Expert Advice on PhD Thesis: How to Write an Introduction

You’ve done the research and now it’s time to write the introduction of your PhD thesis but you’re not sure how to start. Consider the introduction as a roadmap. You are taking the reader on a trip, one you have already been on for years, and you want them to know where you’ve been, where you’re going and why they would want to go too. The introduction is your chance to make a first impression on your reader and you’ve worked too hard to risk making a bad one.

  • Watch Your Language
  • Keep it simple. You are now an expert in a specialized field and have been immersed in your studies for years; however, this is not necessarily true of your reader. Be careful not to use jargon or language specific to your discipline that may alienate the reader.

    Make it interesting. Likewise, while you have a fervid interest in your topic and can see the greater importance in your specialized emphasis, your readers will not have had the same experience. Explain why this topic is important enough to merit the research you have done and why your approach is unique or different.

  • Define the Problem and Solution
  • Acknowledge the past. In order for your reader to understand your approach to the problem you will have to explain what has already been done. Provide a brief overview of the existing research and clarify how your research relates and fulfills what is lacking.

    See the future. Once you have explained how your research satisfies a need in your discipline, address its future applications. How will your field benefit from this research? Will you be able to conduct the research by your own? Excite the reader by explaining how your solution to the problem will contribute to future generations or be a breakthrough in the field.

  • Be a Guide
  • Stay structured. Although the introduction may be more of a narrative than the rest of your thesis, maintain structure. Be sure to include an overview of the chapters, leading the reader through your paper step by step. Also, be sure to present your hypothesis early in your introduction so that the reader can see the connections you are trying to make throughout the dissertation.

    Follow the Guidelines. Most, if not all, universities have strict guidelines about thesis submissions that you should follow exactly. Some guidelines make the introduction optional while others provide a list of information that must be included. Once again, do your research.

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In the end, your goal is to approach your project based on ideas for which you can effectively handle. Again, you will want to complete your work early and have plenty of time to revise and finalize the draft you will submit to the committee.


The best way to succeed in your first post graduate papers is by learning what the university really expects from you.

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