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FAQs about writing an Introduction

Should I cite the same sources in my Introduction and Literature review?

The sources cited in your Introduction and Literature section will partly overlap. If you have a Literature section, this section will cover more sources, and any sources will be discussed in more depth than in your Introduction. However, sources that are key to the general context are also worth mentioning in the Introduction. Think of a few often-cited papers on which your work is based or a recent report that has highlighted a problem you are studying.

Do I have to explain the structure of my paper in my Introduction?

In general, this isn’t necessary, as long as your paper follows the standard structure (Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion). However, if you’re writing a thesis chapter or a paper with an unusual structure, you can briefly explain what the reader can expect in the next sections.

How many sources should I cite in my Introduction?

There’s no minimum or maximum number of sources you must cite. In general, you should support each statement that is not general knowledge with one or several citations. This way, you position your work within the field and give the reader some context. Keep it brief and relevant. For example, when writing ‘Recent studies have explored X’, it’s enough to provide two or three key references that are most relevant (and recent) and keep additional ones for the Literature section.

How long should an Introduction be?

This depends on the discipline, the length of your paper, and whether or not you have a separate Literature section; if you don’t, your Introduction will be longer. If you don’t discuss the literature as part of your Introduction, your Introduction will usually make up 10 to 15% of your paper, and be 2-4 paragraphs in length.

Structuring your Introduction

Useful phrases for your Introduction

Introduction examples with explanations