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Jun 13th 2017

How to Write a Perfect Dissertation Introduction

A dissertation may or may not be submitted to obtain an academic degree, but there's no doubt about its importance. It will be judged on whether (or not) it will make a unique contribution to the university. In this regard, it will take up most of your time. It might take a few years (to finish it) depending on the complexity of the topic. And even the best-laid plans can go awry. You don't have to press the panic button, as guidance will come your way. (You're about to read it.)

It is important to write a killer dissertation introduction, but there's a need to clear the air about something. An introduction is different from the abstract; an introduction will create settings for your research while an abstract is a representation of your (entire) research. In other words, an abstract can stand on its own. You might assume that a scholarly undertaking won't garner attention within the four walls of the university, but you're dead wrong. For one, your introduction can provide a reference to previous research. It will depend on the extent of your investigation (and study) of materials. What would have been studied and proven should justify your research, but let's not get ahead.

A killer introduction must contain the following: The topic; the purpose of your research; and a (possible) gap between previous research and your own.

A Further Study Yields Details

A dissertation introduction must be several pages long, and this is not an exaggeration. You want to make a positive impression, so you have to look at all the possible sources. Let's look at the important points:

You Must Be Able to State the Topic Clearly

It may seem easier said than done, but there are many cases of students writing their dissertation without starting on the introduction. It would be possible if they have read many scholarly texts. There are several advantages of working on the text that you really like. Dissertation writing will be less overwhelming than you've been thinking all this time. Your interest, and possibly your passion, will enable you to figure out the missing link between previous research and yours. You won't consider it as a burden despite those days when you don't feel like doing it at all.

You have to read many academic texts before you come up with a topic. This will take some time, as you must read it thoroughly, even checking out the vocabulary and punctuation. (Creativity may not be called for. After all, you must adhere to certain conventions.) Here's a friendly advice: Avoid using the same terms (or words) over. There's no excuse for this one, as it won't take a minute to look for synonyms (or antonyms).

You Must Be Able to Provide the Context of Your Research

This is a stepping stone for your readers, as they should have a general idea of what to read during the next phase of your dissertation. You would state your topic. Tell your readers about its importance. Let's not get carried away, as this will mean one (and only one) thing. You should say something that hasn't been told (or heard) in academic circles before. Don't forget to acknowledge your sources. (You may not have arrived in that state without looking at previous works.) You can check it out with your tutor, as there might be a difference from his/her expectations and your findings.

You Must Be Clear on All Sides

Your dissertation may be a lengthy research, but it doesn't make it a clever piece of writing. In other words, there's a fair chance that you'll fall into the pit of faulty sentence structure and grammatical mistakes that could have been avoided (if you would stick to short, simple sentences). If you don't have enough faith in your proofreading capabilities, then ask the faculty for a recommendation(s). It doesn't mean that a family member or a friend can't be reliable for a constructive criticism, but your dissertation needs more than a critical eye. You may be missing out on what you have stated in your introduction. Your tutor can refine those gray areas.

Planning Makes It Perfect

You must provide an outline, which will serve as your guide. A dissertation will yield a more specified outline, though. You should show how to deal with those theories (or findings), which will support (or contradict) your argument. If you're at a loss, then start with the basic three: Introduction, Body of work, and Conclusion. A more detailed outcome would prompt you to find out what you're examining (in your chosen text), namely your main arguments (and alternative ones). Lastly, you must differentiate the resolved areas from the unresolved ones.

You must be open about your outline, and your plan as well. It doesn't mean that your original plan isn't good at all, but there may be unexpected happening (or finding) that can turn your dissertation into a better one. As for your introduction, this means looking back at it now and then. You will likely rewrite it, yet there's no guarantee that it will be more interesting than the original draft. Look at it one more time.

You must deal with a setback. It will be natural to be disappointed if your best-laid plan would end up in pieces (of paper). It will only be right to distract yourself momentarily. Keep your eyes on the prize, as you have put enough effort (in securing your degree).

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