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.
A clean as you go policy is a cleaning strategy used to minimise risks to hygiene, health, and safety. The clean as you go method involves taking opportunities to clean continually throughout the working day and making cleaning part of your daily routine to ensure that surfaces, equipment, waste, and the premises are clean, hygienic, and clutter free.
There are two types of cleaning under the clean as you go method: urgent and non-urgent.
Urgent cleaning is anything that may pose an immediate risk to health, hygiene, or safety, such as a spillage. Non-urgent cleaning is a part of your daily processes, such as wiping surfaces, placing rubbish in bins and dirty equipment in washing machines.
Clean As You Go Policy: What to Cover
Formalising a clean as you go policy as part of any role in retail, hospitality, and catering leads to a consistent attitude to cleaning. It also helps less senior or experienced staff members feel confident taking the initiative to clean during downtime and know that doing so is part of the role.
As part of your onboarding process, give staff instructions that will help them make use of quieter times to complete extra cleaning. What you think is above and beyond cleaning will depend on where you work, as cafes, kitchens, and supermarkets all have very different expectations. Telling your staff about extra opportunities to clean will also be a further metric to differentiate between the time wasters and the motivated staff.
In addition to your personal expectations, staff also need to know some clean as you go essentials:
- Where spill kits are kept around the premises.
- Where and how to dispose of refuse and packaging, etc.
- The appropriate sanitisers for different tasks.
- The essential clean as you go tasks to complete during peak time, such as spills, wiping surfaces after touching raw meats, etc.
- The areas of primary concern, such as surfaces, equipment, walkways, etc.
- Where to store clean work equipment.
The rest of this article focuses on spillages, surfaces, waste management, and walkways.
Spilt milk in the dairy aisle, wine dropped in the restaurant, and egg splatter in the kitchen – you know where spillages happen most of the time. Which means that nine times out of ten you can strategically plan for them. Storing a spill bucket in key locations around your premises will help you to act fast when you need to clean up a spillage. You should also keep hazard signage near your spill kits to indicate to customers and employees when a surface may present a slip, trip, or falls risk.
What to Include in a Spill Clean Up Kit:
- Super absorbent materials, such as sawdust, sand or Spill-Aid.
- Disposable gloves.
- Paper towels (lots of them).
- A receptacle, such as refuse sacks or a bucket to place absorbent materials in after use.
- Dust pan and brush.
- Disposable cloths.
Between tasks, staff need to wash work surfaces thoroughly using a new cloth (or one that you have washed and disinfected). Regularly cleaning will prevent dirt, bacteria, and allergens spreading onto food produce. Likewise, keep a good supply of new cloths as a dirty cloth could spread bacteria and allergens to surfaces.
Unpack food produce or equipment away from surfaces as the boxes may have been stored on the floor. The boxes are a potential contaminant.
Keep surfaces clear of clutter – it’s easier to clean a clutter-free surface.
Disinfect surfaces that have been used to prepare raw poultry, meat or eggs.
Equipment can harbour dirt, bacteria and pathogens. It’s vital to clean equipment that has touched raw meat, poultry or eggs immediately after use. Or to put equipment in an area that you have designated as a cleaning area. Dry equipment after washing to ensure you kill bacteria.
Place equipment in clean storage locations after use.
Keep Walkways Clear
Your clean as you go policy should also consider the management of areas of high traffic. Never leave debris in high traffic walkways and store boxes in appropriate areas. Never block emergency exits with boxes or refuse.
Have clearly labelled methods for recycling and managing waste, such as bailer equipment.
You need an effective clean as you go plan for waste management to ensure that waste does not build up.
That means not only putting stuff in the bin but emptying the bin during the day! Don’t let food waste build up as it could attract pests and cause cross contamination of other produce.
Use closable rubbish containers and keep these in easy to access locations. Doing so allows employees to dispose of food waste and other rubbish as quickly as possible.
Remove outer packaging of raw materials and produce from the production area straight after use.
Identify areas where your customers and staff tend to leave refuse and implement a policy to clean problem areas throughout the day.
If you want more information on clean as you go methods and general food safety procedures, check out the guides below to further your knowledge.
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Hannah is The Hub’s specialist on social issues and HR. She has a master’s degree in Contemporary Literatures and writes about safeguarding issues and business. When she’s not writing, she practises yoga and peruses bookshops.