Beginning the Introduction to a Dissertation
Many scholars believe it is best to write the introductory chapter last but it is not the last section you should think about since this is the starting point for your research. So, your draft introductory chapter should be written at the earliest possible opportunity. Draft this in tandem with writing your project proposal, even though it will need several revisions and edits before the final version is ready.
Given how important the introduction is, a lot of students still aren’t sure how to approach this chapter. The following are, typically, the main parts of a dissertation introduction and should provide valuable help with the task. These guidelines are intended to help you produce a first-rate, flawless dissertation.
You might also find our article on Methodology for a Dissertation useful.
Background Information on Your Research
This section should appear first in your dissertation introduction. Not only does providing background information on your topic give you a better understanding of it but it will also help your readers understand why your selected research is critical, interesting, important, problematic, etc.
Include all main topic-related concepts here. Doing so will show markers and your course supervisor that you have thoroughly investigated the problem area and understand its different aspects and angles. A dissertation introduction should not merely cover other work that has been undertaken in the field because this will be addressed in more detail in the literature review. Nor should the introduction include details of the research design or the method(s) used for collecting data.
If, for example, your research concerns the satisfaction levels of employees in a particular country, then your introduction should discuss satisfaction levels and how this impacts employees.
The Research Problem
Once the central research problem and its importance are dealt with, presenting the problem statement comes next. This deals with the purpose of and reasons for conducting the research.
This part is often deemed the most important in the introduction chapter of a dissertation. It enables readers to better understand what to expect from your study. The best way to persuade readers to continue reading your paper is to set out your paper’s research problem in the most competent way possible. As the very core of your dissertation, the research problem provides direction and justification for undertaking the study and the issues it will consider.
Let us say your research is addressing employee satisfaction rates in a particular organization. In this case, the problem statement section of your paper should discuss the difficulties faced by that organization and the manner in which your work will assist the organization in resolving its difficulties. If the dissertation is not targeting a particular organization, you can explain the problems that organizations commonly face by not considering employee satisfaction, which is widely seen as a means of growing a business. You could also expand on how your study is designed to help organizations understand how important this is.
Do not cite an excessive number of references in a dissertation introduction because this chapter should explain your reasons for choosing a specific area of study and what your work is attempting to achieve. Use citations only to provide context and the largest portion of related literature should be presented in the appropriate chapter later on.
The Research Question
The research question is the core part of a dissertation introduction. Base this on the research problem you have identified and your paper’s title. Merging both these elements is a great way of formulating a sound research question that is simultaneously manageable and interesting.
A research question is a conundrum your study intends to answer and your entire dissertation revolves around it. Therefore, this question needs to be direct, concise, and specific.
Keep the research question you have chosen to address and answer in your writing to a line or two. Referring back to the earlier scenario of employee satisfaction, an example of a research question might be ‘does employee satisfaction positively impact an employee’s performance and how?’
Once your research question is formulated, you need to draw out its key elements. Use these to begin preparing your paper’s theoretical framework and its literature review chapter. Your research question is something you will revisit several times as you progress towards your project’s conclusion.
On occasion, a research question may be replaced by a simple hypothesis statement, which is proved through analysis, discussion and results. An example of a hypothesis might be ‘employee satisfaction shows a positive link with employee performance.’ Your findings or results could show this statement to be true or false.
Aims/Objectives of Your Research
Describing the aims and the objectives of your research comes next. Statements on these should be broad-ranging and describe the desired outcome of your study. They should reflect your expectations concerning your research work and topic while also addressing the possible outcomes in the long-term.
Statements on aims/objectives should be accurate in the way they describe relevant concepts. These should be highly focused, capable of conveying your intentions regarding your study, while additionally helping to communicate the manner in which you will answer your paper’s research question.
Aims and objectives should be formulated according to your chosen topic, hypothesis or research question. These statements, essentially, expand a research question and are simple in nature. Those are the vehicles used to communicate to readers which aspects of your research you have considered and how you plan to answer the previously stated research question.
Statements of this type usually contain such words as, ‘to study’, ‘to examine’, ‘to evaluate’, ‘to critically evaluate’, ‘to better understand’, ‘to assess’ and so on. Interrelate your paper’s aims and objectives and connect these to your already-formulated research question/problem. Otherwise, their scope may appear too wide-ranging and vague.
Aims/objectives should always be relevant, concise and brief. You will have only a limited number of statements to convey good sense so these should be used wisely. Upon reaching your dissertation’s conclusion, it will be necessary to refer back to the question of whether your work did or did not meet your stated aims and objectives.
Consider how well the analysis, discussion and findings in your paper relate to its stated aim and objectives and whether and how the research you have done has managed to achieve these.
Limitations of Your Research
Sometimes this part is combined with the methods chapter but it is more commonly found in a paper’s introduction. There are certain restrictions or limitations to almost every research project so it is normal if you find your project has limitations of some type.
These limitations may concern your study’s design, data or they may even be of the financial variety. Irrespective of the limitation type(s), these are likely to impact your project, so they should be listed.
It is vital you state any limitations you encountered in the introductory chapter. Doing so helps a supervisor understand the problems you dealt with in the course of your work. Nevertheless, your findings or results should not be influenced by the constraints you encountered. For a dissertation to be considered reliable and authentic, results should never be adversely impacted or compromised.
Once limitations are listed, describe what you did to overcome these – this will give your paper additional credibility. Make it also known that your results were not adversely affected by the limitations you faced and that these are sufficiently accurate and reliable for other scholars to use or refer to.
Creating a dissertation outline is also normal practice as a guide to the remainder of a paper. While much depends on the university, you attend and the subject you are studying, this may also be required in your dissertation proposal.
Your professor or tutor might want an outline to show how you planned your work and the sections you have included. So, use this to indicate your research plan, and your tutor may offer feedback that enables you to make improvements.
An outline usually discusses the sections and/or chapters you intend to include, as well as the elements and concepts covered in each chapter or section. There are typically five chapters or sections in a dissertation as follows:
- Introductory chapter;
- Review of literature;
- Method(s) or methodology;
Please note that results sections and discussion sections are presented separately in some dissertations, resulting in a six-chapter paper. Your dissertation advisor will advise on the format for your dissertation.
You need to describe in your outline what is involved in each chapter/section. Mention the main aspects of every part so that readers have a concise overview of the contents of your paper. This is precisely what you get from the writing service provided by PaperMasters.org. While writing the introduction for a dissertation may appear challenging, the task becomes much simpler once you know and understand the requirements of your project. So, make sure you know what elements are required and spend time on every single one. Include every aspect so that your course supervisor and every other reader will understand the manner in which you plan on undertaking the research you have set yourself.
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You might also find our article on Dissertation Abstract useful.
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