Report writing is traditionally regarded as one of the most difficult of academic skills. It requires of students not only the understanding of their subject matters but an ability to express and arrange ideas according to standards and conventions of writing in English. Some of the questions you will consider in this lesson include:
· logical organization and ordering of the information in the Introduction
· information and language conventions of the setting (stage I) of the Introduction
· guidelines to achieve academic writing style
· cultural assumptions about writing
2.1. Ordering the Information in the ‘Introduction’
For most authors the introduction is the most difficult and troublesome section to prepare. Even after methodical thinking, planning and outlining, it is not always easy to find just the right way to introduce the subject to a particular set of readers.
The introduction begins the major narrative of the report by preparing readers for the specific information that follows. It provides sufficient background information and orients them to the purpose and scope of the report, giving them the perspective they need to understand the detailed information coming in later sections. The length of an introduction and its depth of detail depend mostly on the reader’s knowledge of the topic.
Most introductions contain several parts. Frequently parts overlap, and occasionally one of them may be omitted simply because there is no reason for its inclusion. The introduction normally is a straightforward narrative of one or more consecutive paragraphs on each stage; only rarely it is divided into distinct sections preceded by headings.
The introduction to experimental research report or reports based on literature analysis can be divided into five stages:
Stage I – establishes a context, a frame of references to help readers understand how the research fits into a wider field of study; it gives the setting for the problem.
Stage II – reviews the findings of other researchers who have already published in the area of the writer’s interest. It is an organized collection of references or citations to other works.
Stage III – indicates an area that is not treated in the literature and indicates the need for more investigation.
Stage IV – formally announces the purpose of the research.
Stage V – indicates possible benefits or applications of the work.
The final parts of the Introduction (StagesIII, IV and V) usually focus the attention of the readers on the specific research problem the author will be dealing with in the main body of the research.
As have already been mentioned writers do not always arrange the stages of their introductions in this exact order. Sometimes a writer interrupts one stage with another, and then returns to the earlier stage. Sometimes Stage II (the review of literature) is completely separate from the rest of the Introduction. (In theses or dissertations, for example, it is often written as a separate chapter). Stage V is often omitted. However, the general plan given here is very common and is the easiest for the beginning research writers to use.
Following is the introduction to the research report originally published in a professional journal. The report describes a study carried out in the field of agricultural education. The study evaluates the effectiveness of using microcomputers to teach economic principles to university students in a graduate course. Look through the text and analyze the stages the introduction contains.