The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set G      The Introduction     The Pivot Point of the Paper   Challenges to Coherence   Exercise 1     Hand in Glove     Exercise 2      Final Page .

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OVERVIEW: The way to well-written science

How to do the Course


PART I: Paragraphs and Sentences

SET A: Paragraphs: The Maps Behind Them

SET B: Paragraphs: Using Maps to Meet Readers' Expectations

SET C: Paragraph Coherence and Cohesion

SET D: Sentences

SET E: Scientific Sections (including Methods)

SET F: Scientific Sections: The Discussion

SET G : Scientific Sections: The Introduction

SET H : The Paper as a Whole

Hand in Glove

The Introduction is nearly always written last since, until you have completed the Discussion, you do not know what you want to introduce. The content of the Introduction is largely shaped by the content of the Discussion, and closely "fits over" it in the same way that a snug glove fits the hand. There are two aspects to this close fit:

* All the major core points of the Discussion should be foreshadowed in the Introduction, including the content of all the non-speculative and most of the speculative content

- The non-speculative content will be covered in the Introduction if you clearly enunciate the Specific Research Question and the questions downstream from it, i.e. the Research Objectives

- the speculative content will be covered by questions/issues upstream of the SRQ, i.e. the Research Area, the General Research Question and any other intermediate questions, or background information, that lie between the General and Specific Research Questions

* Anything that is absent from the Discussion, should also be absent from the Introduction. For example, if the Pasteur experiment (see Table below) were being written up, and the Discussion did not conclude with some general statements about the origin of life, then neither should the Introduction start at this level - it should probably establish the Research Area as "Spontaneous Generation". A paper, or seminar, should always end where it began, a strategy sometimes referred to as "completing the circle". It provides a sense of satisfaction for readers, and, in a seminar, it creates a powerful effect - the audience feels like they have got more than what they were promised (since your |"contract"only requires that you to answer the SRQ. Going back to the Pasteur example, the simple alternative to removing a mention of the origin of life from from the Introduction, is to add a mention of it to the paper's conclusion.

Four possible levels of questions (or issues) in the Pasteur experiment

How the question relates to the question or issue above Scientific Significance
Research Area
What is the origin of life?
A general field of work in which there are many questions, some tractable, some intractable
Very high

General Research Question

Does life arise by spontaneous generation? The question is general and often intractable, and any answers to it indirectly address the Research Area.
Specific Research Question Can spontaneous generation occur with just two components: any organic matter, and pure air? The question is specific and tractable, and its answer indirectly addresses the General Research Question (above).
Research Objective Does boiled meat broth in a flask whose contents are in contact with room air, but not with the dust in the air, become cloudy? The question is very specific and tractable, and its answer directly addresses the Specific Research Question (above).