Memo on how to write a good introduction (“kappe”) for PhD Dissertations in Political Science
To a large extent, PhD-students can write the introduction to their PhD dissertation (the “kappe”) as they see fit. Introductions can be written in differing ways and what works well in one thesis may not work in another. There is however a range of elements that ought to be covered. This memo provides a starting point for students working on the introduction, but not solutions or answers to all puzzles and questions the student will encounter. It can provide a basis for early discussions between students and supervisors, but it is not a straitjacket.
The order and the extent to which the bullet points below are addressed will vary significantly from one thesis to another, and other topics than those covered in this memo may be included.
- Introduce the reader to the topic of the dissertation
- Try to trigger the reader’s interest and motivate him/her to read more
- Make clear how the thesis contributes to political science in large
- What are the dissertation’s overarching research question(s)?
- Which specific sub-questions are considered in each article?
- How does each sub-question contribute to answering the overarching research question(s)?
- Provide a review of the main strands of literatures that your dissertation builds on and contributes to
- Different types of literatures may be relevant, relating to methodology, theory and/or specific empirical subject areas
- Make clear how the thesis contributes to the literature, for instance by identifying
- A set of research gaps that your dissertation aims to help filling
- Scientific debates that your thesis contribute to
- A puzzle (or some puzzles) that your dissertation aims to resolve
- Emphasize and explain what is new in the dissertation
- Explain how you go about answering your research questions
- Say something about theory, data, and methods
- Refer to the guidelines for good research ethics provided by UiO and/or NESH
- Show that you are aware of research ethics, for instance by describing and explaining
- The main ethical challenges you have faced underway, and how you have tackled them
- Why your research does not pose any particular ethical challenges
Relationship to the philosophy of science
- Relate your work to the philosophy of science
- Discuss some basic assumptions concerning theory of inference in your dissertation
Presentation of the articles
- Provide an extended abstract (1-2 pages) of each article
- For each article, explain how it relates to relevant scholarly literature, and describe the research question, the method, and the main results
- Describe key similarities and differences across papers, for instance in terms of
- Research questions
- Data and/or methods
- Explain why the papers make a coherent whole and thus belong in the same dissertation
- Show that all contributions are necessary in order to answer the overarching research question
Main findings and implications
- Present the most important findings in your dissertation
- Is the dissertation as a whole bigger than the sum of its parts? Show that the dissertation as a whole provide insights beyond or in addition to those found in the three articles?
- Present policy implications that follow from your research
Suggestions for future research
- Identify loose ends, remaining research gaps, or new puzzles identified by your research
- Explain how additional research may advance the research frontier(s) that your thesis contribute to
There are a range of formal requirements for the introduction, and some elements are mandatory, such as coverage of ethical and scientific concerns. For more information about this, see here: https://www.sv.uio.no/forskning/phd/avhandling-bedommelse/krav/index.html