Write a good general introduction for your thesis


The few pages that make up the general introduction are among the most important of your thesis and Buy Dissertation Online.

Poorly done, an introduction sows confusion; the reader does not see where the author is coming from; he must make efforts to understand; he begins to fear that the whole thesis will be messy and boring.

Done well, the introduction turns out to be a real guide for the reader. Who will continue reading with the underlying idea that he is reading a good job? A job that is worthwhile.

But then, what is a “good intro”?

The best way to understand how to make a good introduction is to understand WHY we do it. What meaning we must give to our work, to orient it correctly. I’m not going to start by listing the successive parts of the intro; writing the intro means giving a strong intention to our text. Rather than accomplishing a school outline marked out in advance. So I’ll start by asking myself…

What’s the point of a general introduction?

Two things!

First, to get the reader. Yes, “go get it”; because his attention is not won over to you. You have lived for years thinking about your thesis topic. You are passionate about it (even if you are fed up with it sometimes!!). But your reader, he comes from the “outside”, you have to attract him to your subject. To do this, you have to assume that you are the guide, on the one hand, and you have to be aware of the needs of the reader, on the other hand.

A common mistake is to say to yourself. It is my director who will read me, as well as professors for my defense, so I have to be up to it, that I hide my weaknesses, because they are the ones who know, they are them the experts.

This is an inappropriate state of mind, because it will take away your ability to teach. However, you must be a pedagogue, that is to say, assume that you know more about your thesis subject than anyone else . You must therefore explain things gradually, avoiding innuendo. Do not write thinking of an expert reader and evaluator; write for an average reader who knows the basics of your discipline.

This reader has no reason yet to care about what you have to say. You must therefore understand how your research subject is perceived from the outside. To find a way to guide the reader from this general perception towards a finer and more precise vision. Which is the one you develop in your thesis.

The reason for your thesis

The second mission of your introduction is to give the reason for your thesis, nothing less! At the end of the introduction, the reader must have understood that it was necessary to do this thesis. Because it will come to fill a gap in scientific knowledge, and that it contributes effectively to the academic debate. Why did you spend years on your thesis? To show a new phenomenon, or to give a new interpretation to a phenomenon, or to give a new dimension to a concept.

The introduction shows the originality and the usefulness of your work (I say here usefulness not in the sense of its possible practical applications, but in the sense of its contribution to knowledge). This will encourage the reader to continue reading, because otherwise, why would he get tired?

When should you start writing the introduction?

You understood it by reading the above, it takes a certain maturity to make the intro. More specifically, you must have:

  • A well-formulated research question, in its final form (it precisely gives the object of study and the angle chosen to study it).
  • an exact idea of ​​what our thesis has brought to the academic debate
  • A thoughtful, assumed position of research

In short, you have to have an overview of your thesis, and even a certain height, a certain distance from it. Basically, you have to have finished your thesis.

So, unsurprisingly, I advise doctoral students to write the introduction AFTER they have finished writing the text of their thesis. This is a final step (before the conclusion, however). If you write the introduction before the rest, you will lack the overall vision and the necessary hindsight, and above all you will lack confidence.

My advice may upset you if you’ve already done the opposite… To tell the truth, some supervisors ask their doctoral students to provide them with an introduction first, when they haven’t written anything else. In my opinion, this is an error of method (and that’s just my opinion). But if you have no choice and you have to do the intro before the rest, how do you go about it?

You have to put up with a good heart against bad luck… So imagine this work imposed on you as an opportunity to construct a text which will be the equivalent of a good research project, which will help you to gather your ideas for the writing; but bearing in mind that you will have to revise it in depth before the defense anyway. Do not therefore seek any perfection: you would get bogged down. Do your best and then keep moving forward.

What does the general introduction of the thesis contain?

In SHS, Literature, Law etc. the length of a thesis introduction is very variable, from 10 to 60 pages, but it should not exceed 10% of the total of the thesis.

Most of the time, the introductions contain the following elements: a hook, an overall presentation of the subject, a part presenting the state of the art and the theoretical framework of your thesis, then the problem and the hypotheses, then the methodology of the collection of data, and finally the announcement of the plan.

However, I have come across perfectly valid thesis introductions in which this order was a little jostled, or in which one of these ingredients was missing (for example, no section on methodology). Conversely, other introductions have additional parts : for example, a part on your motivations, one on the objective of the study and its scope… Only the announcement of the plan seems to be immutable, at the end of the ‘introduction.

In general, when an important part such as the methodology or the theoretical framework is missing, it is because these themes are addressed in a preliminary chapter of the thesis, which immediately follows the introduction. The author can choose to deal with them in a chapter rather than in the introduction to lighten the latter and make it more fluid, when he considers that going into the details of the methodology, for example, involves too many explanations. detailed.

Disciplinary traditions also play a role:

in some disciplines, especially those closer to the natural sciences, it is absolutely necessary to start the thesis with a part of the theoretical framework, or else, it is necessary to explain the methodology of the experiments at length in the body of the text: the introduction will therefore be more succinct, shorter, because it will not have to go into these explanations already.

In short, I invite you to consult theses in your discipline to get up to date with what is being done, formally, in your field.

Be that as it may, I’m going to show you here four beats, four “movements” that will allow you to build an introduction that really fulfills its function.

1. Lead the reader to the topic

You have to arouse the reader’s curiosity with a catchphrase (an anecdote, an observation) that is easily understandable; then, you will begin to give the first elements of context of your subject of study. The danger here is to fall into generalities (and to give a lecture on your cultural area, for example) or to go back too far in the explanations: if your thesis concerns a current aspect of European integration, do not start not by telling the story of the Treaty of Rome; but don’t start with a pointed anecdote that no one outside the corridors of the European Commission can understand. You have to find the right focus: get to the heart of the matter without mobilizing details requiring expertise.

Talking about the context of our research subject implies keeping in mind its boundaries, and disciplining oneself to note only what will be really useful, and which will make sense, in the rest of the thesis.

2. Stand out smartly.

You are going to talk about what other researchers have said on your subject of research before you: but I don’t really like the term “literature review”, which gives the impression that you are going to draw up an exhaustive list: what absolutely must not do! Also you must show the reader the major trends in academic debate, in a lucid and critical way, and position yourself frankly. You are no longer a passive student, you are a researcher who contributes to the construction of knowledge.

Here, you are also doing pedagogical work because you enter more and more finely into the heart of your subject of study.

3. Assess the originality of your thesis

It is your research question that gives his thesis its originality. You must present it; this question poses a conundrum, approaching a problem in a new way. We need to be able to see how your questioning will advance the state of knowledge. Here, the key word is DARE: dare to talk about the deep interest of your research, the thorny questions you wanted to raise, then your working hypotheses.

You no longer talk about others, you talk about your research, which demonstrates something that could be very useful to other researchers afterwards, which is not anecdotal and Academic Essay Examples.

4. Affirm the seriousness of your approach

This can be done through the presentation of a sound survey/or experimentation methodology; also by reviewing the use you have made of certain concepts: you explain why they seemed really relevant to you: these are your theoretical choices.

These four major movements can be found scattered in different forms in an introduction, they can be embodied in parts with variable titles depending on the discipline, but they are always there because they are what gives meaning to your subject. it is necessary to conclude by announcing the plan (I will not return to this because that does not present great difficulties).

It’s your turn !

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