Georgia NeSmith is an independent writer and editor who has a great website over at Matrix Editorial Services (here). In revving up to return to writing after a few weeks off, I stumbled upon upon her advice for “Writing the Introduction.” Her advice is specifically geared toward dissertation writers, but I found much that is applicable to writers of law review articles, too. Here is an excerpt from her post:
The first draft of most dissertations seems to be very similar: the student is trying to demonstrate competence in all the major literature in any way remotely connected to his or her study. This is not only unnecessary, it is annoying for the average reader.
The Introduction or introductory chapter is often rambling and extensive, leaving the reader who is interested in the actual subject of the research feeling very frustrated. Get to the point! one wants to shout. * * *
The introduction to a dissertation must do the following, and the following ALONE:
It identifies, locates, and justifies your study within your field. It demonstrates that your study attends to something entirely new, never examined before in the field.
It states the specific problem that your study is to address, a problem not heretofore addressed by previous studies
It states the research questions to be addressed by your specific study
It states the methods to be used
And finally, it outlines the chapters to come.
The introduction answers the following questions:
What is the problem? Why do I study this issue? Why should it be solved?
Who will benefit the most from this piece of writing? What is the contribution?
What is my purpose?
What are my methods?
What can the reader expect in the subsequent chapters? * * *
The introductory chapter of a dissertation is much like that first paragraph in the old “five paragraph theme”: essentially, you tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. The big difference is that you must also demonstrate that the study about to be read is unique and makes a major contribution to the field in which it is located.
The full post is here.