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How to write the Research Background and Motivation for your Thesis or Dissertation

You know what you want to write about. You’ve got the chapters planned out. But now you have to justify your choice of research project by writing a “Research Background and Motivation” section. This usually comes in the introduction, although pieces of it may end up in your abstract. Actually – it’s not that difficult; this is because it should be personal, and personal writing is always easier to write than research.

Basically, what in your life has brought you to the point where you decided upon this specific research topic? What inspired you to study/get involved in this field? What major works motivated or interested you? What personal challenges or experiences have made this research emotionally charged and relevant. The more you can express your passion and dedication to your research, the stronger it will be.

Hopefully, you’re genuinely interested in what you’re doing and find the topic stimulating and useful. Just tell your readers why.

Of course it’s not all about you; it’s about your responses to related works – what did you read that you didn’t agree with? What problems do you see in the current state of research in the field or on the topic? What piques your interest that no one else has explored before?

The Research Background and Motivation section of your thesis or dissertation is basically a combination of A) the evolution of theory / thought / responses to a topic and B) your personal reaction / feelings / thoughts on the subject.

Tips for writing the Research Background and Motivation Section

1) This is basically your only chance to let your own personality and passion shine out. Establishing your personality, your confidence, and your enthusiasm for researching the topic will go a long way in establishing credibility and interest for what you have to say.

2) Let it be known that you know yourself. Casually reference or cite information. Not the boring stuff (which you may do later in the literature review) but the salient or surprising discoveries which revolutionized your thinking or understanding of the topic.

Good luck!

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