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Dissertation introduction, conclusion, and abstract

How much value do introduction, conclusion, and abstract carry in your dissertation?

To understand the major role that these three components play in a dissertation, one needs to learn about the actual yet overall purpose of a dissertation, first.

What is the purpose and value of a DISSERTATION?

A dissertation is a lengthy piece of academic writing that serves as the final step in your educational trail to obtain a Master’s or Ph.D. degree. It portrays all the skills and knowledge you hold in possession to effectively conduct a research project. It abundantly demonstrates one’s abilities to set the targets, critically evaluate and analyze the data while producing and presenting the outcomes of their work articulately. In retrospect, the purpose of a dissertation is to the research question, however, the journey and process are carries more weight than the actual findings.

Dissertation writing is held in high value and regards as it involves a logical flow of theories instill during classroom training. Moreover, it helps prove the proficiency of students by exhibiting how well they have understood the application of these very propositions in a real-world scenario. And, it goes without saying that the career opportunities for a predominant majority circle around this written piece.

Dissertation structuring – what goes where?

Many are under the pretense that as the introduction and abstract are the initial chapters to be read by someone viewing your dissertation, they are also to be written first. It is fair to assume that but in actuality, this is not the case. In hindsight, writing a dissertation introduction, conclusion, and abstract after you are done working on the other sections of your dissertation will serve your interests better.  

Many are under the pretense that as the introduction and abstract are the initial chapters to be read by someone viewing your dissertation, they are also to be written first. It is fair to assume that but in actuality, this is not the case. In hindsight, writing a dissertation introduction, conclusion, and abstract after you are done working on the other sections of your dissertation will serve your interests better.  

If you are conflicted and wondering why to take on this approach, then here’s your why answered:

  1. Primarily, to write retrospectively is to obtain a dissertation introduction and conclusion that harmonize with each other, and also that your ideas throughout are tied up nicely together.
  2. What’s more, is that it is a time-saving practice. If you write your dissertation introduction prior to the other chapters, you might have to go back and make changes time and again in case your ideas and selected theories evolve as you proceed with the dissertation.
  3. Lastly, it will provide the assurity that the abstract precisely holds all the detail it needs in order for the reader to get a good overall stance about what you have actually put together.

In this blog, we will highlight the prime details for the chapters mentioned above so that you have adequate insights on each of them and can steer clear of any potential hindrances along the way.

Let’s take the three essentials of a dissertation step-by-step.

The Introduction

The introduction – sometimes referred to as historical by young scientists – is the first chapter of your dissertation and appears right after the table of contents. It is crucial to draw the reader in with a captivating beginning that manages to cover the how what and why of your research while paving a path for your research findings with a clear purpose and direction. This section represents the context to the background of your study and contains the research statement, generally occupying 5-7% of the overall dissertation.

Typically, the introduction contains:

  • Topic and context: what does the reader require to understand and comprehend the dissertation?
  • Focus and scope: what particular aspects of the topic will you cover?
  • Relevancy and importance: how the research fits into the already-existing work on this field of study.
  • Questions and objectives: what goal does the research aim to achieve and how?
  • Overview of the structure: what does each and every section of the dissertation grant to the overall purpose?

Starting your introduction:

Every written body comprises an introduction as the first thing, and naturally, it is written initially before any other matter. It is assumed that a dissertation should follow the same pattern. But, it doesn’t have to be the first thing your write – as a matter of fact, it should be the last – just like the abstract.

Drawing up a rough draft of your introduction in the initial stages of the research will benefit you abundantly. Regardless, this passage should be revised throughout the writing process to achieve certainty that it precisely matches the content of all the chapters that follow along.

An efficient and effective introduction includes many elements, and the key ones are detailed below.

  1. Topic and Context:

    Commence by introducing your topic of study and provide all the relevant background information. Then gradually move towards the core subject of your dissertation. You can step a little outside of the box to generate interest by referring to trivial facts, recent incidents, or practical issues that comprehensively relate to your subject, and hence convey the importance of your topic to the audience.

  2. Focus and Scope:

    Once you are through with the brief introduction circling your general area of interest, it is time to elaborate the focus of your topic and research findings in depth. This can be attained by addressing some factors such as the geographical region you are enquiring about, the time period cover in your study, the communities and demographics you are investigating along with the themes and aspects you aim to direct to in your dissertation.

  3. Relevancy and Importance:

    Justifying the importance and relevance of your research is a matter of grave significance. It delivers the motive of your research in the chosen field of study, the way it relates to the existing work published on the subject, and the new insights it will provide. You are required to present a concise overview of the recent state of the study by citing and referring to the most relevant literature and stating how your work will address a fault or an existing gap in the field.

  4. Questions and objectives:

    One of the most valuable aspects your dissertation introduction holds is the list of research aims and objectives that it contains. It sets forth the expectations for your entire piece of writing and, the formulation of your objectives and questions should clearly mention the main purpose of your overall findings. You can also briefly add the research methods you referred to along with the conceptual framework.

  5. Overview of the structure:

    Ending your introduction section with an overview of the dissertation structure will provide a guide to your reader audience. It is advised to keep this area short and concise – a couple of sentences should be enough.

Commence by introducing your topic of study and provide all the relevant background information. Then gradually move towards the core subject of your dissertation. You can step a little outside of the box to generate interest by referring to trivial facts, recent incidents, or practical issues that comprehensively relate to your subject, and hence convey the importance of your topic to the audience.

The conclusion

The conclusion is the final part of your dissertation. It should be written in a manner that is engaging, yet concise. Hold the objective to provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the argument that your research is pivoting around.

This section serves the purpose of:

  • Explicitly stating the answer to the prime research question.
  • Summarizing and reflecting on the topic of research.
  • Stating some recommendations for future work on the topic.
  • Exhibiting the knowledge that you have acquired and contributed along the way.

Starting your conclusion:

It is highly important to write your conclusion in such a way that it resonates with the introduction chapter all the way through. Drawing up this section is not as easy as it sounds – it is known to be one of the most mentally exhausting chapters for a fair reason. It’s an equivalent of a defense attorney presenting their final statement prior to a judge’s verdict. An outstanding conclusion can easily be delivered by planning and incorporating the following points.

  1. Explicitly stating the answer to the prime research question.

    The conclusion should start by referring to the prime question that your dissertation revolves around. You have to reinstate your research objectives concisely and clearly, all while avoiding repetition. Try and synthesis the results and outcomes in the form of an ending takeaway and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

  2. Summarizing and reflecting on the topic of research.

    In this last chapter of your dissertation, you are required to explain and justify your research and the approaches you have followed down on, your expected finding, and what you actually found during the course of writing it. This is the part where you can also mention the limitations you came while working on your research.

  3. Stating some recommendations for future work on the topic.

    It may be the case that you have already stated the recommendations for the future research in the discussion chapter, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate on them, precisely if there are noteworthy implications of your work in theory, and in practice.

  4. Exhibiting the knowledge that you have acquired and contributed along the way.

    Laying a strong emphasis on your contributions down the field of your study is an adequate way of leaving a positive impression on your reader. Some strategies you can attain to achieve this includes citing back to the literature review section and revealing how you have catered to the gaps in knowledge, going back to your problem statement and portraying how your work resolved it, and lastly, by explaining how your research challenges an already drawn out theory or assumption.

The abstract

The abstract is present at the beginning of a dissertation along with the introduction chapter and is regarded as an afterthought by students. It seeks to provide a summary of the entire paper by delivering an overview of all the prime factors and points referred to in your dissertation.

This area is supposed to include:

  • Your targeted research problems and objectives.
  • The methods you have referred to.
  • The key results.
  • The conclusion you have drawn.

Starting your abstract:

Since an abstract is the summary of your dissertation, writing it after finishing off the entire paper is a useful logical approach. It must be unambiguous and concise while effectively covering all parts of your written piece adequately. The way to do so is by following the path stated below.

  1. Your targeted research problems and objectives.

    Begin by comprehensively stating the purpose of your research. You can consider including content circling social or academic areas, relevant to your topic. And, make sure to write this section in either past or present tense.

  2. The methods you have referred to.

    Moving forward, highlight the research methods that you used to answer and elaborate on your question. You should not go in a circle while writing this, keep it to the point.

  3. The key results.

    Now, it is time to summarize the key results of your research. The approach to take here is to outline only the most important of the finding that will help your reader get a grasp over you final conclusion.

  4. The conclusion you have drawn.

    Finally, state the conclusion of your entire piece by providing the main answer to your research question. It should be presented in such a way that it gives the reader a clear understanding of the central idea of your work. Now that we have covered the introduction, conclusion, and abstract in detail, you would have an idea about the dos and don’ts of each section. However, you must remember that the key to writing a phenomenal dissertation is to briefly include each chapter of the dissertation in a logical, yet profound synopsis.