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Writing a thesis introduction chapter 1

Writing a thesis introduction chapter 1 methodology and contains

I am in the process of writing my Ph.D. thesis and struggling with the introduction chapter, what to cover, what not. This is a technical thesis. The broad area is molecular simulation in statistical mechanics.

There are lots of tips available on Internet, but those are very general often. I have found few theses also searching on Google. All those tips and theses vary in style and content and it is difficult to decide which one to follow. Please provide tips on how can I write a good introduction chapter of high academic standard.

EDIT: After reading your valuable inputs, I am adding here few more points. (Thanks everybody). Your comments on these points are highly appreciated.

I have seen theses where people include background theories. On this matter, I have read that the theory should not be something which others know. Now this is difficult to predict what to include as background theory, what not. I have seen people including theories which are widely available in textbooks.

The chapter 2 is dedicated to literature review. It is also important to briefly mention background and relevant research works. Here I have found people are giving a little elaborate technical details.

I am in a slightly different field to you (atmospheric physics), but have had my PhD thesis approved for submission. Your university should have a style guide available to you – take that advice first.

My introduction comprised the following sections (this was also used successfully for my MSc):

Rationale – this comprises an overview of the background knowledge in the field (and was expanded on in the Literature Review that was written after the Introduction). Make sure all variables are explained in detail here (dependent, independent and controlled).

Writing a thesis introduction chapter 1 of an instrument to accurately

Hypothesis – what exactly is the predicted result of the entire project.

Objectives – The main outcomes of the research (these related to the main papers that have been written and published along the way).

Thesis structure – how the thesis is organised.

In my opinion, all the other answers omit a very important purpose of the Introduction: You should introduce not only the thesis, but the results of other people in the Introduction.

A good introduction cites quite a handful of works of other people. Basically, a reader, after reading the Introduction, should have a good idea as what the thesis is going to be about, and in what wider concept of science it fits, and this cannot be done without citing other people. This shows that you are not doing some rubbish nobody is interested in.

answered Aug 26 ’13 at 10:00

My listing of related efforts can encompass that purpose, as relevant work influencing the thesis is discussed. However, the actual results may not necessarily go in an introductory chapter, but a preliminaries chapter that follows (as was the case in my thesis). aeismail ♦ Aug 26 ’13 at 10:45

@aeismail (speaking of math) It depends whether you really use them or you just recall them. But I agree, there’;s a thin boundary, and it’;s a matter of habit where you put these. Still, if you don’;t have it elsewhere, to the Introduction it goes;) yo’; Aug 26 ’13 at 11:56

An introduction is a funnel into your work, bei it a paper or a thesis.

Writing a thesis introduction chapter 1 brief two

The basic idea is to start by providing the wider scope within which your work resides.You then focus in on your part of the field or research question through a few steps.

The wider perspective of the beginning should also be the perspective in which you will later put your own results, to show how they feed back into some more general perspective. This part should allow the reader to focus in on relevant research and obtain a firm backgroudn of the current knowledge in the field. Once you have established the background you should identify for the reader the gap of knowledge which you have tackled. you then finish of by stating you plan for solving the problem so that your choices of methods etc. can be seen from the perspective of knowns and remaining problems to be solved. We can summarize the text as

Your approach for a solution

Writing a thesis and a paper can mean this approach can be accomplished in several ways. In a research paper all of this usually goes into a single heading “Introduction”. When you write a thesis the introduction may be many pages log and it is not uncommon to either have the list above as subheadings under introduction or to outline this part slightly differently.

When you have a lengthy introduction, you may start out by having a chapter called introduction which does what was outlined above but cuts out the backgroudn details and only summarizes what is known and identifies gaps, almost like a sumamry of the whole introduction. You then follow up with a detailed background in a separate chapter and likewise for identifying gaps and providing the outline of your research.

The point is that there are many ways to format or partition an introduction but the general idea is still there regardless of what form of publication you are writing: research paper or thesis.

answered Aug 26 ’13 at 10:22

Our consultants assist students to focus on a specific gap in the knowledge and meet
the requirements in this chapter needed to defend the choice of that gap.

Chapter 1, with a highly focused review of the literature, and is normally the “prospectus” that a committee approves before the “proposal” to start research is approved. After the prospectus is approved, some of the review of literature may be moved into Chapter 2, which then becomes part of the proposal to do research.

Chapter 1 is the engine that drives the rest of the document, and it must be a complete empirical argument as is found in courts of law. It should be filled with proofs throughout. It is not a creative writing project in a creative writing class; hence, once a word or phrase is established in Chapter 1, use the same word or phrase throughout the dissertation. The content is normally stylized into five chapters, repetitive in some sections from dissertation to dissertation. A lengthy dissertation may have more than five chapters, but regardless, most universities limit the total number of pages to 350 due to microfilming and binding considerations in libraries in those institutions requiring hard copies.

Use plenty of transitional words and sentences from one section to another, as well as subheadings, which allow the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought. Following is an outline of the content of the empirical argument of Chapter 1. Universities often arrange the content in a different order, but the subject matter is the same in all dissertations because it is an empirical “opening statement” as might be found in a court of law. (Note that a dissertation could also be five pages of text and 50 pages of pictures of dragonfly wings and qualify for a Doctor’s degree in entomology.)

State the general field of interest in one or two paragraphs, and end with a sentence that states what study will accomplish. Do not keep the reader waiting to find out the precise subject of the dissertation.

Background of the Problem

This section is critically important as it must contain some mention of all the subject matter in the following Chapter 2 Review of the Literature 2 and the methodology in Chapter 3. Key words should abound that will subsequently be used again in Chapter 2. The section is a brief two to four page summary of the major findings in the field of interest that cites the most current finding in the subject area. A minimum of two to three citations to the literature per paragraph is advisable. The paragraphs must be a summary of unresolved issues, conflicting findings, social concerns, or educational, national, or international issues, and lead to the next section, the statement of the problem. The problem is the gap in the knowledge. The focus of the Background of the Problem is where a gap in the knowledge is found in the current body of empirical (research) literature.

Statement of the Problem

Arising from the background statement is this statement of the exact gap in the knowledge discussed in previous paragraphs that reviewed the most current literature found. A gap in the knowledge is the entire reason for the study, so state it specifically and exactly. Use the words “gap in the knowledge.” The problem statement will contain a definition of the general need for the study, and the specific problem that will be addressed.

Purpose of the Study

The Purpose of the Study is a statement contained within one or two paragraphs that identifies the research design, such as qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, ethnographic, or another design. The research variables, if a quantitative study, are identified, for instance, independent, dependent, comparisons, relationships, or other variables. The population that will be used is identified, whether it will be randomly or purposively chosen, and the location of the study is summarized. Most of these factors will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3.

Significance of the Study

The significance is a statement of why it is important to determine the answer to the gap in the knowledge, and is related to improving the human condition. The contribution to the body of knowledge is described, and summarizes who will be able to use the knowledge to make better decisions, improve policy, advance science, or other uses of the new information. The “new” data is the information used to fill the gap in the knowledge.

Primary Research Questions

The primary research question is the basis for data collection and arises from the Purpose of the Study. There may be one, or there may be several. When the research is finished, the contribution to the knowledge will be the answer to these questions. Do not confuse the primary research questions with interview questions in a qualitative study, or survey questions in a quantitative study. The research questions in a qualitative study are followed by both a null and an alternate hypothesis.

A hypothesis is a testable prediction for an observed phenomenon, namely, the gap in the knowledge. Each research question will have both a null and an alternative hypothesis in a quantitative study. Qualitative studies do not have hypotheses. The two hypotheses should follow the research question upon which they are based. Hypotheses are testable predictions to the gap in the knowledge. In a qualitative study the hypotheses are replaced with the primary research questions.

In Chapter 1 this is a summary of the methodology and contains a brief outline of three things: (a) the participants in a qualitative study or thesubjects of a quantitative study (human participants are referred tyo as participants, non-human subjects are referred to as subjects), (b) the instrumentation used to collect data, and (c) the procedure that will be followed. All of these elements will be reported in detail in Chapter 3. In a quantitative study, the instrumentation will be validated in Chapter 3 in detail. In a qualitative study, if it is a researcher-created questionnaire, validating the correctness of the interview protocol is usually accomplished with a pilot study. For either a quantitative or a qualitative study, using an already validated survey instrument is easier to defend and does not require a pilot study; however, Chapter 3 must contain a careful review of the instrument and how it was validated by the creator.

In a qualitative study, which usually involves interviews, the instrumentation is an interview protocol – a pre-determined set of questions that every participant is asked that are based on the primary research questions. A qualitative interview should contain no less than 10 open-ended questions and take no less than 1 hour to administer to qualify as “robust” research.

In the humanities, a demographic survey should be circulated with most quantitative and qualitative studies to establish the parameters of the participant pool. Demographic surveys are nearly identical in most dissertations. In the sciences, a demographic survey is rarely needed.

The theoretical framework is the foundational theory that is used to provide a perspective upon which the study is based. There are hundreds of theories in the literature. For instance, if a study in the social sciences is about stress that may be causing teachers to quit, Apple’s Intensification Theory could be cited as the theory was that stress is cumulative and the result of continuing overlapping, progressively stringent responsibilities for teachers that eventually leads to the desire to quit. In the sciences, research about new species that may have evolved from older, extinct species would be based on the theory of evolution pioneered by Darwin.

Some departments put the theoretical framework explanation in Chapter 1; some put it in Chapter 2.

Assumptions, Limitations, and Scope (Delimitations)

Assumptions are self-evident truths. In a qualitative study, it may be assumed that participants be highly qualified in the study is about administrators. It can be assumed that participants will answer truthfully and accurately to the interview questions based on their personal experience, and that participants will respond honestly and to the best of their individual abilities.

Limitations of a study are those things over which the research has no control. Evident limitations are potential weaknesses of a study. Researcher biases and perceptual misrepresentations are potential limitations in a qualitative study; in a quantitative study, a limitation may be the capability of an instrument to accurately record data.

Scope is the extent of the study and contains measurements. In a qualitative study this would include the number of participants, the geographical location, and other pertinent numerical data. In a quantitative study the size of the elements of the experiment are cited. The generalizability of the study may be cited. The word generalizability, which is not in the Word 2007 dictionary, means the extent to which the data are applicable in places other than where the study took place, or under what conditions the study took place.

Delimitations are limitations on the research design imposed deliberately by the researcher. Delimitations in a social sciences study would be such things as the specific school district where a study took place, or in a scientific study, the number of repetitions.

Definition of Terms

The definition of terms is written for knowledgeable peers, not people from other disciplines As such, it is not the place to fill pages with definitions that knowledgeable peers would know at a glance. Instead, define terms that may have more than one meaning among knowledgeable peers.

Summarize the content of Chapter 1 and preview of content of Chapter 2.

Source: Barbara von Diether, EdD

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