September 17, 2018

How to write an introduction for a dissertation?

The introduction is the starting point of your dissertation. The reason why the introduction for a dissertation is the most difficult part of the paper is that its main goal is to make a reader interested in the subject you have been researching. What is more, you need to prove why your research matters and what you have managed to achieve in regards to the subject under consideration.

Common dissertation introduction writing problems

As soon as you get down to writing, you will most definitely come across a couple of problematic issues. The thing is that students typically tend to write dissertation introductions that are lengthier than they are supposed to be. The whole point is lost and it becomes harder for a reader to grasp the main idea. Writing a very detailed introduction is another common problem. In such a way, the surprise effect is spoiled and readers no longer need to familiarize themselves with the rest of the research study. In addition, some students come up with introductions that look like they are formula-written. Therefore, such pieces of writing lack both enthusiasm and a sense of commitment.

Main parts of the introduction

  • scope;
  • current scientific situation;
  • motivation;
  • theoretical and practical relevance of the research;
  • brief description of the research design;
  • objective of the study;
  • problem statement;
  • dissertation outline.

You need to begin with stating the motive for your research. If you have an interesting example to illustrate your point, do not hesitate to do so, as it will immediately draw the reader’s attention. Then, proceed to describe the topic of your dissertation. Define the subject you want to research. Try to choose something unusual or under-researched. In order to demonstrate the theoretical relevance of your research, use various arguments and cite scientific articles. Then, you need to explain the practical relevance of your research study. Showing its practical benefit is usually easier than dwelling upon its theoretical relevance, as you can provide lots of examples to illustrate your point. Do not forget to mention the practical outcome of your research for the whole field or industry.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between the objective and the problem statement of your dissertation. Use research questions to dwell upon the problem statement. The objective, in its turn, is the explanation of the reasons why you have decided to study this particular issue. Thus, you will need to describe what you want to achieve with this research study as well as what outcome you expect.

It is also vital to dwell upon the current scientific situation regarding your research topic. What you are required to do is present a few scientific articles that deal with similar issues or ones that are related to your subject of study. Briefly explain the gist and the main message of those articles. The reason why this aspect is so important is that it demonstrates that there is a lot of theoretical information on the issue, which means you will not get stuck while working on it. Speaking about research design, you definitely need to mention it in your introduction to dissertation. Provide a brief summary of it. The last part of your introduction should be the dissertation outline. What you are supposed to do is to briefly describe how your dissertation is constructed. Try to summarize the gist of each chapter in one sentence. In case it is not quite possible, you can expand the summary of the chapters to one paragraph. Keep in mind that the outline should not be repetitively phrased. Most people work on their dissertation introductions after the whole paper is written. In such a way, it is easier to present a coherent piece of writing—with the help of which you will be able to explain to your target reader what the goal of your research study is.

Speaking about the length of the dissertation introduction, there are no specific requirements. This means is your introduction for dissertation should not look like an abstract. However, it does not also mean you are supposed to submit a huge document. Make sure you write to the point. Do not repeat yourself. Present useful information to the reader. Here is a checklist of points your dissertation introduction should consist of:

  • the research topic is limited;
  • the practical relevance is explained;
  • the topic is stimulating;
  • current scientific situation in the field is demonstrated;
  • the objective is stated;
  • the problem statement is formulated;
  • the research design is presented;
  • the dissertation outline is added.

It is totally normal if you cannot write a proper dissertation introduction on your first try. It takes time, which is the reason why it is important not to stress out much about it. Take a break. The best advice is to get down to the task of writing an introduction for your dissertation when you are finished with dissertation writing. This way, you will be able to organize your thoughts and submit a piece of writing in which all vital points are showcased. Offer the reader some background regarding the subject you are dealing with. Clarify what the focus of your study is. Do not forget that you will also need to explain why your research study is significant as well and what its value for the field or industry is. Make sure the reader understands the aims of your research, as well as what you are trying to achieve in the long run. The more you dwell upon all these aspects in your introduction, the easier it will be for readers to grasp your main idea. Therefore, they will be able to understand what you are working on, what impact it is going to have, as well as what results can be achieved if you are successful in reaching all these goals you have set.
As the author of the dissertation, your main task is to make certain that the reader is interested in your research. You need to show your target audience a clear picture of what they are about to receive once they familiarize themselves with the subject of your research study in detail. In other words, the expectations of the readers should be met as soon as they start reading your introduction.

Taking into consideration the fact that your target readers are members of a dissertation committee, what you need to do is to get to the point right away. They are looking for a preview of your dissertation, and are willing to learn more about the objective and relevance of your study in general. Begin with outlining the main argument right away. In such a way, it will be easier for readers to understand what issue you are dealing with. Then, dwell upon the methodology you have used. Explain what tools you have chosen and mention why you have decided to use those particular ones. Do not forget to define the key terms of your dissertation. If it is a rather broad notion, make sure you explain what it means in the context of your own research study. It will give readers a better understanding of your goals and the methods you used in order to achieve the desired result (Cassuto).

The introduction to the dissertation is one of the most significant parts of such a piece of writing, because this is the first impression the reader gets when they start reading your document. Therefore, it is a great way to impress your target audience and motivate them to keep reading to find out more about the subject you have chosen to research. When you work on the task of writing the introduction, keep in mind that you may not write everything at once. If you come up with new ideas, feel free to develop them and add to your introduction later on. Make sure that the finished version remains coherent.

Taking everything into account, writing an introduction for a dissertation is a complex and time-consuming assignment. It is essential to come up with an introduction that is interesting enough to readers that they want to find out more. Follow the steps highlighted in this article and you will be able to write an impressive dissertation introduction that will consist of all the relevant aspects the members of a dissertation committee pay so much attention to. Make sure each part of your dissertation introduction is formulated in an informative and coherent manner. Do not forget that it should be understandable and easy to read.
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Works Cited
1. Cassuto Leonard. “On the Dissertation: How to Write the Introduction”. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018,