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How to Write the Thesis Or Dissertation Introduction – Guide

Published by Carmen Troy at August 31st, 2021 , Revised On January 24, 2024

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.

“ Want to keep up with the progress of the work done by your writer? ResearchProspect can deliver your dissertation order in three parts; outline, first half, and final dissertation delivery. Here is the link to our online order form .

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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Interesting read: 10 ways to write a practical introduction fast .

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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 ResearchProspect, 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.

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.

Steps to Writing a Dissertation Introduction

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Dissertation discussion is where you explore the relevance and significance of results. Here are guidelines to help you write the perfect discussion chapter.






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Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis may well be the last part that you complete, excepting perhaps the abstract. However, it should not be the last part that you think about.

You should write a draft of your introduction very early on, perhaps as early as when you submit your research proposal , to set out a broad outline of your ideas, why you want to study this area, and what you hope to explore and/or establish.

You can, and should, update your introduction several times as your ideas develop. Keeping the introduction in mind will help you to ensure that your research stays on track.

The introduction provides the rationale for your dissertation, thesis or other research project: what you are trying to answer and why it is important to do this research.

Your introduction should contain a clear statement of the research question and the aims of the research (closely related to the question).

It should also introduce and briefly review the literature on your topic to show what is already known and explain the theoretical framework. If there are theoretical debates in the literature, then the introduction is a good place for the researcher to give his or her own perspective in conjunction with the literature review section of the dissertation.

The introduction should also indicate how your piece of research will contribute to the theoretical understanding of the topic.

Drawing on your Research Proposal

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis will probably draw heavily on your research proposal.

If you haven't already written a research proposal see our page Writing a Research Proposal for some ideas.

The introduction needs to set the scene for the later work and give a broad idea of the arguments and/or research that preceded yours. It should give some idea of why you chose to study this area, giving a flavour of the literature, and what you hoped to find out.

Don’t include too many citations in your introduction: this is your summary of why you want to study this area, and what questions you hope to address. Any citations are only to set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

Unlike your research proposal, however, you have now completed the work. This means that your introduction can be much clearer about what exactly you chose to investigate and the precise scope of your work.

Remember , whenever you actually write it, that, for the reader, the introduction is the start of the journey through your work. Although you can give a flavour of the outcomes of your research, you should not include any detailed results or conclusions.

Some good ideas for making your introduction strong include:

  • An interesting opening sentence that will hold the attention of your reader.
  • Don’t try to say everything in the introduction, but do outline the broad thrust of your work and argument.
  • Make sure that you don’t promise anything that can’t be delivered later.
  • Keep the language straightforward. Although you should do this throughout, it is especially important for the introduction.

Your introduction is the reader’s ‘door’ into your thesis or dissertation. It therefore needs to make sense to the non-expert. Ask a friend to read it for you, and see if they can understand it easily.

At the end of the introduction, it is also usual to set out an outline of the rest of the dissertation.

This can be as simple as ‘ Chapter 2 discusses my chosen methodology, Chapter 3 sets out my results, and Chapter 4 discusses the results and draws conclusions ’.

However, if your thesis is ordered by themes, then a more complex outline may be necessary.

Drafting and Redrafting

As with any other piece of writing, redrafting and editing will improve your text.

This is especially important for the introduction because it needs to hold your reader’s attention and lead them into your research.

The best way to ensure that you can do this is to give yourself enough time to write a really good introduction, including several redrafts.

Do not view the introduction as a last minute job.

Continue to: Writing a Literature Review Writing the Methodology

See also: Dissertation: Results and Discussion Dissertation: Conclusions and Extra Sections Academic Referencing | Research Methods

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a good thesis introduction

introduction of dissertation project

1. Identify your readership

2. hook the reader and grab their attention, 3. provide relevant background, 4. give the reader a sense of what the paper is about, 5. preview key points and lead into your thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a good thesis introduction, related articles.

Many people struggle to write a thesis introduction. Much of your research prep should be done and you should be ready to start your introduction. But often, it’s not clear what needs to be included in a thesis introduction. If you feel stuck at this point not knowing how to start, this guide can help.

Tip: If you’re really struggling to write your thesis intro, consider putting in a placeholder until you write more of the body of your thesis. Then, come back to your intro once you have a stronger sense of the overall content of your thesis.

A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire project. 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.

Before even starting with your first sentence, consider who your readers are. Most likely, your readers will be the professors who are advising you on your thesis.

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; this will make your thesis more understandable and enjoyable overall.

Tip: Always strive to be clear, correct, concrete, and concise in your writing.

The first sentence of the thesis is crucial. Looking back at your own research, think about how other writers may have hooked you.

It is common to start with a question or quotation, but these types of hooks are often overused. The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and that seamlessly transitions into your argument.

Once again, consider your audience and how much background information they need to understand your approach. You can start by making a list of what is interesting about your topic:

  • Are there any current events or controversies associated with your topic that might be interesting for your introduction?
  • What kinds of background information might be useful for a reader to understand right away?
  • Are there historical anecdotes or other situations that uniquely illustrate an important aspect of your argument?

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.

Tip: Strike a balance between background information that is too broad or too specific.

Let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:

  • Briefly describe the motivation behind your research.
  • Describe the topic and scope of your research.
  • Explain the practical relevance of your research.
  • Explain the scholarly consensus related to your topic: briefly explain the most important articles and how they are related to your research.

At the end of your introduction, you should lead into your thesis statement by briefly bringing up a few of your main supporting details and by previewing what will be covered in the main part of the thesis. You’ll want to highlight the overall structure of your thesis so that readers will have a sense of what they will encounter as they read.

A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire project. 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:

  • Briefly describe the motivation for your research.

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 that seamlessly transitions into your argument. Consider the audience, 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.

How to make a scientific presentation

How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

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The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.

Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction

Open with a (personal) story, begin with a problem, define a clear research gap, describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences, support your argument with sufficient evidence, consider possible objections, address the empirical research context, give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.

An introductory chapter plays an integral part in every thesis. The first chapter has to include quite a lot of information to contextualise the research. At the same time, a good thesis introduction is not too long, but clear and to the point.

A powerful thesis introduction does the following:

  • It captures the reader’s attention.
  • It presents a clear research gap and emphasises the thesis’ relevance.
  • It provides a compelling argument.
  • It previews the research findings.
  • It explains the structure of the thesis.

In addition, a powerful thesis introduction is well-written, logically structured, and free of grammar and spelling errors. Reputable thesis editors can elevate the quality of your introduction to the next level. If you are in search of a trustworthy thesis or dissertation editor who upholds high-quality standards and offers efficient turnaround times, I recommend the professional thesis and dissertation editing service provided by Editage . 

This list can feel quite overwhelming. However, with some easy tips and tricks, you can accomplish all these goals in your thesis introduction. (And if you struggle with finding the right wording, have a look at academic key phrases for introductions .)

Ways to capture the reader’s attention

A powerful thesis introduction should spark the reader’s interest on the first pages. A reader should be enticed to continue reading! There are three common ways to capture the reader’s attention.

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.

This story can be, for instance, based on one of your study participants. It can also be a very personal account of one of your own experiences, which drew you to study the thesis topic in the first place.

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!

So if your thesis topic lends itself to being kick-started with data or statistics, you are in for a quick and easy way to write a memorable thesis introduction.

The third established way to capture the reader’s attention is by starting with the problem that underlies your thesis. It is advisable to keep the problem simple. A few sentences at the start of the chapter should suffice.

Usually, at a later stage in the introductory chapter, it is common to go more in-depth, describing the research problem (and its scientific and societal relevance) in more detail.

You may also like: Minimalist writing for a better thesis

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.

Of course, a thesis heavily relies on the work of other scholars. However, each thesis is – and should be – unique. If you want to write a fantastic thesis introduction, your job is to point out this uniqueness!

In academic research, a research gap signifies a research area or research question that has not been explored yet, that has been insufficiently explored, or whose insights and findings are outdated.

Every thesis needs a crystal-clear research gap. Spell it out instead of letting your reader figure out why your thesis is relevant.

* This example has been taken from an actual academic paper on toxic behaviour in online games: Liu, J. and Agur, C. (2022). “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games. Games and Culture 1–24, DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397

The scientific relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your work in terms of advancing theoretical insights on a topic. You can think of this part as your contribution to the (international) academic literature.

Scientific relevance comes in different forms. For instance, you can critically assess a prominent theory explaining a specific phenomenon. Maybe something is missing? Or you can develop a novel framework that combines different frameworks used by other scholars. Or you can draw attention to the context-specific nature of a phenomenon that is discussed in the international literature.

The societal relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your research in more practical terms. You can think of this part as your contribution beyond theoretical insights and academic publications.

Why are your insights useful? Who can benefit from your insights? How can your insights improve existing practices?

introduction of dissertation project

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.

Including an argument in the introduction of your thesis may seem counterintuitive. After all, the reader will be introduced to your core claim before reading all the chapters of your thesis that led you to this claim in the first place.

But rest assured: A clear argument at the start of your thesis introduction is a sign of a good thesis. It works like a movie teaser to generate interest. And it helps the reader to follow your subsequent line of argumentation.

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.

However, you do need to show the reader that your claim is credible and legitimate because of the work you have done.

A good argument already anticipates possible objections. Not everyone will agree with your core claim. Therefore, it is smart to think ahead. What criticism can you expect?

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.

If you focus on a specific empirical context, make sure to provide some information about it. The empirical context could be, for instance, a country, an island, a school or city. Make sure the reader understands why you chose this context for your research, and why it fits to your research objective.

If you did all your research in a lab, this section is obviously irrelevant. However, in that case you should explain the setup of your experiment, etcetera.

The empirical part of your thesis centers around the collection and analysis of information. What information, and what evidence, did you generate? And what are some of the key findings?

For instance, you can provide a short summary of the different research methods that you used to collect data. Followed by a short overview of how you analysed this data, and some of the key findings. The reader needs to understand why your empirical analysis is worth reading.

You already highlighted the practical relevance of your thesis in the introductory chapter. However, you should also provide a preview of some of the practical implications that you will develop in your thesis based on your findings.

Presenting a crystal clear thesis structure

A fantastic thesis introduction helps the reader to understand the structure and logic of your whole thesis. This is probably the easiest part to write in a thesis introduction. However, this part can be best written at the very end, once everything else is ready.

A reading guide is an essential part in a thesis introduction! Usually, the reading guide can be found toward the end of the introductory chapter.

The reading guide basically tells the reader what to expect in the chapters to come.

In a longer thesis, such as a PhD thesis, it can be smart to provide a summary of each chapter to come. Think of a paragraph for each chapter, almost in the form of an abstract.

For shorter theses, which also have a shorter introduction, this step is not necessary.

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.

introduction of dissertation project

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

I. Introduction

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.

Checklist: Introduction

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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Research Tips and Infromation

06 Essential Steps for Introduction Section of Dissertation or Thesis

PhD Introduction Section


Stating the research problem or research question, brief overview of the structure of your dissertation, 1. starting with a compelling opening, 2. providing background information, 3. clearly stating the research problem, 4. stating the research objectives, 5. highlighting the research significance, 6. outlining the dissertation structure, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical details, seeking feedback and revising the introduction multiple times, common academic phrases that can be used in the introduction section.

Are you on the journey of completing your PhD or Post Graduate dissertation? The introduction section plays a vital role in setting the stage for your research and capturing the reader’s attention from the very beginning. A well-crafted introduction is a gateway to showcasing the significance and value of your work.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the essential elements and expert tips to create an engaging and impactful introduction for your dissertation or thesis.

This comprehensive guide will equip you with the tools to write an introduction that stands out. From capturing the reader’s interest with a compelling opening to defining the research problem, stating objectives, and highlighting the research significance, we’ve got you covered.

Not only will you discover practical strategies for crafting an effective introduction, but you’ll also learn how to keep it concise, avoid jargon, and seek valuable feedback. Additionally, we’ll provide domain-specific examples to illustrate each point and help you better understand the application of these techniques.

By mastering the art of writing an engaging introduction, you’ll be able to captivate your readers, establish the context of your research, and demonstrate the value of your study. So, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to crafting an introduction that sets the foundation for a remarkable PhD dissertation.

If you are in paucity of time, not confident of your writing skills and in a hurry to complete the writing task then you can think of hiring a research consultant that solves all your problems. Please visit my article on Hiring a Research consultant for your PhD tasks for further details.

Purpose of the Introduction

The introduction should introduce the specific topic of your research and provide the necessary background information. For example: “In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative technology with applications in various domains. This study focuses on improving the accuracy of image recognition algorithms in computer vision, a crucial area within AI research.”

Clearly articulating the research problem or research question is essential. Here’s an example: “The objective of this study is to develop a more efficient algorithm for large-scale graph analysis, addressing the challenge of processing massive networks in real-time.”

It is important to state the specific objectives or goals of your research. Here’s an example: “The primary objectives of this research are to design and implement a secure communication protocol for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, evaluate its performance under different network conditions, and assess its resistance to potential cyber-attacks.”

It is helpful to provide a brief overview of the structure of your dissertation, indicating the main sections or chapters. Here’s an example: “This dissertation consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 presents the introduction, research problem, objectives, and methodology. Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive literature review of the existing algorithms for sentiment analysis. Chapter 3 details the proposed algorithm for sentiment classification. Chapter 4 presents the experimental setup and results. Chapter 5 discusses the findings and implications. Finally, Chapter 6 concludes the dissertation with recommendations for future research.”

Remember to adapt the examples to your specific research topic and ensure they accurately reflect the purpose of your introduction. By introducing the topic, stating the research problem, outlining the objectives, and providing an overview of the dissertation structure, you will establish the necessary foundation for your research.

Crafting an Effective Introduction in 06 Steps

By starting with a compelling opening, providing background information, clearly stating the research problem and objectives, highlighting the research significance, and outlining the dissertation structure, you will craft an effective introduction.

Starting with a compelling opening can capture the reader’s attention. Here are some examples:

  • Anecdote: “Imagine a scenario where autonomous vehicles navigate through busy city streets, making split-second decisions to ensure passenger safety and optimize traffic flow.”
  • Question: “Have you ever wondered how social media platforms use recommendation algorithms to personalize your news feed based on your interests and preferences?”
  • Fact: “In 2020, the global cybersecurity market reached a value of $167.13 billion, highlighting the increasing need for robust and reliable security solutions in the digital age.”

Providing background information involves discussing existing literature, theories, and concepts. Here’s an example: “Previous studies in the field of natural language processing have focused on sentiment analysis, aiming to classify text into positive, negative, or neutral sentiments. However, current approaches face challenges in accurately capturing the contextual nuances and sarcasm often found in social media data.”

Clearly defining the research problem is crucial. Here’s an example: “The research problem addressed in this study is the efficient scheduling and resource allocation for cloud-based data-intensive applications, considering the dynamic nature of workloads and the varying availability of cloud resources.”

Presenting specific objectives is important in computer science. Here’s an example: “The primary objectives of this research are to develop an energy-efficient routing protocol for wireless sensor networks, investigate the impact of different routing metrics on network performance, and propose adaptive algorithms for dynamic topology changes.”

Explaining the importance and relevance of your research is essential. Here’s an example: “This research on blockchain technology has significant implications for enhancing data security, ensuring transparent and immutable transactions, and revolutionizing various sectors, including finance, supply chain management, and healthcare.”

Providing a brief overview of the main sections or chapters of your dissertation helps the reader understand the organization. Here’s an example: “This dissertation consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the research problem, objectives, and methodology. Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive literature review. Chapter 3 presents the proposed algorithm and its implementation. Chapter 4 discusses the experimental results and analysis. Finally, Chapter 5 concludes the dissertation, summarizing the findings and suggesting future research directions.”

Remember to tailor these examples to your specific research topic and ensure they align with your own introduction.

Tips for Writing a Strong Introduction

It’s essential to keep the introduction concise and focused on the main points. Avoid going into excessive detail or including unnecessary information. Here’s an example: “To achieve efficient data processing in distributed systems, this study focuses on developing a parallel algorithm for sorting large-scale datasets, aiming to reduce the computational time and improve overall system performance.”

While writing the introduction, it’s crucial to communicate your ideas clearly without overwhelming the reader with technical terms. Here’s an example: “This study investigates the usability of natural language interfaces for human-robot interaction, exploring the potential for seamless and intuitive communication between users and autonomous robotic systems.”

It’s important to seek feedback from your advisor or peers and revise your introduction based on their suggestions. .

Remember to adapt these examples to your specific research topic and ensure they align with your writing style. By keeping the introduction concise and focused, avoiding unnecessary jargon, and seeking feedback while revising multiple times, you will be able to write a strong introduction in any domain of research.

Here are some common academic phrases that can be used in the introduction section . I have included a table with examples to illustrate how these phrases might be used:

Crafting a well-crafted introduction is paramount when it comes to writing a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation. The introduction serves as the gateway to your research, setting the stage for what follows and capturing the reader’s attention. By following the outlined guidelines and tips, you can create an introduction that engages the reader, establishes the context, and highlights the significance of your research.

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What’s Included: Introduction Template

This template covers all the core components required in the introduction chapter/section of a typical dissertation or thesis, including:

  • The opening section
  • Background of the research topic
  • Statement of the problem
  • Rationale (including the research aims, objectives, and questions)
  • Scope of the study
  • Significance of the study
  • Structure of the document

The purpose of each section is clearly explained, followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover. We’ve also included practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required, along with links to additional free resources (articles, videos, etc.) to help you along your research journey.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

PS – if you’d like a high-level template for the entire thesis, you can we’ve got that too .

Thesis Introduction FAQS

What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for.

The template follows the standard format for academic research projects, which means it will be suitable for the vast majority of dissertations and theses (especially those within the sciences), whether they are qualitative or quantitative in terms of design.

Keep in mind that the exact requirements for the introduction chapter/section will vary between universities and degree programs. These are typically minor, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalize your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Master or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. Doctoral-level projects typically require the introduction chapter to be more extensive/comprehensive, but the structure will typically remain the same.

Can I share this template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template in its original format (no editing allowed). If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, we kindly request that you reference this page as your source.

What format is the template (DOC, PDF, PPT, etc.)?

The dissertation introduction chapter template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What is the core purpose of this chapter?

The introduction chapter of a dissertation or thesis serves to introduce the research topic, clearly state the research problem, and outline the main research questions. It justifies the significance of the study, delineates its scope, and provides a roadmap of the dissertation’s structure.

In a nutshell, the introduction chapter sets the academic tone and context, laying the foundation for the subsequent analysis and discussion.

How long should the introduction chapter be?

This depends on the level of study (undergrad, Master or Doctoral), as well as your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, introduction chapters for Masters-level projects are usually 1,500 – 2,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects can reach multiples of this.

How specific should the research objectives be in the introduction chapter?

In this chapter, your research objectives should be specific enough to clearly define the scope and direction of your study, but broad enough to encompass its overall aims.

Make sure that each objective can be realistically accomplished within the scope of your study and that each objective is directly related to and supports your research question(s).

As a rule of thumb, you should leave in-depth explanations for later chapters; the introduction should just provide a concise overview.

Can I mention the research results in the introduction?

How do i link the introduction to the literature review.

To transition smoothly from the introduction chapter to the literature review chapter in a thesis, it’s a good idea to:

  • Conclude the introduction by summarising the main points, such as the research problem, objectives, and significance of your study.
  • Explicitly state that the following chapter (literature review) will explore existing research and theoretical frameworks related to your topic.
  • Emphasise how the literature review will address gaps or issues identified in the introduction, setting the stage for your research question or hypothesis.
  • Use a sentence that acts as a bridge between the two chapters. For example, “To further understand this issue, the next chapter will critically examine the existing literature on [your topic].”

This approach will help form a logical flow and prepare the reader for the depth and context provided in the literature review.

Do you have templates for the other chapters?

Yes, we do. We are constantly developing our collection of free resources to help students complete their dissertations and theses. You can view all of our template resources here .

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Yes, you’re welcome to get in touch with us to discuss our private coaching services .

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Writing the introduction to your dissertation or scholarly project

This chapter from A Nurse's Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Dissertation or Scholarly Project,  Second Edition,  discusses the elements of your introduction—from background information to your action plan.


  • Provides some background information so that readers understand the issue
  • Explains why the issue is important
  • Describes what is known about the issue
  • States what we need to find out or what action needs to be taken and why
  • Presents how you plan to do that (your study/project)

A Nurse's Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Dissertation or Scholarly Project

Whatever it is, something made you sit up and pay attention. The introduction is your opportunity to make the reader do the same. In this part of the dissertation, you tell readers why you care about this topic, and even more important, why they should care, too.

In dissertation/project speak, we call this establishing significance . In plain English, we’re saying, “Hey, listen up! This is important, and here’s why.”

Of course, you can’t expect readers to just take your word for it. You need to first give them information so that they understand the problem, and you need to back up that information with evidence. After you do that, you can ask them to consider your idea for what we need to do next, whether that is gathering more information or trying out a solution.

You’ve already started Good news: You’ve already done most of the work for this chapter! Much of the introduction will come from all the information you gathered when you did your literature review. What you want to do is summarize the literature review. As you do so, include enough information to familiarize readers with your topic and to convince them of its importance without extensive details or an in-depth review of individual studies.

Creating an outline You can begin by developing an outline based on the required elements. To do so, first answer each of the following questions (which correlate with required elements 1 through 4 listed at the beginning of this chapter) with one or two sentences:

  • What is happening?
  • Why should we care?
  • What do we know now?
  • What do we need to find out and why? or What do we need to do to address this?

Keep it or delete it

After you’ve answered the questions, read your answers in order. Each answer should connect with what comes before, and all of them should lead you straight to a logical therefore statement.

Therefore, I am going to conduct a study to…

Therefore, I designed a quality improvement project to…

If the answers don’t lead directly to the therefore statement, what’s missing? Where does the connection get lost? If you haven’t gotten the reader to care, then it doesn’t matter what you know and what you want to do. Or maybe now the reader cares but wonders why you need to do this particular study at this particular time, because it doesn’t seem to be the next logical thing to do based on what’s already been done. Or you haven’t shown how the solution you propose could effectively address the problem you’ve identified.  

Here’s an example of what the answers to these questions might be for a dissertation proposal on intimate partner violence (IPV) in the rural setting:

  • What is happening? IPV is a pervasive health and social problem in the United States. One out of three women experience IPV in their lifetime.
  • Why should we care? IPV causes tremendous physical and emotional suffering and even death. It’s costly to individual women and society.
  • What do we know now? Women in the rural setting who experience IPV face unique challenges. Current support and resources are inadequate and ineffective.
  • What do we need to find out and why? There is little research on the lived experience of IPV for women in the rural setting. We need to understand this so we can develop effective services and provide appropriate resources and support.

Therefore, I propose a qualitative descriptive study of the lived experience of women who experience intimate partner violence in the rural setting.

Here’s an example for a scholarly project to decrease the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections in an ICU:

  • What is happening? Rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in the intensive care unit are higher than national benchmarks.
  • Why should we care? CLABSI is associated with higher morbidity rates and a mortality rate of 10% to 20%. It leads to an increased length of stay for the patient and costs the hospital over $28,000 per patient. CLABSI costs the U.S. healthcare system close to 2 billion dollars annually.
  • What do we know now? CLABSIs are preventable. Evidence-based protocols reduce the rate of CLABSIs. The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) toolkit has reduced the national rate of CLABSIs by 41%.
  • What do we need to do to address this? Follow evidence-based protocols in caring for patients with central lines.

Therefore, I am going to lead a team to modify the CUSP toolkit to meet the needs of the ICU and implement it on the unit.

Writing your introduction

How you proceed at this point depends on your own writing work style. Some people prefer to work from a detailed outline. If you do, you can now begin to fill in your answers with more particulars. If you are not an outline type of worker, you can move on to writing the introduction, as described later in this chapter.

Filling in the outline Under each question, list the different pieces of information that you need to add. Depending on your topic and purpose, your outline should include some or all of the following information:

  • Condition, problem, issue
  • Definition or brief description
  • Population affected
  • Epidemiology
  • Where (e.g., United States, globally, developing countries, hospital or community)
  • Mortality rates
  • Local problem (for quality improvement project)
  • Associated concepts necessary to understanding of problem or approach
  • Morbidity and mortality
  • Pain and suffering it causes
  • Economic costs
  • Organization/institution
  • Increasing or worsening?
  • Consequences/impact of local problem
  • Recent research
  • Current treatments or interventions
  • Limitations
  • What do we need to find out and why?
  • Questions that still need to be answered
  • Interventions to be trialed
  • Factors or outcomes in a specific population
  • Benefits to be gained
  • Better patient outcomes
  • More effective interventions
  • Improved services
  • Workforce issues
  • Improved systems

Writing the introduction When you start writing this part of your dissertation, remember that each section is an introduction to the material included. So, don’t get too detailed. The important thing is that you adequately and succinctly cover all these areas. In your Literature Review (Chapter Two), you critically review prior research and cover the individual studies in depth. In the Introduction, in contrast, you present what is known with appropriate citations of the evidence but don’t get into detailed information about that evidence.

In addition, you’ll notice some overlap among the four questions. Don’t try to adhere to a structure that rigidly partitions answers to each question. For example, when you talk about prevalence in answer to the “What is happening?” question, you are beginning to make a case for significance.

What is happening? The first paragraph introduces your topic and makes a brief statement about its significance. Within the first two sentences, the reader should know what the topic is. Don’t take the reader on a roundabout trip to your topic. If your topic is stress incontinence in older women, start with a statement about stress incontinence. Don’t start by talking about the aging of the population and then explain how older people have more problems with incontinence and that there are different types of incontinence, one of which is stress incontinence. Try to get the topic in the first sentence. After we know you’re talking about stress incontinence, you can go on to tell us that it is more common in older women and that its prevalence is increasing with the aging of the population.

Describe the population that is affected and provide statistics on the prevalence:

  • How many people are affected, or how often does it happen?
  • How big is this problem?
  • What population is primarily affected?
  • What are the mortality and morbidity rates?
  • Is the problem increasing, or is its impact becoming greater?

Check with your committee chair about using the name of your facility in your paper.

In a scholarly project, you also have to give the reader background information on the “local problem.” What is happening in your specific setting that compels you to do this quality improvement project? How do you know there is a problem? What is the population affected? What are the consequences of the problem?

Common mistakes

Why should we care? Now that readers know what you’re going to be talking about, you need to convince them of its importance. You do this by talking about its impact on those affected by it and on society. If you haven’t talked about prevalence, an important aspect of a problem’s significance, you’ll want to discuss it here.

The impact on those it affects is the other important aspect of a problem’s significance. Depending on your topic, this may include any of the following:

  • Physical and mental health effects
  • Social implications
  • Economic impact on the individual and society
  • Contribution to healthcare costs
  • Healthcare system implications
  • Patient safety outcomes
  • Impact on the nursing profession

Be careful how and where you talk about the economic costs of a problem. You don’t want it to appear that you are prioritizing cost over people. If your purpose is related to a health systems problem, economic costs may be a primary factor. However, if it is related to a patient outcomes problem, cost may be one of the reasons we should care, but it should not be the primary one. You can make this clear in the wording and where in the text you place information. If it is a patient-related problem, talk about cost last and begin with a transitional phrase such as in addition to or along with [the impact on patients]:

In addition to the decrease in patient suffering and lower risk of death, improving our CLABSI rates will result in significant cost savings to the hospital.

What do we know now? You will have included some of what we know now in answering the first two questions. In answering this question, though, you want to talk about what is known in relation to the specific purpose of your study or project. This will then lead the reader to what we need to find out, which is the knowledge or practice gap that your dissertation or project is trying to fill.

If your study or project is looking to better understand a problem or discover more information about the impact of a problem, then in this section you’ll describe current understanding or information. If you are doing an interventional study or quality improvement project that looks at how to address a problem, you also need to describe what we currently know about what works or doesn’t work (in other words, what’s already been tried and how it worked out).

What do we need to find out and why? Now that you’ve established where we’re at currently, it’s time to let the reader know what the next step should be. This is where you introduce the knowledge or practice gap that you are going to address in your study or project. This will be a shorter version of what you discuss in the literature review, but the same format applies. Use a transitional sentence to move from what is known to what we need to find out or from what is known about a problem to what you are proposing to do about the problem. Then tell the reader why the knowledge or project is necessary.

But remember, keep it brief. One or two sentences should cover it. For example:

Though there is evidence from studies of disenfranchised grief to suggest that parents who experience the death of an estranged son or daughter may suffer complicated grief and receive less support than other bereaved parents, there is little research that explores this experience in this population. Understanding the lived experience of grief after the death of an estranged son or daughter is needed for us to develop effective counseling and support services for these parents.

And finally, what you are going to do:

Therefore, I am going to conduct a qualitative phenomenological study of the meaning of grief in parents following the death of an estranged son or daughter.

Past, present, or future?

PICOT statements You may be directed to write a PICOT problem statement, particularly if you are doing quantitative research or a quality improvement project. Here’s what a PICOT statement covers:

P opulation: Who is the focus of your study or project? I ntervention: What activity/behavior is being tested? C omparison: What group are you comparing your population to? O utcome: What are the outcomes you are examining? T ime: What is the duration of the intervention or study period?

PICOT statement example

Your plan (methodology) After you state your purpose, you need to briefly describe how you propose to accomplish it. If you are doing a research study, your purpose statement usually includes the methodological approach you plan to use (as shown in the preceding examples). You should then describe your design in one or two sentences. Are you going to use a survey? Conduct interviews? Do focus groups? What is the sampling frame? What’s the duration of the project or study period? For example:

Therefore, I propose a discharge follow-up program for heart failure patients that provides biweekly home visits by nurse practitioners for 2 weeks following hospital discharge. I will compare 30-day readmission rates for patients during the 6 months prior to initiation of the program and for the 6 months after initiation of the program.

Research questions Finally, you include your specific research question or questions. This is usually your purpose statement reformulated as a question but may also include additional questions that drill down into more specifics:

What is the lived experience of IPV for women in the context of the rural setting?

What are the IPV-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of healthcare providers in the rural setting?

Will biweekly home visits conducted by nurse practitioners for 2 weeks post hospital discharge reduce readmission rates for heart failure patients?

Does participation in simulation teamwork exercises improve the perception of teamwork among interprofessional operating room staff?

If you have specific hypotheses, you include those in this section as well.

TIP: When you write your objectives

Checking that you’ve covered your purpose statement When you finish the introduction, go back and check that you’ve covered all aspects of your purpose or therefore statement. Break the purpose statement into questions and check that each question is answered, albeit briefly, in the introduction. Not knowing the answer to any of the questions reveals gaps in your thinking or in your review of the literature.

Nothing about your purpose statement should be arbitrary. You should be able to clearly see where it came from: What in the literature or your practice supports your decisions about variables, time duration, and outcome measures?

So, let’s look at the example of the discharge follow-up program for heart failure patients:

Therefore, I propose a discharge follow-up program that provides biweekly home visits by nurse practitioners for 2 weeks following hospital discharge. I will compare 30-day readmission rates for patients during the 6 months prior to initiation of the program and for the 6 months after initiation of the program.

For this purpose statement, you would want to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why look at a discharge follow-up program for HF patients?
  • Why post-discharge home visits as the follow-up intervention?
  • Why make the visits biweekly?
  • Why by nurse practitioners (versus other healthcare personnel)?
  • Why 2 weeks duration following hospital discharge?
  • Why 30-day readmission rates as the outcome measure?

Of course, you will only be able to answer all the questions if your literature review was comprehensive and complete. If you haven’t answered all these questions in the introduction, go back to your literature review and see whether the answers are there. If not, you’ve got to get back into the literature and find them and revise your literature review to include that information before moving on.

Chapter Checkup

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A Nurse's Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Dissertation or Scholarly Project

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