How to write “introduction section” of an article?

A “good introduction” makes up a “good article”

Introduction is the most read section of an article. The quality of the introduction attracts the readers to further proceed to read the entire article. A good article will generate interest among the reader towards the research work. It is therefore critical part of an article, thus is difficult to write for many authors. A good article starts with a good introduction which gives the reader the essential information 1) to understand why the study is done, 2) to state the research question and 3) to establish the content of the work being presented. A good introduction summarizes relevant recent literature and the current views and opinions on the problem that is being investigated in the current study.

introduction methods discussion

Basically, a good introduction starts broader and ends narrow as a “cone”. This means that article starts with a broader context, ie introducing the background of the study and ends with highlighting the needs of the study, hypothesis and objectives. An introduction generally starts with “setting the scene”. It is the art of describing the circumstances or background of the situation to make the reader understand what is happening and also sets the scene to the reader. It starts by telling the reader what is happening or has happened and ends by giving the reader a glimpse of what follows in the remainder of the article. If there is any background information that the reader should know, then it must also be included. For example: if the report is a survey on low back pain, then it is important to provide necessary information and background about low back pain. These information may include what it is, what’s going on in low back pain, how important is low back pain so that researching on it is important, burden of the problem etc.

After presenting the relevant background information now a good introduction tells the reader why they should proceed reading. The unknown information, an unsolved problems, a knowledge gap or limitation of prior studies are mentioned to draw the attention of reader on the importance of continued research on particular area. The important goal here is to demonstrate to the reader that there are important missing pieces of puzzle that need to be filled in. It simply explains the reason why research was carried out on particular topic. Now, the introduction can be narrowed by focusing on the goal of the study. Here, the writer must provide a clear rational for the reason for conducting the study.

As the introduction comes toward its end, the result is anticipated. Most good articles have the hypothesis. Importantly, presentation tells the reader to expect a clear answer by the end of the article regarding the study goals or hypothesis i.e. true/false, yes/no, intervention works/ doesn’t works. For example, the intervention used in the current research will have better effect in relieving pain compared to the standard treatment that is currently being provided.

Use of transition phrases make the story become clearer and meaningful. Transition phrases allow the author to emphasize important points and also help the reader differentiate the known, the unknown, the question and the experimental approach. Some of the transition phrases that can be used are:
- These prior studies show that..
- Supporting the theory that…
- These theories are important because..
- Interestingly..
- Yet….
- Unlike….

As a lot of information is needed to put in an introduction, it tends to be too long rather than too short. These are several ways to avoid giving too much information in the introduction:
- Characterize the audience of selected journal. Ask yourself “if I were the reader, how much information would I really need to understand the study question?”.
- Do not include everything that you know or you have read.
- Include only the recent articles not the entire history.
- Set a target word limit before linking the known information to the research question.
- Lastly, planning whether some information that have been put in the introduction is better suited in the discussion section. Thus number of words from introduction can be reduced.

a good introduction consist of :
- Background
- Rational or need of the study
- Hypothesis
- Objective of the study
All these ingredient makes up the introduction to be conical in shape.

Bisudha Subedi

About Bisudha:

Bisudha is a second year BPT students at Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences. She likes musculoskeletal physiotherapy, neurology and evidence based practice as subjects. She loves to travel, read novels and listen to music.