I have to start writing my thesis. My topic for research is work life balance in IT sector - a comparative analysis of male & female IT professionals in Pune.

I need help in writing the first introduction chapter. what all should be included in this chapter & what should not?

  • 19
    Why are you writing the introduction chapter first? Write it later, once you've worked out what it is you're introducing.
    – 410 gone
    Dec 11, 2013 at 16:01
  • then which chapter should i start with?please suggest
    – pratima
    Dec 11, 2013 at 17:16
  • 3
    Either Literature Review or Method(s/ology). Or maybe both, in tandem.
    – 410 gone
    Dec 11, 2013 at 17:37
  • 12
    then which chapter should i start with — The one that you are closest to having already written in your head. Alternatively: pick one at random and just start.
    – JeffE
    Dec 11, 2013 at 20:17

4 Answers 4


Talk to your advisor and look into student services provided by your university. The department should have pretty clear guidance on document structure and format. You will also learn a lot by reading some of the dissertations of previous (successful) candidates.

  • 1
    +1 for reading older theses. Even better would be to read a few of the theses from past students of your parimary adivsor to get a feel for what specific format s/he likes.
    – eykanal
    Dec 11, 2013 at 15:41

As has been mentioned - look at previous candidates' theses, and ask what is expected by your advisor. The introduction contents will vary between disciplines.

What I included in my (successful) PhD thesis is:

  • Brief outline of the topic and subtopics being covered in the PhD.
  • A rationale as to why the project is an important addition to the current body of knowledge.
  • The main objectives of thesis and a brief overview of how these would be achieved.
  • A hypothesis.

Note: it is important thatyou check to see if this or any format is acceptable and expected from your faculty.

  • Also, please note, this is a common practice where i studied.
    – user7130
    Dec 11, 2013 at 20:25

An introduction should funnel the reader from the wider perspective, in which your study is part, to the formulation of your thesis theme or question(s). This means you need to establish the wider perspective where your work improves our knowledge as well as identifying the gap in knowledge where your work attempts solution(s). In terms of writing this can be accomplished in several ways, although similar content-wise.

In a short research paper you start out by writing about the wider perspective leading into identification of and statements about a gap of knowledge where your paper fits. You follow up by reviewing the literature to establish what is known in detail and perhaps highlighting the identified gaps. You may finish off by recapping your work and the main conclusion to the gap(s) identified earlier. Some prefer not to do so in the introduction; a matter of taste or tradition.

You can write your introduction in the way just described as a long chapter (due to the literature review) but you can also choose to split the text into several chapters. You would then have a chapter called introduction which will only contain the wider perspective and identification of a gap in knowledge. Sometimes it can be useful to add a short chapter detailing the aims of the thesis where you can expand on the questions based on the identified gap. You then follow up with a chapter called "background" or something more descriptive, but which contains the literature review.

Since all theses are different, some may have one question to solve, some may have several and somewhat disparate around a main theme, the way to write the introduction will have to be adjusted. for the former case the main template can be followed but in the case of several research questions around a theme some adjustments are needed. Exactly how to solve this is difficult to say since it depends on the type of questions and how they are tied together. But, it is necessary to make sure the place of each question in the greater scheme of things is known and that the literature review clearly shows what is known about each topic. This can in an extreme case mean to have a single short introduction of the major perspective and then have sections for each of the questions, almost like a set of papers (if it is not built from papers/manuscripts); each complete with introduction, methods, results and discussion.


In a lot of PhD dissertations, the introduction consists of material that would have been learned in a graduate course in your subfield. For example, the introduction to mine was a presentation of some basic ideas about low-energy nuclear structure that would have been contained in a graduate course in nuclear physics. Such an introduction is one of the least useful pieces of writing you'll ever do. Only a very small number of people will ever read it, and of those, only an even smaller number will learn anything from it. The text it contains will not be usable in a paper published in s journal. The only people who will benefit from it are maybe 2 or 3 people on your committee who are not in your subfield, and those people could just as easily read some other treatment of the topic. For these reasons, you should either not write such a chapter at all, or make it extremely brief. The whole concept of a PhD dissertation is a bizarre anachronism, and if your university offers an alternative, such as stapling together a set of published papers, you should take it.

  • 1
    The point of that background material is to show that the candidate is capable of writing it. Jul 21, 2014 at 16:58

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