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This page immediately follows the title page. It should be numbered with the lower case Roman numeral ii centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
Inclusion of this page offers you, as the author, additional protection against copyright infringement as it eliminates any question of authorship and copyright ownership. You do not need to file for copyright in order to include this statement in your thesis or dissertation. However, filing for copyright can offer other protections.
See Section IV for more information on copyrighting your thesis or dissertation.
Include an abstract page following these guidelines:
- Include the heading “ABSTRACT” in all capital letters, and center it 2″ below the top of the page.
- One double-spaced line below “ABSTRACT”, center your name, followed by a colon and the title of the thesis or dissertation. Use as many lines as necessary. Be sure that your name and the title exactly match the name and title used on the Title page.
- One single-spaced line below the title, center the phrase “(Under the direction of [advisor's name])”. Include the phrase in parentheses. Include the first and last name(s) of your advisor or formal co-advisors. Do not include the name of other committee members. Use the advisor's name only; do not include any professional titles such as PhD, Professor, or Dr. or any identifiers such as “chair” or “advisor”.
- Skip one double-spaced line and begin the abstract. The text of your abstract must be double-spaced and aligned with the document's left margin with the exception of indenting new paragraphs. Do not center or right-justify the abstract.
- Abstracts cannot exceed 150 words for a thesis or 350 words for a dissertation.
- Number the abstract page with the lower case Roman numeral iii (and iv, if more than one page) centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
Please write and proofread your abstract carefully. When possible, avoid including symbols or foreign words in your abstract, as they cannot be indexed or searched. Avoid mathematical formulas, diagrams, and other illustrative materials in the abstract. Offer a brief description of your thesis or dissertation and a concise summary of its conclusions. Be sure to describe the subject and focus of your work with clear details and avoid including lengthy explanations or opinions.
Your title and abstract will be used by search engines to help potential audiences locate your work, so clarity will help to draw the attention of your targeted readers.
You have an option to include a dedication, acknowledgements, or preface. If you choose to include any or all of these elements, give each its own page(s).
A dedication is a message from the author prefixed to a work in tribute to a person, group, or cause. Most dedications are short statements of tribute beginning with “To…” such as “To my family”.
Acknowledgements are the author's statement of gratitude to and recognition of the people and institutions that helped the author's research and writing.
A preface is a statement of the author's reasons for undertaking the work and other personal comments that are not directly germane to the materials presented in other sections of the thesis or dissertation. These reasons tend to be of a personal nature.
Any of the pages must be prepared following these guidelines:
- Do not place a heading on the dedication page.
- The text of short dedications must be centered and begin 2″ from the top of the page.
- Headings are required for the “ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS” and “PREFACE” pages. Headings must be in all capital letters and centered 2″ below the top of the page.
- The text of the acknowledgements and preface pages must begin one double-spaced line below the heading, be double-spaced, and be aligned with the document's left margin with the exception of indenting new paragraphs.
- Subsequent pages of text return to the 1″ top margin.
- The page(s) must be numbered with consecutive lower case Roman numerals (starting with the page number after the abstract) centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
Include a table of contents following these guidelines:
- Include the heading “TABLE OF CONTENTS” in all capital letters, and center it 2″ below the top of the page.
- Include one double-spaced line between the heading and the first entry.
- The table of contents should not contain listings for the pages that precede it, but it must list all parts of the thesis or dissertation that follow it.
- If relevant, be sure to list all appendices and a references section in your table of contents. Include page numbers for these items but do not assign separate chapter numbers.
- Entries must align with the document's left margin or be indented to the right of the left page margin using consistent tabs.
- Major subheadings within chapters must be included in the table of contents. The subheading(s) should be indented to the right of the left page margin using consistent tabs.
- If an entry takes up more than one line, break up the entry about three-fourths of the way across the page and place the rest of the text on a second line, single-spacing the two lines.
- Include one double-spaced line between each entry.
- Page numbers listed in the table of contents must be located just inside the right page margin with leaders (lines of periods) filling out the space between the end of the entry and the page number. The last digit of each number must line up on the right margin.
- Information included in the table of contents must match the headings, major subheadings, and numbering used in the body of the thesis or dissertation.
- The Table of Contents page(s) must be numbered with consecutive lower case Roman numerals centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
Lists of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations
If applicable, include a list of tables, list of figures, and/or list of illustrations following these guidelines:
- Include the heading(s) in all capital letters, centered 1″ below the top of the page.
- Each entry must include a number, title, and page number.
- Assign each table, figure, or illustration in your thesis or dissertation an Arabic numeral. You may number consecutively throughout the entire work (e.g., Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.), or you may assign a two-part Arabic numeral with the first number designating the chapter in which it appears, separated by a period, followed by a second number to indicate its consecutive placement in the chapter (e.g., Table 3.2 is the second table in Chapter Three).
- Numerals and titles must align with the document's left margin or be indented to the right of the left page margin using consistent tabs.
- Page numbers must be located just inside the right page margin with leaders (lines of periods) filling out the space between the end of the entry and the page number. The last digit of each number must line up on the right margin.
- Numbers, titles, and page numbers must each match the corresponding numbers, titles, and page numbers appearing in the thesis or dissertation.
- All Lists of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations page(s) must be numbered with consecutive lower case Roman numerals centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
If you use abbreviations extensively in your thesis or dissertation, you must include a list of abbreviations and their corresponding definitions following these guidelines:
- Include the heading “LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS” in all capital letters, and center it 1″ below the top of the page.
- Arrange your abbreviations alphabetically.
- Abbreviations must align with the document's left margin or be indented to the right of the left page margin using consistent tabs.
- If an entry takes up more than one line, single-space between the two lines.
- The List of Abbreviations page(s) must be numbered with consecutive lower case Roman numerals centered with a 1/2″ margin from the bottom edge.
If you use symbols in your thesis or dissertation, you may combine them with your abbreviations, titling the section “LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS”, or you may set up a separate list of symbols and their definitions by following the formatting instructions above for abbreviations. The heading you choose must be in all capital letters and centered 1″ below the top of the page.
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- Dissertation Table of Contents in Word | Instructions & Examples
Dissertation Table of Contents in Word | Instructions & Examples
Published on May 15, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on January 4, 2023.
The table of contents is where you list the chapters and major sections of your thesis, dissertation , or research paper, alongside their page numbers. A clear and well-formatted table of contents is essential, as it demonstrates to your reader that a quality paper will follow.
The table of contents (TOC) should be placed between the abstract and the introduction . The maximum length should be two pages. Depending on the nature of your thesis , paper, or dissertation topic , there are a few formatting options you can choose from.
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Table of contents
What to include in your table of contents, what not to include in your table of contents, creating a table of contents in microsoft word, table of contents examples, updating a table of contents in microsoft word, other lists in your thesis, dissertation, or research paper, frequently asked questions about the table of contents.
Depending on the length of your document, you can choose between a single-level, subdivided, or multi-level table of contents.
- A single-level table of contents only includes “level 1” headings , or chapters. This is the simplest option, but it may be too broad for a long document like a dissertation.
- A subdivided table of contents includes chapters as well as “level 2” headings, or sections. These show your reader what each chapter contains.
- A multi-level table of contents also further divides sections into “level 3” headings. This option can get messy quickly, so proceed with caution. Remember your table of contents should not be longer than 2 pages. A multi-level table is often a good choice for a shorter document like a research paper .
Examples of level 1 headings are Introduction, Literature Review , Methodology , and Bibliography. Subsections of each of these would be level 2 headings, further describing the contents of each chapter or large section. Any further subsections would be level 3.
In these introductory sections, less is often more. As you decide which sections to include, narrow it down to only the most essential.
Including appendices and tables
You should include all appendices in your table of contents. Whether or not you include tables and figures depends largely on how many there are in your document.
If there are more than three figures and tables, you might consider listing them on a separate page. Otherwise, you can include each one in the table of contents.
- Theses and dissertations often have a separate list of figures and tables.
- Research papers generally don’t have a separate list of figures and tables.
All level 1 and level 2 headings should be included in your table of contents, with level 3 headings used very sparingly.
The following things should never be included in a table of contents:
- Your acknowledgements page
- Your abstract
- The table of contents itself
The acknowledgements and abstract always precede the table of contents, so there’s no need to include them. This goes for any sections that precede the table of contents.
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To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, be sure to first apply the correct heading styles throughout the document, as shown below.
- Choose which headings are heading 1 and which are heading 2 (or 3)!
- For example, if all level 1 headings should be Times New Roman, 12-point font, and bold, add this formatting to the first level 1 heading.
- Highlight the level 1 heading.
- Right-click the style that says “Heading 1.”
- Select “Update Heading 1 to Match Selection.”
- Allocate the formatting for each heading throughout your document by highlighting the heading in question and clicking the style you wish to apply.
Once that’s all set, follow these steps:
- Add a title to your table of contents. Be sure to check if your citation style or university has guidelines for this.
- Place your cursor where you would like your table of contents to go.
- In the “References” section at the top, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Here, you can select which levels of headings you would like to include. You can also make manual adjustments to each level by clicking the Modify button.
- When you are ready to insert the table of contents, click “OK” and it will be automatically generated, as shown below.
The key features of a table of contents are:
- Clear headings and subheadings
- Corresponding page numbers
Check with your educational institution to see if they have any specific formatting or design requirements.
Write yourself a reminder to update your table of contents as one of your final tasks before submitting your dissertation or paper. It’s normal for your text to shift a bit as you input your final edits, and it’s crucial that your page numbers correspond correctly.
It’s easy to update your page numbers automatically in Microsoft Word. Simply right-click the table of contents and select “Update Field.” You can choose either to update page numbers only or to update all information in your table of contents.
In addition to a table of contents, you might also want to include a list of figures and tables, a list of abbreviations, and a glossary in your thesis or dissertation. You can use the following guides to do so:
- List of figures and tables
- List of abbreviations
All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.
The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .
Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.
To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:
- Apply heading styles throughout the document.
- In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
- Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.
Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.
The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction .
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How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Chapter:
The 7 essential ingredients of an a-grade introduction.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA). Reviewed By Dr Eunice Rautenbach (D. Tech) | March 2020
If you’re reading this, you’re probably at the daunting early phases of writing up the introduction chapter of your dissertation or thesis. It can be intimidating, I know.
In this post, we’ll look at the 7 essential ingredients of a strong dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, as well as the essential things you need to keep in mind as you craft each section. We’ll also share some useful tips to help you optimize your approach.
Overview: How To Write An Introduction Chapter
- Understand the purpose and function of the intro chapter
- Craft an enticing and engaging opening section
- Provide a background and context to the study
- Clearly define the research problem
- State your research aims, objectives and questions
- Explain the significance of your study
- Identify the limitations of your research
- Outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis
A quick sidenote:
You’ll notice that I’ve used the words dissertation and thesis interchangeably. While these terms reflect different levels of research – for example, Masters vs PhD-level research – the introduction chapter generally contains the same 7 essential ingredients regardless of level. So, in this post, dissertation introduction equals thesis introduction.
Start with why.
To craft a high-quality dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, you need to understand exactly what this chapter needs to achieve. In other words, what’s its purpose ? As the name suggests, the introduction chapter needs to introduce the reader to your research so that they understand what you’re trying to figure out, or what problem you’re trying to solve. More specifically, you need to answer four important questions in your introduction chapter.
These questions are:
- What will you be researching? (in other words, your research topic)
- Why is that worthwhile? (in other words, your justification)
- What will the scope of your research be? (in other words, what will you cover and what won’t you cover)
- What will the limitations of your research be? (in other words, what will the potential shortcomings of your research be?)
Simply put, your dissertation’s introduction chapter needs to provide an overview of your planned research , as well as a clear rationale for it. In other words, this chapter has to explain the “what” and the “why” of your research – what’s it all about and why’s that important.
Simple enough, right?
Well, the trick is finding the appropriate depth of information. As the researcher, you’ll be extremely close to your topic and this makes it easy to get caught up in the minor details. While these intricate details might be interesting, you need to write your introduction chapter on more of a “need-to-know” type basis, or it will end up way too lengthy and dense. You need to balance painting a clear picture with keeping things concise. Don’t worry though – you’ll be able to explore all the intricate details in later chapters.
Now that you understand what you need to achieve from your introduction chapter, we can get into the details. While the exact requirements for this chapter can vary from university to university, there are seven core components that most universities will require. We call these the seven essential ingredients .
The 7 Essential Ingredients
- The opening section – where you’ll introduce the reader to your research in high-level terms
- The background to the study – where you’ll explain the context of your project
- The research problem – where you’ll explain the “gap” that exists in the current research
- The research aims , objectives and questions – where you’ll clearly state what your research will aim to achieve
- The significance (or justification) – where you’ll explain why your research is worth doing and the value it will provide to the world
- The limitations – where you’ll acknowledge the potential limitations of your project and approach
- The structure – where you’ll briefly outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis to help orient the reader
By incorporating these seven essential ingredients into your introduction chapter, you’ll comprehensively cover both the “ what ” and the “ why ” I mentioned earlier – in other words, you’ll achieve the purpose of the chapter.
Side note – you can also use these 7 ingredients in this order as the structure for your chapter to ensure a smooth, logical flow. This isn’t essential, but, generally speaking, it helps create an engaging narrative that’s easy for your reader to understand. If you’d like, you can also download our free introduction chapter template here.
Alright – let’s look at each of the ingredients now.
#1 – The Opening Section
The very first essential ingredient for your dissertation introduction is, well, an introduction or opening section. Just like every other chapter, your introduction chapter needs to start by providing a brief overview of what you’ll be covering in the chapter.
This section needs to engage the reader with clear, concise language that can be easily understood and digested. If the reader (your marker!) has to struggle through it, they’ll lose interest, which will make it harder for you to earn marks. Just because you’re writing an academic paper doesn’t mean you can ignore the basic principles of engaging writing used by marketers, bloggers, and journalists. At the end of the day, you’re all trying to sell an idea – yours is just a research idea.
So, what goes into this opening section?
Well, while there’s no set formula, it’s a good idea to include the following four foundational sentences in your opening section:
1 – A sentence or two introducing the overall field of your research.
“Organisational skills development involves identifying current or potential skills gaps within a business and developing programs to resolve these gaps. Management research, including X, Y and Z, has clearly established that organisational skills development is an essential contributor to business growth.”
2 – A sentence introducing your specific research problem.
“However, there are conflicting views and an overall lack of research regarding how best to manage skills development initiatives in highly dynamic environments where subject knowledge is rapidly and continuously evolving – for example, in the website development industry.”
3 – A sentence stating your research aims and objectives.
“This research aims to identify and evaluate skills development approaches and strategies for highly dynamic industries in which subject knowledge is continuously evolving.”.
4 – A sentence outlining the layout of the chapter.
“This chapter will provide an introduction to the study by first discussing the background and context, followed by the research problem, the research aims, objectives and questions, the significance and finally, the limitations.”
As I mentioned, this opening section of your introduction chapter shouldn’t be lengthy . Typically, these four sentences should fit neatly into one or two paragraphs, max. What you’re aiming for here is a clear, concise introduction to your research – not a detailed account.
PS – If some of this terminology sounds unfamiliar, don’t stress – I’ll explain each of the concepts later in this post.
#2 – Background to the study
Now that you’ve provided a high-level overview of your dissertation or thesis, it’s time to go a little deeper and lay a foundation for your research topic. This foundation is what the second ingredient is all about – the background to your study.
So, what is the background section all about?
Well, this section of your introduction chapter should provide a broad overview of the topic area that you’ll be researching, as well as the current contextual factors . This could include, for example, a brief history of the topic, recent developments in the area, key pieces of research in the area and so on. In other words, in this section, you need to provide the relevant background information to give the reader a decent foundational understanding of your research area.
Let’s look at an example to make this a little more concrete.
If we stick with the skills development topic I mentioned earlier, the background to the study section would start by providing an overview of the skills development area and outline the key existing research. Then, it would go on to discuss how the modern-day context has created a new challenge for traditional skills development strategies and approaches. Specifically, that in many industries, technical knowledge is constantly and rapidly evolving, and traditional education providers struggle to keep up with the pace of new technologies.
Importantly, you need to write this section with the assumption that the reader is not an expert in your topic area. So, if there are industry-specific jargon and complex terminology, you should briefly explain that here , so that the reader can understand the rest of your document.
Don’t make assumptions about the reader’s knowledge – in most cases, your markers will not be able to ask you questions if they don’t understand something. So, always err on the safe side and explain anything that’s not common knowledge.
#3 – The research problem
Now that you’ve given your reader an overview of your research area, it’s time to get specific about the research problem that you’ll address in your dissertation or thesis. While the background section would have eluded to a potential research problem (or even multiple research problems), the purpose of this section is to narrow the focus and highlight the specific research problem you’ll focus on.
But, what exactly is a research problem, you ask?
Well, a research problem can be any issue or question for which there isn’t already a well-established and agreed-upon answer in the existing research. In other words, a research problem exists when there’s a need to answer a question (or set of questions), but there’s a gap in the existing literature , or the existing research is conflicting and/or inconsistent.
So, to present your research problem, you need to make it clear what exactly is missing in the current literature and why this is a problem . It’s usually a good idea to structure this discussion into three sections – specifically:
- What’s already well-established in the literature (in other words, the current state of research)
- What’s missing in the literature (in other words, the literature gap)
- Why this is a problem (in other words, why it’s important to fill this gap)
Let’s look at an example of this structure using the skills development topic.
Organisational skills development is critically important for employee satisfaction and company performance (reference). Numerous studies have investigated strategies and approaches to manage skills development programs within organisations (reference).
(this paragraph explains what’s already well-established in the literature)
However, these studies have traditionally focused on relatively slow-paced industries where key skills and knowledge do not change particularly often. This body of theory presents a problem for industries that face a rapidly changing skills landscape – for example, the website development industry – where new platforms, languages and best practices emerge on an extremely frequent basis.
(this paragraph explains what’s missing from the literature)
As a result, the existing research is inadequate for industries in which essential knowledge and skills are constantly and rapidly evolving, as it assumes a slow pace of knowledge development. Industries in such environments, therefore, find themselves ill-equipped in terms of skills development strategies and approaches.
(this paragraph explains why the research gap is problematic)
As you can see in this example, in a few lines, we’ve explained (1) the current state of research, (2) the literature gap and (3) why that gap is problematic. By doing this, the research problem is made crystal clear, which lays the foundation for the next ingredient.
#4 – The research aims, objectives and questions
Now that you’ve clearly identified your research problem, it’s time to identify your research aims and objectives , as well as your research questions . In other words, it’s time to explain what you’re going to do about the research problem.
So, what do you need to do here?
Well, the starting point is to clearly state your research aim (or aims) . The research aim is the main goal or the overarching purpose of your dissertation or thesis. In other words, it’s a high-level statement of what you’re aiming to achieve.
Let’s look at an example, sticking with the skills development topic:
“Given the lack of research regarding organisational skills development in fast-moving industries, this study will aim to identify and evaluate the skills development approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK”.
As you can see in this example, the research aim is clearly outlined, as well as the specific context in which the research will be undertaken (in other words, web development companies in the UK).
Next up is the research objective (or objectives) . While the research aims cover the high-level “what”, the research objectives are a bit more practically oriented, looking at specific things you’ll be doing to achieve those research aims.
Let’s take a look at an example of some research objectives (ROs) to fit the research aim.
- RO1 – To identify common skills development strategies and approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK.
- RO2 – To evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies and approaches.
- RO3 – To compare and contrast these strategies and approaches in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see from this example, these objectives describe the actions you’ll take and the specific things you’ll investigate in order to achieve your research aims. They break down the research aims into more specific, actionable objectives.
The final step is to state your research questions . Your research questions bring the aims and objectives another level “down to earth”. These are the specific questions that your dissertation or theses will seek to answer. They’re not fluffy, ambiguous or conceptual – they’re very specific and you’ll need to directly answer them in your conclusions chapter .
The research questions typically relate directly to the research objectives and sometimes can look a bit obvious, but they are still extremely important. Let’s take a look at an example of the research questions (RQs) that would flow from the research objectives I mentioned earlier.
- RQ1 – What skills development strategies and approaches are currently being used by web development companies in the UK?
- RQ2 – How effective are each of these strategies and approaches?
- RQ3 – What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these strategies and approaches?
As you can see, the research questions mimic the research objectives , but they are presented in question format. These questions will act as the driving force throughout your dissertation or thesis – from the literature review to the methodology and onward – so they’re really important.
A final note about this section – it’s really important to be clear about the scope of your study (more technically, the delimitations ). In other words, what you WILL cover and what you WON’T cover. If your research aims, objectives and questions are too broad, you’ll risk losing focus or investigating a problem that is too big to solve within a single dissertation.
Simply put, you need to establish clear boundaries in your research. You can do this, for example, by limiting it to a specific industry, country or time period. That way, you’ll ringfence your research, which will allow you to investigate your topic deeply and thoroughly – which is what earns marks!
Need a helping hand?
#5 – Significance
Now that you’ve made it clear what you’ll be researching, it’s time to make a strong argument regarding your study’s importance and significance . In other words, now that you’ve covered the what, it’s time to cover the why – enter essential ingredient number 5 – significance.
Of course, by this stage, you’ve already briefly alluded to the importance of your study in your background and research problem sections, but you haven’t explicitly stated how your research findings will benefit the world . So, now’s your chance to clearly state how your study will benefit either industry , academia , or – ideally – both . In other words, you need to explain how your research will make a difference and what implications it will have.
Let’s take a look at an example.
“This study will contribute to the body of knowledge on skills development by incorporating skills development strategies and approaches for industries in which knowledge and skills are rapidly and constantly changing. This will help address the current shortage of research in this area and provide real-world value to organisations operating in such dynamic environments.”
As you can see in this example, the paragraph clearly explains how the research will help fill a gap in the literature and also provide practical real-world value to organisations.
This section doesn’t need to be particularly lengthy, but it does need to be convincing . You need to “sell” the value of your research here so that the reader understands why it’s worth committing an entire dissertation or thesis to it. This section needs to be the salesman of your research. So, spend some time thinking about the ways in which your research will make a unique contribution to the world and how the knowledge you create could benefit both academia and industry – and then “sell it” in this section.
#6 – The limitations
Now that you’ve “sold” your research to the reader and hopefully got them excited about what’s coming up in the rest of your dissertation, it’s time to briefly discuss the potential limitations of your research.
But you’re probably thinking, hold up – what limitations? My research is well thought out and carefully designed – why would there be limitations?
Well, no piece of research is perfect . This is especially true for a dissertation or thesis – which typically has a very low or zero budget, tight time constraints and limited researcher experience. Generally, your dissertation will be the first or second formal research project you’ve ever undertaken, so it’s unlikely to win any research awards…
Simply put, your research will invariably have limitations. Don’t stress yourself out though – this is completely acceptable (and expected). Even “professional” research has limitations – as I said, no piece of research is perfect. The key is to recognise the limitations upfront and be completely transparent about them, so that future researchers are aware of them and can improve the study’s design to minimise the limitations and strengthen the findings.
Generally, you’ll want to consider at least the following four common limitations. These are:
- Your scope – for example, perhaps your focus is very narrow and doesn’t consider how certain variables interact with each other.
- Your research methodology – for example, a qualitative methodology could be criticised for being overly subjective, or a quantitative methodology could be criticised for oversimplifying the situation (learn more about methodologies here ).
- Your resources – for example, a lack of time, money, equipment and your own research experience.
- The generalisability of your findings – for example, the findings from the study of a specific industry or country can’t necessarily be generalised to other industries or countries.
Don’t be shy here. There’s no use trying to hide the limitations or weaknesses of your research. In fact, the more critical you can be of your study, the better. The markers want to see that you are aware of the limitations as this demonstrates your understanding of research design – so be brutal.
#7 – The structural outline
Now that you’ve clearly communicated what your research is going to be about, why it’s important and what the limitations of your research will be, the final ingredient is the structural outline.The purpose of this section is simply to provide your reader with a roadmap of what to expect in terms of the structure of your dissertation or thesis.
In this section, you’ll need to provide a brief summary of each chapter’s purpose and contents (including the introduction chapter). A sentence or two explaining what you’ll do in each chapter is generally enough to orient the reader. You don’t want to get too detailed here – it’s purely an outline, not a summary of your research.
Let’s look at an example:
In Chapter One, the context of the study has been introduced. The research objectives and questions have been identified, and the value of such research argued. The limitations of the study have also been discussed.
In Chapter Two, the existing literature will be reviewed to identify key skills development approaches and strategies within the context of fast-moving industries, especially technology-intensive industries.
In Chapter Three, the theoretical framework will be presented. The adoption of a qualitative, inductive research approach will be justified, and the broader research design will be discussed, including the limitations thereof.
So, as you can see from the example, this section is simply an outline of the chapter structure, allocating a short paragraph to each chapter. Done correctly, the outline will help your reader understand what to expect and reassure them that you’ll address the multiple facets of the study.
By the way – if you’re unsure of how to structure your dissertation or thesis, be sure to check out our video post which explains dissertation structure .
Keep calm and carry on.
Hopefully you feel a bit more prepared for this challenge of crafting your dissertation or thesis introduction chapter now. Take a deep breath and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – conquer one ingredient at a time and you’ll be firmly on the path to success.
Let’s quickly recap – the 7 ingredients are:
- The opening section – where you give a brief, high-level overview of what your research will be about.
- The study background – where you introduce the reader to key theory, concepts and terminology, as well as the context of your study.
- The research problem – where you explain what the problem with the current research is. In other words, the research gap.
- The research aims , objectives and questions – where you clearly state what your dissertation will investigate.
- The significance – where you explain what value your research will provide to the world.
- The limitations – where you explain what the potential shortcomings and limitations of your research may be.
- The structural outline – where you provide a high-level overview of the structure of your document
If you bake these ingredients into your dissertation introduction chapter, you’ll be well on your way to building an engaging introduction chapter that lays a rock-solid foundation for the rest of your document.
Remember, while we’ve covered the essential ingredients here, there may be some additional components that your university requires, so be sure to double-check your project brief!
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our research writing mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident enough in undertaking my thesis on the survey;The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction
Glad to hear that. Good luck with your thesis!
Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident now undertaking my thesis; The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction.
Thanks so much for this article. I found myself struggling and wasting a lot of time in my thesis writing but after reading this article and watching some of your youtube videos, I now have a clear understanding of what is required for a thesis.
Thank you Derek, i find your each post so useful. Keep it up.
Thank you so much Derek ,for shedding the light and making it easier for me to handle the daunting task of academic writing .
thanks a lot for helping
i LOVE the gifs, such a fun way to engage readers. thanks for the advice, much appreciated
Thanks a lot Derek! It will be really useful to the beginner in research!
This is a well written, easily comprehensible, simple introduction to the basics of a Research Dissertation../the need to keep the reader in mind while writing the dissertation is an important point that is covered../ I appreciate the efforts of the author../
The instruction given are perfect and clear. I was supposed to take the course , unfortunately in Nepal the service is not avaialble.However, I am much more hopeful that you will provide require documents whatever you have produced so far.
Thank you very much
Thanks so much ❤️😘 I feel am ready to start writing my research methodology
This is genuinely the most effective advice I have ever been given regarding academia. Thank you so much!
This is one of the best write up I have seen in my road to PhD thesis. regards, this write up update my knowledge of research
I was looking for some good blogs related to Education hopefully your article will help. Thanks for sharing.
This is an awesome masterpiece. It is one of the most comprehensive guides to writing a Dissertation/Thesis I have seen and read.
You just saved me from going astray in writing a Dissertation for my undergraduate studies. I could not be more grateful for such a relevant guide like this. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much Derek, this has been extremely helpful!!
I do have one question though, in the limitations part do you refer to the scope as the focus of the research on a specific industry/country/chronological period? I assume that in order to talk about whether or not the research could be generalized, the above would need to be already presented and described in the introduction.
Thank you again!
Phew! You have genuinely rescued me. I was stuck how to go about my thesis. Now l have started. Thank you.
This is the very best guide in anything that has to do with thesis or dissertation writing. The numerous blends of examples and detailed insights make it worth a read and in fact, a treasure that is worthy to be bookmarked.
Thanks a lot for this masterpiece!
Powerful insight. I can now take a step
Thank you very much for these valuable introductions to thesis chapters. I saw all your videos about writing the introduction, discussion, and conclusion chapter. Then, I am wondering if we need to explain our research limitations in all three chapters, introduction, discussion, and conclusion? Isn’t it a bit redundant? If not, could you please explain how can we write in different ways? Thank you.
Excellent!!! Thank you…
Thanks for this informative content. I have a question. The research gap is mentioned in both the introduction and literature section. I would like to know how can I demonstrate the research gap in both sections without repeating the contents?
I’m incredibly grateful for this invaluable content. I’ve been dreading compiling my postgrad thesis but breaking each chapter down into sections has made it so much easier for me to engage with the material without feeling overwhelmed. After relying on your guidance, I’m really happy with how I’ve laid out my introduction.
Thank you for the informative content you provided
Hi Derrick and Team, thank you so much for the comprehensive guide on how to write a dissertation or a thesis introduction section. For some of us first-timers, it is a daunting task. However, the instruction with relevant examples makes it clear and easy to follow through. Much appreciated.
It was so helpful. God Bless you. Thanks very much
I thank you Grad coach for your priceless help. I have two questions I have learned from your video the limitations of the research presented in chapter one. but in another video also presented in chapter five. which chapter limitation should be included? If possible, I need your answer since I am doing my thesis. how can I explain If I am asked what is my motivation for this research?
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Writing A Thesis Introduction
Thesis Introduction: A Step by Step Guide With Examples
12 min read
Published on: Apr 11, 2019
Last updated on: Feb 28, 2023
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Are you struggling to write an engaging introduction for your thesis? You're not alone.
For most students, the introduction is the scariest part of thesis writing . They are often not clear about the elements that should be included to make it interesting. Well, you don't need to worry now!
In this detailed guide, we'll show you how to create an interesting and effective thesis introduction that will hook your readers from the start. Even if you're feeling stuck, our guide will provide you with standard moves and samples to get you on the right track.
And don't stress if it's not the first thing you write - in fact, it's often the last. So take a deep breath and let's dive in.
What is a Thesis Introduction?
The introduction is the first chapter of your thesis paper. It narrows down a broad subject and directs its focus to a specific point.
Similarly, it also serves as a mind map highlighting the central theme, writing styles, and supporting points. These aspects set the stage for the writing process.
Moreover, a thesis introduction paragraph comes after the table of contents and provides a broader context of the research. Remember, a strong beginning is important to grab the reader’s attention.
The following are the major elements that must be included in an introduction.
- Topic and Context – What points a reader should know to understand the thesis?
- Focus and Scope – What aspects of the topic will be addressed? It can be research gaps, questions, and problems.
- Relevance and Importance – How does the research work contribute to the existing work on the topic?
- Questions and Objectives – What are the main objectives of the research work, and how they can be achieved?
- Overview of the Structure – How each chapter of the thesis will contribute to the overall objectives?
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How Long Should a Thesis Introduction be?
The introduction of your thesis paper makes up roughly 10% of your total word count. Therefore, a PhD thesis paper introduction would be 8000 - 10000 words. However, a Master's thesis would be 1500 - 2000 words long.
Although the thesis introduction length can be increased if the writer includes images, diagrams, and descriptions.
Thesis Introduction Outline
A thesis introduction chapter outline has the following stages:
A. Background and context
- General information about the topic
- Why the topic is important and relevant
- Brief history and evolution of the topic
B. Problem statement or research question
- Specific research problem or question being addressed
- Justification for the study
- How the study will contribute to the field
C. Purpose and objectives of the study
- The overall purpose of the study
- Specific objectives or research aims
D. Significance of the study
- Who will benefit from the study
- How the study will impact the field or society
E. Scope and limitations of the study
- What the study will and will not cover
- Potential limitations and challenges of the study
F. Methodology and approach
- Overview of the research design
- Description of the data collection methods
- A brief explanation of data analysis techniques
Have a look at the following template to understand the thesis introduction structure.
Thesis Introduction Outline Sample
How to Start a Thesis Introduction?
Starting a thesis introduction can be overwhelming, but there are some steps you can follow to make it easier:
1. Choose a Topic
Select a topic that you are passionate about and that aligns with your research interests. Your topic should also be relevant to your field of study and have enough existing research to support your thesis.
You can also choose unique ideas from our compiled list of thesis topics .
2. Research the Content
Conduct thorough research on your topic by reviewing the literature, collecting data, and analyzing existing research in your field. This will help you identify gaps in the literature that your thesis will address.
3. Organize the Ideas
Organize and compile the main arguments, ideas, and claims in the next step. These thoughts will be helpful to describe and present the thesis statement .
Logically organizing your thoughts is crucial for developing an effective and coherent paper. You can create a clear story from the start of your paper to the end.
4. Define the Subject and Relevant Themes
Define the subject and the relevant themes before starting your thesis introduction. It would become easier for the reader to skim and get a good idea by going through it.
The subject of a thesis is the central topic or idea that it addresses. It should be specific enough to be covered by the scope of the thesis, yet broad enough to allow for meaningful discussion.
Relevant themes are those ideas that are most applicable to the subject of the thesis. These themes often come from other fields and add depth to the argument being made in the thesis.
This way it would be easier for the reader to skim and get a good idea by going through it.
5. Define Your Thesis Statement
Once you have conducted your research, define your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should clearly articulate the main argument or point you will be making in your thesis.
Check out this video to learn more about writing a good introduction for your thesis!
How to Write a Thesis Introduction?
Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow while writing a thesis introduction.
A detailed description of the steps to write an introduction is given below.
1. Hook the Reader’s Interest
A writer should begin writing the introduction with a hook statement to draw the reader’s interest. It can be a question, quotation, or interesting transitions into your arguments.
Also, make a list of interesting, current events or controversies related to your topic. It will help in creating a strong introduction and thesis statement.
2. Mention the Research Gap
Review and evaluate the existing literature critically. It will help the researcher in finding and addressing the research gap.
3. State the Background Information
A good introduction of the thesis always states the historical background of the chosen topic. It is usually cited in the first paragraph and shows the current position of the subject.
4. Back Your Topic with Relevant Literature
The introduction is a mix of previous research and a literature review. Thus, the topic should be backed with relevant resources.
It is also used to explain the context and significance of previous studies. Moreover, it further acknowledges credible sources of information to solidify your claim.
When choosing relevant literature, there are a few things to consider.
- Firstly, the literature should be from reputable sources such as scholarly journals or books.
- Secondly, it should be related to your topic and provide evidence for your claims.
- Lastly, it should be up-to-date and accurate.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that your work is well-informed and credible.
5. Mention the Hypothesis
Formulate a hypothesis for your research work. It will discuss what you aim to achieve along with the possibilities.
A valid hypothesis must be testable, measurable, and based on evidence from existing literature or theoretical frameworks.
The hypothesis should also provide a logical explanation for the relationship between the variables in question.
6. Provide the Significance of Your Research
The gap will help to evaluate the situation and explain the significance of the current research. Thus, add the purpose of your paper explaining why the research is done. It will also demonstrate the possible contributions of the research work in the future.
7. Outline the Research Questions
The next step is to outline your research questions. These should be relevant to the purpose of your study. Moreover, it will also help you discuss the problems that you seek to address.
8. State Research Objectives
State the research aims and objectives to define the primary purpose of the work. It should give a direction to the research by providing an overview of what it aims to achieve.
9. Create an Outline
Create a well-structured outline to organize and compile the ideas. Also, include a table of contents at the beginning of your thesis. It serves as a mind map to discuss the layout of your research proposal .
10. Discuss the Research Methodology
The next step is to define the terms and methodology you are going to apply in your research. It is a good technique to make your study authentic, credible, and useful.
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11. Finalize your Introduction
Ask yourself the following questions after finishing writing the introduction.
- Does your introduction discuss the problem your thesis is addressing?
- Does this section address the contribution the research work is making?
- Does it provide a detailed overview of your thesis?
- Does it end by briefly discussing the content of each chapter?
- Does it make a case for the research?
- Does it outline research questions, problems, and hypotheses clearly?
Have a look at this sample introduction:
Check out the following document to get a clear idea of writing an introduction.
How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction – Examples
Thesis Introduction Examples
Below are sample introduction paragraphs to help you compose perfect introductions.
Thesis Introduction Sample
Thesis Introduction Example
Study Habits Thesis Introduction
School Canteen Thesis Introduction
Thesis Introduction Writing Tips
The following are some writing tips to help you draft perfect thesis introductions.
- The thesis introduction requires you to identify and define your parameters of research.
- It provides enough data to support your arguments.
- The topic must define the territory for the introduction along with its terms and scope.
- It also establishes a niche by narrowing the claims that you will be discussing in your thesis body.
- A good introduction defines the direction and purpose. It will guide the reader to determine which approach the writer should adopt for further exploration.
- It contains background information to give a strong foundation for your thesis.
- The introduction must introduce the current research by stating hypotheses, research questions, and objectives.
- The content of this section should be original and plagiarism free.
- It must follow a coherent thesis format by providing concise information.
- Do not use technical language as it will leave the reader confused.
Introduction Writing Checklist
Use the below checklist to assess your introduction and identify what information is missing. This should help you ensure that your intro has all of the necessary components for a successful outcome.
In conclusion, crafting a strong thesis introduction is a crucial element of any academic paper. It sets the tone for your entire essay and provides a roadmap for your reader to follow. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can create a well-structured introduction for your thesis.
However, if you are still struggling to write a compelling thesis introduction, don't worry. MyPerfectWords.com is here to help. Our expert writers have years of experience in crafting high-quality introductions for academic papers.
So, contact us today to discuss your thesis paper, and let us help you achieve your academic goals. With our essay writing service help, you can be confident that your thesis introduction will be perfectly crafted to help you succeed.
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Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.
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Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Thesis Introduction (Updated For 2022)
Table of Contents
- 1. How to start a thesis introduction?
- 2. Thesis introduction structure
- 3. Sample thesis introduction
- 4. How to write a thesis introduction
- 5. Pro writing tips
- 6. Common problems with thesis introduction
- 7.1. What is a thesis introduction
- 7.2. What should be in the introduction of a PhD thesis?
- 7.3. How long is the intro in a thesis?
When writing your thesis, it is paramount to give the thesis introduction special attention. Every reader will start with the introduction and come up with his/her understanding of the study problem, ideas, and professionalism based on the information presented therein. So, your thesis paper introduction needs to be perfect to strike the right impression to your readers.
However, it is sad that many people find crafting a good thesis introduction challenging. So, if you have a thesis to write but you are stuck, there is no need to worry because we are here to help. This guide on how to write a thesis introduction will help you to nail it like a pro.
How to Start a Thesis Introduction
The introduction is the first chapter in your thesis, and you should use it to draw the reader’s attention with a strong and attractive beginning. Therefore, set the stage for your dissertation or thesis with a clear focus and direction. The main purposes of your thesis introduction can be broken down into three:
- Establishing your research territory: This involves highlighting general information about the importance of your topic and background details for the reader to understand the study’s context.
- Justifying your niche: This entails telling the reader why your research is needed. You do this by showing the current gap that you are looking forward to filling.
- Explain the significance of your study: This involves demonstrating how the research was conducted and its importance. Go ahead and tell the reader about the value that your study is bringing to your discipline.
Thesis Introduction Structure
The introduction of your PhD thesis should come immediately after the table of content, and you should ensure to provide important, meaningful, and accurate details to your readers. With the details you provide here, the reader should be able to know the following:
- What is the topic of your thesis or dissertation?
- What are the objectives of the study?
- What is the outline used in the study?
- What method/s of study you used for the study.
- Your thesis statement.
In order to get a better understanding of a correct thesis introduction structure, take a look at the real-life sample below. That’s the intro to a 85-page dissertation on homeland security , written by a Penn graduate just a year ago.
Sample Thesis Introduction
The Department of Homeland Security (DOH) was formed by the Bush II administration largely because of the intelligence failures that permitted the 9/11 terror attacks to occur. The most important such problem, now widely recognized, was the failure of the various intelligence agencies to share information with each other. The DOH’s single most important function was supposed to be ensuring that relevant intelligence would not fall through the cracks again.
The DOH’s capabilities include improving anti-terrorism intelligence and response, more extensive surveillance—much of it gathered under the auspices of the notorious Patriot Act; improving monitoring of points of entry into the United States; making borders less porous; enhancing transportation security (for example the security measures we are all familiar with in airports); protecting critical infrastructure; enhancing public health; and protecting against chemical and biological attacks (Miller, 2018).
There are, however, several areas in which the DOH could be improved. One problem is the department’s sheer size. The initial legislation, which has now been supplemented, combined twenty-two differ organizations into “the third largest cabinet-level agency in the U.S. government” (Gerstein, 2017). Some have charged that the enormous bureaucracy occasioned by this integration has made the problem of keeping straight intelligence resources more difficult than it was before. Second, and there is no doubt about this, the operation of the DOH results in an unprecedented level of waste and inefficiency. Third, sub-departments within the DOH have serious problems. To mention only one salient instance, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become an instrument of the president’s war on immigration (Gerstein, 2017).
The two options for improving the situation seem to be making smaller improvements, of the sort that have been made many times before, on one hand, and dismantling the organization altogether, on the other. While no possibility of a future terrorist attack can be completely discounted, the evidence suggests that globalization has made smaller attacks (perhaps by parties outside the U.S. cooperating with parties inside it) more likely than large ones such as 9/11.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write Thesis Introduction
To make the process of writing a thesis introduction easy, here are the main eleven steps that you should follow. However, it is prudent to note that some disciplines might require additional steps:
- Introduce the topic of the study.
- Provide some general background info about your study.
- Give a short overview of the literature review (we use the word short because the main lit review will be in Chapter Two: Literature Review.
- Bring out the general idea of the study or the scope.
- Provide the details of the current situation about the problem.
- Describe the relevance of the research that you are going to present (note that you are introducing a study that you have already completed).
- Outline the key aims and objectives of the dissertation.
- Bring out the research questions or problems of the study.
- Provide your hypothesis.
- Outline the structure of your dissertation.
- Highlight the methodology that you used to do the study.
As you follow the above eleven steps, it is important to appreciate that the intro is your perfect chance to grab the attention of the reader and make him/her want to keep reading the rest of the paper. You might want to read another thesis introduction sample, preferably one written by an expert.
Pro Tips on How to Write Thesis Introduction
To make the introduction impress your professor or supervisor more, start by creating a good thesis introduction outline, which presents all the points in a logical and easy-to-read manner. Here are other tips to help you craft a winning thesis introduction:
- Ensure to provide acknowledgment to previous studies that you will be using to build your dissertation. Consider checking another masters thesis introduction example to see how the acknowledgment was done.
- At the start of your thesis introduction, provide the reader with an understanding of how the thesis is structured. Try to answer the question, “What will the reader get in the chapters of the thesis?”
- Do not shy from giving readers some surprise. Here, it would be best if you targeted revealing something that is totally unexpected, such as a unique point of view or some perspectives. Simply put – make your readers excited about the study.
- Focus on bringing out the best experiences in the field during the study. So, think of things such as the best examples and the best literature review.
- Start by writing a draft. This will give you the chance to progressively improve the introduction until you have the best piece.
- Make sure to check a great example of introduction in thesis. This can be a great way to improve your writing skills.
Common Problems Faced by Students when Writing Thesis introduction
While your focus should be crafting the best thesis introduction, it is important also to understand why some students find the process challenging. Here are some of the problems that you should try to avoid when working on a thesis introduction:
- Providing too much detail: Avoid the temptation of giving too much background details when writing the introduction. Instead, focus on giving condensed information that only gives highlights of what the reader should anticipate. For example, you should simply highlight the methods used during the study because full details will be available in Chapter Three: Research Methodology.
- Not providing enough details: On the flip side, there are some people who fail to provide enough details, which imply that your readers are left with unanswered questions at the end of the chapter. To ensure you provide enough details, make sure to read through the introduction chapter after completing it to ensure that all the concepts are easy-to-understand.
- Using too much technical details: To make your introduction clear and insightful, you should try to write it in a simplified way so that even people outside your discipline can understand. If you have to use technical details, make sure to provide concise definitions.
With this guide, you should now be able to hammer that thesis introduction like a pro. However, if you still find it challenging, the best option is seeking online writing help from our experts. They have all the skills and experience needed to craft excellent dissertation introductions. With our experts on your side, you can get only one outcome – a top-rated introduction.
Thesis Introduction FAQ
- What is a thesis introduction? This is the first chapter of your dissertation or thesis and is located immediately after the table of contents. It is a very important part because it helps to draw the attention of the reader and give him/her a summary of what to anticipate in the entire thesis paper. The thesis introduction sets the stage for the study by showing the focus, background, purpose, thesis and direction.
- Motivation of the study.
- Description of the study topic.
- Explanation of the relevance of the study.
- Explanation of the scope of the study.
- Demonstration of how the study was done.
- Your dissertation outline.
- How long is the intro in a thesis? The length of your introduction is dependent on the length of the entire dissertation. The general rule is that the introduction should take 10% of the entire thesis.
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How to Write the Introduction of a Dissertation – Guide & Tips
Published by Carmen Troy at August 31st, 2021 , Revised On March 1, 2023
Introducing your Dissertation Topic
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. How would you go about it if you had to introduce it to the world for the first time?
Keep this forefront in your mind for the remainder of this guide: you are introducing your research to the world that doesn’t even know it exists. Every word, phrase and line you write in your introduction will stand for the strength of your dissertation’s character.
This is not very different from how, in real life, if someone fails to introduce themselves properly (such as leaving out what they do for a living, where they 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 critical elements of an excellent dissertation introduction include a definition of the selected research topic , a 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 and introducing a topic are two highly 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 a reader reads; thus, it must be to the point, informative, engaging, and enjoyable. 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 critical 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 you expect to achieve at the end of the research work.
As a standard practice, you might work on your dissertation introduction chapter several 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 is it the last part you would think of because this is where your research starts from.
Write the draft introduction as early as possible. You should write it at the same time as the proposal submission, although you must revise and edit it many times before it takes the final shape.
Considering its importance, many students remain unsure of how to write the introduction of a dissertation. Here are some of the essential elements of how to write the introduction of a dissertation that’ll provide much-needed dissertation introduction writing help.
Below are some guidelines for you to learn to write a flawless first-class dissertation paper.
Steps of Writing a Dissertation Introduction
1. research background – writing a dissertation introduction.
This is the very first section of your introduction. Building a background of your chosen topic will help you understand more about the topic and help readers know why the general research area is problematic, interesting, central, important, etc.
Your research background should include significant concepts related to your dissertation topic. This will give your supervisor and markers an idea that you’ve investigated the research problem thoroughly and know the various aspects of your topic.
The 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 the research design and data collection method(s) .
All about research strategy should be covered in the methodology chapter . Research background 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 its impact.
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2. Significance of the Research
As a researcher, you must 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 were chosen.
If you’re comparing, explain why you’re doing so and what this research will yield. Regardless of your chosen research topic, 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 that the concept should be researched to find a solution to a problem.
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 and its purpose.
This is one of the essential aspects of writing a dissertation’s introduction. Doing so will help your readers understand what you intend to do in this research and what they should expect from this study.
Presenting the research problem competently is crucial in persuading your readers to read 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 consider.
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 organisation, 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 realise its importance.
Citing too many references in the introduction chapter isn’t recommended because here, you must explain why you chose to study a specific area and what your research will accomplish. Any citations only set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.
4. Research Question(s)
The central part of your introduction is the research question , which should be based on your research problem and the dissertation title. Combining these two aspects will help you formulate an exciting yet manageable research question.
Your research question is what your research aims to answer and around which your dissertation will revolve. The research question should be specific and concise.
It should be a one- or two-line question you’ve set out to answer through your dissertation. For the job satisfaction example, a sample research question could be, how does job satisfaction positively impact employee performance?
Look up dissertation introduction examples online or ask your friends to get an idea of 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 then prepare your theoretical framework and literature review. You will come back to your research question again when concluding your dissertation .
Sometimes, you might have to formulate a hypothesis in place of a research question. The hypothesis is a simple statement you prove with your results , discussion and analysis .
A sample hypothesis could be job satisfaction is positively linked to employee job performance . The 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 dissertation. Following are the definitions for each term, as retrieved from Trochim et al.’s Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base (2016):
- Alternative hypothesis (H 1 ): “A specific statement of prediction that usually states what you expect will happen in your study.”
- Null hypothesis (H 0 ): “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 you hypothesise that your program or intervention will affect 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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Uk’s best academic support services. how would you know until you try, 5. research aims and objectives.
Next, the 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.
You should formulate your aims and objectives based on your topic, research question, or hypothesis. 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 considered 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 some thesis introduction examples to help you understand better how aims and objectives are formulated. More examples are here .
Your aims and objectives should be interrelated and connect to your research question and problem. If they do not, they’ll be considered vague and too broad in scope.
Always ensure your research aims and objectives are concise, brief, and relevant.
Once you conclude your dissertation , you will have to revert back to address whether your research aims and objectives have been met.
You will have to reflect on how your dissertation’s findings , analysis, and discussion 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, it is usually 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, it would be best if you mentioned 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 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 limitations do not adversely impact your results and that you’ve produced research with accurate results the academic community can rely 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 also be asked to include it in your research proposal .
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 and cover them, they’d provide feedback for you to improve.
Usually, this section discusses what sections you plan to include and what concepts and aspects each section entails. A standard dissertation consists of five sections : 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 discussing the outline of your dissertation , remember that you’d have to mention what each section involves. Discuss all the significant aspects of each section to give a brief overview of what your dissertation contains, and this is precisely what our dissertation outline service provides.
Writing a dissertation introduction might seem complicated, 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 ensure 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 offer a dissertation writing service , and our qualified team of writers will also assist you in conducting in-depth research for your dissertation.
Dissertation Introduction Samples & Examples
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, what is the purpose of an introduction chapter.
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.
How do you start an introduction in a dissertation?
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.
How long can an introduction get?
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.
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Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic. Your introduction should include: Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation? Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.
Contents Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction Ways to capture the reader's attention Open with a (personal) story Start by providing data or statistics Example Begin with a problem Emphasising the thesis' relevance Define a clear research gap Describe the scientific relevance of the thesis Describe the societal relevance of the thesis
In the introduction of your thesis, you'll be trying to do three main things, which are called Moves: Move 1 establish your territory (say what the topic is about) Move 2 establish a niche (show why there needs to be further research on your topic) Move 3 introduce the current research (make hypotheses; state the research questions)
Table of contents Step 1: Hook your reader Step 2: Give background information Step 3: Present your thesis statement Step 4: Map your essay's structure Step 5: Check and revise More examples of essay introductions Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction Step 1: Hook your reader
These points can help you write a good thesis introduction: 1. Identify your readership Before even starting with your first sentence, ask yourself the question who your readers are. Your first and most important reader is your professor grading your work and the people ultimately responsible for you getting your diploma.
What is a thesis statement? Placement of the thesis statement Step 1: Start with a question Step 2: Write your initial answer Step 3: Develop your answer Step 4: Refine your thesis statement Types of thesis statements Frequently asked questions about thesis statements What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay, and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay. A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to ...
A thesis introduction is the first chapter of your thesis. It informs the readers about several elements of your paper. These include the research objectives, the scope of the topic, and its usefulness. It gives the reader an overview of what to expect in your thesis and the direction that your paper follows.
In the introduction part of your thesis, you should be trying to focus on three main things, which are called Moves, according to the University of New South Wales database: Move 1. E stablish your territory By marking your territory, you begin to elaborate on what your topic is about and its present situation at hand.
Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.
An introduction primarily states the purpose of an academic paper. It conveys the central or main points that will be covered. The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction, with any background information given beforehand. Introductions come right after the table of contents page, but before the body of the essay or ...
An introduction should include three things: a hook to interest the reader, some background on the topic so the reader can understand it, and a thesis statement that clearly and quickly summarizes your main point. Your writing, at its best. Get Grammarly It's free Works on all your favorite websites
The introduction to the research paper should be strong. The introduction needs to include: 1) what the topic is focused on, 2) how the research was conducted, 3) what the findings are, and 4) how the paper contributes to the overall field. What are the 5 parts of an introduction?
The following order is required for components of your thesis or dissertation: Title Page Copyright Page Abstract Dedication, Acknowledgements, and Preface (each optional) Table of Contents, with page numbers List of Tables, List of Figures, or List of Illustrations, with titles and page numbers (if applicable) List of Abbreviations (if applicable)
The table of contents is where you list the chapters and major sections of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper, alongside their page numbers. A clear and well-formatted table of contents is essential, as it demonstrates to your reader that a quality paper will follow.
The very first essential ingredient for your dissertation introduction is, well, an introduction or opening section. Just like every other chapter, your introduction chapter needs to start by providing a brief overview of what you'll be covering in the chapter.
The introduction is the first chapter of your thesis paper. It narrows down a broad subject and directs its focus to a specific point. Similarly, it also serves as a mind map highlighting the central theme, writing styles, and supporting points. These aspects set the stage for the writing process.
The thesis introduction sets the stage for the study by showing the focus, background, purpose, thesis and direction. What should be in the introduction of a PhD thesis? A good introduction should provide enough background details to allow the reader to understand the goal of the study.
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.