1. Statement of purpose. Open your dissertation with a clear statement of your purpose for conducting and writing up new research. These opening remarks need not yet precisely articulate specific research questions, but should indicate the definite direction which the dissertation will follow.

2. Define your topic. It is necessary early on to carve out the particular area of study within your chosen academic discipline. This will provide reference points for academics within your field to understand your point of departure when embarking on research.

3. Approach. Outline the basic approach you took to formulating your research questions and clarifying the aims of your dissertation. Discuss the issues that informed and shaped the direction of your project in order to contextualise and rationalise your particular methods and other research decisions.

4. Terminology. The depth of your research into a particular aspect of your field will tend to bring up the need for an intensive and precise use of subject-specific vocabulary. Include a section in your introduction which systematically defines all relevant terms and clarifies ambiguities in your usage of general terms if necessary.

5. Objectives and research questions. Concise, coherent and clear statements of your aims, objectives and research questions must appear in your introductory chapter. These will follow on from your statement of purpose and outline of approach, but nonetheless must be clearly identified and lucidly stated.

6. Rigorous hypotheses. When formulating and stating hypotheses to be tested after the acquisition of new data, be sure to pay due attention to the logical construction of these hypotheses. A proper hypothesis is testable, falsifiable and non-circular.

7. Scope of work. Your introduction should give a clear sense of how you understand the scope and extent of your dissertation, as well as its place within the current research and existing literature of your field. Demonstrate a broad knowledge base through this contextual section of discussion.

8. Significance. A good dissertation goes beyond the basic requirements of review, collection and analysis, and indicates an astute awareness of the significance of its own findings within the academic subject area. The introduction is the initial point at which such discussions emerge.

9. Reasons. Generally speaking, the academic register is based in a replacement of familiarity with formality, and the elimination of the first person from the text. However, in discussing the reasons for selecting your research proposals, there is occasionally some scope for indicating the nature and extent of personal engagement by speaking candidly about your own motivations.

10. Subheadings. For those unaccustomed to writing extended pieces of work such as custom dissertations, the division of an introductory section into several parts might seem unusual. However, the introduction makes up an entire chapter, and for purposes of intelligibility, it is useful to employ subheadings here to break up the prose and identify key issues.

Helpful links: Dissertation Examples, Dissertation Proposals