The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Writing Scientific Reports

The Introduction

Guidelines for effective scientific report introductions.

What is the problem?

  • Describe the problem investigated.
  • Summarize relevant research to provide context, key terms, and concepts so your reader can understand the experiment.

Why is it important?

  • Review relevant research to provide rationale. (What conflict or unanswered question, untested population, untried method in existing research does your experiment address? What findings of others are you challenging or extending?)

What solution (or step toward a solution) do you propose?

  • Briefly describe your experiment: hypothesis(es), research question(s); general experimental design or method; justification of method if alternatives exist.

Additional tips:

  1. Move from general to specific: problem in real world/research literature --> your experiment.
  2. Engage your reader: answer the questions, "What did you do?" "Why should I care?"
  3. Make clear the links between problem and solution, question asked and research design, prior research and your experiment.
  4. Be selective, not exhaustive, in choosing studies to cite and amount of detail to include. (In general, the more relevant an article is to your study, the more space it deserves and the later in the Introduction it appears.)
  5. Ask your instructor whether to summarize results and/or conclusions in the Introduction.