How to Write an Introduction of a Research Article

The introduction informs your readers about ‘What’ and ‘Why’ are you investigating the research problem. It should engage your readers with your research problem either by telling the significance of the problem, presenting facts or statistics or by providing interesting evidence that needs attention. The first paragraph should be able to strike a chord with readers on why they must read (or cite) your article.

The introduction may include a brief introduction of the problem, context of the problem, rationale, a brief literature review, research gap, and a broad research question.

A brief introduction of the problem should be BROAD to provide a general idea of what is the problem and what is its significance as well as SPECIFIC to provide context or show possible relationships between various factors/ concepts. Do not waste words on unnecessary sweeping statements or fillers. After giving a general idea of what your topic is, funnel down into more specific aspects that are relevant to your topic or relationships between variables or concepts.

Begin reviewing relevant literature to bring in current debates, key arguments, concepts and evidences of relationships between variables and concepts. This section is a comprehensive and critical evaluation of existing knowledge in a subject area with a purpose to know what has been and not been studied (frameworks and perspectives), examine the current debates and trends, and identify key concepts. The purpose of this section is to understand the existing literature and research, and to identify research gaps that will help in formulating the research question. Broadly, a literature review section may consist of three steps- a literature search/survey, review of literature, and writing the literature review section in align with the broad research topic. Check the steps of literature review.

Research gap is an area or aspect of a research that was overlooked or not studied by other researchers. It is usually identified at the end of literature review.  You may identify it from your own literature review or from other articles that mention statements such as ‘areas of future research’, the key question remains, etc. Based on this research gap, formulate your broad research question. Rationale is to tell the readers about the purpose and significance of your study. Write that it is needed to address the research gaps.

The introduction section may be concluded with the research question or research objective. The question or objective is logically derived from the research gap. What you want to find out does not come out of anywhere but from the gap which others missed or overlooked. The research question should be precise and focused. Keep in mind that the nature of the research question guides the methodology of your study. Write the question appropriately as it provides the foundation and initiates your research study.

Photo Courtesy: Kira auf der Heide

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