So, let’s start with the first part of writing your academic article and discuss how to write an introduction for a research paper.
Writing a Great Introduction of Your Academic Article
The introduction is one of the main sections of a research article. In this section, referees, editors, and readers can find out what the study is about, what motivated you, as the author, to carry out the study, and why the research topic is important. The introduction for a research paper also provides relevant background information and puts the study into context, guiding the readers through the rest of the manuscript and helping the authors describe the depth and challenges of the study.
As an Author, you want to make your article stand-out. You want other Researchers to be inspired by your research paper and enhance your initial discoveries or study. Every Author strives to put their best work out there and it all starts with the Introduction writing.
If you think about it, all the articles you’ve probably found most useful are the ones that offer background on the study… that try to explain why a certain issue is important and worth examining.
Academic writing of an introduction should be aimed just at that… to present the examined topic to the Reader: set the framework of the study, create a background, summarize the paper, and inform the readers what they should expect in terms of methodology and results.
Guidelines for Your Academic Article’s Introduction
1. Context Presentation of Your Academic Article
In the first section of your academic article, you should create a background of the paper, more specifically how it fits in with previous research in the field.
The context of your article could also follow a narrative that explains the subject in a short historical presentation, to emphasize the different points of view and provide a short literature review. Make sure to include relevant references, but also current publications.
The short literature review included in the Introduction of your article should be written in a way that appeals to a wider range of readers.
Discuss different points of view from relevant related literature, but do not feel compelled to include an exhaustive historical account. Develop the problem with enough breadth and clarity to make it generally understood by as wide a professional audience as possible.
The references you include in writing your academic article’s Introduction can be presented:
- in chronological order if it helps the development of your research subject;
- grouped by different approaches/theories/models;
- starting from a general framework and working on the specifics of the topic examined
Use the following phrases to make your point in Introduction writing, by presenting the context of your academic article:
- ‘Recently’; ‘Currently’; ‘Nowadays’
- ‘For the last decade, [topic] has been a prominent research subject because…’; ‘During the past 10 years’
- ‘Since the discovery of…’; ‘With regard to the inception of… ’
- ‘For example, Author 1 (year) showed that [result related to the topic], and more recently / by contrast Author 2(year) established/concluded that’
- ‘Despite a wide range of studies on [topic], there is still a need to explore the fundamental cause of ….’, ‘Many authors (references) have examined [topic] and have aimed to understand its underlying with empirical and theoretical studies.’
2. Purpose and Importance of Your Article
Your academic article’s Introduction writing should state the reasons why the problem deserves new research. You have to clarify the requirement for the study and you can achieve this by explaining the purpose of the research and its importance.
The purpose of your scholarly article can be related to:
- introducing the issues related to the topic of your analysis or problems with previous studies that would be improved in your article,
- creating a research space, which your academic article addresses and plans to cover.
The importance of your academic article should be stressed in this line of ideas. You should make it clear that your article contributes or improves previous research, or explores new avenues of research.
Apply these phrases to present the purpose and importance of your academic article, in the context of introduction writing:
- ‘Although, author have explored issues [a] and [b,] not enough attention has been provided to the underlying cause of [topic] ’,
- ‘…demonstrated relationship between [a] and [b], little attention has been paid to…’
- ‘Even though there are various articles that have shown significant results related to [topic], this research aims to…’
- ‘However’ (neutral tone), ‘Nevertheless’ (formal tone), ‘Nonetheless’ (formal tone)
3. Research Questions and Methodology
After explaining the purpose and importance of your academic article, you should focus on presenting the main research questions you are going to explore.
Whether your academic article is theoretical or empirical, you will still have objectives and questions you are targeting in your paper. In this context, you can relate your research questions to the methodology used in your study.
Although you can provide information about your methodology or findings in the Introduction, it’s better if you don’t give too many details because you will examine them in the Methodology or Results sections.
These phrases can help you introduce these research questions in the context of academic writing of your introduction:
- ‘This paper aims to present a set of …’
- ‘The main research questions of this article will be focused on the causes and effects of [topic]. More specifically, we will present the …’
- ‘On the basis of these findings, we will describe [topic] using [method] as an analysis technique.’
- ‘These objectives will be explored using a [research design], which involved [methodolody], and aimed at finding [outcomes].’
4. Article Structure
The last paragraph of your research paper’s Introduction should present a quick overview of your paper’s structure.
Use the following phrasing to describe your academic article:
- ‘This is paper is organized as follows: section two explores literature review of [topic], section three discusses the research design and methodology, section four presents the empirical analysis and findings, section five offers final discussion and conclusions of the article.’
- ‘This study focuses on…’
Unlike the abstract, the Introduction does not have length restrictions, however you should keep it concise and avoid resemblances to the Literature Review section of an academic article.
You may start with the Introduction, but many Authors prefer to write it last so they don’t miss the major aspects written and examined in the academic paper.
For your Introduction writing that is easy to compile and understand, as Authors, you can focus on the following academic writing tips:
- Discuss the background of the subject you are writing about in your article
- Present the purpose and significance of your academic paper
- Describe current and relevant references on the research topic of your academic paper
- Offer a short presentation of the article’s structure
Generally, for academic writing, the Introduction a research paper should briefly state all the major points of your topic your readers will be reading about.
Which aspects are you generally including in your writing an introduction for your academic article?
This blog series focuses on useful academic writing tips, so you might also find helpful our list of 14 Tips for Publishing a High-Quality Article in an Online Journal.
Next, we discuss the literature review outline and format your academic article and how to write a research methodology.