Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Writing your introduction

My goal as a proof reader is to help you make a great first impression with your writing. The reason for this is that in writing (as in life) first impressions are often lasting impressions. A well written clear introduction can often mask (although certainly not disguise) a below average essay and a bad introduction can certainly reduce your chances of a good grade. So . . . what makes a good introduction?

In western academic culture it is expected that you set out your objectives and study methods at the outset when writing – it may not be a well-publicised fact but the truth is that a key benefit of this is ease of marking!! This is why when I proofread I focus especially carefully on introductions (making comments in detail on areas of weakness or misinterpretation). If your introduction seems to omit a vital area of argument, there is an expectation that the essay will be lacking. In addition, if the tone is informal or chatty (written as if you are talking to someone) then the reader will question the seriousness of the research and your understanding of the academic environment.
In brief, assuming you have a plan and have established your aims (goals), all that is required for a good introductory paragraph is: a sentence explaining the topic as you see it (i) The subject of/The issue of/The current debate in the field of . . . ; followed by an outline that matches your plan (ii) This essay will discuss/examine/focus on . . . (iii) It will then consider . . . (iv) It will also examine . . . ; and a concluding sentence (v) Finally there will be an analysis of/the research will be reviewed . . .
N.B. This is an example not a definitive template and you will find introductions vary subject to subject and everyone is different!
Please remember when writing your beautifully structured and cohesive introduction: avoid the first person, use the passive voice, avoid quotations, identify any key research processes or theorists that will be important to the progress of the essay, re-read to check grammar/spelling (especially of technical terms) and remove any unnecessary detail or narrative.
Above all - NEVER forget that a perfectly crafted introduction that does not answer the question posed is not worth the virtual paper it is typed on! Remember also that your introduction forms a good foundation for you entire essay and your conclusion, as it should detail what your essay really will include, and set the direction for your argument.

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