Writing an introduction for your thesis

A complete checklist and writing tips

Every thesis starts with an introduction. In it, you introduce your topic and state, among other things, your motivation, objective, problem statement and research question. This way, the reader knows what your thesis is about and what you have researched. What exactly should an introduction include? How do you go about writing an introduction to your thesis? We answer those questions for you here.

What does the introduction for your thesis entail?

The purpose of the introduction to your thesis is to pique the reader's interest, introduce your thesis topic, show what makes your research relevant and outline the structure of your thesis.

The following components often are included in the introduction to your thesis. Please note that the exact guidelines for the introduction differ per study program. Be sure to follow the guidelines of your study program when writing your introduction.


Background to your research

It is important to properly situate your thesis topic in a specific context. What problems are faced by the company you are doing this research for? What is the gap in the literature that you want to fill? Or, why is your analysis of existing literature so important? When discussing your reasons, you will discuss the practical, social and/or theoretical relevance of your thesis research.

Based on the justification, also describe what your thesis research focuses on. You must define this topic well and make it clear which specific aspect you are focusing on.

Optional: Describing the organization

If you are writing your thesis on behalf of an organization, you must provide a brief outline of the client. For example, indicate what the most important activities of the organization are, what its mission and vision are, and how the organization is structured (number of employees, etc.).


What do you want to achieve with this research? You also mention this in the introduction. ou can formulate it, for example, as follows: “The objective is to find out what…”.

Problem statement and research question

You describe the problem statement. In other words: why is there a need for your specific research? What makes it so important? From this problem statement, you also arrive at the research question. It summarizes concretely and clearly what you are researching.

Do you have hypotheses that provide the expected answers to the sub-questions? Then you may already mention them in the introduction. Do your hypotheses stem from your literature search? In that case, the hypotheses are often in the theoretical framework of your thesis, not in the introduction.

Brief outline of the theory

The theoretical framework often comes after the introduction. Therefore, you do not go into too much detail about all previous literature in the introduction of your thesis. However, you can allow room in your text for a ‘preview’. For example, you often see thesis writers showing a conceptual model or citing some important literature. You build on that in the rest of your thesis.

Reading guide

You usually end your introduction with an outline of the structure of your thesis: the reading guide. In this, you describe, for example, that you start with a theoretical framework, which is then followed by the methodology chapter, etc.

Tips for writing the introduction for your thesis

Are you going to write the introduction for your thesis? These tips will help you do so.

Check your introduction again at the end

Did you write the introduction at the start of your thesis process? Then you should check this chapter again once you have completed the rest of your thesis. This way, you can check whether your introduction fits in well with the rest of your work.

Keep the correct verb tenses

For your introduction, the present tense is the correct verb tense.


'Literature says this…'

'The problem statement of this research is…'

Do you go into background information? Then you use the past tense.

For example:

'Previously, there was a lack of clarity about…'

'Previous research by Jansen showed that…'

Keep the introduction concise

Usually, there are no strict requirements for the maximum length of your introduction. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that your introduction is concise. Avoid repetition and only describe what really matters.

Examples of writing an introduction?

Would you like to have an example to inspire you while writing your introduction? Take a look at the various thesis examples. Look for a thesis from your field. This often gives you an idea of ​​what your introduction should look like in terms of structure.

Want to have your thesis (and introduction) checked?

Are you unsure whether your thesis contains all the required components? Do you also have doubts about whether your thesis is linguistically sound? Don't worry: the editors of AthenaCheck are happy to check your thesis for you. Both a language and structure check are possible, even within 24 hours!