Writing an essay? Here's some tips on writing the introduction.
There are many ways to introduce an academic essay or short paper. Most academic writers, however, appear to do one or more of the following in their introductions:
- establish the context, background and/or importance of the topic
- indicate an issue, problem, or controversy in the field of study
- define the topic or key terms
- state the purpose of the essay or piece of writing
- provide an overview of the coverage and/or structure of the writing
Slightly less complex introductions may simply inform the reader: what the topic is, why it is important, and how the writing is organised. In very short assignments, it is not uncommon for a writer to commence simply by stating the purpose of their
writing and by indicating how it is organised.
Introductions to research dissertations and theses tend to be relatively short compared to the other sections of the text but quite complex in terms of their functional elements. Some of the more common elements include:
- establishing the context, background and/or importance of the topic
- giving a brief review of the relevant academic literature
- identifying a problem, controversy or a knowledge gap in the field of study
- stating the aim(s) of the research and the research questions or hypotheses
- providing a synopsis of the research design and method(s)
- explaining the significance or value of the study
- defining certain key terms
- providing an overview of the dissertation or report structure
Morley, J. (2021). Introducing work. Academic phrasebank A compendium of commonly used phrasal elements in academic English, (2018 ed., pp. 7–30)., University of Manchester.