Begin at the Beginning

You’ve been spending months, or perhaps years, on your research, so it’s easy to forget that your reader doesn’t know as much as you do. Beware of writing an introduction that jumps straight into the details without explaining why your research matters.

A successful introduction takes a step back, explaining the context for the research and why it’s important. When you’re writing your introduction, think about how you’d explain your topic to a friend or a family member, not a member of your team.

You can do that by breaking your introduction into four parts or “statements”:

1. Background statement
Give some context for understanding the problem and your research approach

2. Problem statement
Describe the nature, scope, severity, or importance of the problem that motivated you to conduct the research

3. Activity statement
Talk about your research question, hypothesis, and the approach you took to answer that question.

4. Forecasting statement
Tell the readers what they will find if they continue to read your report.

On the next page, we’ll use these elements to build a compelling introduction.