How to write an introduction for thesis
Although the specific structure described here is most relevant for empirical theses, much of the advice is also relevant for theoretical work. Please note that the formal requirements vary between different disciplines, and make sure to confer the guidelines that apply in your field.
For the contents in the various sections you may also confer Organising your writing. Abstract and foreword Most readers will turn first to the abstract. The main objective is to give the reader a good idea of what the thesis is about. In general the abstract should be the last thing that you write, when you know what you have actually written. It is nevertheless a good idea to work on a draft continuously.
Writing a good abstract is difficult, since it should only include the most important points of your work.
But this is also why working on your abstract can be useful — it forces you to identify exactly what it is you are continue reading about. There are usually no formal requirements for forewords, but it is common practice to thank your supervisors, informants, and others who have helped and supported you.
This sentence creates a focus for your paper, so that you do not add any unnecessary information. Remember that a negative conclusion is also valid. While I realize that it may sound a little rigid, I think such an approach is warranted here. Aim to include the following typical content. Re-introduce the project and the need for the work — though more briefly than in the intro; Re-iterate the purpose and specific objectives of your project.
If you have received any grants or research residencies, you should also acknowledge these. Shorter assignments do not require abstracts and forewords. Introduction Your introduction has two main purposes: For a nice, stylistic twist you can reuse a theme from the introduction in your conclusion. For example, you might present a particular scenario in one way in your introduction, and then return to it in your conclusion from a different — richer or contrasting — perspective. Your introduction should include: The background for your choice of theme A discussion of your research question or thesis statement A schematic outline of the remainder of your thesis The sections below discuss each of these elements in turn.
It should make a good impression and convince the reader why the theme is important and your approach relevant. Even so, it should be no longer than necessary. What is considered a relevant background depends on your field and its traditions. Background information might be historical in nature, or it might refer to previous research or practical considerations. You can also focus on a specific text, thinker or problem.
Academic writing often means having a discussion with yourself or some imagined opponent. To open your discussion, there are several options available. You may, for example: In the remainder of your thesis, this kind go here information should be avoided, particularly if it has not been collected systematically.
Do not spend too much time on your background and opening remarks before you have gotten started with the main text. Exercise Write three different opening paragraphs for your thesis using different literary devices For example: Observe to what extent these different openings inspire you, and choose the approach most appropriate to your topic.
For example, do you want to spur emotions, or remain as neutral as possible? How important is the historical background? The exercise can be done in small groups or pairs. Discuss what makes an opening paragraph successful or not. How does your opening paragraph shed light on what is to follow?
Narrowing the scope of your thesis can be time-consuming. Paradoxically, the more you limit the scope, the more interesting it becomes. This is because a narrower scope lets you clarify the problem and study it at greater depth, whereas very broad research questions only allow a superficial treatment. The research question can be formulated as one main question with a few more specific sub-questions or in the form of a hypothesis that will be tested.
Your research question will be your guide as your writing proceeds. If you are working independently, you are also free to modify it as you go along. How do you know that you have drafted a research question? Most importantly, a research question is something that can be answered. If not, you have probably come up with a theme or field, not a question. Others will open up for discussions and different interpretations. Studying causality is methodologically demanding. Feel free to pose partially open questions that allow discussions of the overall theme, e.
It clarifies the structure of your thesis and helps you find the correct focus for your work. The outline can also be used in supervision sessions, especially in the beginning. You might find that you need to restructure your thesis. Working on your outline can then be a good way of making sense of the necessary changes. A good outline shows how the different parts relate to each other, and is a useful guide for the reader. It often makes sense to put the outline at the end of the introduction, but this rule is not set in stone.
What is most click for the reader? The information should come at the right point — not too early and not too late.
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Theory section The theory used in an empirical study is meant to shed light on the data in a scholarly or scientific manner. Here should give insights not achievable by ordinary, everyday reflections.
The main purpose of using theory is to analyse and interpret your data. Therefore, you should not present theoretical perspectives that are not being put to use. Doing so will create false expectations, and suggests that your work is incomplete. Not all theses have a separate theory section.
In the IMRaD format the theory section is included in the introduction, and the second chapter covers the methods used. What kind of theory should you choose? Since the theory is the foundation for your data analysis it can be useful to select a theory that lets you distinguish between, and categorise different phenomena.
Other theories let you develop the various nuances of a phenomenon. In other words, you have a choice of either reducing the complexity of your data or expanding upon something that initially looks simple. How much time and space should you devote to the theory chapter? This is a difficult question.
Some theses dwell too long on theory and never get to the main point: But it is also important to have read enough theory to know what to look for when collecting data. The nature of your research should decide: Some studies do not require much theory, but put more emphasis on the method, while other studies need a rich theory section to enable an interesting discussion.
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Method section In a scholarly research article, the section dealing with method is very important. The same applies to an empirical thesis. For students, this can be a difficult section to write, especially since its purpose may not always be clear. For example, if you have carried out interviews, you do not need to list all the different types of research interview.
You also do not need to describe the differences between quantitative and qualitative methods, or list all different kinds of validity and reliability. What you must do is to show how your choice of design and research method is suited to answering your research question s. Demonstrate that you have given due consideration to the validity and reliability of your chosen method.
This way, the method section is not only able to tie the different parts of your thesis together, it also becomes interesting to read! Show the reader what you have done in your study, and explain why. How did you collect go here data? Which options became available through your chosen approach? What were your working conditions? What considerations did you have to balance? Tell the reader what you did to increase the validity of your research.
How do you know that you have actually investigated what you intended to investigate? What conclusions can be drawn on this basis? Which conclusions are certain and which are more tentative? Can your results be applied in other areas? If not, why not? You should aim to describe weaknesses as well as strengths. An excellent thesis distinguishes itself by defending — and at the same time criticising — the choices made. Analysis Your analysis, along with your discussion, will form the high light of your thesis. This is where you report your findings and present them in a systematic manner. The expectations of the reader have been built up through the other chapters, make sure you fulfill these expectations.
To analyse means to distinguish between different types of phenomena — similar from different. Importantly, by distinguishing between different phenomena, your theory is put to work. Precisely how your analysis should appear, however, is a methodological question. Finding out how best to organise and present your findings may take some time.
In this case it will be important to choose analytical categories that correlate to your chosen theory. Engaging emotions is not the main point, but a way to elucidate the phenomenon so that the reader understands it in a new and better way. Not all theses include a separate chapter for analysis. Discussion In many thesis the discussion is the most important section. Make sure that you allocate enough time and space for a good discussion. This is your opportunity to show that you have understood the significance of your findings and that you are capable of applying theory in an independent manner.
The discussion will consist of argumentation. In other words, you investigate a phenomenon from several different perspectives.
- Introduce your thesis Chapter One is important!
- Pay particular attention to your choice of language:
- For students, this can be a difficult section to write, especially since its purpose may not always be clear.
To discuss means to question your findings, and to consider different interpretations. Here are a few examples of formulations that signal argumentation: On the one hand … and on the other But is it really true that… … on can it also be supposed…? Conclusion — or summing up? The final section of your thesis may take one of several different forms.
Some theses need a conclusion, while for others a summing up will be appropriate. The decisive factor will be the nature of your thesis statement and research question. Open research questions cannot always be answered, but if a definite answer is possible, you must provide a conclusion. The conclusion should answer your research question s. Remember that a negative conclusion is also valid.
A summing up should repeat the most important issues raised in your thesis particularly in the discussionalthough preferably stated in a slightly different way. For example, you could frame the issues within a wider context. Placing your thesis in perspective In the final section you should place your work in a wider, academic perspective and determine any unresolved questions. During the work, you may have encountered new research questions and interesting literature which could have been followed up. At this point, you may point out these possible developments, while making it clear for the reader that they were beyond the framework of your current project.
Briefly discuss your results through a different perspective. All the themes and issues that you raised in your introduction must be referred to again in one way or another.
Although the specific structure described here is most relevant for empirical theses, much of the advice is also relevant for theoretical work. This sentence creates a focus for your paper, so that you do not add any unnecessary information. When to write the introductory chapter Write a preliminary draft of the introduction at the start of the research process. I showed my work to someone that knows about writing. Discussion In many thesis the discussion is the most important section. Many thesis writers struggle with the need to provide adequate contextualizing detail before being able to give a satisfying account of their problem.
If you find out at this stage that your thesis has not tackled an issue that you raised in the introduction, you should go back to the introduction and delete the reference to that issue. An elegant way to structure the text is to use the same textual figure or case in the beginning as well as in the end. When the figure returns in the final section, it will have taken on a new and richer meaning through the insights you have encountered, created in the process of writing.
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