Dissertation Chapter 1: Introduction

You’ve reached the final stage of your degree program: writing your dissertation. Congratulations! Although you are aware you need to begin, the actual process can be quite daunting. Statistics Solutions understands the difficulty of starting the introduction chapter, as it is often considered to be the most challenging aspect of the entire writing process. This is not just a personal struggle, as writers throughout history have faced the same problem: how to commence the writing. Fortunately, with over twenty years of experience providing dissertation help to students, Statistics Solutions has seen and analyzed various dissertations, and we have the expertise to guide you in getting your introduction started on the right track. Our ultimate goal is to assist you in obtaining your Ph.D.

Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar

Generally, introductions serve to familiarize the reader with a new subject. The same concept applies when starting your dissertation. The introduction sets the foundation for the reader to understand the research topic and builds enough interest for them to continue reading. To achieve this familiarizing effect, the introduction section begins by outlining the problem and the general topic to be explored. Then, it delves deeper into the background of the study and highlights the significance of the research problem in an engaging way. After establishing this, the introduction can make further connections.

The Problem and the Purpose

With the introduction’s structure in place, it’s time to incorporate the “Statement of the Problem” section. Here you will delve into the specific issue to be investigated. At this stage, you can address the general population to be studied and reiterate the general problem and the need for the study, before outlining the preliminary research method and design.

The next step is the “Purpose of the Study,” which summarizes the motivations behind the study in a few sentences. These sentences should include information about the research method, research variables, setting, population, and the audience that the problem affects the most. By this point, you have created a compelling introduction that will attract your readers and committee.

What’s the Significance?

However, it remains essential that you convey the “Significance of the Study” to these readers. This section places your research issue into a broader context by addressing the larger problem that impacts the general public. It explains how your research aims to contribute to current understanding of the subject and identifies who will benefit from your study. Simply, this section provides specific details about the expected outcomes of the research you plan to carry out.

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Introducing the Design

The next section, “Research Design,” takes the statement of the problem and transforms it into specific, manageable research questions. Most studies include three to five research questions, which may also include sub-questions to address individual aspects of a larger question. These questions guide the methods you will use to conduct the research. For example, in a quantitative study, you would define and state the 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

Your research and research questions do not exist in a vacuum. As such, the next section of your introduction chapter, the “Nature of the Study” section, serves to connect your research to the broader scholarly community. 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. Your “Definition of Terms” section will follow. Here you will conceptualize all constructs and variables investigated in the study, including 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. 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. Having assisted thousands of graduate students over the last two decades, our team at Statistics Solutions 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!

For your introduction chapter, we will:

  • Review your school’s template for the introduction chapter with you;
  • Provide guidance and answer questions as you draft;
  • Edit your draft to include the following:
    • Introduction to the problem;
    • Background and context;
    • Theoretical/conceptual framework;
    • Statement of the problem;
    • Purpose of the study;
    • Research questions;
    • Rationale/relevance;
    • Significance and nature of the study;
    • Definitions of terms;
    • Assumptions;
    • And limitations/delimitations.

If this is the type of assistance you could benefit from, feel free to give us a call or schedule a free consultation with our consulting specialist, Jeanine. It is our pleasure to assist students with their dissertation journey and it brings us absolute joy learning about our client’s success, so let us help guide you through the process to reach your fullest potential!