Unit 3 Introduction

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • have considered the subsections to include in your introduction
  • be able to create a thesis outline
  • know how to generate a thesis statement
  • understand the importance of beginning writing now

Activity 1: Outline of graduation thesis

Read this section carefully so that you can answer any questions set by your professor.

The most basic outline for a graduation thesis is IBC:

  • introduction,
  • body, and
  • conclusion.

The body section can be divided into three parts and so the outline can be extended to:

  • introduction,
  • method,
  • results,
  • discussion, and
  • conclusion.

To this outline, we can add some two sections: one section at the beginning of the thesis, and add one section at the end. This gives the following outline:

  • front matter,
  • abstract,
  • introduction,
  • method,
  • results,
  • discussion,
  • conclusion, and
  • references.

Now, we have a basic (generic) framework for a graduation thesis. It is likely that in your graduation thesis you may use different headings.

Watch this short slideshow to see how to develop an outline.

Activity 2: Progress and planning check

Work in pairs or threes. Take it in turns to ask and answer the following questions.

  1. How many words have your written so far?
  2. When do you plan to write your thesis?
  3. What will you do if you get ill then?
  4. Will you write your thesis in Japanese first?
  5. Will you translate sentences with Google Translate?
  6. When will you write the introduction?
  7. When will you write the method?
  8. When will you write the results?
  9. When will you write the discussion?
  10. When will you create the tables and figures?
  11. Will you use LaTeX? If so, do you know how?

Activity 3: Sections to write now or later

Decide which of the following sections you can write a first draft now.

General headings Indicative content Can you write this now?
Front matter title, author, contact details, supervisor  
Abstract abstract, keywords  
Introduction background, thesis statement, aim, hypothesis, research questions, overview  
Method data identification, data collection, product creation, analysis  
Results key data, tables, figures, description of product, summary  
Discussion comparisons, contrasts, explanations, generalizations  
Conclusion summary, conclusion, further work  
References list of sources used  

Activity 4: Discuss your views

Work in pairs or small groups to discuss your view on the sections of your graduation thesis that you can begin writing now.

Check the commentary once you have discussed your ideas.

The front matter, introduction and references are three sections that you can write a first draft for now. The next sections will be the method and results. Once you decide the procedure, you can write the plan of your method. This may change, though. Even without any results or a product to descibe, it is possible to write a template draft for the results section. For example, if you plan to collect data about processing time of different algorithms, then you can predict that you will need a table to show the results. Before the table, you must refer to the table, and after the table you must describe the results. You may not know what the results are, but you can write template descriptions and fill in the exact values and variables, as shown below:

e.g. As shown in Table #, the XXX alogithm was the faster with a speed of XXXX. This was XXX percent faster than YYY, the second fastest algorithm. The mean alogithm speed was ZZZ.

The discussion, conclusion and abstract are easier to write one you have the results or have created your product. However, if your research is delayed and time is very limited, it is possible to write general skeleton sentences, which you can complete once the results are known.

e.g. In our experiment, the XXX algorithm was the fastest. The fastest algorithm reported to date was the AAA algorithm [#]. Our result performed worse/the same/better than the state of the art.

Activity 5: Subsections within introduction

Read this text below. Decide which of the subsections are suitable for your graduation thesis.

Simply put, the purpose of the introduction is to create interest in your study. There are many types of information that could be included. The list below includes eight types of information. However, you should not use all of them. One way to identify which types of information should be included is to refer to graduation theses of other members of your lab. If possible, discuss the possible contents of your introduction with your graduation thesis supervisor.

  1. Background Give background information about the topic.
  2. Definitions Give a definition of key terms.
  3. Related works Refer to the important findings of other researchers.
  4. Research gap Identify the need for further investigation.
  5. Research questions State your research questions and/or hypotheses
  6. Aim State your aim/purpose.
  7. Limitations Refer to any limitations of your study.
  8. Preview Outline the content of each section.

Source: Adapted from Final Year Project guidelines at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Activity 6: High quality introductions

Read the introduction sections of a couple of example graduation theses on the Feature Visualizer.

Remember the introduction section may have different names. However, in the Feature visualizer, it will automatically colorize in yellow any section that introduces the research.

Within the introduction section(s), there are four common moves. A move is the function of the the writer intends. The four common moves are:

  1. Related works describes what other researchers have found or developed related to the topic.
  2. Importance shows why this research is worth doing. A research project to discover the colour in my fish tank is not important. However, research that saves lives, saves energy, or saves time are important.
  3. Novelty describes what is new. The new or novel aspect may be the algorithm, the system, the implementation, the users or the context.
  4. Overview provides advanced organization showing readers how the remaining sections of the graduation thesis are organized.

Activity 7: Thesis (or Position) statement

Read this section carefully so that you can answer any questions set by your professor.

The word thesis roughly translates from the Greek word for position. The thesis statement is a refined and succinct set of arguments that define what you demonstrate or prove in the thesis. In short, it is your standpoint. The statement can be very short or many pages in length.

Your thesis statement will probably change during your research, but it is important to try to summarize the arguments that support or underlie your position.

One way to generate a thesis statement is to state the topic, your view on the topic (your stance or standpoint), the reasons for your view (your justification), and note any limitations or qualifications. Put simply, state your claim or position, the reason for deciding this. Note also any different views and any limitations. The example below shows how the answers to four questions can be combined into a one-sentence thesis statement (thesis sentence).


Activity 8: Example thesis statement

The answers to the the four questions can be combined into one succienct thesis statement.

  Question Answer
Topic What is your topic? My topic is child obesity.
Stance What is your position or claim? My claim is that parents should teach their children healthy eating habits.
Reason Why do you think so?

I think so because parents are the first to teach and model healthy eating habits.

Limitations Is there a different view? Are there any limitations? Some people blame the fast food industry for child obesity.

[Adapted from: Academic Help]

Colourful Thesis

Activity 9: Your thesis (or position) statement

Answer these questions in Japanese or English.

Question Your answer
What is your topic?  
What is your position or claim?  
Why do you think so?


Is there a different view? Are there any limitations?  

If you wrote in Japanese, use Google Translate to translate your answers into English. Remember these tips when using machine translation systems.

  • Write short clear expressions or sentences.
  • State the grammatical subject.
  • Avoid using linking words.
  • Link the machine-translated expressions or sentences together yourself.

Remember statistical machine translation works best for short highly frequent sentences, and the chance for accurate Japanesese-English translations for the contents of your graduation thesis is low (as of October, 2022). Do not rely on Google Translate, but use it as a tool in the same way as a dictionary or grammar book.


Answer the following questions:

  1. How many words will you write for your graduation thesis this week?
  2. What is a thesis outline?
  3. What is a thesis statement?
  4. What will you write this week?

If you do not, make sure that you do before your next class.