** Write A successful Introduction **. In this article, you will read a couple of tips about how to write a successful introduction for your thesis. I am a thesis coach and have helped students in different stages. Students who begin with writing their proposal. Or students whose thesis has been rejected. I take pride in helping students. Therefore, I work for Write Way and coach students who are writing their thesis. Often, I start with the introduction chapter. That is the chapter that needs the most improvements. So here are some tips. Did you know that your introduction is the walls for building your house? The house in this example represents the thesis. If your introduction has a mistake your walls will collapse. A broken home is something that we do not want. Read tips about the shape of the chapter, the maximum words you can use, the four most important elements, and the research question check. 


How to Write A Successful Introduction For Your Thesis 


1.  The shape of a successful introduction

Figure 1 – the shape of a thesis – Write Way – Write a successful introduction

The shape of the introduction is a funnel. Figure 1 shows that the introduction is a funnel-shaped chapter that goes from broad to specific. Write the chapter from a broad stance and work your way to the problem, research question, and sub-questions. Tip: your discussion chapter is actually part of your introduction upside down. But more on the discussion chapter in the following posts. 

Shape thesis - Write Way
Figure 1: Shape thesis – Write Way


2.  Know the maximum number of words to use

 Please read your university manual carefully. Often there is a number of maximum words you can use to write your introduction. What if you do not know? 

According to Thomas (2013), the maximum number of words for an introduction chapter are:

Do not exceed this number. When I was a teacher I had to grade theses. Exceeding the maximum number of words was one major criterion for which I could deduct points. Sometimes even rejecting a thesis.  


Introduction - Write Way
Figure 2 – Introduction – Write Way


3.  Every successful introduction has 4 to 5 elements.

Did you know that the average introduction often contains the same 4 to 5 elements? It does not matter what sort of thesis it is; they all have similar structures. These 5 elements are:  


1.    The setting

Element 1 is about the setting. The reader needs to read general sentences about the research topic that will lead to the following elements of the problem. For example, we move from the big universe to the galaxy. Whereby the text becomes more specific. From the galaxy, we will go to Earth (specific topic). From Earth, we will move into the research area. For example, the Netherlands. Furthermore, element 1 contains definitions of keywords, which will be covered throughout the thesis. Give sources with definitions. My rule of thumb is that if a 12-year-old does not know what the word means, then you will provide the reader with a definition. Element 1 is around 3 paragraphs. 

An example sentence can be: 

X is increasingly recognized as a serious, worldwide public health concern (Author, year).” 


2.    More specific sentences about the problem studied

Write down what other researchers have said about the topic and problem in element 2. Summarise the literature regarding your topic. Give concrete examples when doing so. Make sure you move from the topic to the specific problem. Researcher A said this, but Researcher B said that. Answer the where and why questions. Pay attention to referencing and using APA. Element 2 is already somewhat smaller in size compared to Element 1. Often element 3 has a maximum of three paragraphs. 

 An example sentence can be: 

“Smith (1988) shows how, in the past, research into “X” was mainly concerned with ….” 

“Studies of “X” show the importance of…” 


3. More research is needed about….

Highlight the problem in element 3. When doing so, make sure the words ‘the problem is’ are used. Often this element contains what has been known in research, and what the research knowledge gap is. We are almost at the most important part of your thesis. Try to write element 3 in just one 1 paragraph.

Example sentences are: 

“To date, there has been little agreement on what…”

“Previous studies of “X” have not dealt with…”

“Although extensive research has been carried out on “X, no single study exists which…” 

“However, few studies have reported on “X” 


4.    The aim of your thesis

Element 4 exists out of one or two sentences. Write down what your aim is. Often, we will read the research question and sub-questions. These are specific statements giving the aim of the thesis. 

Example sentences are: 

“The aim of this study was to clarify several aspects of…”

“The aim of this thesis has therefore been to try and establish what…”

Figure 2 – How to write a successful introduction?


5.    (optional) statements that give the value of the thesis

Do not forget to sell your thesis in element 5. Write a sentence or two about the value or justification for doing the study. What is the thesis contributing to society? The research subject? This is not always a mandatory element. However, adding a justification will make your thesis stronger. 

An example sentence can be: 

“This thesis reports the results of “X” in order to determine “Y””


Let’s go back to the next tip. How do you write a successful introduction for your thesis? 

Figure 3 – Introduction – Write Way

4.  Check your introduction with the words from your research question

The first thing I will read is the research question. After that, I will read the full introduction. Why? Every word in your research questions needs to be briefly introduced before we get to it. I use the control + f function to search whether all the words from the research question have been mentioned in elements 1 and 2. Do not introduce keywords after your research question. Having those keywords as an afterthought makes the structure go wild and you end up with a different shape than a funnel. Side note: I am talking here about briefly introducing keywords. Save the literature study for going into depth about certain key features. 


So how do you write a successful introduction for your thesis?

In sum, make sure the shape of the introduction is a funnel within its maximum words. Add in all 4 elements. Finally, find out if you have introduced every keyword by checking if all the words in the research question have been defined. Want to read more tips? Do you have specific questions? Write Way hosts writing workshops and sometimes has a spot available for one-on-one coaching.



Thomas, G. (2013). How to do your research project: A guide for students. Sage.