Research Article Introductions
In a study of the introduction sections of 48 scientific papers published in three research fields, linguist John Swales identified four common rhetorical "moves" that researchers use to communicate their work.1 These "moves" can be used in a different order, can appear more than once in the introduction, or can be implied. Together they are a recipe for and effective introduction section for an original research article.
Four common moves in introduction sections of scientific articles:
- Announce the topic
- Summarize previous knowledge and research
- Prepare for present research by indicating a gap in previous research and/or by raising a question about previous research.
- Introduce the present research by stating the purpose and/or by outlining the research.
Effective introductions in all fields include similar rhetorical moves because they share the same rhetorical goal: the authors want to convince readers that the topic is important and that their work on the topic will advance the field’s knowledge.
Your MyMolecule article is not an original research article. It is a secondary source of scientific knowledge (similar to a review article). This means that the "meat" of your article is not original research, but rather a discussion of the chemical details of the system. Specifically, your "meat" is a discussion focused on the metal centers and an application of inorganic chemistry and biochemistry principles to explain how the metal centers drive the structure and function of your molecule. With this in mind, we can modify the four moves for your specific article:
Modified moves for introduction sections of review articles:
- Announce the topic.
- Summarize general knowledge and research.
- Prepare for discussing specific details of the metal center(s) by pointing out the critical role metal ions play in this molecule's structure/function.
- Introduce the specific details by stating the details to be discussed in this article (state purpose of the article).
Please download Handout 2.1 and follow the instructions on your own.
- Click here after you have completed the Activity:
After you have identified common moves in the research article in Handout 2.1, click here to access an example analysis.
- Penrose, A. M.; Katz, S. B. Writing in the Sciences : Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse; St. Martin's Press: New York, 1998.