introduction chapter in a phd dissertation


Hi all,

I am in the process of writing-up my dissertation. I have to say that I am a bit struggling with introducing theoretical background. In the filed of my research, theories are quite segmentary (scandalously speaking ...) but most of them seem to lead to a similar idea. And it is this common notion that my studies are based on. I guess when writing the introduction part I am supposed to indicate which theory that I have applied as a foundation. The thing is that my research is not based on one specific theory, on the other hand, I do not think it is expected to introduce all relevant theories. So... I really would like to listen to your suggestion in this regard. Thanks very much!!



Hi TerryCH

I havent really got the answer for you but a suggestion that I picked up from my upgrade - one of the examiners advised me to avoid using theory for theories sake!!! - so back to your issue, it might help you to give a name (invent one) to your specific approach to the many theoretical frameworks and then only mention the bits you have borroweed from each framework and how they add to your niche perspective ....examiners in your field will know what you mean just show them what is essential for your work an cut out all other explanations....
All the very best (up)


Hi Naturalme,

Thanks for your suggestion! And it is good to know that a pure introduciton of theories is not welcome :). Actually your reply makes me feel comfortable with starting to write this part :)



I still think you need to make it clear in your intro from where you are coming, and in what direction you will be going. Nothing wrong with stating a couple of theories but admitting that none of them completely suit your study - I would go with this rather than saying they are rubbish! You then can say something like '...therefore using theory 'x' but adapting it so as to best address the aims and objectives of this study, this thesis will develop a new theory...

Btw, I HATE theory :-s


Hey Terry! My PhD was based on a particular theoretical framework which hadn't been used in the same context before, and I actually dedicated a whole chapter to discussing different possible theoretical frameworks for my study and then outlining the one I had chosen with the reasons for my choice. I'm not saying you need to devote a whole chapter to it (it is an exceedingly boring chapter in my thesis!!) but as Ady said, I think you do need to explain the different theories/theoretical frameworks and explain why you have chosen your approach, even though it's not based on one specific theory. Presumably in the discussion section you will be relating your results back to existing theories anyway, so probably best to discuss them to some extent in the intro. Good luck with it! KB