Which Dissertation Section Should I Start With?

It may seem obvious to some to start writing your dissertation with the Intro section. It’s called the “Intro” section, so why not begin there, right? Well, many students do, in fact, begin writing the Introduction Section first, but that’s not necessarily the best method. To determine which section to start with, you must first understand the objective of each section and how it fits into the overall dissertation.

The Introduction section of a dissertation is meant to provide an overview, or summary, to readers as to what to expect in the dissertation. Because it is a summary of your dissertation, many suggest writing it last. Because how can you summarize something that doesn’t exist yet? Many students may try to write the Intro section first, only to find themselves re-writing it many times.

We have found that students who start first with Section 2- the Literature Review, have an easier and quicker time finishing their dissertation. We highly recommend beginning with the Lit Review section first and then writing the Intro section last. Yes, we said it- last! The Intro will be much easier to write after you have finished all the other sections of your dissertation because you will be an expert in understanding each section and you will be able to easily summarize your dissertation in an Intro section later.

If you insist on starting with the Intro section first, we suggest only writing the first third of the Intro section, which would include sections the introduction, background of the problem, statement of the problem, and purpose of the study. You can certainly choose to even write fewer than these topics at first, but it’s best to not add anything further than these because it simply won’t make sense and if you try, you are much more than likely going to have to change it several times.