Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

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Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

#20 Write your intro in a few easy steps

Read time: 4 min.

Hey friends,

I have good news for you if you struggle with writing the introduction of your journal paper.

Regardless of your field, there is a proven structure you can use for your introduction.

And the type of paper you write does not matter.

Before writing: who is your audience?

  – Analyze papers from your target journal.
Read the authors’ guidelines to know more about the expected length and content for your Introduction.

It needs to be easy to read.

  – Also, non-experts will benefit from a well-structured Introduction.

I list below a few tips on how to write your introduction.

Writing your Introduction:

The introduction should give the background of your study to your audience.

It should include the problem you worked on, and it should show why your work is important.

  – General background:

Start with a broad opening.  This should give the right context for your work.

Then be more specific to narrow it down to your thesis.

Define the key concept.

  – Specific background:

Here, you want to provide a sense of previous works.

Include current debates and competing theories in the field. It should consist of 2-3 paragraphs.

This is where your literature review is important.

You need to cite previous work that illustrate your story.

It should also give a balanced description of the scientific landscape.

Note that some papers might have a separate literature review section.

  – Knowledge or research gap:

This is a very important point to make your research novel.

Show that the current understanding of the field is incomplete.

This can be where previous studies have limitations, or where past research disagree on your topic or where there is simply a lack of research.

Or a combination of the above 🙂

And this is where you highlight the importance of investigating more the topic.

The unsolved problems are behind the motivations of your study.

  – Aim of your paper:

State the aim and scope of your article.

The scope need to be clear. In the form of an aim, questions, or a hypothesis.

Mention the question(s) it answers and briefly explain how you did your work.

Quick tips:

  • Your study and the journal you target need to match.

Check if the mission, the scope, and the readers of the journal match with the objectives of your study.

  • Very important point to avoid desk rejection: follow the author’s guidelines.
    And read published papers from the target journal to know more about the journal expectations.

  • Only cite works that are strongly related to your study which also justify the knowledge gap of your paper.

  • Before writing your introduction:
  • Ask yourself: what’s the story of my study?
  • This helps to have sections that fit together and that provide a good story flow.
  • Also, this clarify the points you need to develop in the Results and Discussion sections. These points should be aligned with the theories and past research presented in the Introduction.
  • Go back to your introduction when you write your conclusions to have them serve as “book covers” for your work.

If you follow this structure, you will save time with writing.

And of course, you will have better chances to tell a coherent story and to get your manuscript published.

That’s it for this week.

Anything missing?

Let us know in the comments.

As usual, if anything is unclear or if you need help with your research projects, please contact me and I will reply.

See you next Sunday!


Question of the Week

Do you have any recommendations to add when writing an introduction?

Let us know in the comments.

My favorite things this week

  1. I conducted several training sessions for thousands of researchers in Morocco. Lots of follow-ups and questions from participants. Always a pleasure to speak with researchers.

  2. Great meetings in two major universities in the United Arab Emirates. Interesting topics: Peer review, Funding, and Benchmarking.

Quote of the Week

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression. ”
― Will Rogers

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