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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction
Published on September 7, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 21, 2023.
The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic .
Your introduction should include:
- Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
- Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
- The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
- Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
- An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?
Table of contents
How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about introductions.
Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write — in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).
It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.
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Begin by introducing your dissertation topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualize your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.
After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.
You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:
- Geographical area
- Time period
- Demographics or communities
- Themes or aspects of the topic
It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.
Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.
Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.
Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:
- Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
- Addresses a gap in the literature
- Builds on existing research
- Proposes a new understanding of your topic
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Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.
If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .
- Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
- Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
- Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.
To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.
Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.
Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.
I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.
I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.
I have clearly specified the focus of my research.
I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .
I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.
I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .
I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .
You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.
If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
and your problem statement
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an overview of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.
They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.
Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .
Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.
Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .
To define your scope of research, consider the following:
- Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
- Your proposed timeline and duration
- Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
- Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
- Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.
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Writing a dissertation or thesis proposal, what is a proposal, what is the purpose of a proposal.
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The proposal, sometimes called the prospectus, is composed mainly of the Introduction, Research Questions, Literature Review, Research Significance and Methodology. It may also include a dissertation/thesis outline and a timeline for your proposed research. You will be able to reuse the proposal when you actually write the entire dissertation or thesis.
In the graduate student timeline, the proposal comes after successfully passing qualifying or comprehensive exams and before starting the research for a dissertation or thesis.
Each UNT department has slightly different proposal requirements, so be sure to check with your advisor or the department's graduate advisor before you start!
- Examples of Proposals from UTexas More than 20 completed dissertation proposals are available to read at the UT Intellectual Entrepreneurship website.
- Dissertation Proposal Guidelines This document from the Department of Communication at the University of Washington is a good example of what you might be expected to include in a proposal.
The purpose of a proposal is to convince your dissertation or thesis committee that you are ready to start your research project and to create a plan for your dissertation or thesis work. You will submit your proposal to your committee for review and then you will do your proposal defense, during which you present your plan and the committee asks questions about it. The committee wants to know if your research questions have academic merit and whether you have chosen the right methods to answer the questions.
- How to Prepare a Successful Dissertation Proposal Defense Some general tips for a proposal defense from synonym.com
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Writing a dissertation proposal.
What is a dissertation proposal?
Dissertation proposals are like the table of contents for your research project , and will help you explain what it is you intend to examine, and roughly, how you intend to go about collecting and analysing your data. You won’t be required to have everything planned out exactly, as your topic may change slightly in the course of your research, but for the most part, writing your proposal should help you better identify the direction for your dissertation.
When you’ve chosen a topic for your dissertation , you’ll need to make sure that it is both appropriate to your field of study and narrow enough to be completed by the end of your course. Your dissertation proposal will help you define and determine both of these things and will also allow your department and instructors to make sure that you are being advised by the best person to help you complete your research.
A dissertation proposal should include:
- An introduction to your dissertation topic
- Aims and objectives of your dissertation
- A literature review of the current research undertaken in your field
- Proposed methodology to be used
- Implications of your research
- Limitations of your research
Although this content all needs to be included in your dissertation proposal, it isn’t set in stone so it can be changed later if necessary, depending on your topic of study, university or degree. Think of your dissertation proposal as more of a guide to writing your dissertation rather than something to be strictly adhered to – this will be discussed later.
Why is a dissertation proposal important?
A dissertation proposal is very important because it helps shape the actual dissertation, which is arguably the most important piece of writing a postgraduate student will undertake. By having a well-structured dissertation proposal, you will have a strong foundation for your dissertation and a good template to follow. The dissertation itself is key to postgraduate success as it will contribute to your overall grade. Writing your dissertation will also help you to develop research and communication skills, which could become invaluable in your employment success and future career. By making sure you’re fully briefed on the current research available in your chosen dissertation topic, as well as keeping details of your bibliography up to date, you will be in a great position to write an excellent dissertation.
Next, we’ll be outlining things you can do to help you produce the best postgraduate dissertation proposal possible.
How to begin your dissertation proposal
1. Narrow the topic down
It’s important that when you sit down to draft your proposal, you’ve carefully thought out your topic and are able to narrow it down enough to present a clear and succinct understanding of what you aim to do and hope to accomplish in your dissertation.
How do I decide on a dissertation topic?
A simple way to begin choosing a topic for your dissertation is to go back through your assignments and lectures. Was there a topic that stood out to you? Was there an idea that wasn’t fully explored? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you have a great starting point! If not, then consider one of your more personal interests. Use Google Scholar to explore studies and journals on your topic to find any areas that could go into more detail or explore a more niche topic within your personal interest.
Keep track of all publications
It’s important to keep track of all the publications that you use while you research. You can use this in your literature review.
You need to keep track of:
- The title of the study/research paper/book/journal
- Who wrote/took part in the study/research paper
- Chapter title
- Page number(s)
The more research you do, the more you should be able to narrow down your topic and find an interesting area to focus on. You’ll also be able to write about everything you find in your literature review which will make your proposal stronger.
While doing your research, consider the following:
- When was your source published? Is the information outdated? Has new information come to light since?
- Can you determine if any of the methodologies could have been carried out more efficiently? Are there any errors or gaps?
- Are there any ethical concerns that should be considered in future studies on the same topic?
- Could anything external (for example new events happening) have influenced the research?
Read more about picking a topic for your dissertation .
How long should the dissertation proposal be?
Aiming for 1,000 words or more, your dissertation proposal will give an outline of the topic of your dissertation, some of the questions you hope to answer with your research, what sort of studies and type of data you aim to employ in your research, and the sort of analysis you will carry out.
Different courses may have different requirements for things like length and the specific information to include, as well as what structure is preferred, so be sure to check what special requirements your course has.
2. What should I include in a dissertation proposal?
The introduction will state your central research question and give background on the subject, as well as relating it contextually to any broader issues surrounding it. Read more about picking a topic for your dissertation .
The dissertation proposal introduction should outline exactly what you intend to investigate in your final research project.
Make sure you outline the structure of the dissertation proposal in your introduction, i.e. part one covers methodology, part two covers a literature review, part three covers research limitations, and so forth.
The dissertation methodology will break down what sources you aim to use for your research and what sort of data you will collect from it, either quantitative or qualitative. You may also want to include how you will analyse the data you gather and what, if any, bias there may be in your chosen methods.
Depending on the level of detail that your specific course requires, you may also want to explain why your chosen approaches to gathering data are more appropriate to your research than others.
Consider and explain how you will conduct empirical research. For example, will you use interviews? Surveys? Observation? Lab experiments?
In your dissertation methodology, outline the variables that you will measure in your research and how you will select your data or participant sample to ensure valid results.
Finally, are there any specific tools that you will use for your methodology? If so, make sure you provide this information in the methodology section of your dissertation proposal.
- Aims and objectives
Your dissertation proposal should also include the aims and objectives of your research. Be sure to state what your research hopes to achieve, as well as what outcomes you predict. You may also need to clearly state what your main research objectives are, in other words, how you plan to obtain those achievements and outcomes.
Your aim should not be too broad but should equally not be too specific.
An example of a dissertation aim could be: ‘To examine the key content features and social contexts that construct successful viral marketing content distribution on Twitter’.
In comparison, an example of a dissertation aim that is perhaps too broad would be: ‘‘To investigate how things go viral on Twitter’.
The aim of your dissertation proposal should relate directly to your research question.
- Literature review
The literature review will list the books and materials that you used to do your research. This is where you can list materials that gave you more background on your topic, or contain research carried out previously that you referred to in your own studies.
The literature review is also a good place to demonstrate how your research connects to previous academic studies and how your methods may differ from or build upon those used by other researchers. While it’s important to give enough information about the materials to show that you have read and understood them, don’t forget to include your analysis of their value to your work.
Where there are shortfalls in other pieces of academic work, identify these and address how you will overcome these shortcomings in your own research.
Constraints and limitations of your research
Lastly, you will also need to include the constraints of your research. Many topics will have broad links to numerous larger and more complex issues, so by clearly stating the constraints of your research, you are displaying your understanding and acknowledgment of these larger issues, and the role they play by focusing your research on just one section or part of the subject.
In this section it is important to Include examples of possible limitations, for example, issues with sample size, participant drop out, lack of existing research on the topic, time constraints, and other factors that may affect your study.
- Ethical considerations
Confidentiality and ethical concerns are an important part of any research.
Ethics are key, as your dissertation will need to undergo ethical approval if you are working with participants. This means that it’s important to allow for and explain ethical considerations in your dissertation proposal.
Keep confidentiality in mind and keep your participants informed, so they are aware of how the data provided is being used and are assured that all personal information is being kept confidential.
Consider how involved your patients will be with your research, this will help you think about what ethical considerations to take and discuss them fully in your dissertation proposal. For example, face-to-face participant interview methods could require more ethical measures and confidentiality considerations than methods that do not require participants, such as corpus data (a collection of existing written texts) analysis.
3. Dissertation proposal example
Once you know what sections you need or do not need to include, it may help focus your writing to break the proposal up into separate headings, and tackle each piece individually. You may also want to consider including a title. Writing a title for your proposal will help you make sure that your topic is narrow enough, as well as help keep your writing focused and on topic.
One example of a dissertation proposal structure is using the following headings, either broken up into sections or chapters depending on the required word count:
- Research constraints
In any dissertation proposal example, you’ll want to make it clear why you’re doing the research and what positives could come from your contribution.
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Dissertations 1: getting started: writing a proposal.
- Starting Your Dissertation
- Choosing A Topic and Researching
- Devising An Approach/Method
- Thinking Of A Title
- Writing A Proposal
What is a Proposal?
Before you start your dissertation, you may be asked to write a proposal for it.
The purpose of a dissertation proposal is to provide a snapshot of what your study involves. Usually, after submission of the proposal you will be assigned a supervisor who has some expertise in your field of study. You should receive feedback on the viability of the topic, how to focus the scope, research methods, and other issues you should consider before progressing in your research.
The research proposal should present the dissertation topic, justify your reasons for choosing it and outline how you are going to research it . You'll have to keep it brief, as word counts can vary from anywhere between 800 to 3,000 words at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels.
It is worth bearing in mind that you are not bound by your proposal. Your project is likely going to evolve and may move in a new direction . Your dissertation supervisor is aware that this may occur as you delve deeper into the literature in your field of study. Nevertheless, always discuss any major developments with your supervisor in the first instance.
Reading for your Proposal
Before writing a proposal, you will need to read. A lot! But that doesn’t mean you must read everything. Be targeted! What do you really need to know?
Instead of reading every page in every book, look for clues in chapter titles and introductions to narrow your focus down. Use abstracts from journal articles to check whether the material is relevant to your study and keep notes of your reading along with clear records of bibliographic information and page numbers for your references.
Ultimately, your objective should be to create a dialogue between the theories and ideas you have read and your own thoughts. What is your personal perspective on the topic? What evidence is there that supports your point of view? Furthermore, you should ask questions about each text. Is it current or is it outdated? What argument is the author making? Is the author biased?
Approaching your reading in this way ensures that you engage with the literature critically. You will demonstrate that you have done this in your mini literature review (see Proposal Structure box).
If you have not yet started reading for your proposal, the Literature Review Guide offers advice on choosing a topic and how to conduct a literature search. Additionally, the Effective Reading Guide provides tips on researching and critical reading.
So, how is a dissertation proposal typically structured? The structure of a proposal varies considerably.
This is a list of elements that might be required. Please check the dissertation proposal requirements and marking criteria on Blackboard or with your lecturers if you are unsure about the requirements.
Title : The title you have devised, so far - it can change throughout the dissertation drafting process! A good title is simple but fairly specific. Example: "Focus and concentration during revision: an evaluation of the Pomodoro technique."
Introduction/Background : Provides background and presents the key issues of your proposed research. Can include the following:
Rationale : Why is this research being undertaken, why is it interesting and worthwhile, also considering the existing literature?
Purpose : What do you intend to accomplish with your study, e.g. improve something or understand something?
Research question : The main, overarching question your study seeks to answer. E.g. "How can focus and concentration be improved during revision?"
Hypothesis : Quantitative studies can use hypotheses in alternative to research questions. E.g. "Taking regular breaks significantly increases the ability to memorise information."
Aim : The main result your study seeks to achieve. If you use a research question, the aim echoes that, but uses an infinitive. E.g. "The aim of this research is to investigate how can focus and concentration be improved during revision."
Objectives : The stepping stones to achieve your aim. E.g. "The objectives of this research are 1) to review the literature on study techniques; 2) to identify the factors that influence focus and concentration; 3) to undertake an experiment on the Pomodoro technique with student volunteers; 4) to issue recommendations on focus and concentration for revision."
Literature review : Overview of significant literature around the research topic, moving from general (background) to specific (your subject of study). Highlight what the literature says, and does not say, on the research topic, identifying a gap(s) that your research aims to fill.
Methods : Here you consider what methods you are planning to use for your research, and why you are thinking of them. What secondary sources (literature) are you going to consult? Are you going to use primary sources (e.g. data bases, statistics, interviews, questionnaires, experiments)? Are you going to focus on a case study? Is the research going to be qualitative or quantitative? Consider if your research will need ethical clearance.
Significance/Implications/Expected outcomes : In this section you reiterate what are you hoping to demonstrate. State how your research could contribute to debates in your particular subject area, perhaps filling a gap(s) in the existing works.
Plan of Work : You might be asked to present your timeline for completing the dissertation. The timeline can be presented using different formats such as bullet points, table, Gantt chart. Whichever format you use, your plan of work should be realistic and should demonstrate awareness of the various elements of the study such as literature research, empirical work, drafting, re-drafting, etc.
Outline : Here you include a provisional table of contents for your dissertation. The structure of the dissertation can be free or prescribed by the dissertation guidelines of your course, so check that up.
Reference List : The list should include the bibliographical information of all the sources you cited in the proposal, listed in alphabetical order.
Most of the elements mentioned above are explained in the tabs of this guide!
Literature-based dissertations in the humanities
A literature-based dissertation in the humanities, however, might be less rigidly structured and may look like this:
- Short introduction including background information on your topic, why it is relevant and how it fits into the literature.
- Main body which outlines how you will organise your chapters .
- Conclusion which states what you hope your study will achieve.
- Bibliography .
Check your proposal!
Have you shown that your research idea is:
Feasible with the timeframe and resources available?
Identified a clear research gap to focus on?
Stated why your study is important?
Selected a methodology that will enable you to gather the data you need?
Use the marking criteria for dissertation proposals provided by your department to check your work.
Locke, L.F., Spirduso, W.W. and Silverman, S.J. (2014). Proposals that Work: A Guide for Planning Dissertations and Grant Proposals . Sage.
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How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Chapter:
The 7 essential ingredients of an a-grade introduction.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA). Reviewed By Dr Eunice Rautenbach (D. Tech) | March 2020
If you’re reading this, you’re probably at the daunting early phases of writing up the introduction chapter of your dissertation or thesis. It can be intimidating, I know.
In this post, we’ll look at the 7 essential ingredients of a strong dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, as well as the essential things you need to keep in mind as you craft each section. We’ll also share some useful tips to help you optimize your approach.
Overview: How To Write An Introduction Chapter
- Understand the purpose and function of the intro chapter
- Craft an enticing and engaging opening section
- Provide a background and context to the study
- Clearly define the research problem
- State your research aims, objectives and questions
- Explain the significance of your study
- Identify the limitations of your research
- Outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis
A quick sidenote:
You’ll notice that I’ve used the words dissertation and thesis interchangeably. While these terms reflect different levels of research – for example, Masters vs PhD-level research – the introduction chapter generally contains the same 7 essential ingredients regardless of level. So, in this post, dissertation introduction equals thesis introduction.
Start with why.
To craft a high-quality dissertation or thesis introduction chapter, you need to understand exactly what this chapter needs to achieve. In other words, what’s its purpose ? As the name suggests, the introduction chapter needs to introduce the reader to your research so that they understand what you’re trying to figure out, or what problem you’re trying to solve. More specifically, you need to answer four important questions in your introduction chapter.
These questions are:
- What will you be researching? (in other words, your research topic)
- Why is that worthwhile? (in other words, your justification)
- What will the scope of your research be? (in other words, what will you cover and what won’t you cover)
- What will the limitations of your research be? (in other words, what will the potential shortcomings of your research be?)
Simply put, your dissertation’s introduction chapter needs to provide an overview of your planned research , as well as a clear rationale for it. In other words, this chapter has to explain the “what” and the “why” of your research – what’s it all about and why’s that important.
Simple enough, right?
Well, the trick is finding the appropriate depth of information. As the researcher, you’ll be extremely close to your topic and this makes it easy to get caught up in the minor details. While these intricate details might be interesting, you need to write your introduction chapter on more of a “need-to-know” type basis, or it will end up way too lengthy and dense. You need to balance painting a clear picture with keeping things concise. Don’t worry though – you’ll be able to explore all the intricate details in later chapters.
Now that you understand what you need to achieve from your introduction chapter, we can get into the details. While the exact requirements for this chapter can vary from university to university, there are seven core components that most universities will require. We call these the seven essential ingredients .
The 7 Essential Ingredients
- The opening section – where you’ll introduce the reader to your research in high-level terms
- The background to the study – where you’ll explain the context of your project
- The research problem – where you’ll explain the “gap” that exists in the current research
- The research aims , objectives and questions – where you’ll clearly state what your research will aim to achieve
- The significance (or justification) – where you’ll explain why your research is worth doing and the value it will provide to the world
- The limitations – where you’ll acknowledge the potential limitations of your project and approach
- The structure – where you’ll briefly outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis to help orient the reader
By incorporating these seven essential ingredients into your introduction chapter, you’ll comprehensively cover both the “ what ” and the “ why ” I mentioned earlier – in other words, you’ll achieve the purpose of the chapter.
Side note – you can also use these 7 ingredients in this order as the structure for your chapter to ensure a smooth, logical flow. This isn’t essential, but, generally speaking, it helps create an engaging narrative that’s easy for your reader to understand. If you’d like, you can also download our free introduction chapter template here.
Alright – let’s look at each of the ingredients now.
#1 – The Opening Section
The very first essential ingredient for your dissertation introduction is, well, an introduction or opening section. Just like every other chapter, your introduction chapter needs to start by providing a brief overview of what you’ll be covering in the chapter.
This section needs to engage the reader with clear, concise language that can be easily understood and digested. If the reader (your marker!) has to struggle through it, they’ll lose interest, which will make it harder for you to earn marks. Just because you’re writing an academic paper doesn’t mean you can ignore the basic principles of engaging writing used by marketers, bloggers, and journalists. At the end of the day, you’re all trying to sell an idea – yours is just a research idea.
So, what goes into this opening section?
Well, while there’s no set formula, it’s a good idea to include the following four foundational sentences in your opening section:
1 – A sentence or two introducing the overall field of your research.
“Organisational skills development involves identifying current or potential skills gaps within a business and developing programs to resolve these gaps. Management research, including X, Y and Z, has clearly established that organisational skills development is an essential contributor to business growth.”
2 – A sentence introducing your specific research problem.
“However, there are conflicting views and an overall lack of research regarding how best to manage skills development initiatives in highly dynamic environments where subject knowledge is rapidly and continuously evolving – for example, in the website development industry.”
3 – A sentence stating your research aims and objectives.
“This research aims to identify and evaluate skills development approaches and strategies for highly dynamic industries in which subject knowledge is continuously evolving.”.
4 – A sentence outlining the layout of the chapter.
“This chapter will provide an introduction to the study by first discussing the background and context, followed by the research problem, the research aims, objectives and questions, the significance and finally, the limitations.”
As I mentioned, this opening section of your introduction chapter shouldn’t be lengthy . Typically, these four sentences should fit neatly into one or two paragraphs, max. What you’re aiming for here is a clear, concise introduction to your research – not a detailed account.
PS – If some of this terminology sounds unfamiliar, don’t stress – I’ll explain each of the concepts later in this post.
#2 – Background to the study
Now that you’ve provided a high-level overview of your dissertation or thesis, it’s time to go a little deeper and lay a foundation for your research topic. This foundation is what the second ingredient is all about – the background to your study.
So, what is the background section all about?
Well, this section of your introduction chapter should provide a broad overview of the topic area that you’ll be researching, as well as the current contextual factors . This could include, for example, a brief history of the topic, recent developments in the area, key pieces of research in the area and so on. In other words, in this section, you need to provide the relevant background information to give the reader a decent foundational understanding of your research area.
Let’s look at an example to make this a little more concrete.
If we stick with the skills development topic I mentioned earlier, the background to the study section would start by providing an overview of the skills development area and outline the key existing research. Then, it would go on to discuss how the modern-day context has created a new challenge for traditional skills development strategies and approaches. Specifically, that in many industries, technical knowledge is constantly and rapidly evolving, and traditional education providers struggle to keep up with the pace of new technologies.
Importantly, you need to write this section with the assumption that the reader is not an expert in your topic area. So, if there are industry-specific jargon and complex terminology, you should briefly explain that here , so that the reader can understand the rest of your document.
Don’t make assumptions about the reader’s knowledge – in most cases, your markers will not be able to ask you questions if they don’t understand something. So, always err on the safe side and explain anything that’s not common knowledge.
#3 – The research problem
Now that you’ve given your reader an overview of your research area, it’s time to get specific about the research problem that you’ll address in your dissertation or thesis. While the background section would have eluded to a potential research problem (or even multiple research problems), the purpose of this section is to narrow the focus and highlight the specific research problem you’ll focus on.
But, what exactly is a research problem, you ask?
Well, a research problem can be any issue or question for which there isn’t already a well-established and agreed-upon answer in the existing research. In other words, a research problem exists when there’s a need to answer a question (or set of questions), but there’s a gap in the existing literature , or the existing research is conflicting and/or inconsistent.
So, to present your research problem, you need to make it clear what exactly is missing in the current literature and why this is a problem . It’s usually a good idea to structure this discussion into three sections – specifically:
- What’s already well-established in the literature (in other words, the current state of research)
- What’s missing in the literature (in other words, the literature gap)
- Why this is a problem (in other words, why it’s important to fill this gap)
Let’s look at an example of this structure using the skills development topic.
Organisational skills development is critically important for employee satisfaction and company performance (reference). Numerous studies have investigated strategies and approaches to manage skills development programs within organisations (reference).
(this paragraph explains what’s already well-established in the literature)
However, these studies have traditionally focused on relatively slow-paced industries where key skills and knowledge do not change particularly often. This body of theory presents a problem for industries that face a rapidly changing skills landscape – for example, the website development industry – where new platforms, languages and best practices emerge on an extremely frequent basis.
(this paragraph explains what’s missing from the literature)
As a result, the existing research is inadequate for industries in which essential knowledge and skills are constantly and rapidly evolving, as it assumes a slow pace of knowledge development. Industries in such environments, therefore, find themselves ill-equipped in terms of skills development strategies and approaches.
(this paragraph explains why the research gap is problematic)
As you can see in this example, in a few lines, we’ve explained (1) the current state of research, (2) the literature gap and (3) why that gap is problematic. By doing this, the research problem is made crystal clear, which lays the foundation for the next ingredient.
#4 – The research aims, objectives and questions
Now that you’ve clearly identified your research problem, it’s time to identify your research aims and objectives , as well as your research questions . In other words, it’s time to explain what you’re going to do about the research problem.
So, what do you need to do here?
Well, the starting point is to clearly state your research aim (or aims) . The research aim is the main goal or the overarching purpose of your dissertation or thesis. In other words, it’s a high-level statement of what you’re aiming to achieve.
Let’s look at an example, sticking with the skills development topic:
“Given the lack of research regarding organisational skills development in fast-moving industries, this study will aim to identify and evaluate the skills development approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK”.
As you can see in this example, the research aim is clearly outlined, as well as the specific context in which the research will be undertaken (in other words, web development companies in the UK).
Next up is the research objective (or objectives) . While the research aims cover the high-level “what”, the research objectives are a bit more practically oriented, looking at specific things you’ll be doing to achieve those research aims.
Let’s take a look at an example of some research objectives (ROs) to fit the research aim.
- RO1 – To identify common skills development strategies and approaches utilised by web development companies in the UK.
- RO2 – To evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies and approaches.
- RO3 – To compare and contrast these strategies and approaches in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.
As you can see from this example, these objectives describe the actions you’ll take and the specific things you’ll investigate in order to achieve your research aims. They break down the research aims into more specific, actionable objectives.
The final step is to state your research questions . Your research questions bring the aims and objectives another level “down to earth”. These are the specific questions that your dissertation or theses will seek to answer. They’re not fluffy, ambiguous or conceptual – they’re very specific and you’ll need to directly answer them in your conclusions chapter .
The research questions typically relate directly to the research objectives and sometimes can look a bit obvious, but they are still extremely important. Let’s take a look at an example of the research questions (RQs) that would flow from the research objectives I mentioned earlier.
- RQ1 – What skills development strategies and approaches are currently being used by web development companies in the UK?
- RQ2 – How effective are each of these strategies and approaches?
- RQ3 – What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these strategies and approaches?
As you can see, the research questions mimic the research objectives , but they are presented in question format. These questions will act as the driving force throughout your dissertation or thesis – from the literature review to the methodology and onward – so they’re really important.
A final note about this section – it’s really important to be clear about the scope of your study (more technically, the delimitations ). In other words, what you WILL cover and what you WON’T cover. If your research aims, objectives and questions are too broad, you’ll risk losing focus or investigating a problem that is too big to solve within a single dissertation.
Simply put, you need to establish clear boundaries in your research. You can do this, for example, by limiting it to a specific industry, country or time period. That way, you’ll ringfence your research, which will allow you to investigate your topic deeply and thoroughly – which is what earns marks!
Need a helping hand?
#5 – Significance
Now that you’ve made it clear what you’ll be researching, it’s time to make a strong argument regarding your study’s importance and significance . In other words, now that you’ve covered the what, it’s time to cover the why – enter essential ingredient number 5 – significance.
Of course, by this stage, you’ve already briefly alluded to the importance of your study in your background and research problem sections, but you haven’t explicitly stated how your research findings will benefit the world . So, now’s your chance to clearly state how your study will benefit either industry , academia , or – ideally – both . In other words, you need to explain how your research will make a difference and what implications it will have.
Let’s take a look at an example.
“This study will contribute to the body of knowledge on skills development by incorporating skills development strategies and approaches for industries in which knowledge and skills are rapidly and constantly changing. This will help address the current shortage of research in this area and provide real-world value to organisations operating in such dynamic environments.”
As you can see in this example, the paragraph clearly explains how the research will help fill a gap in the literature and also provide practical real-world value to organisations.
This section doesn’t need to be particularly lengthy, but it does need to be convincing . You need to “sell” the value of your research here so that the reader understands why it’s worth committing an entire dissertation or thesis to it. This section needs to be the salesman of your research. So, spend some time thinking about the ways in which your research will make a unique contribution to the world and how the knowledge you create could benefit both academia and industry – and then “sell it” in this section.
#6 – The limitations
Now that you’ve “sold” your research to the reader and hopefully got them excited about what’s coming up in the rest of your dissertation, it’s time to briefly discuss the potential limitations of your research.
But you’re probably thinking, hold up – what limitations? My research is well thought out and carefully designed – why would there be limitations?
Well, no piece of research is perfect . This is especially true for a dissertation or thesis – which typically has a very low or zero budget, tight time constraints and limited researcher experience. Generally, your dissertation will be the first or second formal research project you’ve ever undertaken, so it’s unlikely to win any research awards…
Simply put, your research will invariably have limitations. Don’t stress yourself out though – this is completely acceptable (and expected). Even “professional” research has limitations – as I said, no piece of research is perfect. The key is to recognise the limitations upfront and be completely transparent about them, so that future researchers are aware of them and can improve the study’s design to minimise the limitations and strengthen the findings.
Generally, you’ll want to consider at least the following four common limitations. These are:
- Your scope – for example, perhaps your focus is very narrow and doesn’t consider how certain variables interact with each other.
- Your research methodology – for example, a qualitative methodology could be criticised for being overly subjective, or a quantitative methodology could be criticised for oversimplifying the situation (learn more about methodologies here ).
- Your resources – for example, a lack of time, money, equipment and your own research experience.
- The generalisability of your findings – for example, the findings from the study of a specific industry or country can’t necessarily be generalised to other industries or countries.
Don’t be shy here. There’s no use trying to hide the limitations or weaknesses of your research. In fact, the more critical you can be of your study, the better. The markers want to see that you are aware of the limitations as this demonstrates your understanding of research design – so be brutal.
#7 – The structural outline
Now that you’ve clearly communicated what your research is going to be about, why it’s important and what the limitations of your research will be, the final ingredient is the structural outline.The purpose of this section is simply to provide your reader with a roadmap of what to expect in terms of the structure of your dissertation or thesis.
In this section, you’ll need to provide a brief summary of each chapter’s purpose and contents (including the introduction chapter). A sentence or two explaining what you’ll do in each chapter is generally enough to orient the reader. You don’t want to get too detailed here – it’s purely an outline, not a summary of your research.
Let’s look at an example:
In Chapter One, the context of the study has been introduced. The research objectives and questions have been identified, and the value of such research argued. The limitations of the study have also been discussed.
In Chapter Two, the existing literature will be reviewed and a foundation of theory will be laid out to identify key skills development approaches and strategies within the context of fast-moving industries, especially technology-intensive industries.
In Chapter Three, the methodological choices will be explored. Specifically, the adoption of a qualitative, inductive research approach will be justified, and the broader research design will be discussed, including the limitations thereof.
So, as you can see from the example, this section is simply an outline of the chapter structure, allocating a short paragraph to each chapter. Done correctly, the outline will help your reader understand what to expect and reassure them that you’ll address the multiple facets of the study.
By the way – if you’re unsure of how to structure your dissertation or thesis, be sure to check out our video post which explains dissertation structure .
Keep calm and carry on.
Hopefully you feel a bit more prepared for this challenge of crafting your dissertation or thesis introduction chapter now. Take a deep breath and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – conquer one ingredient at a time and you’ll be firmly on the path to success.
Let’s quickly recap – the 7 ingredients are:
- The opening section – where you give a brief, high-level overview of what your research will be about.
- The study background – where you introduce the reader to key theory, concepts and terminology, as well as the context of your study.
- The research problem – where you explain what the problem with the current research is. In other words, the research gap.
- The research aims , objectives and questions – where you clearly state what your dissertation will investigate.
- The significance – where you explain what value your research will provide to the world.
- The limitations – where you explain what the potential shortcomings and limitations of your research may be.
- The structural outline – where you provide a high-level overview of the structure of your document
If you bake these ingredients into your dissertation introduction chapter, you’ll be well on your way to building an engaging introduction chapter that lays a rock-solid foundation for the rest of your document.
Remember, while we’ve covered the essential ingredients here, there may be some additional components that your university requires, so be sure to double-check your project brief!
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident enough in undertaking my thesis on the survey;The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction
Glad to hear that. Good luck with your thesis!
Thanks very much for such an insight. I feel confident now undertaking my thesis; The future of facial recognition and learning non verbal interaction.
Thanks so much for this article. I found myself struggling and wasting a lot of time in my thesis writing but after reading this article and watching some of your youtube videos, I now have a clear understanding of what is required for a thesis.
Thank you Derek, i find your each post so useful. Keep it up.
Thank you so much Derek ,for shedding the light and making it easier for me to handle the daunting task of academic writing .
Thanks do much Dereck for the comprehensive guide. It will assist me queit a lot in my thesis.
thanks a lot for helping
i LOVE the gifs, such a fun way to engage readers. thanks for the advice, much appreciated
Thanks a lot Derek! It will be really useful to the beginner in research!
This is a well written, easily comprehensible, simple introduction to the basics of a Research Dissertation../the need to keep the reader in mind while writing the dissertation is an important point that is covered../ I appreciate the efforts of the author../
The instruction given are perfect and clear. I was supposed to take the course , unfortunately in Nepal the service is not avaialble.However, I am much more hopeful that you will provide require documents whatever you have produced so far.
Thank you very much
Thanks so much ❤️😘 I feel am ready to start writing my research methodology
This is genuinely the most effective advice I have ever been given regarding academia. Thank you so much!
This is one of the best write up I have seen in my road to PhD thesis. regards, this write up update my knowledge of research
I was looking for some good blogs related to Education hopefully your article will help. Thanks for sharing.
This is an awesome masterpiece. It is one of the most comprehensive guides to writing a Dissertation/Thesis I have seen and read.
You just saved me from going astray in writing a Dissertation for my undergraduate studies. I could not be more grateful for such a relevant guide like this. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much Derek, this has been extremely helpful!!
I do have one question though, in the limitations part do you refer to the scope as the focus of the research on a specific industry/country/chronological period? I assume that in order to talk about whether or not the research could be generalized, the above would need to be already presented and described in the introduction.
Thank you again!
Phew! You have genuinely rescued me. I was stuck how to go about my thesis. Now l have started. Thank you.
This is the very best guide in anything that has to do with thesis or dissertation writing. The numerous blends of examples and detailed insights make it worth a read and in fact, a treasure that is worthy to be bookmarked.
Thanks a lot for this masterpiece!
Powerful insight. I can now take a step
Thank you very much for these valuable introductions to thesis chapters. I saw all your videos about writing the introduction, discussion, and conclusion chapter. Then, I am wondering if we need to explain our research limitations in all three chapters, introduction, discussion, and conclusion? Isn’t it a bit redundant? If not, could you please explain how can we write in different ways? Thank you.
Excellent!!! Thank you…
Thanks for this informative content. I have a question. The research gap is mentioned in both the introduction and literature section. I would like to know how can I demonstrate the research gap in both sections without repeating the contents?
I’m incredibly grateful for this invaluable content. I’ve been dreading compiling my postgrad thesis but breaking each chapter down into sections has made it so much easier for me to engage with the material without feeling overwhelmed. After relying on your guidance, I’m really happy with how I’ve laid out my introduction.
Thank you for the informative content you provided
Hi Derrick and Team, thank you so much for the comprehensive guide on how to write a dissertation or a thesis introduction section. For some of us first-timers, it is a daunting task. However, the instruction with relevant examples makes it clear and easy to follow through. Much appreciated.
It was so helpful. God Bless you. Thanks very much
I thank you Grad coach for your priceless help. I have two questions I have learned from your video the limitations of the research presented in chapter one. but in another video also presented in chapter five. which chapter limitation should be included? If possible, I need your answer since I am doing my thesis. how can I explain If I am asked what is my motivation for this research?
Thank you guys for the great work you are doing. Honestly, you have made the research to be interesting and simplified. Even a novice will easily grasp the ideas you put forward, Thank you once again.
I feel like just settling for a good topic is usually the hardest part.
Thank you so much. My confidence has been completely destroyed during my first year of PhD and you have helped me pull myself together again
Happy to help 🙂
I am so glad I ran into your resources and did not waste time doing the wrong this. Research is now making so much sense now.
Gratitude to Derrick and the team I was looking for a solid article that would aid me in drafting the thesis’ introduction. I felt quite happy when I came across the piece you wrote because it was so well-written and insightful. I wish you success in the future.
thank you so much. God Bless you
Thank you so much Grad Coach for these helpful insights. Now I can get started, with a great deal of confidence.
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- How to write a dissertation proposal
Why students write dissertation proposals
Pre-writing tips, helpful motivational ideas, using a dissertation proposal template, questions to answer, how to structure a dissertation proposal, 1. introduction, 2. main body / problem statement, 3. aims & objectives, 4. anticipated results, 5. methodology, 6. conclusions and bibliography / literature review, useful writing your successful paper tips, helpful basics, interesting ideas about dissertation proposal structure, final thoughts, sample research proposal.
- A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management
- 2. Problem Statement
- 3. Objectives
- 4. Preliminary Literature Review - Anticipated Results
Before you start writing your dissertation project, you require a detailed plan or - dissertation proposal outline. What is its purpose? Your dissertation proposal should describe any information you want to investigate or how you will do that in your future dissertation. Don't know how to write a dissertation proposal without a coach or need professional dissertation writing service ? It should include:
- Overview of your literature;
- Research questions;
- Problem statements;
- Research methodology;
- Sources you use.
Writing your dissertation proposal depends on your institution or university, it’s your helpful exercise, especially if it’s not part of your academic assessment. When to write proposals? Some courses require them within final dissertation submissions, but you should talk to your tutors to get required instructions or understand if you need to complete your assignment based on them. Read this review to approach your work correctly.
This paper aims to provide basic sections, including:
- Your future dissertation purpose or nature;
- Possible questions that you will examine;
- References to any theoretical background;
- Research methods that you use;
- Potential outcomes of your study.
How to write a proposal for a dissertation? Spending enough time on this academic task is your wise investment because you’ll reap rewards, stop procrastinating , and form your future basis. This type of writing is worth practicing. Submit your dissertation proposal to get valuable feedback from tutors or ask them for helpful guidance about your style or tone.
Stay open-minded and flexible, show your willingness to adapt all ideas or methods as your research dictates you. Be firm and flexible! Say everything you want confidently to adapt your balanced view or suggest that you determined the best way to carry out your case study. Use this dissertation proposal outline to succeed. Follow all grammar rules in this paper while staying consistent, check supervisors for their confirmation, provide your future written model.
Ensure that any successful dissertation proposal sample helps you identify literature, research questions, problem statements, investigation methods (quantitative or qualitative research methods ), data sources, references, analysis outcomes.
- Read current literature. Look for reliable sources on your chosen topic to motivate your search for related details or facts, examine everything done, find any unanswered questions.
- Formulate your list of research questions and problem statements. Identify existing problems in your field, determine major research questions that you want to explore in the next dissertation proposal writing stage.
- Create your research methodology. Explain how you’ll answer all research questions, include helpful materials, write down effective methods.
- Identify data sources and outline where you get your important data.
Find any effective dissertation proposal template. Find key phrases or words to identify important questions because your answers will help you determine the best content. Why is your research necessary? Consider where or when you’ll conduct it, relevant information, problems, expected outcomes or results, valuable suggestions. Your format depends on disciplines, like social sciences.
Your first step is planning a future dissertation proposal structure because it requires its main section, introduction, conclusion. How to write a dissertation proposal? Read a brief description of every paragraph and don’t forget to pick your catchy title to increase your chances to get higher grades.
Introduce your chosen topic in the first paragraph that offers an overview of your more specific research, exploring its background to your wider subject area. Lay out your thesis. Explain why you think that your research in this area is significant, how it can impact future studies, what effects it will bring.
It consists of several subsections. Use your methodology for dissertation to outline different methods to process or college relevant data in your research. Explain what you will do. If your research is quantitative, include references to related surveys, questionnaires, and other data sources. Make its scope clear to readers.
Share your realistic description of why you choose specific research methods before switching to further paragraphs. In your objectives and aims, highlight major issues that you attempt to explore or questions that you will answer in your paper. What do you want to achieve?
Your literature review gives you a great opportunity to make good arguments for your research importance, connect it to similar projects, present it as some extension to relevant studies in this field. How to write it? List significant sources, explain how they help you guide your research, place your work alongside other projects, show how it contributes to or elaborates a more general field.
You’ll prove your adequate preparation. You have your potential to include any flaws identified within your dissertation proposal, determine how you’ll avoid them in your future dissertation project. Include sources that can add value to your research.
Why are limitations important? Recognizing any limits in your ability to present or explore valuable findings is a part of writing your informative or effective dissertation proposal. Some limitations in research refer to your assigned word count, others explain further issues that you may face.
Why should you complete this section? Do that to clearly show that you engaged with your chosen subject matter to prove that you’re familiar with wider concepts in this discipline. Think about any relevant ethical considerations.
Anticipated results include everything you want your study to uncover or possible gaps in your knowledge. Your approach should add to existing knowledge. Proposals often include their estimated timeframes for delivering finished work to supervisors or instructors.
Some teachers ask to submit every dissertation proposal chapter for its approval separately, others require to start with actual research before moving on to writing about it. Ensure that you’re realistic. Set your schedule to allocate enough time for initial steps before jumping straight into writing down any ideas you have in your mind.
The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed?
The information regarding methodology should be comprehensive and detailed enough to permit replication of the study by other researchers. The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.
Writing your bibliography is a must. It’s a list of any references related to your proposals for thesis research, format it based on citation styles appropriate for your academic discipline.
Any conclusion requires you to round off your dissertation proposal with some reminders of reasoning to choose topics, research types, expected outcomes.
The literature review will list the books and materials that you used to do your research. This is where you can list materials that give you more background on your topic, or contain research carried out previously that you refer to in your own studies. It’s also a good place to demonstrate how your research connects to previous academic studies, and how your methods may differ from or be building upon those used by other researchers. While it’s important to give enough information about the materials to show that you have read and understood them, don’t forget to include your analysis of their value to your work.
Be original . What does it mean? Highlight interesting or unique ways to show future readers that you’re creative, innovative, resourceful, talented, skilled. Demonstrate relevance or explain how your dissertation proposal will impact your chosen area or general public.
Showcase your knowledge. Don’t be humble about personal academic achievements, use your dissertation proposal to provide strong evidence to prove them. Being over-ambitious is a common pitfall, be sure that you can complete your study within required deadlines or with available resources.
Advertise yourself. If you plan to apply for external funding for your project, adapt it to fit funding requirements, key themes, rules. Do you want to work with specific supervisors? To increase your chances, tailor your proposal to their areas of expertise, preferences, instructions, interests.
Treat this academic assignment not only as your document that should be submitted within agreed deadlines, but also as something that can help you plan your future winning dissertation. Writing it without any plan is your big mistake. The structure of this paper is quite different from other academic assignments because you don’t need to prove any thesis or give answers to major research questions in it.
Give readers only general ideas. Use it as your map of subjects that you’ll investigate. Your dissertation proposal should explain how your arguments will fit together perfectly, put forward their bones, give readers better ideas of your methods, explain how it will fit into any wider area.
Consult with your department. Some educational departments have strict proposal formatting rules that all students must stick to, others are more easy going about structuring basics. Consider these elements because they’re quite likely to be covered.
Include your overview of the chosen subject in your project introduction, pick only prominent theories, choose relevant empirical studies. This paragraph should cover your reasoning. Explain your dissertation proposal structure, briefly, determine its significance, outline research objectives or aims clearly.
When you write your literature review, don’t go in detail about all texts because you should give your brief description of chosen academic literature. Suggest research questions in it. Include identified gaps in your dissertation proposal, modern studies if they’re relevant to your work, roles played by different theories. Want to conduct your primary research? Include your brief section to discuss any methods that you’ll use, explain your rationale for them, and offer their short description. Present, format, and structure all ideas to ensure that this section is free of grammar or spelling mistakes because they affect your future grades dramatically. Discuss your data analysis and ethics.
Follow these helpful tips to develop your perfect dissertation proposal that will increase your chance to succeed at any type of degree. It’s your effective road map! Proofread every section to submit your error-free and well-polished proposal to demonstrate your academic skills. In any other case (lacking time, feeling like encountering a way too difficult task etc.) - feel free to turn to a pro academic writing service!
A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management 1. Introduction Every construction project is unique and has its own operating environment and sets of technical requirements. As a result, the execution of a construction project is subject to numerous constraints that limit the commencement or progression of field operations, which invariably have significant negative impact on overall project performance. By definition, constraints refer to any condition, such as temporal/spatial limitations and safety/quality concerns, which may prevent a project from achieving its goals. Successful execution and control of a construction project relies on effective identification and management of constraints through master planning and short-term look-ahead scheduling. While the master schedule provides a global view of a project and the overall execution strategy, a look-ahead schedule offers a detailed account of operational constraints and a detailed plan showing work to be done within a relatively short time window. Ideally, these detailed schedules should reflect actual field conditions and provide field personnel with operation instructions free of constraints and conflicts (Hinze 2008). This look-ahead scheduling and constraint analysis procedure is also a critical component of the last-planner methodology proposed by Ballard (2000). This research project will provide an overview of state-of-art schedule constraint analysis practice during look-ahead scheduling. In addition, it will propose a conceptual framework for managing constraints. 2. Problem Statement The importance of developing a constraint-free and reliable work plan has long been recognized by the industry. However, numerous construction projects are still plagued by delays and cost overruns, which can frequently be traced to ineffective identification and treatment of constraints. First, when a constraint is not properly identified during scheduling, subsequent conflicts in the field are inevitable. Today’s projects are becoming more and more technically complex and logistically challenging, which exposes construction operations to even more complex constraints. Second, the traditional scheduling methods, bar charts and Critical Path Method (CPM) which are widely used as a basis for constraint analysis, greatly limit our capability in modeling and resolving constraints during look-ahead scheduling. These methods have long been blamed for their limitations in modeling and communicating constraints, including inability to cope with non-time-related precedence constraints and difficulty to evaluate and communicate inter-dependencies at the field operation level (e.g. Sriprasert and Dawood 2002; Chua and Shen 2001). In summary, there is a need for a better understanding of constraints in construction and a structured approach in identifying and modeling constraints to ensure a constraint-free work plan. More specifically, the following research questions need to be addressed: What are the typical constraints found in various construction projects? How to classify these constraints for easier identification and modeling? What are the current industry practices as well as research advancements in modeling and resolving constraints? How to unify the constraint classification knowledge and various constraint modeling efforts into a framework for total constraint management? 3. Objectives The long term goal of the research is to develop a formalized constraint management system. Constraint management is defined herein as the process of identifying, classifying, modeling, and resolving constraints. The objective of the current study is to provide a comprehensive review of literature and industry practices in relation to constraint analysis and outline a conceptual framework for constraint management. Particularly, the study has the following sub-objectives: To provide a comprehensive review of sources and characteristics of constraints typically found in construction projects; To develop a constraint classification method for easier constraint identification and modeling; To review current industry practices and researches in regards to constraint modeling; To outline a conceptual framework for total constraint management. The result of this study will be valuable to the industry practitioners as well as related software providers in developing better practice and tools for constraint management and look-ahead scheduling. 4. Preliminary Literature Review - Anticipated Results A preliminary literature review shows that past studies are primarily focused on understanding and modeling a particular type of constraint, such as technological, contractual, resource, spatial, and information constraints. Limited progress has been made on classifying various constraints according to their characteristics in a comprehensive manner. In terms of modeling and resolving constraints, various approaches have been recommended. For example, many CPM-based methods are applied to deal with time-related constraints; knowledge-based systems were used to automate work plan generation; network-based optimization algorithms were developed to resolve constraints; and databases and visualization techniques, such as 3D, 4D, and Virtual Reality (VR), are used to communicate and visualize constraints. What is missing from the past studies is a comprehensive and structured approach in managing constraints in construction projects. 5. Methodology The primary research method for this study is literature review and conceptual modeling. Constraint identification and classification through a structured approach is the very first step toward a “zero-constraint” environment. This study will first review various types of constraints in construction and their characteristics. Based on this understanding, a classification method will be developed to categorize constraint factors for the purpose of constraint identification and modeling. In the second stage of this study, existing constraint modeling methods will be identified based on a comprehensive review of current industry practices and academic researches. Finally, once the constraint classification and modeling techniques are identified, a conceptual framework for total constraint management will be outlined. This study will be conducted between September 2010 and May 2011. References Ballard, G. (2000). “Last planner system of production control.” Ph.D. Dissertation. Univ. of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. Chua, D. and Shen, L. J. (2001). “Constraint modeling and buffer management with integrated production scheduler.” Proceedings of International Conferences on Lean Construction 2001, Singapore. Hinze, J. W. (2008). Construction planning and scheduling, 3rd ed. Pearson, NJ. Sriprasert, E. and Dawood, N (2002). “Requirements identification for 4D constraint-based construction planning and control system.” Proceedings of CIB W78 conference – distributing knowledge in building, Aarhus, Danmark.
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- LEARNING SKILLS
- Writing a Dissertation or Thesis
- A - Z List of Learning Skills
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- Critical Analysis
- Study Skills
- Exam Skills
- How to Write a Research Proposal
- Ethical Issues in Research
- Dissertation: The Introduction
- Researching and Writing a Literature Review
- Writing your Methodology
- Dissertation: Results and Discussion
- Dissertation: Conclusions and Extras
Writing Your Dissertation or Thesis eBook
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Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction
The introduction to your dissertation or thesis may well be the last part that you complete, excepting perhaps the abstract. However, it should not be the last part that you think about.
You should write a draft of your introduction very early on, perhaps as early as when you submit your research proposal , to set out a broad outline of your ideas, why you want to study this area, and what you hope to explore and/or establish.
You can, and should, update your introduction several times as your ideas develop. Keeping the introduction in mind will help you to ensure that your research stays on track.
The introduction provides the rationale for your dissertation, thesis or other research project: what you are trying to answer and why it is important to do this research.
Your introduction should contain a clear statement of the research question and the aims of the research (closely related to the question).
It should also introduce and briefly review the literature on your topic to show what is already known and explain the theoretical framework. If there are theoretical debates in the literature, then the introduction is a good place for the researcher to give his or her own perspective in conjunction with the literature review section of the dissertation.
The introduction should also indicate how your piece of research will contribute to the theoretical understanding of the topic.
Drawing on your Research Proposal
The introduction to your dissertation or thesis will probably draw heavily on your research proposal.
If you haven't already written a research proposal see our page Writing a Research Proposal for some ideas.
The introduction needs to set the scene for the later work and give a broad idea of the arguments and/or research that preceded yours. It should give some idea of why you chose to study this area, giving a flavour of the literature, and what you hoped to find out.
Don’t include too many citations in your introduction: this is your summary of why you want to study this area, and what questions you hope to address. Any citations are only to set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.
Unlike your research proposal, however, you have now completed the work. This means that your introduction can be much clearer about what exactly you chose to investigate and the precise scope of your work.
Remember , whenever you actually write it, that, for the reader, the introduction is the start of the journey through your work. Although you can give a flavour of the outcomes of your research, you should not include any detailed results or conclusions.
Some good ideas for making your introduction strong include:
- An interesting opening sentence that will hold the attention of your reader.
- Don’t try to say everything in the introduction, but do outline the broad thrust of your work and argument.
- Make sure that you don’t promise anything that can’t be delivered later.
- Keep the language straightforward. Although you should do this throughout, it is especially important for the introduction.
Your introduction is the reader’s ‘door’ into your thesis or dissertation. It therefore needs to make sense to the non-expert. Ask a friend to read it for you, and see if they can understand it easily.
At the end of the introduction, it is also usual to set out an outline of the rest of the dissertation.
This can be as simple as ‘ Chapter 2 discusses my chosen methodology, Chapter 3 sets out my results, and Chapter 4 discusses the results and draws conclusions ’.
However, if your thesis is ordered by themes, then a more complex outline may be necessary.
Drafting and Redrafting
As with any other piece of writing, redrafting and editing will improve your text.
This is especially important for the introduction because it needs to hold your reader’s attention and lead them into your research.
The best way to ensure that you can do this is to give yourself enough time to write a really good introduction, including several redrafts.
Do not view the introduction as a last minute job.
Continue to: Writing a Literature Review Writing the Methodology
See also: Dissertation: Results and Discussion Dissertation: Conclusions and Extra Sections Academic Referencing | Research Methods