Writing an introduction is easy and difficult at the same time. It is easy if you have experience writing them and difficult if you are new it. It is noteworthy to mention that writing introduction differs depending on what is the introduction part. But the basic structure is more or less similar yet still significant. Giving parts of your paper small goals to achieve will make it easier to finish and give it a professional finish to it. Below are the four parts of an introduction that is common as well as self-explanatory:
- Purpose and Structure
- Providing Appropriate Citations
- Concluding Remarks
The introduction of any report or project in the world is one of the crucial parts that allow the readers to understand the details of the subject mentioned with jargons. The introduction for a research paper however is even more important career-wise as it should give the impression to your reader (most probably your guide, funder or anybody significant in your field of research) that you are clear of what you want to achieve with your work and it is relevant to the current scenario in your field of interest. It can be defined as “the part of the research that sells itself.”
Writing a polished introduction can be a tricky task. Authors prefer writing this part of the manuscript at the end once they know what the article will contain to ensure that they do not miss anything.
Here are 10 tips that can help you write an introduction that fits your research the best:
- Use the upside-down triangle method
This is a commonly used technique in the field of journalism where main purpose of the article is mentioned in the first paragraph and any follow up events of the same narrows down as the article progresses. But in the context of a research paper, briefly describe the broader aspect of your research and then narrow it down to your main agenda. This will make your work accessible to a larger audience as they search for it.
- Mention aim and importance
Many papers have been and will be rejected on the grounds of “not showing the importance of the topic” which can also be misconstrued as “lacking a clear motivation”. Your research paper acts as your mouthpiece when read by others. Have small goals within your paper to write and achieve so you do not miss out on something as important as this one.
- Use citations wherever necessary but do not OVERDO it
Ones you’ve drawn the attention to the “focus” of your research, you should cover your introduction with the most relevant literature that currently surrounds your topic. Your literature review should be complete but not long enough to give off the impression of a review article.
- Do not use multiple citations to support one statement
Consider the sentence “Many studies suggest that X has different attributes than Y” has 4 to 10 citations. While this will give a better understanding for your reason of citing they but it may not give enough idea on these cited works. This tip works because it keeps you from creating confusion in your paper.
- Be clear about your hypothesis or research question
While this point is an obvious one, it could never be stressed enough. Your Hypothesis could be an effective way to frame your research. For example, “In this study, we show that X is related to Y by method A,” you should consider, “In this study, we hypothesize that X is related to Y, and we use method A to test this hypothesis.”
- Give an overview of the paper
While this is more common in technological research, an organizational overview will only add a layer of perfection to your paper. Give section-by-section overview of each part in the last paragraph of your introduction.
- Short is sweet
Keep your introduction between 500-1000 words but of course, follow the guidelines of the journal you are interested to submit to.
- Make it as a visual representation
How do movie screenplays get approved before it is filmed by just reading it? It is possible because the story is broken down into scenes and every little detail is given a visual representation. Yes of course, a screenplay is different from a research paper, but the working of screenplay is mentioned as an example of how to make things more visual. Example: “The development of new materials is necessary in xyz industry because…” gives an idea of your paper giving a solution to fill a gap than just “XYZ is important.” It’s simple.
- Do not overflow your paper with too many details
Over citing your work and long introduction may make you lose track of your own work while you go on a tangent explain someone else’s work. If you’re tired, take a break and come back. Give your assignment a fresh set of eyes so you can clean up your work and give them a good finish.
- Follow journal guidelines
This point is self-explanatory but it is important to know that different journals may have different journal guidelines for submissions (it often does) so you may have to work on multiple versions of your paper depending on how many journals you decide to submit to.