Dissertation Chapter 1: Introduction

It’s time.  You need to start writing your dissertation; you know this.  Still, knowing and doing are two very different states. We at Statistics Solutions understand that getting your dissertation’s Introduction chapter going can be the most challenging aspect of the entire writing process.  And it’s not just you; writers as a whole have struggled with this very problem for the longest of times, namely: How do I begin?  Luckily, we have been providing dissertation help to students for over twenty years, and we have viewed and reviewed all types of dissertations.  As such, we know exactly how to get your Introduction going such that we put you on the right track toward the ultimate goal: your Ph.D.

Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar

Generally, introductions serve as an easy way for the unfamiliar to take on an air of familiarity.  The same can be said about getting your dissertation started.  In this case, the Introduction to your dissertation aims to firmly ground an unfamiliar reader in your research topic, developing enough interest along the way such that your audience actually wants to read the rest.  In order to facilitate this familiarizing effect, this section of your dissertation begins with setting up the problem, as well as the general topic you aim to explore.  Once done, you then dive deeper into the background of the study, identifying the exact importance of the research problem along the way, the latter of which you must communicate in an attention-grabbing manner.  Having accomplished this, you can begin making additional connections.

The Problem and the Purpose

Now, with the Introduction’s framework coming together, we must incorporate the “Statement of the Problem” wherein you begin drilling into the specific issue you will investigate.  At this point in particular, you can speak to the general population you will study—reiterating the general problem and the need for the study—before laying out the preliminary research method and design.  The “Purpose of the Study” follows, which comprises a few sentences that summarize the motivating rationale behind the study.  These sentences should include information about the research method, the research variables involved (i.e., independent, dependent, and relationship comparisons), the setting of the research, the population involved, and the audience about which the problem is of utmost importance.  By now, you are creating something quite enticing for your readers and committee to set themselves upon.

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What’s the Significance?

Nevertheless, you must still communicate the “Significance of the Study” to these same readers.  Importantly, this section contextualizes your specific research problem—which strictly applies to the research community and experts in the field—by speaking more broadly to the general problem that affects the community at large.  More specifically, this section speaks to how your research aims to add to existing knowledge surrounding the subject, while simultaneously identifying who will benefit from your completing this research.  In short, this section contains specific information about the intended impact of the research you aim to conduct.

Introducing the Design

Following this section, the “Research Design” piece translates the statement of the problem into specific research questions.  These questions must be manageable and specific, and most studies include three to five research questions.  Notably, your research questions may include sub-questions to answer specific components of a larger question.  Regardless, these questions direct the research methods you will employ.  For instance, if the research is quantitative, you should define and specify hypotheses.  As a reminder, each quantitative research question must have a corresponding hypothesis or hypothesis set (i.e., a null and alternative version of the hypothesis).  This applies not only to every quantitative research question, but additionally to each sub-question.

Defining the Nature of the Study

Logically, your research and research questions cannot simply exist in a vacuum.  As such, the next section of your Introduction, i.e., the “Nature of the Study” section, serves to connect your research to more than just itself.  Particularly, this section must identify the Theoretical / Conceptual Framework that then connects your research study to other research by providing a perspective for interpretation and comparison.  You can also juxtapose this section with your “Definition of Terms”, which includes all constructs and variables investigated in the study, including the characteristics of the sample and operationalized terms.

Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations

Lastly, your “Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations” section starts by identifying any condition that gets taken for granted in research.  To clarify, this typically comprises anything most people would agree upon as true without requiring tedious proofs to prove their truth, i.e., your assumptions.  In actuality, these assumptions are categorized as: (1) general methodical assumptions; (2) theoretical assumptions; (3) topic-specific assumptions; and (4) methodology- or instrument-specific assumptions.  Additionally in this section, limitations refer to aspects of the research project that you cannot control, and pertain to flaws in the research design that can lead to poor conclusions.  (This can happen since limitations necessarily refer to inaccuracies that create misleading data.)  Alternatively, delimitations refer to variables that you can control, or limit, necessarily establishing boundaries for the specific research project.  Generally, delimitations represent areas intentionally left unexplored and serve to assist in future replication of the study.  Once you wrap up this last section, you’ll be well-positioned—both in your own eyes and in the eyes of your committee—to tackle the rest of the dissertation.

We’re Here to Help

Admittedly, even the best laid plans run into issues, and having assisted thousands of graduate students over the last two decades, our team at Statistics Solutions certainly understands the complications that arise when starting the dissertation process.  Ideally, the step-by-step process outlined above has provided you with more confidence to take that first step toward receiving your Ph.D.  Still, if you have any lingering questions, Statistics Solutions certainly helps with all portions of the Introduction, and we’d be more than happy to hear from you! Feel free to fill out the contact request form and one of our dissertation specialists will be in touch for a Free 30-minute consultation.  We love nothing more than using our decades of experience to help dissertation students get the results we know they are capable of!