Intro and conclusion chapter - how long did yours take to write?


Hi all,

This is a pretty arbitrary I know but I just wondered how long these chapters took to write for those who have written them, by comparison to empirical chapters. I am in social science and my research is qualitative. The empirical chapter have taken me ages due to the masses of data I have (and the fact I'm a bit slow and a chronic procrastinator, but that goes without saying!)

My supervisor keeps telling me to write these right at the end and that they will take me no time at all. She suggested a day or two for the introduction and 3 or 4 days for conclusion since I already have a main discussion chapter. I am trying to trust her on this but I'm feeling dubious! So I just wondered how others had experienced this?

Thanks :-)


I wrote my intro chapter in about 3 months of starting my part-time PhD. It was a mix of literature survey and methods and outline for the rest of the PhD. I changed it very little later.

My final conclusions chapter took about a month to write, again part-time. It was quite hard to get the structure right, and figure out what to put in there. But once I had it clear in my mind it was ok.

My thesis structure was

5 chapters of thematic topics (each with their own little lit-review + conclusions)
final conclusions chapter

My PhD was humanities, a mix of qualitative and quantitative, but definitely leaning more towards the former.


Hey Slowmo! I'm in the same position as you- wondering how long I need to leave to sort out the intro and discussion. I already have a draft intro but it does need quite a bit of editing. I was reckoning maybe a week each, or a month for both, tops. Having said that, I doubt I will leave that little time just in case it proves to be a longer task than I think. I do usually write quite quickly when I know what I want to say, so it's more the planning that I need the time for, and I'm anticipating that the discussion will take quite a bit longer than the intro. If in doubt, leave as much time as you can I think! KB


Thanks for both of your replies!

I'm not sure why she is suggesting such a short time for it. I can understand the conclusion as I have already written a really comprehensive discussion chapter so it is just going to be a very short one to finish it off. But the intro seems like it will take longer. I'm also not sure what goes in the intro as it feels like I've covered almost everything already. Agh!


I think a month total for both chapters if you're full-time is reasonable. You might be quicker, but budgeting a month allows for hiccups.

My 3 months (part-time) for my intro/lit review included the reading as well as the writing. If you're just writing a separate intro then, not the lit review and doing reading for it, it's quicker.

I personally found it helpful to write the intro at the start, not least because it set down for me what my approach was, and I could then go forward confident in that knowledge.

The hardest bit I found about writing the final chapter was figuring out my big "so what" and what the big conclusions were. Each chapter had its own mini conclusions, but I really needed to pull them together into an over-arching conclusion/finding. And that wasn't quite what I'd anticipated figuring out at the start, although with hindsight it was rather obvious.


My Intro was almost a Lit Review in itself, and was an argument in itself. I wrote it initially, then changed it ferociously at the end.Conclusion is hard. I'm now editing someone else's Conclusion chapter and it's like she suddenly amazingly realised what it's all about. Conclusion really has to get the essence of 'why I did this and what it means despite everything' in less than 5k words. It has to be punchy, strong, honest, and convinced. These are the two hardest chapters, and should be left 'til last, but given enough time.


I'm in the middle of my write up; I'm hoping to have a first draft by mid May. I wrote the intro ages ago (similar to Bilbo) but unlike other chapters I haven't shown it to my supervisor as I know I will need to vigorously edit it - as in take some things out altogether, add some new stuff in. However I felt it got me organised. I'm hoping my conclusion won't take 'that' long as it will be just that - a conclusion - as my substantive discussion is in the chapter immediately before the conclusion. I was told that conclusions are often weak and are common corrections to be given at vivas in that many are written in a hurry, when the student is either tight on time, or so sick of the whole process that they don't give it enough attention. That said, I expect it to be short - the guide I was given was roughly ten pages or so. Even ten pages of the tough-going writing won't (I'm desperately hoping!) take that long!

A day or two for the intro does sound short but then again if you have written everything else by then, it should flow, one would hope.

Good luck - hard to write and keep at it with this lovely weather, isn't it??



Thanks again for all the replies! I spoke with my supervisor and she told me that as my methodology and lit review chapters are really comprehensive, my introduction will be a really short chapter (around 3000 words or so). So this is why she is suggesting such a short time to write this since most of what others might put in an intro chapter has already been written. And the conclusion she said the same as I already have a long discussion chapter after the four empirical chapters but there needs to be a shorter conclusion chapter at the end with policy implications etc.

So that explains it. Phew!