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Steps of Writing a Dissertation or Thesis Introduction With Examples

Published by at January 5th, 2023 , Revised On January 26, 2023

The introduction is the first section of a dissertation or thesis. It appears after the front matter pages, consisting of a title page, dissertation preface, list of abbreviations, table of tables and figures, table of contents, and a dissertation glossary.

The thesis or dissertation introduction is positioned immediately after the glossary or the table of contents if the front matter does not include the glossary.

A dissertation or thesis introduction introduce the readers to the scope of research with a clear, concise, focused and relevant research topic.

Writing a Dissertation or Thesis Introduction in 6 Simple Steps

Starting the Introduction Chapter – Although the introduction is the first chapter of the dissertation or thesis, it is often written at last to make sure its content corresponds to the content in the preceding chapters.

Introduce the Topic and Provide Rationale – Introduce the topic to the readers and provide the background information.

Explain the Scope of Your Research – What specific issue your research aims to address?

Describe the Significance and Relevance of Your Topic – Describe the importance, relevance and implications of your work in the broader context of your chosen study area.

Establish the Hypothesis, Research Questions or Objectives – Develop the research questions and/or objectives so your readers know what you are trying to accomplish.

Provide an Overview of the Introduction Structure – End the introduction with an overview of the outline of the remaining dissertation or thesis chapters.

Step 1 – When to Start the Introduction

The introduction is the first chapter of a dissertation or thesis, but that does not mean you have to write it first. Many students leave the introduction to be completed as one of the very last parts of the thesis or dissertation.

However, the best practice is to write a rough introduction draft as you start your research and then return to it later to ensure it reflects the content of the subsequent sections, such as the literature review, research methodology, results and discussion, and conclusion.

Remember that you will need to revise the introduction section throughout the writing process. If you completed a research proposal before the dissertation, use it as a template because the information it contains is relevant.

Step 2 – Introduce the Topic and the Rationale

Start the introduction of your thesis or dissertation by introducing the topic and giving context to your research work. Provide the necessary background information, so the reader understands why there was a need to conduct research in your chosen study area and how your research will fill a particular research gap. Highlight the significance of your topic by referring to an important news article, an academic journal or a scientific debate.

Topic Example

What will be the impact of Brexit on the UK?

Example – Giving Context to Your Topic

Describe how Brexit has resulted in significant problems for many industries in the UK.

Step 3 – Explain the Scope of your Research

Once you have introduced the audience to your research topic, it’s time to narrow down the focus and clearly define the scope of the research.

There are techniques you can apply to narrow the focus of the topic. For example, specify:

  • The region you are targeting
  • The demographics or communities
  • Time specifics
  • Company or organisation or groups
  • Themes or aspects of the title

Focused Topic Example

What will be the economic impact of Brexit on the UK Tourism Sector?

Step 4 – Describe the Significance and Relevance

As the document’s author, one of your key responsibilities is to demonstrate the significance and relevance of your research so your audience would know what motivated you to conduct research in the selected area.

Show how your topic relates to the existing work and explain how your work will add further value to the literature.

Start by providing an overview of the existing literature on the topic. Cite the most relevant sources, but you should refrain from conducting an in-depth survey of the related academic reference resources at this stage because you will be doing that in the literature review section.

Signify the importance of your research by describing the practical application of your work or showing how it could enhance the understanding of the relevant concepts.

In most cases, your research work will contribute both ways.

In a nutshell, your dissertation or thesis introduction should:

  • Provide a solution to a theoretical or practical problem
  • Find and address a research gap
  • Propose a unique approach to addressing the problem
  • Add value to the existing literature

Significance and Relevance Example

Britain’s decision to depart from the European Union will have consequences and implications that must be measured and tracked to understand the combined impact of Brexit. The previous research studies explored the effects of Brexit from an economic standpoint (Alvine et al., 2018; Michael & Jing, 2020; Saad et al., 2021), but more needs to explicitly focus on the economic impacts of Brexit on the Tourism industry.

The declining number of tourists to the UK is a cause of concern for the UK tourism sector, suggesting that the tourism industry is at risk. However, it is still being determined how much of an impact Brexit directly had on the tourism sector. It is vitally important to look at the factors influencing tourists’ choice of selecting the UK as a tourist destination to identify the extent to which Brexit has directly contributed towards the shrinking of the tourism industry of the UK.

Step 5 – Establish the Hypothesis, Research Questions or Objectives

Undoubtedly, the most critical part of writing an introduction is setting up the research questions and objectives, as they give the readers an insight into what they can expect from your research work.

Before establishing the research questions or objectives, clearly state the broad research aim. How you set up the research questions or objectives depends on several factors, including your academic level, subject, and area of research.

The introduction section can also have brief information about the research methods but only go into a bit of detail because this information will be provided in-depth in the research methodology section.

Note:

  • In the introduction chapter, you can provide brief information about the conceptual framework and the dependent and independent variables.
  • If the research work aims to test hypotheses, clearly state them here.

Example Research Question:

How much of an impact will EU tourism have on the economic growth of the UK tourism sector?

Example Research Objectives

  • Collect first-hand data through surveys and interviews to gain qualitative insight into the tourists’ actions in response to Brexit.
  • Determine the impact of the tourists’ demographics on their decision to select the UK as their preferred destination.

Step 6 – Provide the Structure Outline for the Thesis or Dissertation

End the introduction section with a structural outline for the complete thesis or dissertation. Provide a summary of each chapter showing how they relate to the overall research aim and questions or objectives.

Do not go into too much detail. Provide this information in a maximum of 1-2 short paragraphs. However, the amount of information you provide in this section depends on your academic level and the structural guidelines provided by your university. For example, you may need to write a summary paragraph for a PhD thesis or dissertation for each chapter.

On the other hand, a humanities dissertation, which uses thematic argument building, follows an unconventional structure, so you may not need to provide the structure outline at all.

Dissertation Introduction Example

The ratio of elderly patients in the general population is increasing steadily in Western countries. According to Fazel, Geddes, and Kushel (2014), older people are highly diversified, with significant differences within the general health state, frequently with several coexisting diseases. Regarding this, older people have higher chances of increased length of postoperative stay and rate of readmissions after surgery.

Gastric cancer has been the third major cause of morbidity and mortality and the fourth most common type of cancer worldwide, particularly in South America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Eastern Asia. Recently, several different interventional strategies or measures have been implemented during the perioperative care of colorectal and gastric cancer that facilitate patients’ recovery, such as gastrectomy with lymphadenectomy. This is perioperative chemoradiotherapy that is administered increasingly in elderly patients with advanced diseases like gastric or colorectal, promoting patient recovery.

However, Jia et al. (2014) stated that the morbidity rate after gastrectomy had been reported to be 13.8-46.0% and poses a considerable financial strain on patients, families, and healthcare facilities due to increased readmission cases, and increased length of hospital stay at the hospitals.

In this regard, there is a need to reduce the length of hospital stay within the postoperative care and readmission cases with significant and effective postoperative recovery intervention to enhance patient recovery after surgery and reduce the readmission rate and length of stay at hospitals.

Taking this into consideration, Wang et al. (2011) emphasised that the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) is a standardised pathway or protocol that has extensively been implemented for attaining significant improvements in reducing the postoperative length of stay at hospitals. ERAS is also called Fast Track Protocol, which Henrik Kehlet developed in 1994. Over the last few decades, this technique has been used increasingly due to having vast applications and significant safety and benefits.

Moreover, Shida et al. (2015) stated that ERAS is a multidisciplinary approach determining to decrease stress response after surgery, facilitate reduced length of hospital stay, and allow reduced complication rate followed by surgery, including gastric or colorectal surgery.

In addition, according to Pędziwiatr et al. (2016), the ERAS pathway is considered a care standard. It has proven effective and beneficial for patients after colorectal or gastric surgery. ERAS pathway intends to reduce the duration of stay and postoperative stress at reduced costs.

During perioperative period, patients are educated on the ERAS pathway and given written instructions, along with an informational pamphlet that includes a programme briefing focused on improving mobility and stability. However, there is a concern regarding the applicability of the ERAS pathway to the elderly population, and it requires active participation from elder patients after their gastric or colorectal surgery.

View the full example – https://essays.uk/sample-phd-medical-dissertation-part/

Introduction Chapter: Checklist

  • I have clearly introduced the research topic to engage the readers.
  • I have provided the rationale and the background information to help readers understand the context of the topic.
  • I have clearly specified the focus of my research work.
  • I have explained the significance and relevance of my research
  • I have established the aim and the research questions or objectives.
  • I have provided an overview of the thesis or dissertation introduction.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The introduction section should include:

  • The background information to grab the readers’ interest
  • Scope of your research
  • Significance and relevance of your research
  • Details of the research problem and problem statement
  • Research questions or research objectives or hypotheses
  • A summary of the thesis structure or outline.

The thesis or dissertation introduction chapter is longer and much more detailed than a research paper introduction chapter.

However, always follow your school’s guidelines to stay on the right track.

A research objective describes what your research aims to achieve. Research objectives keep your research focused and give a clear purpose to your research.

Research questions are positioned at the end of the introduction section, immediately after the problem statement.

There are techniques you can apply to narrow the focus of the topic. For example, specify:

  • The region you are targeting
  • The demographics or communities
  • Time specifics
  • Company or organisation or groups
  • Themes or aspects of the title

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.

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