How to emphasize the thesis introduction chapter from the rest of the chapters?

By Priya Chetty on December 16, 2021

The thesis introduction chapter summarises the entire research. It specifies the aim and objectives of the thesis at the outset and explains the research gap. Since it is the opening chapter, it should capture the readers’ interest. In doing so, the researcher faces several challenges like how to avoid repetitive content and what type of recent data to cite. Thus, often it is seen that this chapter of many theses presents many instances of repetitions and significant problems.

Structure and purpose of the thesis introduction

The thesis introduction chapter should:

Although there is no single method of preparing the thesis introduction chapter, its structure is mostly the same as the rest of the chapters.

Structure of the thesis introduction chapter
Figure 1: Structure of the thesis introduction chapter

The main purpose of this chapter is to establish the research territory. It also serves to guide the reader about the uniqueness of the research and how it contributes to the existing knowledge of the subject. The table below shows the main differences between the thesis introduction chapter and the rest of the chapters.

BaseIntroductionLiterature ReviewMethodologyResults and AnalysisDiscussion and Conclusion
MeaningThe introduction refers to the initial representation justifying the need for the study.This chapter is the theoretical background of the study focused on stating the contribution of existing research.The chapter explains the methods, techniques, and tools used for addressing the research problem.The chapter presents the major contribution/ raw results of the thesis by following all stated research methods.This chapter discusses the major findings of the study along with using the results for answering the research questions, stating recommendations, or future studies’ scope.
StructureOutline, background, research problem, research aim, objectives, questions, significance, limitations, and thesis structure.Introduction of the chapter, review of all relevant concepts, empirical review, theoretical/ conceptual framework, and summary.Introduction of the chapter, research design, research method, data collection procedure, data analysis procedure, reliability and validity, ethical considerations, and summary.Introduction of the chapter, Analysis, and summary.Introduction of the chapter, discussion for findings statement, conclusion for answering the research question, recommendations, limitations of the study, and future scope.
PurposeTo engage the reader by providing a brief outline of the concepts that would be discussed in the study.To provide detailed descriptions of all the information already derived from existing research and state the aspects or gaps that will be explored in this study.To explain the techniques used for fulfilling the objectives and addressing the research problem.To state all the results and the contributions made by the thesis.To sum up all information and clear out the aspects addressed in the study along with stating the scope and possible strategies suggestion.

Tips that help to differentiate this section

  • Create an outline of the key aspects you want to present in this chapter.
  • It makes sense to write the thesis introduction chapter after the research is over, rather that at the initial stages. This is especially for studies whose outcomes are unknown and for those whose objectives or hypotheses are not yet clearly defined.
  • Since the thesis introduction is an overview of the entire research, it should be presented in clear, concise, and easy language.
  • The length of the chapter should be restricted to the inclusion of the key aspects of the study. Thus, it should not be more than 8-10% of the thesis length.
  • The thesis introduction chapter presents factual information, including recent statistics that are not presented anywhere in the rest of the thesis.
  • The writing of the thesis introduction should follow the General-Specific-General rule wherein the thesis description should be stated broadly along with narrowed down details of the study.
  • Cite the sources of facts and statistics throughout the chapter.

Avoid making these mistakes

  • Do not prolong the background of the study section. It is easy to get carried away with the length of discussion.
  • Avoid over citations that would distract the reader.
  • Avoid talking about the working mechanism, the existing literature, or major findings.
  • Avoid using the technicalities of the study in focus.
  • Assumptions about the reader’s knowledge level should not be made. Therefore, all the information used in the chapter should be clearly defined.

References

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