Writing a Dissertation Introduction: Practical Help and Advice from Professional Writers


How to make a dissertation introduction brilliant? That is the question that a lot of graduate students ask as they have to work on their papers. Deadlines are strict and one of the most serious challenges for the students is to meet the deadlines. It is important to find the time and do everything without delays, but can you actually manage that? Moreover, your task is to create an introductory section that will draw the readers’ attention to the whole paper. It sounds like another challenge. The readers will never be interested in looking through the dissertation that does not let them gain an insight into the subject from the first lines. On the contrary, they need to get a sense of what is going on and what the author wants them to know and understand. So, you have to design an introduction on the basis of the most essential facts and welcome the audience to share your ideas and shape their dissertation expectations.

It is logical to assume that if the readers are presented with the abstract and introduction first; those are the sections that are prepared before the other ones. In fact, it is a wrong approach and it is recommended to work on the body paragraphs first to process to the abstract, conclusion, and introduction afterward.

Why Is It So?

First of all, writing a dissertation introduction is done at the final stages of working o on the paper in terms of a retrospective approach. All the ideas should be tied together effectively and this method of writing ensures success.

Secondly, you have to save your time. If your introduction is written first, the following parts may contain new ideas and the development of the paper will mean that the introduction will have to be changed. Then you will have to do the revising, editing, and even re-writing of all parts, including the introductory sections, and it takes extra hours.

Thirdly, if the whole body part of the paper is ready, it is easier to make sure that the abstract presents the key ideas the author wants the readers to get. The overall picture should be clear for the audience.

This guide will give practical help to those students who will have to work on the dissertation chapters. We will help you avoid common students’ mistakes in writing and develop the right approach to the content. So, you have realized that the first introductory part will actually be written last. Still, you have to take into consideration that all the dissertation parts should be interconnected.

The draft of the introduction is to be thought about when you work on the research proposal and submit it to the professor. You will present the outline of the ideas and explain to the professor why you have selected this subject and what is going to be studied. Make sure your writing is on track throughout the process.

Introduction: How to Get Started

We have clarified that an introductory part will be written last along with the abstract. Think about a concise but clear research question to be presented as well as specific research aims related to the presented question. Make sure that you include a brief literature review that will be accompanied by the theoretical parts. Give an idea of debates available on the topic and add your own perspective. Check whether you have indicated how your paper will facilitate a general understanding of the chosen topic and contribute to the corresponding field of knowledge.

Your research proposal can serve as a template for you to get the draft of the introduction done. Still, revisions will be needed every time you add some content to the paper chapters. Typically, a well-written introduction performs the following functions:

  • It gives background information and identifies the context of your research
  • It makes clear what focus your study has
  • It demonstrates the value of the dissertation
  • It makes objectives and aims specified

Writing a Dissertation Introduction: Background Section

You provide certain background info for the readers to facilitate their understanding of the content. If you give the context and present the focus without any explanations, it will be insufficient and inappropriate for good research. Identify what gap is to be addressed between the problem and the available research. Your personal interest in the field is not a valid reason to conduct research.

Outline this section with the identification of the essential knowledge the readers should have before they start reading your research. Write down a list of authors and readings related to your research and add some notes on their influence in the area of studies. Specify the terminology required for an understanding of the paper and highlight some of the most important terms available in your glossary.

Remember that there are two blunders students typically make: they either write too little or too much. The content of the background section cannot exceed two pages, as the readers need only the basic details without too many details. An acceptable length of the introductory part itself is approximately 5-7% of the dissertation length.

The sub-sections of your introduction should have both headings and subheadings with the focus on the references needed for the body section. Having completed the section of the literature review, you will be able to work on the introduction and include the information on the most outstanding authors whose contribution to the area of knowledge has been the greatest.

Check the List for the Introduction

  • Context and topic: what do you want your audience to be aware of before they read the whole paper?
  • Scope and focus: what particular topic aspects will you highlight?
  • Value and relevance: does your paper fit into the available research materials on this topic?
  • Objectives and questions raised: what is the aim of your research?
  • Structure overview: what is the contribution of the dissertation chapters to the general aim of the dissertation?
  • Context and Topic

Introduce the topic and provide the required background details. Your research should be contextualized and the interest should be generated to specify the value of the topic.

Focus and Scope

The focus of your research is on two aspects: it gives information on the focus of your research and it provides your study rationale.

Clarify the planned research areas and give explanations on the reasons for the research. One of the main aspects to take into account is the link between the research and the background details. Check on the continuity of the flow of your research and add transitional phrases for linking of all sections together. The focus should be concentrated on the objectives, aims, and value of the research. Give a brief overview of your focus and make sure it is narrowed to the specific research scope.

For instance:

  • The geographical area for investigation
  • Covered time frame
  • Researched communities and demographics
  • Particular aspects and themes

Value and Relevance

The section of value and relevance needs a specific sub-section to makes it clear what merits the work has and how it adds value to the area of studies.  It is wrong to disregard this information as at least one paragraph should be devoted to these research aspects. Suggest conducting an investigation if the topic selected requires more research. You may also suggest looking at the topic from a new perspective or identifying an urgent question that needs to be addressed.

Objectives and Questions Raised

This section specifies the expectations about the dissertation with the formulation of the objectives and research questions and a brief mentioning of the methods to be used. Formulate your hypotheses, if any, and present the conceptual frameworks for the variables. Make sure the objectives appear from the overall aim in a clear manner.

Research objectives should be:

  • Appropriate
  • Distinct
  • Clear
  • Achievable

Set the study scenes with simple objectives and check whether the balance is correct. Approximately three to five objectives are enough for the research.

Structure Overview

You will guide your readers through your paper effectively if you can include a structure overview section in your introduction. Present a summary of every chapter and identify its contribution to the main research aims. Your overview should be concise: the content of every chapter can be given in two sentences maximum. In case of complicated research or non-conventional structure of the paper, it may be necessary to devote a paragraph to every chapter. For instance, the argument of a dissertation in the area of humanities can be presented thematically without actual division of the conducted research into the sections devoted to results, methods, and discussion. In case of a special structure, check whether the parts go together right.

NB: Excessive citations and quotes do not make the paper look professional. Do not include any of them in the introductory section. Writing a dissertation introduction, give a summary of the reasons why you are interested in studying this topic and which questions are to be addressed. Context is set with several citations, but most of them will be left for the sections of the literature review.

Advice for the Students

  • Hold the readers’ attention with exciting opening sentences.
  • Do not be very specific in the introductory parts, an outline is enough.
  • All hints given here should be addressed later.
  • Check on the language and make it straightforward.
  • Remember:

You welcome the readers to get into your dissertation through your introduction section. Thus, even non-experts in the topic should find it interesting to proceed with reading. You will be successful in your writing if you make the text clear and organized.