Use this set of questions to approach writing your introduction.
- What is your topic of investigation, your research focus? What did you actually set out to investigate?
- Why did you undertake this investigation? What questions are you asking? Or what are your hypotheses, objectives or aims? Can you formulate these clearly? Do you need to provide a problem statement as well?
- What is your thesis, the underlying argument connecting all the parts? Can you state this clearly somewhere in your Introduction?
- Do you need to justify the scope of your study? You may need to tell your reader precisely what you are covering and what you are not covering and why, perhaps to offset potential criticism for not having done something you never intended to do.
- Why is the research you have undertaken important? Can you demonstrate its centrality? Or how is your study different from what others have done in the research field? What contribution will your research make to knowledge? (This may be conveyed through research context, the next point).
- How much research context or background information should you provide (can be extensive in some theses-even up to 20 or more pages)? What might you include here, and why? Consider the relevance of what to cover in terms of your research objectives, your thesis aims. This tells readers the research context out of which you are working, and may provide the opportunity for you to indicate the nature of your contribution as well as the value of your research.
- Should there be a literature review in the introduction (sometimes used to provide research context), or elsewhere or not at all?
- Do you need to explain your methodology or experimental procedure, or provide a discussion of the theoretical framework of your thesis here or in a separate chapter, or not at all?
- Should you include a chapter-by-chapter outline of your thesis? If not, what other method might you use to convey the procedure/structure of your thesis? How will you indicate what you are going to do and in what order you will do these things?
- Are there any other questions relevant to your research or disciplinary needs that you want to add?
How you organise and develop your introduction in dealing with these questions is up to you.
When writing the introduction, make use of words and phrases to:
- indicate coverage: examines, presents, provides an overview, outlines, analyses, explores etc. and
- indicate the key message: demonstrates, highlights, provides insight into, argues etc.