How to write a good thesis introduction

For many people, getting started with the thesis introduction is the most scary part. Writing introductions can be intimidating. At this point, most of your research/prep work should be done and you should be ready to start your introduction. But often, it is not clear what needs to be included and how to make a good first impression to your reader. If you feel stuck at this point not knowing how to start, this guide can help.

First of all, make sure to really start with the introduction. If you are having trouble putting together a good introduction, start with a placeholder. That placeholder does not need to be as strong as you would like it to be, but you can always come back to it and edit it. Having a brief introduction that sets the direction will help you a lot as you write. Waiting to write the introduction until the end can leave you with a poorly written setup to an otherwise well-written paper.

A good introduction draws readers in while providing the setup for the entire paper. There is no single way to write an introduction that will always work for every topic, but the points below can act as a guide. These points can help you write a good thesis introduction:

1. Identify your readership

Before even starting with your first sentence, ask yourself the question who your readers are. Your first and most important reader is your professor grading your work and the people ultimately responsible for you getting your diploma. You should also consider readers of your thesis who are not specialists in your field. Writing with them in your mind will help you to be as clear as possible which will make your thesis better understandable and more enjoyable overall.

2. Hook the reader and grab their attention

The first sentence of the paper is crucial. Looking back at your own research, how many papers have you skipped just because reading the first few sentences they couldn't grab your attention? It is common to start with a question or quotation, but these types of hooks have become overused. The best way to start your introduction is with a sentence that is broad and interesting and seamlessly transitions into your argument. Also, starting with a broader statement will appeal to a wider audience. Consider who the paper is aimed at informing and then think of something that would grab their attention. Make a list of what is interesting about your topic. Are there any current events it relates to or controversies associated with it that might be interesting for your introduction? Start out broad and then narrow down to your specific topic and thesis statement.

3. Provide relevant background

A good introduction also needs to contain enough background information to allow the reader to understand the thesis statement and arguments. The amount of background information required will depend on the topic. There should be enough background information so you don't have to spend too much time with it in the body of the thesis, but not so much that it becomes uninteresting.

4. Give the reader a general knowledge of what the paper is about

Let the reader know what the purpose of the study is. Make sure to include the following points:

  • Briefly describe the motivation for your research (if you haven't already in the first sentence)
  • Describe the topic and scope of your research
  • Explain the practical relevance of your research
  • Explain the scientific situation related to your topic - you can include the most important scientific articles and briefly explain them and how they are related to your research

5. Preview key points and lead into thesis statement

The introduction to your thesis should preview what is to come and interest the reader with enough understanding of the key points, but still leave the best for the main part. While the body of your thesis will explain the main argument, you might want to lead into the thesis statement by briefly bringing up a few of your main supporting details.