The Introduction

There is a good reason why I have left the introduction till last. Although you should always begin at the beginning and sketch out an introduction, issues wheel or bubble diagram before you embark on the main body of the text, it is even more important to return to that sketchy introduction after you have finished the essay so as to adjust the introduction to fit the finished product. This is because thought has a way of changing with time: what you started out to do is not always what you end up with.


If a topic is a conceptual space with boundaries, then the introduction is sort of like a map of the topic. A map tells you where you are, where you want to go and how you are proposing to get there.


Actually an introduction is a little bit more than a map; it must also cover the reason for getting the map out in the first place.


Put in a more straightforward way: Introductions explicitly ask and give answers to the following questions:


         What is the general subject or topic?

         What is your focus within that topic?

         What is the problem your are trying to address with reference to this topic?

         Why are you interested in this problem?

         How does the problem break up into its constituent elements? (the issue wheel)

         What is your thesis?

         How are you going to approach the subject? or: What is your strategy for proving your point?

         How does that determine the sequence of your argument.


That tells us where we are, where we are going to go, why we are going there, what we are using to get there and it outlines the route we are taking.