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IMRAD Info #1: Introducing the Introduction

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By Barbara Gastel | Dec. 4, 2016  |

Greetings again. I hope you’re doing well.

A recent AuthorAID blog post described the hourglass-like structure of journal articles having the IMRAD format (introduction, methods, results, and discussion). In a comment, a reader requested more information on the four IMRAD sections.

Therefore this month I’m providing posts on the four sections. The current post discusses the introduction. Posts on the other three sections will follow.

Before drafting an introduction, look at the introductions to some articles in the journal where you’ll submit your article. Introductions in different journals sometimes differ, for example in length. See what is typical for your journal.

Also consider functions of the introduction. One function is to provide background so readers can understand your work and appreciate its importance. Another function is to indicate the purpose of the research, for example by stating research questions or hypotheses. Be sure to fulfill these purposes.

As usual, authors should consider their audience. In a paper for a general journal, the introduction may need to provide basic background. A paper for a specialized journal might not need to do so.

As noted in the earlier post, the introduction typically starts broad and then narrows down. For example, it may

  • present general information on the subject,

  • then summarize previously published findings on an aspect of it,

  • then identify a gap in knowledge about that aspect, and

  • then state the questions or hypotheses that the current research therefore addressed.

Because it starts broad and ends narrow, the introduction is said to resemble a funnel. If written appropriately, it will funnel readers effectively into the rest of your article.

Until the next post—

Barbara

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