Academic Writing

Genres in academic writing: Writing introductions

The purpose of the introduction is to show your reader what you are doing in your writing. It is also helpful to explain why you are doing it and how you are doing it.

For that reason, there are usually three main parts in the introduction. The most useful description is given by Swales (1990, pp. 137-165):

Research Report Introductions

1. Establish a research territory

show that the general research area is important, central, interesting, problematic, or relevant in some way.

introduce and review items of previous research in the area.

smallaro

2. Establishing a niche

indicate a gap in the previous research by raising a question about it, or extending previous knowledge in some way.

smallaro

3. Occupying the niche

outline purposes or stating the nature of the present research.

indicate the structure of the RP.

Analysis

Identify the moves in the following introduction:

Use Of A Writing Web-Site By Pre-Masters Students On An English for Academic Purposes Course.

A. J. Gillett, University of Hertfordshire

Introduction

1During the past 10 years, the availability of computers in educational institutions has increased dramatically (James, 1999). 2Progress in computer development has been made to the point that powerful, inexpensive computers with large capacities are available in many classrooms and libraries for student use. 3Many students also have purchased and are purchasing computers for their own use at home. 4Most studies seem to agree that the microcomputer will continue to hold an important role in education in the future. 5For example, James (1999) and Smith (2000) suggest large increases in the numbers of computers both in educational institutions and the home in the near future. 6As far as education is concerned, Shaw (2001) identified three main uses of computers: the object of a course, an administrative tool, and a means of providing instruction. 7Fish and Cheam (2002) cite four uses of computers as a means of providing instruction: exercise, tutorial, simulation and problem solving. 8A wide range of computer programmes are now therefore available in all these areas for individual and classroom use.

9However, even though many studies have reported an increased use of computers in education, there has been very little research reported on the effectiveness of such use.10The purpose of the present study is therefore to ascertain the effectiveness of using computer-assisted instruction as compared to traditional classroom instruction in an EAP writing class.

Identify the information elements you find in each sentence of the text.

ELEMENT
Sentence 1
Sentence 2
Sentence 3
Sentence 4
Sentence 5
Sentence 6
Sentence 7
Sentence 8
Sentence 9
Sentence 10

 

An Answer

Move 1: Establishing a research territory

Note particularly the language used in the first two sentences to express Move la.

  • The increasing interest in ... has heightened the need for ....
  • Of particular interest and complexity are ....
  • Recently, there has been growing interest in ....
  • The development of ... has led to the hope that....
  • The ... has become a favourite topic for analysis ....
  • The study of ... has become an important aspect of ....
  • A central issue in ... is ....
  • The ... has been extensively studied in recent years.
  • Many recent studies have focused on ....

Move 2: Establishing a niche

In many ways, Move 2 is the key move in Introductions. It connects Move 1 (what has been done) to Move 3 (what the present research will do). Move 2 thus establishes the reason for the study. By the end of Move 2, the reader should have a good idea of what is going to come in Move 3.

Move 2s establish a niche by indicating a gap. Probably the most common way to indicate a gap is to use a "negative" subject. Presumably, negative subjects are chosen because they signal immediately to the reader that Move 1 has come to an end. Note the following uses of little and few:

  • However, little information/attention/work/data/research ....
  • However, few studies/investigations/researchers/attempts ....

Of course, not all RP Introductions express Move 2 by indicating an obvious gap. You may prefer, for various reasons, to avoid negative comment altogether. In such cases, a useful alternative is to use a contrastive statement.

  • The research has tended to focus on ...,rather than on ....
  • These studies have emphasised ...,as opposed to ....
  • Although considerable research has been devoted to ... , rather less attention has been paid to ....
  • The previous research ... has concentrated on ....
  • Most studies have been content to ....
  • So far, investigations have been confined to ...

Move 3: Occupying the Niche

The third and final step is to show you want to fill the gap (or answer the question) that has been created in Move 2.

  • The purpose of this paper is to ...
  • The purpose of this investigation is to ...
  • The aim of this paper is to ...
  • This paper reports on the results obtained ....
  • This study was designed to ...
  • In this paper, we give results of ...
  • In this paper, we argue that ....
  • This paper argues that ....
  • We have organise the rest of this paper in the following way ....
  • This paper is structured as follows ....
  • The remainder of this paper is divided into five sections ....

Example

Identify the moves in the following introductions:

THE THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY AND SPECIFIC HEAT OF EPOXY RESIN FROM 0.1 TO 8.0K.

The thermal properties of glassy materials at low temperatures are still not completely understood. The thermal conductivity has a plateau which is usually in the range 5 to 10K and below this temperature it has a temperature dependence which varies approximately as T. The specific heat below 4K is much larger than that which would be expected from the Debye theory and it often has an additional term which is proportional to T. Some progress has been made towards understanding the thermal behaviour by assuming that there is a cut-off in the photon spectrum at high frequencies (Zaitlin and Anderson, 1975a, b) and that there is an additional system of low-lying two-level states (Anderson et al., 1972; Phillips, 1972). Nevertheless more experimental data are required and in particular it would seem desirable to make experiments on glassy samples whose properties can be varied slightly from one to the other. The present investigation reports attempts to do this by using various samples of the same epoxy resin which have been subjected to different curing cycles. Measurements of the specific heat (or the diffusing) and the thermal conductivity have been taken in the temperature range 0.1 to 80K for a set of specimens which covered up to nine different curing cycles.

(Kelham and Rosenburg, 1981)

An elaborate system of marking social distance and respect is found in the morphology of Nahuatl as spoken in communities of the Malinche volcano area in the Mexican states of Tlaxcala and Puebla. The complexity of the morphology involved, the semantic range of the elements, and the variation in the system in use raise questions of considerable interest for our understanding of the form and function of such systems, both in Nahuatl itself and in other languages.
A system of elements usually referred to as 'honorifics' or 'reverentials' is reported by all the grammarians of Classical Nahuatl (cf. Olmos, 1547; Molina, 1571a; Carochi, 1645; Simeon, 1885; Garibay, 1970; Anderson, 1973; Andrews, 1975). Similar systems are reported for several modern varieties of Nahuatl (cf. Whorf, 1946 for Milpa Alta in the Federal District; Pitman, 1948 for Tetelcingo in Morelos; and Buchler and Freeze, 1966 and Buhler, 1967 for Hueyapan and Atempan in northern Puebla). None of these reports, except for Pittman's describes the system in much detail. The present account is based on materials collected in 1974-75 and during the summer of 1976 in a linguistic survey of Nahuatl-speaking communities on the western and south-western slopes of the Malinche volcano.

In recent years applied researchers have become increasingly interested in the interpersonal relationships with manager-subordinate dyads. The majority of studies have focused on actual similarity between managers and their subordinates as related to managers' appraisals of subordinates' performance (Miles, 1964; Nieva, 1976; Rude, 1970; Senger, 1971), subordinates' job satisfaction (Huber, 1970) and subordinates' evaluations of their managers.

(Weiss, 1977). A few studies have examined the extent to which subordinates congruently perceive their managers (referred to here as "subordinate's perceptual congruence"). These studies suggest that subordinates who are more perceptually aware of their superiors' work-related attitudes receive higher performance evaluations (Golmieh, 1974; Green, 1972; Labovitz, 1972) and are more satisfied with their superiors (Howard, 1968).

Each of these previous studies has researched only a part of this complex dyadic interpersonal relationship. First, none of the studies has examined the effects of a manager's congruent perception of a subordinate's work-related attitudes (i.e., "manager's perceptual congruence"). Second, no studies can be found that directly compare the relative importance of actual similarity with that of perceptual congruence. Third, none of the previous studies has looked at interpersonal perception by the manager and by the subordinates simultaneously within the same dyad.

The purpose of the present field investigation was to study both actual similarity and perceptual congruence and to examine them from the perspective of both the manager and the subordinate. The study investigated the relationships of these perceptual processes in two important organizational outcomes: subordinates' satisfaction with work and supervision, and managers' evaluations of subordinates' job performance. Specifically, the study examined: (a) the relative magnitude of perceptual congruence and actual similarity with these two organizational outcomes; (b) whether the more congruently a subordinate perceives the manager (subordinate's perceptual congruence), the more satisfied the subordinate will be; and (c) whether the more congruently a manager perceives the subordinate (manager's perceptual congruence), the higher the subordinate's performance will be evaluated.

Reference

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.