A dissertation preface allows the author to share personal reflections with the reader. So, unlike other academic writing, it tends to be more conversational and informal. Do you want to draft a dissertation preface? In this article, we will explain all the details and an example to guide you.
Definition: Dissertation preface
A dissertation preface is used to introduce the reader to the major body of your work. Its major purpose is to familiarize the reader with the dissertation’s subject matter and to provide a synopsis of the content, rationale for writing, and overall organization.1 Typically, a dissertation’s preface will introduce you to the author, the research methodology, and the overall objectives of the work.
The preface goals are to set the stage for the reader, establish the relevance of the issue at hand, and offer a synopsis of the relevant prior research. Also, this section allows the author to publicly thank and recognize anybody who had a role in facilitating the study. Generally, a dissertation preface establishes the work’s tone and introduces the reader to the work’s structure.
On the other hand, the format and arrangement of a dissertation preface may change based on the academic institution’s specifications or rules.
Dissertation preface: How to write it
Composing a preface could present challenges because it calls for carefully balancing your words to inform and captivate readers.2 So, if you are struggling with writing a dissertation preface, consider these helpful tips:
- Introduce your Topic: Start by briefly presenting the subject of your dissertation and outline the overall scope of the subject area, justifying why you chose it. This approach will enable readers to comprehend the context and significance of your study.
- Acknowledge the contributions of others: First, thank your supervisor and others who have helped you throughout your research journey. This section is also an excellent opportunity to explain any ethical or logistical issues you encountered during your research and how you resolved them.
- Provide a brief overview of the structure of your dissertation: This will help readers understand the organisation of your research and how the various chapters fit together.
- Write in a clear and concise style: Your preface should be easy to read and understand, so avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers. Remember that your preface reflects your dissertation, so take the time to write it well.
- Describe how you conducted your study: including the methods you used to gather and analyse data, in the introduction. The reader will appreciate this clarification of your work’s background.
- End on a note of gratitude: To wrap off your introduction, express gratitude to everybody who has aided you. Similarly, you may discuss the significance of being given the chance to write a dissertation.
Following these steps will help you write a thorough preface for your dissertation preface that sets the scene and gives credit where credit is due.
Dissertation preface: What is included
In a dissertation preface, writers usually explain why they did the study, the things they researched, and why they wanted to do the project.3 The writer can thank people or places that helped with the research. Some things you might want to write at the beginning of your dissertation are:
- The author picked the topic because they found it interesting or important for the subject they were writing about.
- The author’s question or ideas for investigation.
- This is how we did our research.
- Thanking individuals or organizations who helped or supported.
- Any restrictions on gathering or studying data during research.
- A short description of how the dissertation is organized.
Basically, the beginning of a dissertation preface should tell readers what the writer is studying and what they hope to accomplish in the rest of the dissertation.
Example of a dissertation preface
The preface ought to contain details concerning background information about the project. Financial support (if available) is a significant aspect covered in the report.
A brief preface is sufficient as it does not summarize the main argument. For your thesis to be evaluated by the examiners during the final examination, your supervisor must scrutinize the preface first.
An engaging preface is essential. The information provided should be captivating for the reader, but not critical for comprehending the content. Notable research methodologies are frequently incorporated in the preface.
The author typically writes a preface at the book’s beginning and often communicates in the first person. This outlines the reasons behind the author’s decision to write the book, their journey towards creating it, and the obstacles they encountered.
1 Childers Hon, Linda. “Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation.” Accessed on May 17, 2023. https://www.jou.ufl.edu/grad/forms/Guidelines-for-writing-thesis-or-dissertation.pdf.
2 University of Alberta. “Sample Prefaces.” Accessed on May 11, 2023. https://www.ualberta.ca/graduate-studies/media-library/current-students/academicrequirements/thesisrequirementandpreparation/2016-03-29-thesissampleprefaces.pdf.
3 Thesis and Dissertation Guide. “The Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Guide.” UNC. Accessed on May 17, 2023. https://gradschool.unc.edu/academics/thesis-diss/guide/ordercomponents.html.