How much literature goes into the introduction?
When writing a research paper, most of us have a tough time figuring out how much research goes into the introduction section and how much literature goes into the literature section. It honestly is one of the hardest decisions to make while writing a paper. I have come across different views regarding the answer to this question. However, it seems like an extension of the question “what is the role and purpose of including literature” at a particular point in the introduction compared to that included at a later point in a paper.
What I simply mean to say is that the answer to the question “how much” isn’t simply about the quantity but also about its purpose. I recommend considering two points when deciding about the amount of research to be included in your introduction.
(1) Does the introduction clearly state your purpose and process?
A journal article’s introduction is very crucial. It is the piece of your article that grabs your reader’s attention and focuses it on your chosen research problem. In the introduction, you inform your readers about the area of topic you are researching on, you explain the importance and relevance of the problem, and finally you argue the importance of a fresh or different perspective regarding the problem. The introduction must help you establish that there is a loophole in the research regarding your research problem and your study will add in the fresh perspective to fill in that hole.
You can do this in three steps:
Locate: Here the research problem is set in context, outlined, and justified. The disposition and impact of the research problem is established by referring to previous literatures, practices, policies, and/or common discourses.
Focus: After drawing a vivid background of your research problem, you must now draw your reader’s attention to your research problem. Your introduction works as a funnel, where you begin writing about a broad context and filter it down until you only write about your research problem.
Outline: After gaining focus, you must state what exactly you plan to do to address the problem area. You may also speak about the foundation on which you are writing the paper using previous data from found in your library work, personal reasoning, or previous work. You need to sketch out the steps required to solve the research problem and in the order you think they should be taken.
Therefore, the step “locate” will not require too many citations or references, except a few key references. The main bulk of your literature with citations comes at the “focus” step when you are building way for your study and arguing how your study is better placed to solve the research problem than the previous attempts.
(2) Does your introduction grab your reader’s attention?
Your introduction is what will convince your readers to put aside everything else for a few minutes and read your entire paper, so make sure that they feel your article is worth their time in the introduction section itself. This can be ascertained by three fool-proof tricks:
• Write a succinct introduction. No one likes to read an introduction that goes on for pages and ages. It is recommended to have three or five paragraphs in your introduction section, but make sure you write an adequately detailed introduction to avoid presenting shallow work to your readers. Remember it is the trailer, not the entire movie, and you have to keep your audience enthralled.
• Write a clear introduction. If an introduction is dripping of incomprehensible or difficult prose and uncountable citations, then it is guaranteed that your readers will flip over to the next article. Therefore, do not let your reader’s think that your article is not for everyone (or anyone) to assimilate.
• Write an alluring and thought-provoking first line. An interesting opening sentence is most often sufficient to reel in your readers. You may use quotes or vignettes to make your introduction livelier.
In short, an introduction is not a literature review. You do not need to impress your readers with your exceptional analytical skills for previous literature. It is only the advertisement for your study that will get your readers to invest their time in you.