A Practical Manual On How To Write A Dissertation Introduction

The opening of your dissertation is extremely difficult to get right. You need to grab the interest of your reader such that they want to continue reading. If your reader is bored before finishing the introduction then you will struggle to keep their interest through the rest of the paper.

You have compiled all the notes, ordered them and written your outline. Now all you have to do is put words onto the screen.

Hints for a good start

  1. Just get started. It does not matter if you have to go back and change them; you cannot edit if there is nothing to work with.
  2. Work and rework your opening sentence – it should be as interesting as you can possibly make it.
  3. Clearly state what you are planning to investigate with your research.
  4. Give a broad general overview of what your work will encompass, try not to be too detailed, and briefly touch on limitations – you will go more into the limitations of your paper in the conclusion.
  5. A brief explanation of why you have chosen this topic is appropriate in the introduction, adding references to information that led you in this direction. Do not add too many references in this first section however, you are only setting the scene.
  6. Write this beginning as if it was the beginning of everything, as if you have not already completed most of the work. Try not to add any spoilers about what you intend to reveal by your research. “Spoilers” go in the abstract not the introduction.
  7. Generalize by using phrases like “I have identified…” or “there is a particular issue I hope to show …”
  8. An explanation of how you decided on the methodology you used for your research.
  9. Be careful of what you include in this first section, do not make a statement that you leave hanging because it is not mentioned in the main body of the work.
  10. The language should be clear and readily understood by someone who is not an expert in your field.
  11. The end of your introductory chapter should include a form of “outline” to the rest of your work.
  12. Once you have finished the main paper you will probably wish to revisit the start and rework what you said.

An introduction all boils down to: “What” are you planning to achieve? “Why” you chose this topic? “How” you intend to approach the work.