Guidelines for the introductory chapter of article-based theses at the Faculty of Humanities

From the programme plan:

"The scope of a PhD thesis should be such that it can be completed within the framework of the PhD programme, nominally 3 years net time for research training. A PhD thesis will normally consist of 200-250 pages (550-700,000 characters).

The thesis can consist of one continuous work or several smaller works. A thesis based on several smaller works shall normally consist of at least 3 works, as well as a summary/introductory article. In case of co-authorship, the thesis shall normally encompass more than 3 works. The candidate shall normally be the sole author of at least one of the contributions."

Introductory chapter

Theses that are composed of a number of individual works must have an introductory chapter, or if relevant an introduction and a conclusion (known in Norwegian as a ’kappe’), that explains how the individual works are interconnected. The introductory chapter must be a scholarly text of high academic standard. It shall both summarize and compare the issues and conclusions presented in the individual works, giving them an overall perspective and thus ensuring that the thesis forms a coherent whole. Even though the individual works may have co-authors, the candidate shall be the sole author of the introductory chapter.
If the thesis contains previously-published articles, the introductory chapter shall if necessary also contain updated information so that the thesis as a whole is presented as academically updated. Each article can be updated if appropriate.

The length will vary, but the introductory chapter will normally consist of between 40 and 80 pages (110-220,000 strokes including spaces), excluding references and appendices.

Although the guidelines and practices for different subjects may vary, the introductory chapter should normally contain the components given below.


The introduction presents the overarching topic of the thesis, the issue(s) discussed and the research questions, and gives grounds for the choice of issue(s). In addition the titles of the articles on which the thesis is based should be listed, along with information on how far the articles have progressed in the publication process.

Research status

The introductory chapter shall contain a literature review that shows the results that other researchers have previously reported in the relevant subject area. To demonstrate that the thesis makes a significant contribution, the candidate must document that he/she is familiar with the current state of knowledge in the field in question.

Theoretical framework

This part shall present the overarching theoretical approach that ties the theoretical suppositions and the issues discussed in the individual articles together. Here the candidate may discuss relevant theory and research literature in more detail than in the individual articles, although in a way that is justified in relation to the articles. It is important that the candidate operationalises and clearly specifies how theories and key concepts will be used in the rest of the thesis.


There is often insufficient room in thesis articles for an in-depth discussion of methodological considerations and choices. The methodology of the thesis should therefore be assigned more space in the introductory chapter. In this part the methodological and strategic research choices made in the articles are justified and accounted for. The data collection process is presented, and the quality of the data and the data analysis work are discussed.


The introductory chapter shall provide a short summary of each article. The main findings of the thesis shall be reported in a brief and systematic manner that allows the main theme of the thesis and the connection between the content of the various articles to be clearly seen.

Discussion and conclusion

The candidate shall give an account of how findings presented in the articles contribute to existing research literature in the field and shall discuss the theoretical implications of the results. The introductory chapter also gives the candidate the opportunity to update the content of the articles. Such academic updating can be necessary due to the publication dates of the articles or the completion date. However, the candidate shall not introduce new empirical data.

The discussion shall also allow for competing interpretations of the results in the thesis, and shall show that the candidate has the critical distance and ability to reflect on the limitations of his/her research and that of others. The candidate is expected to address any research-methodological issues such as the validity of the methods in the light of the issues discussed and the limitations of the work that has been performed. Where relevant the candidate shall also address ethical problems associated with his/her research and shall demonstrate the practical implications of the findings and the need for future research. The conclusion of the introductory chapter shall be clearly related to the issues and research questions of the thesis.

Reference list

In connection with the introductory chapter, a complete reference list shall be compiled that conforms to the standard that is used in the relevant academic field.


The thesis may have an appendix if required. Interview guides, questionnaires and other documents of significance for understanding the results, and which are not covered by the articles, shall be included here. The appendix is given at the end of the thesis after the individual articles.


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Published June 25, 2015 12:42 PM - Last modified Jan. 6, 2016 12:55 PM