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How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps

Creating a thesis statement can be a daunting task. It’s one of the most important sentences in your paper, and it needs to be done right. But don’t worry — with these five easy steps, you’ll be able to create an effective thesis statement in no time.

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas

The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your paper. Think about what you want to say and write down any ideas that come to mind. This will help you narrow down your focus and make it easier to create your thesis statement.

Step 2: Research Your Topic

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to do some research on your topic. Look for sources that support your ideas and provide evidence for the points you want to make. This will help you refine your argument and make it more convincing.

Step 3: Formulate Your Argument

Now that you have done some research, it’s time to formulate your argument. Take the points you want to make and put them into one or two sentences that clearly state what your paper is about. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

Step 4: Refine Your Thesis Statement

Once you have formulated your argument, it’s time to refine your thesis statement. Make sure that it is clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable so that readers can disagree with it if they choose.

Step 5: Test Your Thesis Statement

The last step is to test your thesis statement. Does it accurately reflect the points you want to make? Is it clear and concise? Does it make an arguable point? If not, go back and refine it until it meets all of these criteria.

Creating an effective thesis statement doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With these five easy steps, you can create a strong thesis statement in no time at all.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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  • What is a Dissertation Preface? | Definition & Examples

What is a Dissertation Preface? | Definition & Examples

Published on August 31, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

A preface is your opportunity to inform your audience about your experiences during the writing of your thesis or dissertation .

A preface is much more personal than other types of academic writing. It is written mainly in the first person and is one of the few places where using first-person is considered acceptable. Your preface is typically written upon completion of your thesis or dissertation, as a final step.

Table of contents

What is included in a preface.

Dissertation preface example

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The following items can be included in the preface:

  • Your (brief) personal background
  • Any (brief) personal experiences or circumstances that motivated you to pursue this type of academic work
  • The target group for which your thesis or dissertation was written
  • Your name, the place name, and the date at the time of writing, at the end of the preface

While it’s common practice to briefly acknowledge any individuals and/or institutions who have helped you during your writing and editing process, these should mostly be saved for your acknowledgements section .

Indeed, it is often common practice to write either a preface or an acknowledgements section, not both.

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Check out this example about how to write a preface. The trick is to write the preface in a style that is personal, yet still professional. Remember that this is one of the few occurrences where first-person is acceptable, and in fact encouraged.

Before you lies the master thesis “Digital Eavesdropper: acoustic speech characteristics as markers of exacerbations in COPD patients.” It has been written to fulfill the graduation requirements of the Language and Speech Pathology program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was engaged in researching and writing this thesis from February to August 2021.

I noticed during my previous studies that I avoided stepping outside my comfort zone. This year I wanted to approach the thesis differently, by choosing a subject which required skills I did not yet have. I have worked with unfamiliar computer clusters, operating systems and FTP applications such as Ponyland, Linux, and FileZilla. I have also gained more experience with programs I was already familiar with. Also, I have learned that struggling is part of the process. Therefore, this thesis has taught me valuable lessons both professionally and personally.

I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Dana Scully, for the excellent guidance and support during the process. I deliberately chose you to be my supervisor, because I knew you would provide me with challenges. This has maximized the learning opportunities, for which I am grateful. I also want to thank Dr. Fox Mulder from the pulmonary health department at the University of North Carolina Medical Center for his contribution to the data collection for this study. I would like to thank the research lab at the department for providing me with scripts to align, analyze, and transform my data.

Finally, I want to thank my family and friends for being there for me. I would also like to thank you, my reader: I hope you enjoy your reading.

Walter Skinner Chapel Hill, August 14, 2021

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A Thesis or Dissertation Preface – Definition & Examples

Published by Alvin Nicolas at January 2nd, 2023 , Revised On June 22, 2023

A dissertation or a thesis preface is your chance to reflect on your experience during the writing. A preface is similar to reflective essay writing and mainly written in the first person. It is an informal style of connecting with your audience before getting to the actual contents of the thesis or dissertation.

Writing the preface in a thesis or a dissertation is usually the final step of the process.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Dissertation or Thesis Preface

  • Reflect on your experiences with the study participants your thesis or dissertation was based around.
  • Include any personal affiliations, relationships or circumstances that encouraged you to research in the chosen study area.
  • Provide your brief personal background.
  • Write your name, date of writing and place of writing at the end of the preface.
  • Write either the preface or the acknowledgements. It is a rare practice to write both for the same paper in a dissertation or a thesis. Check your dissertation handbook to avoid making any errors.
  • Many students choose to thank the institutions and people who were involved in the research and writing process. However, it is best to acknowledge the professional and personal contacts in a thesis or a dissertation in the acknowledgements section.

Dissertation Preface Example

Here is an example of how to write a thesis or a dissertation preface. A preface is the only place in the dissertation where you can use the first person, so consider adopting a personalised yet formal style.

You are reading the Master’s dissertation on “The Impact of the Covid-19 Crisis on the Chinese Economic Development – A Case Study of the Chinese Imports Industry”. I completed this thesis to fulfil the requirements of the Masters in Business Administration Programme at Birmingham University. I worked on this project for six months, starting in August 2021 and ending in February 2022.

In the past, I was reluctant to work in research areas that forced me to step outside my comfort zone. However, while working on a Master’s thesis, I wanted to research a unique and different topic that challenged me. Collecting data about the Chinese import industry is a complex area to crack because China limits the availability of sensitive data that might be important to the government. However, I am delighted to have faced this challenge head-on, which improved my ability to research complex issues more efficiently. Indeed, this dissertation has helped me grow both professionally and personally.

Words cannot express my gratitude for my supervisor and Dr James Alexander, whose role was instrumental throughout the research and writing process. Dr James remained patient with me even when I was panicking. He provided excellent guidance and regular feedback, enabling me to enhance my knowledge and polish my research skills . I would also like to thank Ms Xao from the BGC Trade Group of Beijing for her contribution in arranging the means for the data collection.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge my friends, family members, parents, and my per for their emotional support. I couldn’t have made it this far without their help. I hope you enjoy reading this thesis.

Robert Bruce

Loughborough Town, August 3, 2021

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Frequently Asked Questions

When to write a thesis or dissertation preface.

The preface of a thesis or dissertation is usually written at the end as a final step of the process. Generally, the preface is written after the main body of the thesis or dissertation is completed but before the appendices and references. It is usually included in the table of contents and is often the first section of the thesis or dissertation that readers will encounter.

What is a preface in a dissertation?

A preface in a dissertation is an introductory section that appears before the main body of the dissertation. It is typically a brief statement that provides context and background information for the research presented in the dissertation.

A preface is a place where the author can acknowledge the contributions and support of others who helped in the research process, as well as explain the purpose and scope of the project. It may also include a statement of the author’s motivation for undertaking the research or a discussion of any challenges or limitations encountered during the research process. 

What to avoid in a dissertation or thesis preface?

You should avoid the following in the dissertation or thesis preface. 

  • Either write the preface or the acknowledgements. 
  • You should also acknowledge the professional and personal contacts. 

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Visualizing and compressing information in the form of diagrams, drawings, or tables helps improve the readability and understandability of a document. Graphic inserts, which deliver information more accurately and quickly and give diversity to typography, are a good alternative to only words written. 

The proposal is valuable enough to warrant more time to perfect it. A clear, concise, and original idea must be developed to earn a decent grade and lay the groundwork for a strong dissertation.

The thesis or dissertation introduction is positioned immediately after the glossary or the table of contents if the front matter does not include the glossary.

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Can a thesis contain preface?

Usually preface is written in books and myself personally have not seen it in a thesis.

But, can a master's or doctoral thesis contain a preface?

pkj's user avatar

  • 1 There are no universal rules for what can or can't go in a thesis. Your institution might have rules, however. –  Nate Eldredge Feb 21, 2018 at 6:33
  • my institute has no prescribed thesis format –  pkj Feb 21, 2018 at 6:36
  • 1 Is there anything you want to put into the preface, but you don't want to write in the introduction chapter? –  Nobody Feb 21, 2018 at 6:43
  • yes, there are a few things, which in my opinion are not suitable for introduction or abstract –  pkj Feb 21, 2018 at 7:03
  • As long as your advisor okay with it, I think you can, in my opinion. –  Nobody Feb 21, 2018 at 7:07

2 Answers 2

Note: This was going to be a comment, but then I realized it actually answers the question that was asked.

The following 2004 Ph.D. dissertation at Utrecht University has a preface on pp. xi-xviii, so the answer is YES.

Ideas and Explorations : Brouwer's Road to Intuitionism

However, the question you possibly want answered is whether a Ph.D. dissertation at YOUR university can have a preface. To find the answer, you can ask someone knowledgeable about the specific dissertation format rules at your university, or you could visit the library shelves where recent Ph.D. dissertations are shelved and spend 20-30 minutes quickly flipping through the first few pages of the 100-200 most recent dissertations, keeping in mind that for some universities the answer might be department-specific.

Dave L Renfro's user avatar

It's your work, so unless there are rules to the opposite, I would say go ahead. Many theses contain acknowledgments in a preface, for example -- most of the time thanking real people, but sometimes also their dog, a brewery, or imagined events. Read through enough theses and you will get the idea.

So, see whether there are rules, and if there are none talk to your adviser what is appropriate. Beyond that, you're the author and decide how best you want to say what you want to say.

Wolfgang Bangerth's user avatar

You must log in to answer this question.

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Example of a dissertation preface

Preface of a dissertation.

Every dissertation or thesis should include a preface that describes the role of a student in the work that is presented. The preface is the section where you talk about your experience that you had while writing your dissertation as well as thanking the people who helped you with your dissertation. Preface is usually written in a first person voice and should be written in a style which is personal and yet professional.

The preface of a dissertation is written after completion of a dissertation. It is primarily written in the first person and exhibits a strong personal character.

Parts of a Preface

A preface has the following components:.

  • A brief personal background of the student
  • A short note detailing the circumstances or personal experiences that motivated a student to write their dissertation
  • The target group of people for which the dissertation has been written
  • Mentioning the division of labor if more than one person has contributed in writing the dissertation.
  • A note of acknowledgement to every individual as well as institutions who have guided and helped you in writing and checking the dissertation
  • The preface culminates with your name, and the date at the time of writing your dissertation.

Difference between a Preface and Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements are usually a part of the preface of a dissertation. You acknowledge people who have helped you during the process of writing your dissertation and you thank them and show your gratitude to them for having helped you and supported you during the writing of your dissertation.

You can also write a separate page of acknowledgements section if there are a lot of people to thank. This usually happens in a doctoral dissertation as the process of writing a lengthy document like a doctoral dissertation entails a long duration of time and more often than not involves many people who have been involved in the process of writing your dissertation. .

It is advisable to write only a preface for your dissertation rather than writing both preface and acknowledgements.

Steps to keep in mind while writing a Preface for a Dissertation:

  • Write a short note on what inspired you to research and write on this topic, if applicable.
  • The preface should be no longer than four to five paragraphs.
  • Elucidate on why your chosen topic is important.
  • State your target audience
  • Give your readers a glimpse or an idea of what to expect in your dissertation
  • Interesting insights pertaining to your chosen topic
  • Acknowledgements should follow a functional order wherein the people who have contributed the most to a dissertation are named first.
  • There should be consistency in the use of first and last names.
  • Although the preface is personal in nature, one should ensure that the dissertation is written in a professional style.
  • Address your readers in a direct tone.
  • The preface should culminate with your name, place name as well as include the date at the time of writing a dissertation.
  • Ensure that your preface does not exceed two pages.

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Dissertation Preface – Components and Guide

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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.


  • 1 Dissertation Preface – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Dissertation preface
  • 3 Dissertation preface: How to write it
  • 4 Dissertation preface: What is included
  • 5 Example of a dissertation preface

Dissertation Preface – In a Nutshell

  • Planning what to include in the dissertation preface is important before you start writing.
  • Identifying your audience ahead of time can help them better connect to the content you will be producing.
  • An effective introduction will do more than summarize the work that follows; it will also draw the reader in.

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.

I. Introduction

The introduction includes:

  • Background information and research justification.
  • Research goals or questions.
  • Methodology.
  • The study’s importance.

II. Acknowledgments

In the acknowledgments section, you write an appreciation for all who helped or supported the dissertation project.

III. Personal statement

Here is where consideration of one’s background and interests in the study area.

IV. Organization of the dissertation

This part includes summaries of the chapters and their contents.

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

Example 1: Dissertation preface example by a single writer

The motivation for undertaking this research project initially stemmed from my longstanding desire to create a written work centered around our nation’s cultural legacy. As we move forward into the future, we must also appreciate and honor our previous experiences. My firm conviction is that the events of the past shape the present, and this document intends to demonstrate this notion.

The collaboration of our institution (named) was essential to achieve this extensive project. Their level of dedication and effort is highly praiseworthy. I am grateful to my dear family for their unwavering support during challenging moments.

Example 2: Dissertation Example by two or more writers

It’s never too late to learn about the culture we belong to. The interesting parts of my community’s way of life motivated me and my colleagues to finish this research paper. The thesis wants to tell people that even though science is important, what brings us together are things we have in common because of our culture. I wrote the beginning part, and my friend (name) wrote the rest, focusing on issues we face today.

We want to thank our parents for always believing in us and our fellow students, who motivated us. We are fortunate to be connected to this organization. We are very thankful to everyone.

What is in a dissertation preface included?

The preface ought to contain details concerning background information about the project. Financial support (if available) is a significant aspect covered in the report.

What is the typical length of a dissertation preface in a thesis?

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.

What are the important factors in creating an effective dissertation preface?

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.

Is it acceptable to write a dissertation preface using the first-person perspective?

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 .

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