Some of them may not be necessary or useful for your thesis or dissertation, they might be presented in a variety of different orders, and disciplines and departments will vary in the terminology used to describe them, so it is essential while using this list to prioritise any instructions you obtain from your own educational institution and mentors.
Generally speaking, however, the introduction to a scholarly thesis or dissertation should • Identify clearly, accurately and with as much precision as possible the topic, problem or phenomenon on which your research focuses.
A conceptual framework is very much like an accurate textual map of the territory investigated in your research, so it should allow you to include in meaningful ways everything you wish to report, discuss, interpret and argue.
• Outline the aims and objectives of your research.
Some instructors and guidelines might recommend a little shorter introduction of about 7% or even 5% of the total length of the document, but in other disciplines and especially when the background information needed to understand the research is extensive, an introduction might grow to 12% or even 15% of the entire thesis or dissertation.
As you are designing and drafting the introduction for your thesis or dissertation, the guidelines, advice and models available to you will help you aim for an appropriate length, and as you finish and polish your work, they will help you edit for that perfect length.• Introduce, usually briefly, the methods and approaches you have adopted or devised to investigate the topic or problem.Your methodology need not be new, but it should be the most effective possible, and for postgraduate research it is usually best if its application to the problem is in some way innovative, so do emphasise those aspects. The intellectual and theoretical context of your research might be covered in your discussion of the background or scholarship, but it can be described separately.Even more important, however, will be the content you are required to include in your introduction.Here, too, those guidelines, mentors and successful theses and dissertations will prove invaluable.A doctoral thesis in the humanities might consist of a good many more words and paragraphs than a Ph D thesis in the sciences does, but that scientific thesis might in turn make up the difference in tables, charts and other presentations of data.In a traditionally structured scientific thesis at the postgraduate level, where the introduction is followed by chapters dedicated to methodology, results, discussion and, finally, conclusions, an introduction that constitutes about 10% of the overall length is generally acceptable.This can be done at any point in the introduction, but mentioning it in a brief and engaging manner near the beginning and then developing it into a more comprehensive statement often works well.• Provide background information for the topic you are exploring.The level of the research conducted by the student, the academic or scientific discipline, the depth of specialisation, the topic or problem investigated and the preferences of the department as well as the advice of the student’s mentors are among these.The nature of the research, then, will determine the length and much else about the introduction because it is that research that the introduction must introduce, and introduce well, to examiners and other readers.