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Structuring your Introduction

In your Introduction, you set the scene for your paper. You explain what your work is about, why the topic is important, provide the general research context, and introduce your research question(s) if applicable. You can cite sources in your Introduction, but save your in-depth discussion for your Literature section - unless your paper does not have one.

First part: Introduce the topic and its importance

In the first part of your Introduction, you introduce your topic, with a special focus on its importance. If your paper deals with a new or unfamiliar topic, explain or define it to the reader. To illustrate the importance of your topic, you can mention relevant findings, such as statistics. For example, to show the seriousness of climate change, you might cite temperature increases reported by the World Meteorological Organization. If your work includes a separate Literature section, cite only a few key references in your Introduction, but don’t discuss these in depth yet.

Middle part: Discuss the field and identify the gap or problem

Next, explain the gap or the problem that your work addresses. Discuss the insights gained from previous research, and explain the gap or problem that remains. For example, when writing about obesity among schizophrenia patients, you can state that research has not measured patients’ overall body composition, and that this is needed to get a complete picture of their health. Cite a few sources that support your statements, but keep a detailed discussion for your Literature section, if your paper has one.

Last part: Explain the aim of your work

Now that you’ve identified the gap or problem, explain how your work addresses it. For example, your work might confirm something that has been suggested in the literature, present results that disagree with previous findings, provide early insights into an issue, or explore a new method or hypothesis. You can present the aim of your work through research questions (for example, ‘Does Y affect Z?’) or statements (‘This paper explores whether Y affects Z.’).

Useful phrases for your Introduction

FAQs about writing an Introduction

Introduction examples with explanations