Improving Your Academic Literacy and Research Skills
In this series on academic literacy, we would be examining how to improve research writing skills. In this post, we are going to look at how to make a good introduction for your research paper.
Why is the introduction important?
Before reading the introduction, the reader’s first contact with your work is through the title, which only gives a superficial notion about it. The introduction is the moment when the reader will connect with your work, which is why getting off to a good start is one of the biggest challenges of academic work.
The introduction has the power to ensure that the reader reads your work through to the end. After all, if your introduction is not attractive, no one will be interested in the discussion, let alone the conclusion. And, still, if the introduction is confused or disorganized, the reader will have difficulties understanding the development of the work.
To win over your readers from the first paragraph, you need to be very careful with the writing of the introduction! Following from the above, we have compiled a list of best practices for writing good introductions for academic papers, check it out below.
5 Tips on Writing a Good Introduction
1. Get organized to write the introduction
The best time to write the introduction is after you’ve finished your work. Yes, that’s right! After completing the work, you will have in mind everything that should be mentioned in the introduction, as you already know the answers, approaches, and hypotheses discussed in the development and conclusion.
The safest way to create a good introduction is to make it a short guide for development, that is, just present the points that will be discussed in the next steps of the work.
The tip here is to create a script with what should be mentioned in the introduction while writing the other parts of the work. This way, you can prevent it from becoming a tangle of paragraphs with no connection to each other – or worse, unrelated to the development of the work.
You can start by tracing the historical context of your research, presenting the main concepts that will be discussed throughout the thesis, and even presenting controversies and disagreements about the chosen topic.
It is also interesting to include a series of questions in the introduction so that they are answered throughout the development if they are organized. Discuss the points preferably in the same order as they appear in the introduction, to maintain the same connection between ideas established at the beginning.
2. Be succinct in the introduction
It is very important to produce an objective introduction. The moment is to present only the most important and relevant information in the text, which will catch the reader’s attention and interest him/her to read the rest of your work.
The introduction cannot be tiring or complicated to understand. So, try to write it lightly, without overwhelming the reader with data and references. Identify well the questions that will be addressed in the work: make it clear what the central question is, what question it is intended to answer, what was the object of the investigation, what hypothesis was tested, among other important points.
Upon finishing reading the introduction, the reader needs to know exactly what to expect in the next few pages, since the discussion and conclusion will only go back and deepen what was mentioned in the introduction.
3. Name your references and background
A tip when making a good introduction is to identify the previous works that served as a reference or inspiration for your work, giving due credit to the authors who collaborated with the discussion or with the theoretical foundation of the research.
List points that were not covered in these works and that will be discussed in yours, finally, show how these references built the basis for the development of your project.
Be very careful when citing disagreements with other authors and works, after all, you don’t want to be rude! The intent here is to make the reader understand where you’re starting from and what paths you’re going to take in development, and enumerating references is just one way to do that.
4. Show the relevance of your work
Speaking of references, academic papers are designed to add something to your field of study or your topic of discussion. Show the reader how your work will contribute to the discussion of the chosen question, with innovative points, new hypotheses, or new analysis and research methodologies.
In short, explain the differences in your work concerning what has been previously developed. Show what is relevant about your project, and more, explain why it should be considered important enough for the reader to read your production carefully, showing how you believe it contributes to generating more knowledge in your area of expertise and research.
5. Take a comprehension test
After writing and reviewing your introduction, count on someone in your field to read just the introduction of your work, without the development and conclusion. The objective is to assess whether a reader will be able to understand exactly what the theme of the work is, what it will cover and what points will be discussed only by reading the introduction.
It is important that the reader of this test is from your area or has sufficient knowledge to understand the content of the work so that the assessment of the introduction is not influenced by difficulties with technical terms or jargon.
After reading, check what the reader understood from the introduction, and try to identify points you can improve on each passage. This process is critical to training your writing and will make you feel more and more comfortable writing introductions!
In addition to the 5 tips, we have given in this article, to keep your introduction well written and attractive to your readers, it is important to always pay attention to reviewing your text and adapting it to the referencing standards of your institution or department.
By following all these steps, you will master the art of how to make a good introduction, and your academic work will gain much more quality and visibility!