I. Structure and Approach
The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions for the reader:
- What is this?
- Why should I read it?
- What do you want me to think about / consider doing / react to?
Think of the structure of the introduction as an inverted triangle of information that lays a foundation for understanding the research problem. Organize the information so as to present the more general aspects of the topic early in the introduction, then narrow your analysis to more specific topical information that provides context, finally arriving at your research problem and the rationale for studying it [often written as a series of key questions] and, whenever possible, a description of the potential outcomes your study can reveal.
These are general phases associated with writing an introduction:
1. Establish an area to research by:
- Highlighting the importance of the topic, and/or
- Making general statements about the topic, and/or
- Presenting an overview on current research on the subject.
2. Identify a research niche by:
- Opposing an existing assumption, and/or
- Revealing a gap in existing research, and/or
- Formulating a research question or problem, and/or
- Continuing a disciplinary tradition.
3. Place your research within the research niche by:
- Stating the intent of your study,
- Outlining the key characteristics of your study,
- Describing important results, and
- Giving a brief overview of the structure of the paper.
NOTE: Even though the introduction is the first main section of a research paper, it is often useful to finish the introduction late in the writing process because the structure of the paper, the reporting and analysis of results, and the conclusion will have been completed. Reviewing and, if necessary, rewriting the introduction ensures that it correctly matches the overall structure of your final paper.
II. Delimitations of the Study
Delimitations refer to those characteristics that limit the scope and define the conceptual boundaries of your research. This is determined by the conscious exclusionary and inclusionary decisions you make about how to investigate the research problem. In other words, not only should you tell the reader what it is you are studying and why, but you must also acknowledge why you rejected alternative approaches that could have been used to examine the topic.
Obviously, the first limiting step was the choice of research problem itself. However, implicit are other, related problems that could have been chosen but were rejected. These should be noted in the conclusion of your introduction. For example, a delimitating statement could read, "Although many factors can be understood to impact the likelihood young people will vote, this study will focus on socioeconomic factors related to the need to work full-time while in school." The point is not to document every possible delimiting factor, but to highlight why previously researched issues related to the topic were not addressed.
Examples of delimitating choices would be:
- The key aims and objectives of your study,
- The research questions that you address,
- The variables of interest [i.e., the various factors and features of the phenomenon being studied],
- The method(s) of investigation,
- The time period your study covers, and
- Any relevant alternative theoretical frameworks that could have been adopted.
Review each of these decisions. Not only do you clearly establish what you intend to accomplish in your research, but you should also include a declaration of what the study does not intend to cover. In the latter case, your exclusionary decisions should be based upon criteria understood as, "not interesting"; "not directly relevant"; “too problematic because..."; "not feasible," and the like. Make this reasoning explicit!
NOTE: Delimitations refer to the initial choices made about the broader, overall design of your study and should not be confused with documenting the limitiations of your study discovered after the research has been completed.
ANOTHER NOTE: Do not view delimitating statements as admitting to an inherent failing or shortcoming in your research. They are an accepted element of academic writing intended to keep the reader focused on the research problem by explicitly defining the conceptual boundaries and scope of your study. It addresses any critical questions in the reader's mind of, "Why the hell didn't the author examine this?"
III. The Narrative Flow
Issues to keep in mind that will help the narrative flow in your introduction:
- Your introduction should clearly identify the subject area of interest. A simple strategy to follow is to use key words from your title in the first few sentences of the introduction. This will help focus the introduction on the topic at the appropriate level and ensures that you get to the subject matter quickly without losing focus, or discussing information that is too general.
- Establish context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. The key is to summarize for the reader what is known about the specific research problem before you did your analysis. This part of your introduction should not represent a comprehensive literature review--that comes next. It consists of a general review of the important, foundational research literature [with citations] that establishes a foundation for understanding key elements of the research problem. See the drop-down menu under this tab for "Background Information" regarding types of contexts.
- Clearly state the hypothesis that you investigated. When you are first learning to write in this format it is okay, and actually preferable, to use a past statement like, "The purpose of this study was to...." or "We investigated three possible mechanisms to explain the...."
- Why did you choose this kind of research study or design? Provide a clear statement of the rationale for your approach to the problem studied. This will usually follow your statement of purpose in the last paragraph of the introduction.
IV. Engaging the Reader
The overarching goal of your introduction is to make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should grab the reader's attention. Strategies for doing this can be to:
- Open with a compelling story,
- Include a strong quotation or a vivid, perhaps unexpected anecdote,
- Pose a provocative or thought-provoking question,
- Describe a puzzling scenario or incongruity, or
- Cite a stirring example or case study that illustrates why the research problem is important.
NOTE: Choose only one strategy for engaging your readers; avoid giving an impression that your paper is more flash than substance.
Freedman, Leora and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Introduction. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Introductions. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; “Writing Introductions.” In Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide. Peter Redman. 4th edition. (London: Sage, 2011), pp. 63-70; Resources for Writers: Introduction Strategies. Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sharpling, Gerald. Writing an Introduction. Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick; Samraj, B. “Introductions in Research Articles: Variations Across Disciplines.” English for Specific Purposes 21 (2002): 1–17; Swales, John and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004; Writing Your Introduction. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University.
Introducing Smartphone Applications to Education: Analysis of Pros and Cons
Technology has evolved greatly in last few decades and has become an important part of our lives. In fact, the primary goal of revolution in technology is to help improve our quality of life at work, home, and anywhere else. Education is not an exception from this rule. In fact, technology has been integrated into the education processes throughout the years due to the fact it provides amazing tools that facilitate learning. Thanks to the internet, teachers, and professors have more resources to help children and students learn the lectures. On the other hand, students find it easier to keep up with school with many tools they can use to research, learn, and organize. With the rise of smartphones, we have the option to use applications (apps) for every aspect of our lives. Apps go beyond social media, it is possible to download a suitable application for everything. What about education? Would the introduction of apps into education have a positive or negative impact? Despite the fact all of us believe the impact would be positive or negative, the question is not easy to answer.
We use our phones for everything today; to check emails, shop, book flights and hotels, pay bills, get food, and so much more. It is simple, anything one can do on the computer, he or she can also do on their smartphone. In this day and age, it is difficult to succeed at work and school without a smartphone primarily due to their convenience. Carrying laptops around can be a nuisance for people who are on the go, but smartphones fit perfectly into the pocket and offer same possibilities. Professors and teachers can benefit greatly from the introduction of mobile apps into education. For example, a number of scientists and experts in education explain that mobile technologies can create new opportunities for independent investigations, practical fieldwork, professional updating, and on the spot access to knowledge. At the same time, they provide the mechanism for enhanced individual guidance and learner support and more efficient course administration and management.
Furthermore, benefits of apps in education also extend to helping students navigate across campuses and access event schedules, school directories, or to find their way around a university or college they attend. Smartphone apps make it easier for students to research the school’s library or to find useful study material in other facilities. When working on their assignments or essays, students are easily able to find sample research paper, reference information etc. thanks to apps. In addition, they can practice and develop their skills, access grades, and submit assignments with a simple tap on the screen. Apps can also serve as a platform that campus groups use to send mass messages to students in order to carry out polls and surveys. Getting anonymous and fast answers would help these groups improve the on-campus life.
Indeed, smartphone apps can have numerous purposes including the opportunity for professors to send automatic emails to absent students, attendance reports, create group or class forums for better communication with their students. Instead of contacting students one by one for important notices or hanging them somewhere in the hall, professors could use an app and, thus, reach all students at once, without wasting their time. They can also help their students get better grades by including college research paper example onto the apps. Professor-student communication is largely overlooked, sometimes even ignored, today. Educators have the best impact on their students when they relate to them, make an effort to connect with them and form a strong relationship. Apps allow this interaction, which is yet another advantage of these platforms.
Technology evolves constantly and it is important for the education system to adopt it in order to keep up with these changes. As a result, students can maximize their effort, use plenty of resources, improve writing skills with research paper template, develop their problem-solving skills, all of which prepares them for life after they graduate as well.
Despite many benefits and pros of the introduction of smartphone apps to education, there are some cons or important obstacles we have to conquer. The biggest problem is in the way educators use apps. They try to fit these applications into centuries’ old, traditional versions of teaching. The clash of the modern tool with traditional method does not give positive results. In addition, it shows most of them are not fully open to the idea of introducing apps (or other internet-based tools) in education, which takes both them and students one step backward. The point of these tools is to be practical and convenient, but fitting them into traditional versions of teaching makes these apps utterly unusable. One thing that is worse than having no app is making it useless. Furthermore, longer writing assignments like argumentative essays are not that easily completed through an application on tablet or smartphone and submission would require transferring the document from one device (laptop or desktop) onto tablet or smartphone in order to upload it. At this point, it is difficult for professors to use hand-held devices to monitor and save data regarding students’ progress.
Although we can name a multitude of pros and cons regarding the use of smartphone apps in education, one thing is certain – every educational institution and faculty staff should strive to use anything that can benefit the students. In order to help students nurture their intellect and evolve into well-educated adults capable of handling every obstacle that comes after the school, educators have to try different options to make it happen. It is well-known that students oftentimes lack motivation and feel overwhelmed when trying to keep up with their numerous obligations associated with college life. A great way to boost their motivation and inspire them is to implement their interests into education. Want them to do better and write more? Provide example of a research paper and bring this assignment closer to them. At this point, smartphones are an important part of their lives, they use all sorts of apps, and having these platforms in education would make a positive impact. Every educator wants students to do well and pass the exams with the best results and well-crafted apps would help them in test preparation. Some apps come with tests that students can use to test their knowledge, check results, and identify strengths and weaknesses. Of course, accomplishing these things would imply making apps more in tune with modern-day world and technology, rather than trying to fit them into traditional approaches.
Education is not about teaching and learning, it is about training young minds to develop their skills, find their place in the world, improve the way they think, and help them realize they can achieve their goals and dreams with hard work, effort, and knowledge. That is why it is highly important to take education to where the students are, and right now, they are on their smartphones checking notifications, connecting with others, reading on their tablets. Giving them access to the lectures and classes via smartphone apps makes perfect sense. This is the modern age and apps are the new frontier. Apps can revolutionize the way students learn. It is up to educational institutions to embrace and welcome new, mobile technology and the era of smartphone-based learning. The world of mobile apps is where the students live in and it is logical to introduce them into classrooms across the country, or perhaps the entire world. In addition, these apps could help students save money on materials and tools that do not come cheap, but they are important for the subject. Students’ debts keep increasing and it is not helpful to constantly require them to purchase something in order to prepare for their exams. With apps, they could get access to expensive scientific calculators or books without spending an outrageous amount of money, thus taking the pressure off of their money troubles to some extent.
Finally, introducing apps into education has both positive and negative sides. These platforms could support professor-student communication, enable professors to research and improve their lectures, update student data, send important messages. At the same time, students would gain more resources. Of course, some problems do exist including the efforts to fit modern-day tools such as apps into traditional approaches. Obviously, there are still numerous improvements that have to be made, but pros outweigh the cons. The evolution of technology shows no signs of slowing down and it has become an important part of our lives, especially to young individuals. Students spend most of their time on their tablets and smartphones and making lectures and classes available on these devices could facilitate learning and boost their motivation. Financial aspect should not be ignored as well. The smartphone applications could help students get access to tools, books, and other resources that are quite expensive in “real world”.
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