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Publishing Academic Manuscripts: 5 Tips for Writing an Introduction

  1. Use your presentations as an outline


Before publishing your work, you likely present your findings over and over again at national meetings and internal seminars. These presentations need a few introductory slides to put your work into context. Start with these key points in your presentations when writing the introduction of your manuscript. If you have convinced your audience with an oral story, then you have a strong message with logical flow.


  1. Check for word limits and citation requirements


Many journals have specific word limits for different portions of the manuscript. Check to see if there is a word limit for the introduction. Journals also have citation preferences. Remember, your introduction will have the most citations per paragraph. So, before you start referencing, make sure you have the format correct.


  1. Keep track of your references


The introduction has the most citations of any other section of a manuscript given you are building a story based on other published findings Therefore, it is helpful to keep track of your references using a citation manager software such as EndNote. This will help you track which references you use in each section and how many references you have overall.


  1. Write from big to small


In the introduction you are trying to relate your research to the larger research world, so start with the big picture. What big question are you studying? How does it affect human health? How does it relate to your field of study? Then work your way down to how your specific project fits into the big picture. Finally, state the specific finding that your study offers and it’s direct connection to science.


  1. Do not plagiarize


Sounds like common sense but it is very easy to plagiarize yourself and others in the introduction of your manuscript. There are only so many ways to describe the relevance of your project, so be sure to reference yourself and others throughout your introduction to ensure you don’t get caught plagiarizing. Take the time to ensure you are creating a logical flow of scientific discovery and insight. A great introduction highlights the findings that led to your research and acknowledges the scientific landscape supporting your hypothesis.