Classically Inclined

June 1, 2011

How to write a thesis introduction

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 9:15 am
Tags: , , ,

One of the things I found hardest when writing my thesis was getting the introduction sorted. By the time I came to write it, I had an outline that I had sketched in my rolling synopsis many many moons earlier, and random ideas that I’d been keeping in a document imaginatively titled ‘things to put in an introductory chapter’ for the last couple of months. Suddenly I found myself faced with the task of making a plan that actually reflected what I wanted to put into an introduction, and writing the thing.

To get my brain in gear, I thought I’d have a think about what the purpose of an introduction is, and how it should work in the first place, and it is those thoughts that I want to share with you now. I should note that this records my own thought process within my field of Classics, so I’d be delighted to hear about any significant differences in your discipline that might change how you would approach this task.

Well, taking the philological turn, an introduction should introduce. It needs to explain what’s coming, and what the reader can expect. Similarly, it needs to explain why the work that’s been done has been worth doing, and what new contribution to knowledge this thesis/book is going to make. What does the reader get out of reading it?

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