An introduction will give the reader a preview of what is to follow in a paper. It doesn’t have to include a lot of details, just the main points that you will be covering in your paper. It has two parts: first, a general introduction to the topic; second, your thesis statement.

An introduction will accomplish the following

  • Gain your reader’s attention
  • Create an interest in reading the rest of the paper
  • Provide background information on your topic
  • Define your thesis statement which is the main point of your paper

Why does it?
Without an introduction, it is sometimes very difficult for your audience to figure out what you are trying to say. There needs to be a thread of an idea that they will follow through your paper or presentation. The introduction gives the reader the beginning of the piece of thread so they can follow it.

General purpose
The purpose of an introduction is to acquaint the reader with the rationale behind the work, with the intention of defending it. It places your work in a theoretical context and enables the reader to understand and appreciate your objectives.

General phases associated with writing an introduction
Establish an area to research by

  • Highlighting the importance of the topic, and/or
  • Making general statements about the topic, and/or
  • Presenting an overview of current research on the subject.

Identify a research niche by

  • Opposing an existing assumption, and/or
  • Revealing a gap in existing research, and/or
  • Formulating a research question or problem, and/or
  • Continuing a disciplinary tradition.

Place your research within the research niche by

  • Stating the intent of your study
  • Outlining the key characteristics of your study
  • Describing important results and
  • Giving a brief overview of the structure of the paper.

Approaches vary widely, however for our studies the following approach can produce an effective introduction

  • Describe the importance (significance) of the study-why was this worth doing in the first place? Provide a broad context.
  • Defend the model-why did you use this particular organism or system? What are its advantages? You might comment on its suitability from a theoretical point of view as well as indicate practical reasons for using it.
  • Provide a rationale. State your specific hypothesis(es) or objective(s), and describe the reasoning that led you to select them.
  • Very briefly describe the experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.
    In addition,
  • Use past tense except when referring to established facts. After all, the paper will be submitted after all of the work is completed.
  • Organize your ideas, making one major point with each paragraph. If you make the four points listed above, you will need a minimum of four paragraphs.
  • Present background information only as needed in order to support a position. The reader does not want to read everything you know about a subject.
  • State the hypothesis/objective precisely- do not oversimplify.
  • As always, pay attention to spelling, clarity, and appropriateness of sentences and phrases.
  • Take care while writing an introduction.
  • Your introduction should clearly identify the subject area of interest.
  • Establish context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject.
  • Clearly state the hypothesis that you investigated.
  • Why did you choose this kind of research study or design?

Depending on the discipline you’re writing in, an introduction can engage readers in many ways. The main goal of your introduction is to make your readers want to read your paper. Finally, the introduction should grab your reader’s attention.

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