Rangeland Ecology & Management Highlight – Will Someone Actually Read Your Scientific Research Paper?

The answer is yes, but only if you write an amazing “Introduction”!

Most readers of scientific research papers learn about your paper by seeing the citation and title first, and then reading your “Abstract”.  They read the Abstract to see how closely the paper matches their topic of interest. If you are like me, you also try to assess whether the research is conducted using solid research methods and the conclusions seem substantial and important.

Once a reader likes the Abstract, potential readers may download your research paper. Whether they actually read the paper depends on the Introduction. To get your research paper read, you will need to impress the reader by crafting an intriguing article that tells a good story and makes the case that the story is compelling and critically important; however, writers of biological research should avoid overstating any social justifications. Of course, not all data can be described as a “good story”, but an artful Introduction will make the very best story about the dataset. In a way, the Introduction can be used to “sell” the idea your paper is worth the time to read.

The purpose of the Introduction is to contextualize your research. This describes the situation and concepts that surround your topic and develops the research theory on which your study is based. An Introduction is used to explain the rationale for the research and prepare the reader for the rest of paper. A good Introduction should explain the purpose of the research, while helping the reader understand the relevant past research and background. It should also set the reader up to look forward to learning the results because they appear interesting and widely meaningful It should also state exactly what you intend to add to what is known about the topic. The Introduction also points out the weaknesses of a theory and how your work is intended to strengthen or refute it.

The Introduction should lead the reader through a sequence and conclude with a purpose that links back to the rationale. Start by presenting the topic in a broad or general context that any audience would understand. Later the author should funnel or narrow the focus to a specific need or question that they want to answer. Phrase the question in biological terms and describe why answering this question is so vitally important. Your background should lead the reader directly to a hypothesis that contains a hint of your treatments and variables to measure. Hypotheses should relate almost directly to the theory you developed and described as part of the context.

Most researchers spend years and even decades conducting research on a particular topic. Whatever excited and sparked you enough to spend years on a research project should be conveyed to the reader so they have the same level of enthusiasm for reading it. We are in the age of information and everyone has access to it. You will need to write a compelling story using your data and the Introduction determines if a reader is going to keep reading. To get your scientific papers read, you will not only need remarkable studies, but you will need to write them in an interesting way. The Introduction should be used to set the stage for readers to be amazed!!

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