A typical PhD thesis introduction follows the following format:. Introduction to the introduction: a short version of only a few paragraphs of the thesis' aims, research questions, contribution, objectives and findings. Much like the abstract, the reader shouldn't have to wait long before they understand the contribution, what you are doing and how you are doing it.
So, you'll start by presenting your research in a clear, concise way in the opening few paragraphs. These opening paragraphs should briefly summarise the aims, objectives, research questions, main argument and contribution. A useful exercise here is to try and write the core elements of an introduction on a post-it note. Keep trying until they fit. When they do, use that as the basis for these first few paragraphs. This is the same technique you use when filling out the PhD Writing Template. That means that the next stage, after the first few paragraphs, is to provide some context steps above.
Here you provide all the detail necessary to situate the study and make sense of the opening few paragraphs. You will need to ease into the detail gently. Don't launch straight from your opening paragraphs into huge amounts of detail.
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Follow the order of the 13 steps above and you will gradually ease into your discussion. The danger of presenting too much information too soon is that you will confuse the reader. They will struggle to understand how the information you present is relevant and will struggle to understand how it relates to your thesis aims and objectives. You need to bear in mind that the level of detail you will go into and therefore the length of the introduction depends on the structure of your thesis.
If you have a standalone literature review, you will go into less detail about the current state of the literature and the gaps within it. Similarly, if you have a dedicated theory chapter, you will not need to spend too much time on developing your theory framework. The goal in any case is to present enough context to situate and make sense of your research questions but not overburden the reader with information that is superfluous to the goal of situating the research and which you will repeat at a later juncture anyhow.
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There is a tendency to provide too much background information in the introduction. As we saw above, quite how much information you present in your thesis will depend on whether you have a standalone literature review or methods chapter. What you want to avoid is any unnecessary repetition. Sometimes there is necessary repetition though. You need to present just enough information to contextualise your study and to be able to situate your aims, research questions an argument, but not too much that you end up confusing and bombarding the reader.
Keep things simple here; it's fine to overlook some of the more technical detail at this stage. Think of a newspaper article: the first couple of paragraphs provide a brief overview of the story.
The detail comes later. On the flip side , some students don't provide enough detail. The danger here is that the reader is left asking questions at the end of the introduction.
Remember: they should be able to understand what your thesis is about, how it was conducted and why it is important just from reading the introduction. If you present too little detail then they won't be able to. Read through your own introduction; is it clear what your contribution is and why it is important? If not, you haven't got enough detail. Make sure you introduce gently.
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Instead, you should make the aims, questions and contribution clear in the opening lines and then gradually layer on more detail. That way, the reader can keep up.
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Present too much detail too soon and the reader is confused. Some students don't follow a coherent logic when they write their introductions, which means that the reader is left confused. For example, if you present too much background information and literature review before you outline the aim and purpose of the research the reader will struggle to follow, because they won't know why the background information is important. What we see often is important information being spread throughout the introduction in such a way that the reader has to hunt for it.
Follow our layout guide above so that each piece of vital information is contained in its own mini section. Make your reader's job as easy as possible.
How I wrote a PhD thesis in 3 months
It's more than likely that your research relies upon lots of technical terms, concepts and techniques. If you must talk about any of these in the introduction, be sure to offer clear and concise definitions. A failure to do so means that the reader is left confused. Unless you are explicitly avoiding a standalone literature review chapter, the introduction is not the place to review the literature. Sure, you will need to situate your study in a body of literature, but the introduction isn't the place to critically discuss it or justify its inclusion in that literature.
It's enough to say that you will contribute to X body of literature and briefly discuss its core features and shortcomings. The literature review is the place to justify that decision and elaborate upon its features. Read our guide to writing literature reviews and our guide to being critical when you do s o. Does the first line of the introduction discuss the problem that your thesis is addressing and the contribution that it is making?
Does the introduction provide an overview of the thesis and end with a brief discussion on the content of each chapter? Does the introduction make a case for the research? Now you know how to present your research as clearly and concisely as possible. Your reader and examiner will thank you, because they'll be able to understand exactly what your study is about just from reading the introductory pages. Write experimental procedures and make high-quality figures throughout your PhD that could go straight into your thesis.
A year before the deadline, I exactly knew what my chapters were going to be, and I had almost all data for two of the three result chapters. Nine months before the due date, I began to outline the framework of the thesis and listed subheadings of each chapter. Optimistically, even for the one that required more data. Therefore, I could just do it when I was bored or during free moments in between lab experiments. It was a great thing to do because I was already thinking about my writing up while still generating data, and without exhausting myself.
After outlining chapters and their subsections, it was time to start filling in the thesis. I began by working on possibly the hardest and the biggest part of my thesis: figures. The aim was to make roughly one figure for each subheading in the chapter. Planning this bit was relatively straightforward because I used the subheading that I had outlined earlier as a template, i.
I then started making the figures while still working full-time in the lab. The best chance to do this is when you report to your supervisor s. Another handy thing to do, especially for PhD involving experiments, is to write your Materials and, Methods sections as you carry out new procedures throughout your PhD. Once I finished making the figures, I stopped working in the lab because I wanted to focus entirely on writing. Wait until you finish the whole chapter or even the entire thesis. Once I finished writing the figure legends, I simply wrote a paragraph or two describing each figure, which nearly completed the result chapters.
The only thing left to do was to write a discussion on the chapters, which were about 1, — 2, words in my case and took me a couple of days. This way I could write an entire result chapter in days depending on how productive I was being. One trick I used that I recommend everyone writing a PhD thesis is to never to read your sentences as you write. It sounds like a bad advice and is certainly unorthodox, but it sped up my writing considerably. I submitted a v3 of my thesis after incorporating the changes suggested by my two supervisors.
Plus, even if your assessors find a couple of typos in your thesis, you can always correct those after the viva. A typical thesis contains approximately 50, words, and mine was much shorter. If you manage to write words a day, then a thesis will finish comfortably in four months, while you enjoy your weekend. I wrote more than half of my thesis contents in just three weeks.