How to write a dissertation introduction?
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You have done all your research, and now you have come to the crunch, when you have to sit down and begin writing your dissertation.
The introduction is not merely a description of the contents of your dissertation. In the introduction you will have to briefly outline the research question or hypothesis you are setting out to answer and give a few of the reasons why this is a worthwhile contribution to the body of research which exists on the same broad topic.
You can also, in your introduction, outline some of your main results.
Perhaps, according to your university’s regulations, you will have to write an abstract, and this is a test of your summarizing skills, as the word limit is usually 200 words, although you should again check with your tutor and the department for the word limit requirement. In an abstract you have to outline what your research is about in essence. This will take some time although it is short, as you will need to get all the important features of your work into it. You will probably have to write quite a few drafts before you get it right, so you shouldn’t get down-hearted-everyone has problems with an abstract.
Background to the Research
Your introduction should begin with the background to your research, and this is especially necessary if your work covers more than one field, as you have to satisfy the marker that you have understood the concepts of both, and you need to explain some of the concepts for the marker or examiner whose specialty is only in one of the fields you have covered. This section of the introduction may, in most cases, not be required.
First of all, if you do not need the above-mentioned section, you should state your aims and objectives of your research clearly. You should also give reasons why you chose this particular topic for your research.
Perhaps your research is academic and building on the research work of others; if this is the case, do not be tempted to write a great deal about it here, as this will be covered in the Literature Review section.
You should make this section as clear and concise as possible. You do not have to give the reasons for you choice of research methods here, as this will go into the Methodology section.
Explain your Title
Next you may feel the need to explain the title, most of these have two parts, divided by a colon. You may need to explain the phrase after the colon. For example:- “Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an Additional Language: A Comparison between two Schools in adjoining counties in the UK” In this case you would have to explain why you chose to compare those two schools and state, briefly what the main differences are in teaching methodology.
Research Question(s) or Hypothesis
The next step is that you state the specific research question or hypothesis which you have set out to answer or prove (or disprove). You will come back to this again in your conclusion.
You are almost done with your Introduction now, but can add Exclusions here. These have to be mentioned somewhere and the Introduction is as good a place as any. You could write something like: – “The scope of this research does not lend itself to a consideration of… because of time constraints/space and so on. Or “The focus of this research, unlike that of previous work in this area is on… while most of the other studies carried out in this area have focused on….
The Format of your Dissertation
You will also need to describe the format of the dissertation, outlining, chapter by chapter how it becomes a coherent whole.
You can leave this part until the end if that is how you would prefer to work, although it is a good idea to have mapped out the sections clearly and agreed these with your tutor before you start writing.
Finally you have completed your introduction- a very good start to the dissertation!