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How to Write an Introduction Chapter for a Dissertation

The introductory chapter for a dissertation is usually comprised of:  

  • Setting the scene: An introductory section normally begins with a broad-ranging statement about the research area, with an emphasis on how important, interesting and/or relevant it is.
  • Background information: Here, you should describe any important studies that have direct relevance to the question or problem you are investigating.
  • Explain any knowledge gaps: This means drawing the readers’ attention to any area where further investigation or research is necessary. This also justifies your reasons for undertaking this particular study.
  • Purpose or reason for the study: This is where you outline the aims and objectives of your research project. Your hypotheses, research problems (or questions) may come afterwards. You may also want to refer here to the benefits or value of your research.
  • Dissertation or thesis outline: The majority of introductions in these types of papers give an outline of the sections or chapters that will follow.   

Phrases You May Find Useful

You may find the following few phrases (with examples) useful when writing the various elements of your introduction:

Setting the Scene:

In recent times, interest has increased in X.

Over the past decade, extensive studies of X have taken place.

On-going concern in relation to X has led to several studies. 

A number of different methods have been used to study X over the course of the past ten years.   

Certain discoveries concerning X have caused a lot of excitement in recent times.

Background to Research:

A number of studies have examined ….

Several research experts have shown that ….

A survey in recent times has proved why X ….

Research or Knowledge Gaps:

Very little effort has been put into ….

Studies like these, however, do not address the question of ….

Nonetheless, little or no attention has been given to X in respect of…

Purpose or Reason for Study:

This important thesis seeks to ….

What this dissertation aims to achieve is …

The primary purpose of this dissertation is ….

Dissertation Outline:

This dissertation has five key sections.

In chapter 3, there is a comprehensive literature review on this problem. The research methodology is described in chapter 4. 

Useful Tip: When reviewing research material, note down any phrases that might prove useful i.e. any phrases similar to the ones listed above. This practice should help improve your scholarly vocabulary and terminology.

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