Research Writing SY2006

Friday, November 19, 2004

writing your intro: part 2

Here's another good info about writing your intro. [Source:]
This sets the stage for your reader; describes the parameters of the subject (first paragraph) and topic of the paper. Think of the introduction as poking him in the shoulder, getting his attention and beginning your story. He's going to need to know where you're going to be looking, what particular piece of the "landscape" he should be focussed on and what's significant about it. You must also tell him how to see it.

A student of mine once wrote a paper on the Whitehorse sewage treatment plant. In her introduction she told me all about the plant but didn't tell me whether her perspective was that the thing was a marvel of superior technology or an environmental disaster. Not knowing which she intended meant I didn't follow her discussion until very near the end.

The moral is don't withold anything from your reader. In your thesis statement (usually located in the second paragraph), be sure to tell him what the paper is about, what the question is, what your answer to your question is, and the three or four reasons why--briefly (in no more than two or three sentences). The detailed version of the reasons, the discussion, comes in the body. Since it's the road map to your paper, you might find it easier to write it after you've finished the rest your paper.

Think carefully about the title of your paper. It should hint what exactly your position is, point to the subject or topic of the paper and even some of the limiting factors you've placed on your work.

Aiden Yeh
PhD Candidate, University of Birmingham

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