An Introduction to Introductions

We recently covered the major parts of a dissertation and discovered that every dissertation will include an introduction chapter. This is the first chapter your audience will encounter, so you want it to make an impact.

What should an introduction chapter do?

After reading the introduction chapter, your reader should walk away knowing: your topic, your thesis statement, your research question(s) and/or hypotheses, where your research falls within your field, why your research is important, and what the rest of your dissertation will cover. Let’s break each of those elements down.

Topic

One of the first things your reader should understand is your topic. The first few paragraphs of your introduction chapter will present your topic, in general terms, to your audience. This section is also justifying why you should be researching this topic. To write this portion, you can imagine that your advisor asked you, “Why do you want to study this topic?”

Main Argument

After the reader has been introduced to your topic, they need to know the main idea of your project. This encompasses your thesis statement and research question(s) and/or hypotheses. The reader should know, before reading the content chapters of your dissertation, what you are investigating and what you are expecting to find. To write this portion, you can imagine that your favorite committee member has asked you, “What is the main idea of your dissertation?” This portion may come either before or after the academic conversation and academic contribution sections, which we will discuss next, depending on what makes most sense for the logical flow of your chapter.

Academic Conversation

Your committee will want to know where your research falls within the field. Make sure that you cite relevant scholars, articles, and studies that situate your research within the field. This tells your readers 1) that you know what you are talking about (you’ve read the other research!), and 2) that you are able to carry on the conversation taking place in your field. To write this portion, imagine that the chair of your department has asked you, “What scholarship inspired your dissertation project?”

Academic Contribution

Not only does your committee want to know that you can situate your research within existing literature, but they also want to know that you can expand the field! Make sure to state what gap in the literature you are filling. In other words, why is your dissertation important? What makes it a vital contribution to the existing knowledge? To write this portion, imagine that your most intimidating committee member has asked you, “What is the point of your research, and how does this project benefit other scholars?”

Preview

After you have introduced and justified both your topic and your specific research project, preview the rest of the dissertation. This will be a paragraph or section that tells the reader what is covered in each subsequent chapter. To write this portion, imagine that your best friend asked you, “What does each chapter of your dissertation talk about?”

We are always here to consult on your introduction chapter and help you get each part just right! 

An Introduction to Introductions

We recently covered the major parts of a dissertation and discovered that every dissertation will include an introduction chapter. This is the first chapter your audience will encounter, so you

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