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What is the Background of the Study and How to Write It
What is the Background of the Study in Research?
The background of the study is the first section of a research paper and gives context surrounding the research topic. The background explains to the reader where your research journey started, why you got interested in the topic, and how you developed the research question that you will later specify. That means that you first establish the context of the research you did with a general overview of the field or topic and then present the key issues that drove your decision to study the specific problem you chose.
Once the reader understands where you are coming from and why there was indeed a need for the research you are going to present in the following—because there was a gap in the current research, or because there is an obvious problem with a currently used process or technology—you can proceed with the formulation of your research question and summarize how you are going to address it in the rest of your manuscript.
Why is the Background of the Study Important?
No matter how surprising and important the findings of your study are, if you do not provide the reader with the necessary background information and context, they will not be able to understand your reasons for studying the specific problem you chose and why you think your study is relevant. And more importantly, an editor who does not share your enthusiasm for your work (because you did not fill them in on all the important details) will very probably not even consider your manuscript worthy of their and the reviewers’ time and will immediately send it back to you.
To avoid such desk rejections , you need to make sure you pique the reader’s interest and help them understand the contribution of your work to the specific field you study, the more general research community, or the public. Introducing the study background is crucial to setting the scene for your readers.
Table of Contents:
- What is “Background Information” in a Research Paper?
- What Should the Background of a Research Paper Include?
- Where Does the Background Section Go in Your Paper?
Background of the Study Structure
Before writing your study background, it is essential to understand what to include. The following elements should all be included in the background and are presented in greater detail in the next section:
- A general overview of the topic and why it is important (overlaps with establishing the “importance of the topic” in the Introduction)
- The current state of the research on the topic or on related topics in the field
- Controversies about current knowledge or specific past studies that undergird your research methodology
- Any claims or assumptions that have been made by researchers, institutions, or politicians that might need to be clarified
- Methods and techniques used in the study or from which your study deviated in some way
Presenting the Study Background
As you begin introducing your background, you first need to provide a general overview and include the main issues concerning the topic. Depending on whether you do “basic” (with the aim of providing further knowledge) or “applied” research (to establish new techniques, processes, or products), this is either a literature review that summarizes all relevant earlier studies in the field or a description of the process (e.g., vote counting) or practice (e.g., diagnosis of a specific disease) that you think is problematic or lacking and needs a solution.
Example s of a general overview
If you study the function of a Drosophila gene, for example, you can explain to the reader why and for whom the study of fly genetics is relevant, what is already known and established, and where you see gaps in the existing literature. If you investigated how the way universities have transitioned into online teaching since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected students’ learning progress, then you need to present a summary of what changes have happened around the world, what the effects of those changes have been so far, and where you see problems that need to be addressed. Note that you need to provide sources for every statement and every claim you make here, to establish a solid foundation of knowledge for your own study.
Describing the current state of knowledge
When the reader understands the main issue(s), you need to fill them in more specifically on the current state of the field (in basic research) or the process/practice/product use you describe (in practical/applied research). Cite all relevant studies that have already reported on the Drosophila gene you are interested in, have failed to reveal certain functions of it, or have suggested that it might be involved in more processes than we know so far. Or list the reports from the education ministries of the countries you are interested in and highlight the data that shows the need for research into the effects of the Corona-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.
Discussing controversies, claims, and assumptions
Are there controversies regarding your topic of interest that need to be mentioned and/or addressed? For example, if your research topic involves an issue that is politically hot, you can acknowledge this here. Have any earlier claims or assumptions been made, by other researchers, institutions, or politicians, that you think need to be clarified?
Mentioning methodologies and approaches
While putting together these details, you also need to mention methodologies : What methods/techniques have been used so far to study what you studied and why are you going to either use the same or a different approach? Are any of the methods included in the literature review flawed in such a way that your study takes specific measures to correct or update? While you shouldn’t spend too much time here justifying your methods (this can be summarized briefly in the rationale of the study at the end of the Introduction and later in the Discussion section), you can engage with the crucial methods applied in previous studies here first.
When you have established the background of the study of your research paper in such a logical way, then the reader should have had no problem following you from the more general information you introduced first to the specific details you added later. You can now easily lead over to the relevance of your research, explain how your work fits into the bigger picture, and specify the aims and objectives of your study. This latter part is usually considered the “ statement of the problem ” of your study. Without a solid research paper background, this statement will come out of nowhere for the reader and very probably raise more questions than you were planning to answer.
Where does the study background section go in a paper?
Unless you write a research proposal or some kind of report that has a specific “Background” chapter, the background of your study is the first part of your introduction section . This is where you put your work in context and provide all the relevant information the reader needs to follow your rationale. Make sure your background has a logical structure and naturally leads into the statement of the problem at the very end of the introduction so that you bring everything together for the reader to judge the relevance of your work and the validity of your approach before they dig deeper into the details of your study in the methods section .
Consider Receiving Professional Editing Services
Now that you know how to write a background section for a research paper, you might be interested in our automated text editor at wordvice.ai. And be sure to receive professional editing services , including academic editing and proofreading , before submitting your manuscript to journals. On the Wordvice academic resources website, you can also find many more articles and other resources that can help you with writing the other parts of your research paper , with making a research paper outline before you put everything together, or with writing an effective cover letter once you are ready to submit.
Educational resources and simple solutions for your research journey
What is the Background of a Study and How to Write It (Examples Included)
Have you ever found yourself struggling to write a background of the study for your research paper? You’re not alone. While the background of a study is an essential element of a research manuscript, it’s also one of the most challenging pieces to write. This is because it requires researchers to provide context and justification for their research, highlight the significance of their study, and situate their work within the existing body of knowledge in the field.
Despite its challenges, the background of a study is crucial for any research paper. A compelling well-written background of the study can not only promote confidence in the overall quality of your research analysis and findings, but it can also determine whether readers will be interested in knowing more about the rest of the research study.
In this article, we’ll explore the key elements of the background of a study and provide simple guidelines on how to write one effectively. Whether you’re a seasoned researcher or a graduate student working on your first research manuscript, this post will explain how to write a background for your study that is compelling and informative.
Table of Contents
What is the background of a study ?
Typically placed in the beginning of your research paper, the background of a study serves to convey the central argument of your study and its significance clearly and logically to an uninformed audience. The background of a study in a research paper helps to establish the research problem or gap in knowledge that the study aims to address, sets the stage for the research question and objectives, and highlights the significance of the research. The background of a study also includes a review of relevant literature, which helps researchers understand where the research study is placed in the current body of knowledge in a specific research discipline. It includes the reason for the study, the thesis statement, and a summary of the concept or problem being examined by the researcher. At times, the background of a study can may even examine whether your research supports or contradicts the results of earlier studies or existing knowledge on the subject.
How is the background of a study different from the introduction?
It is common to find early career researchers getting confused between the background of a study and the introduction in a research paper. Many incorrectly consider these two vital parts of a research paper the same and use these terms interchangeably. The confusion is understandable, however, it’s important to know that the introduction and the background of the study are distinct elements and serve very different purposes.
- The basic different between the background of a study and the introduction is kind of information that is shared with the readers . While the introduction provides an overview of the specific research topic and touches upon key parts of the research paper, the background of the study presents a detailed discussion on the existing literature in the field, identifies research gaps, and how the research being done will add to current knowledge.
- The introduction aims to capture the reader’s attention and interest and to provide a clear and concise summary of the research project. It typically begins with a general statement of the research problem and then narrows down to the specific research question. It may also include an overview of the research design, methodology, and scope. The background of the study outlines the historical, theoretical, and empirical background that led to the research question to highlight its importance. It typically offers an overview of the research field and may include a review of the literature to highlight gaps, controversies, or limitations in the existing knowledge and to justify the need for further research.
- Both these sections appear at the beginning of a research paper. In some cases the introduction may come before the background of the study , although in most instances the latter is integrated into the introduction itself. The length of the introduction and background of a study can differ based on the journal guidelines and the complexity of a specific research study.
To put it simply, the background of the study provides context for the study by explaining how your research fills a research gap in existing knowledge in the field and how it will add to it. The introduction section explains how the research fills this gap by stating the research topic, the objectives of the research and the findings – it sets the context for the rest of the paper.
Where is the background of a study placed in a research paper?
T he background of a study is typically placed in the introduction section of a research paper and is positioned after the statement of the problem. Researchers should try and present the background of the study in clear logical structure by dividing it into several sections, such as introduction, literature review, and research gap. This will make it easier for the reader to understand the research problem and the motivation for the study.
So, when should you write the background of your study ? It’s recommended that researchers write this section after they have conducted a thorough literature review and identified the research problem, research question, and objectives. This way, they can effectively situate their study within the existing body of knowledge in the field and provide a clear rationale for their research.
Creating an effective background of a study structure
Given that the purpose of writing the background of your study is to make readers understand the reasons for conducting the research, it is important to create an outline and basic framework to work within. This will make it easier to write the background of the study and will ensure that it is comprehensive and compelling for readers.
While creating a background of the study structure for research papers, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the essential elements that should be included. Make sure you incorporate the following elements in the background of the study section :
- Present a general overview of the research topic, its significance, and main aims; this may be like establishing the “importance of the topic” in the introduction.
- Discuss the existing level of research done on the research topic or on related topics in the field to set context for your research. Be concise and mention only the relevant part of studies, ideally in chronological order to reflect the progress being made.
- Highlight disputes in the field as well as claims made by scientists, organizations, or key policymakers that need to be investigated. This forms the foundation of your research methodology and solidifies the aims of your study.
- Describe if and how the methods and techniques used in the research study are different from those used in previous research on similar topics.
By including these critical elements in the background of your study , you can provide your readers with a comprehensive understanding of your research and its context.
How to write a background of the study in research papers ?
Now that you know the essential elements to include, it’s time to discuss how to write the background of the study in a concise and interesting way that engages audiences. The best way to do this is to build a clear narrative around the central theme of your research so that readers can grasp the concept and identify the gaps that the study will address. While the length and detail presented in the background of a study could vary depending on the complexity and novelty of the research topic, it is imperative to avoid wordiness. For research that is interdisciplinary, mentioning how the disciplines are connected and highlighting specific aspects to be studied helps readers understand the research better.
While there are different styles of writing the background of a study , it always helps to have a clear plan in place. Let us look at how to write a background of study for research papers.
- Identify the research problem: Begin the background by defining the research topic, and highlighting the main issue or question that the research aims to address. The research problem should be clear, specific, and relevant to the field of study. It should be framed using simple, easy to understand language and must be meaningful to intended audiences.
- Craft an impactful statement of the research objectives: While writing the background of the study it is critical to highlight the research objectives and specific goals that the study aims to achieve. The research objectives should be closely related to the research problem and must be aligned with the overall purpose of the study.
- Conduct a review of available literature: When writing the background of the research , provide a summary of relevant literature in the field and related research that has been conducted around the topic. Remember to record the search terms used and keep track of articles that you read so that sources can be cited accurately. Ensure that the literature you include is sourced from credible sources.
- Address existing controversies and assumptions: It is a good idea to acknowledge and clarify existing claims and controversies regarding the subject of your research. For example, if your research topic involves an issue that has been widely discussed due to ethical or politically considerations, it is best to address them when writing the background of the study .
- Present the relevance of the study: It is also important to provide a justification for the research. This is where the researcher explains why the study is important and what contributions it will make to existing knowledge on the subject. Highlighting key concepts and theories and explaining terms and ideas that may feel unfamiliar to readers makes the background of the study content more impactful.
- Proofread to eliminate errors in language, structure, and data shared: Once the first draft is done, it is a good idea to read and re-read the draft a few times to weed out possible grammatical errors or inaccuracies in the information provided. In fact, experts suggest that it is helpful to have your supervisor or peers read and edit the background of the study . Their feedback can help ensure that even inadvertent errors are not overlooked.
How to avoid mistakes in writing the background of a study
While figuring out how to write the background of a study , it is also important to know the most common mistakes authors make so you can steer clear of these in your research paper.
- Write the background of a study in a formal academic tone while keeping the language clear and simple. Check for the excessive use of jargon and technical terminology that could confuse your readers.
- Avoid including unrelated concepts that could distract from the subject of research. Instead, focus your discussion around the key aspects of your study by highlighting gaps in existing literature and knowledge and the novelty and necessity of your study.
- Provide relevant, reliable evidence to support your claims and citing sources correctly; be sure to follow a consistent referencing format and style throughout the paper.
- Ensure that the details presented in the background of the study are captured chronologically and organized into sub-sections for easy reading and comprehension.
- Check the journal guidelines for the recommended length for this section so that you include all the important details in a concise manner.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can create a clear, concise, and compelling background of the study for your research paper. Take this example of a background of the study on the impact of social media on mental health.
Social media has become a ubiquitous aspect of modern life, with people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with others, share information, and stay updated on news and events. While social media has many potential benefits, including increased social connectivity and access to information, there is growing concern about its impact on mental health. Research has suggested that social media use is associated with a range of negative mental health outcomes, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. This is thought to be due, in part, to the social comparison processes that occur on social media, whereby users compare their lives to the idealized versions of others that are presented online. Despite these concerns, there is also evidence to suggest that social media can have positive effects on mental health. For example, social media can provide a sense of social support and community, which can be beneficial for individuals who are socially isolated or marginalized. Given the potential benefits and risks of social media use for mental health, it is important to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying these effects. This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and mental health outcomes, with a particular focus on the role of social comparison processes. By doing so, we hope to shed light on the potential risks and benefits of social media use for mental health, and to provide insights that can inform interventions and policies aimed at promoting healthy social media use.
To conclude, the background of a study is a crucial component of a research manuscript and must be planned, structured, and presented in a way that attracts reader attention, compels them to read the manuscript, creates an impact on the minds of readers and sets the stage for future discussions.
A well-written background of the study not only provides researchers with a clear direction on conducting their research, but it also enables readers to understand and appreciate the relevance of the research work being done.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on background of the study
Q: How does the background of the study help the reader understand the research better?
The background of the study plays a crucial role in helping readers understand the research better by providing the necessary context, framing the research problem, and establishing its significance. It helps readers:
- understand the larger framework, historical development, and existing knowledge related to a research topic
- identify gaps, limitations, or unresolved issues in the existing literature or knowledge
- outline potential contributions, practical implications, or theoretical advancements that the research aims to achieve
- and learn the specific context and limitations of the research project
Q: Does the background of the study need citation?
Yes, the background of the study in a research paper should include citations to support and acknowledge the sources of information and ideas presented. When you provide information or make statements in the background section that are based on previous studies, theories, or established knowledge, it is important to cite the relevant sources. This establishes credibility, enables verification, and demonstrates the depth of literature review you’ve done.
Q: What is the difference between background of the study and problem statement?
The background of the study provides context and establishes the research’s foundation while the problem statement clearly states the problem being addressed and the research questions or objectives.
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What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?
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Table of Contents
The background of a study is one of the most important components of a research paper. The quality of the background determines whether the reader will be interested in the rest of the study. Thus, to ensure that the audience is invested in reading the entire research paper, it is important to write an appealing and effective background. So, what constitutes the background of a study, and how must it be written?
What is the background of a study?
The background of a study is the first section of the paper and establishes the context underlying the research. It contains the rationale, the key problem statement, and a brief overview of research questions that are addressed in the rest of the paper. The background forms the crux of the study because it introduces an unaware audience to the research and its importance in a clear and logical manner. At times, the background may even explore whether the study builds on or refutes findings from previous studies. Any relevant information that the readers need to know before delving into the paper should be made available to them in the background.
How is a background different from the introduction?
The introduction of your research paper is presented before the background. Let’s find out what factors differentiate the background from the introduction.
- The introduction only contains preliminary data about the research topic and does not state the purpose of the study. On the contrary, the background clarifies the importance of the study in detail.
- The introduction provides an overview of the research topic from a broader perspective, while the background provides a detailed understanding of the topic.
- The introduction should end with the mention of the research questions, aims, and objectives of the study. In contrast, the background follows no such format and only provides essential context to the study.
How should one write the background of a research paper?
The length and detail presented in the background varies for different research papers, depending on the complexity and novelty of the research topic. At times, a simple background suffices, even if the study is complex. Before writing and adding details in the background, take a note of these additional points:
- Start with a strong beginning: Begin the background by defining the research topic and then identify the target audience.
- Cover key components: Explain all theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may feel unfamiliar to the target audience thoroughly.
- Take note of important prerequisites: Go through the relevant literature in detail. Take notes while reading and cite the sources.
- Maintain a balance: Make sure that the background is focused on important details, but also appeals to a broader audience.
- Include historical data: Current issues largely originate from historical events or findings. If the research borrows information from a historical context, add relevant data in the background.
- Explain novelty: If the research study or methodology is unique or novel, provide an explanation that helps to understand the research better.
- Increase engagement: To make the background engaging, build a story around the central theme of the research
Avoid these mistakes while writing the background:
- Ambiguity: Don’t be ambiguous. While writing, assume that the reader does not understand any intricate detail about your research.
- Unrelated themes: Steer clear from topics that are not related to the key aspects of your research topic.
- Poor organization: Do not place information without a structure. Make sure that the background reads in a chronological manner and organize the sub-sections so that it flows well.
Writing the background for a research paper should not be a daunting task. But directions to go about it can always help. At Elsevier Author Services we provide essential insights on how to write a high quality, appealing, and logically structured paper for publication, beginning with a robust background. For further queries, contact our experts now!
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How to Write an Effective Background of the Study: A Comprehensive Guide
Table of Contents
The background of the study in a research paper offers a clear context, highlighting why the research is essential and the problem it aims to address.
As a researcher, this foundational section is essential for you to chart the course of your study, Moreover, it allows readers to understand the importance and path of your research.
Whether in academic communities or to the general public, a well-articulated background aids in communicating the essence of the research effectively.
While it may seem straightforward, crafting an effective background requires a blend of clarity, precision, and relevance. Therefore, this article aims to be your guide, offering insights into:
- Understanding the concept of the background of the study.
- Learning how to craft a compelling background effectively.
- Identifying and sidestepping common pitfalls in writing the background.
- Exploring practical examples that bring the theory to life.
- Enhancing both your writing and reading of academic papers.
Keeping these compelling insights in mind, let's delve deeper into the details of the empirical background of the study, exploring its definition, distinctions, and the art of writing it effectively.
What is the background of the study?
The background of the study is placed at the beginning of a research paper. It provides the context, circumstances, and history that led to the research problem or topic being explored.
It offers readers a snapshot of the existing knowledge on the topic and the reasons that spurred your current research.
When crafting the background of your study, consider the following questions.
- What's the context of your research?
- Which previous research will you refer to?
- Are there any knowledge gaps in the existing relevant literature?
- How will you justify the need for your current research?
- Have you concisely presented the research question or problem?
In a typical research paper structure, after presenting the background, the introduction section follows. The introduction delves deeper into the specific objectives of the research and often outlines the structure or main points that the paper will cover.
Together, they create a cohesive starting point, ensuring readers are well-equipped to understand the subsequent sections of the research paper.
While the background of the study and the introduction section of the research manuscript may seem similar and sometimes even overlap, each serves a unique purpose in the research narrative.
Difference between background and introduction
A well-written background of the study and introduction are preliminary sections of a research paper and serve distinct purposes.
Here’s a detailed tabular comparison between the two of them.
What is the relevance of the background of the study?
It is necessary for you to provide your readers with the background of your research. Without this, readers may grapple with questions such as: Why was this specific research topic chosen? What led to this decision? Why is this study relevant? Is it worth their time?
Such uncertainties can deter them from fully engaging with your study, leading to the rejection of your research paper. Additionally, this can diminish its impact in the academic community, and reduce its potential for real-world application or policy influence .
To address these concerns and offer clarity, the background section plays a pivotal role in research papers.
The background of the study in research is important as it:
- Provides context: It offers readers a clear picture of the existing knowledge, helping them understand where the current research fits in.
- Highlights relevance: By detailing the reasons for the research, it underscores the study's significance and its potential impact.
- Guides the narrative: The background shapes the narrative flow of the paper, ensuring a logical progression from what's known to what the research aims to uncover.
- Enhances engagement: A well-crafted background piques the reader's interest, encouraging them to delve deeper into the research paper.
- Aids in comprehension: By setting the scenario, it aids readers in better grasping the research objectives, methodologies, and findings.
How to write the background of the study in a research paper?
The journey of presenting a compelling argument begins with the background study. This section holds the power to either captivate or lose the reader's interest.
An effectively written background not only provides context but also sets the tone for the entire research paper. It's the bridge that connects a broad topic to a specific research question, guiding readers through the logic behind the study.
But how does one craft a background of the study that resonates, informs, and engages?
Here, we’ll discuss how to write an impactful background study, ensuring your research stands out and captures the attention it deserves.
Identify the research problem
The first step is to start pinpointing the specific issue or gap you're addressing. This should be a significant and relevant problem in your field.
A well-defined problem is specific, relevant, and significant to your field. It should resonate with both experts and readers.
Here’s more on how to write an effective research problem .
Here, you need to provide a broader perspective, illustrating how your research aligns with or contributes to the overarching context or the wider field of study. A comprehensive context is grounded in facts, offers multiple perspectives, and is relatable.
In addition to stating facts, you should weave a story that connects key concepts from the past, present, and potential future research. For instance, consider the following approach.
- Offer a brief history of the topic, highlighting major milestones or turning points that have shaped the current landscape.
- Discuss contemporary developments or current trends that provide relevant information to your research problem. This could include technological advancements, policy changes, or shifts in societal attitudes.
- Highlight the views of different stakeholders. For a topic like sustainable agriculture, this could mean discussing the perspectives of farmers, environmentalists, policymakers, and consumers.
- If relevant, compare and contrast global trends with local conditions and circumstances. This can offer readers a more holistic understanding of the topic.
For this step, you’ll deep dive into the existing literature on the same topic. It's where you explore what scholars, researchers, and experts have already discovered or discussed about your topic.
Conducting a thorough literature review isn't just a recap of past works. To elevate its efficacy, it's essential to analyze the methods, outcomes, and intricacies of prior research work, demonstrating a thorough engagement with the existing body of knowledge.
- Instead of merely listing past research study, delve into their methodologies, findings, and limitations. Highlight groundbreaking studies and those that had contrasting results.
- Try to identify patterns. Look for recurring themes or trends in the literature. Are there common conclusions or contentious points?
- The next step would be to connect the dots. Show how different pieces of research relate to each other. This can help in understanding the evolution of thought on the topic.
By showcasing what's already known, you can better highlight the background of the study in research.
Highlight the research gap
This step involves identifying the unexplored areas or unanswered questions in the existing literature. Your research seeks to address these gaps, providing new insights or answers.
A clear research gap shows you've thoroughly engaged with existing literature and found an area that needs further exploration.
How can you efficiently highlight the research gap?
- Find the overlooked areas. Point out topics or angles that haven't been adequately addressed.
- Highlight questions that have emerged due to recent developments or changing circumstances.
- Identify areas where insights from other fields might be beneficial but haven't been explored yet.
State your objectives
Here, it’s all about laying out your game plan — What do you hope to achieve with your research? You need to mention a clear objective that’s specific, actionable, and directly tied to the research gap.
How to state your objectives?
- List the primary questions guiding your research.
- If applicable, state any hypotheses or predictions you aim to test.
- Specify what you hope to achieve, whether it's new insights, solutions, or methodologies.
Discuss the significance
This step describes your 'why'. Why is your research important? What broader implications does it have?
The significance of “why” should be both theoretical (adding to the existing literature) and practical (having real-world implications).
How do we effectively discuss the significance?
- Discuss how your research adds to the existing body of knowledge.
- Highlight how your findings could be applied in real-world scenarios, from policy changes to on-ground practices.
- Point out how your research could pave the way for further studies or open up new areas of exploration.
Summarize your points
A concise summary acts as a bridge, smoothly transitioning readers from the background to the main body of the paper. This step is a brief recap, ensuring that readers have grasped the foundational concepts.
How to summarize your study?
- Revisit the key points discussed, from the research problem to its significance.
- Prepare the reader for the subsequent sections, ensuring they understand the research's direction.
Include examples for better understanding
Research and come up with real-world or hypothetical examples to clarify complex concepts or to illustrate the practical applications of your research. Relevant examples make abstract ideas tangible, aiding comprehension.
How to include an effective example of the background of the study?
- Use past events or scenarios to explain concepts.
- Craft potential scenarios to demonstrate the implications of your findings.
- Use comparisons to simplify complex ideas, making them more relatable.
Crafting a compelling background of the study in research is about striking the right balance between providing essential context, showcasing your comprehensive understanding of the existing literature, and highlighting the unique value of your research .
While writing the background of the study, keep your readers at the forefront of your mind. Every piece of information, every example, and every objective should be geared toward helping them understand and appreciate your research.
How to avoid mistakes in the background of the study in research?
To write a well-crafted background of the study, you should be aware of the following potential research pitfalls .
- Stay away from ambiguity. Always assume that your reader might not be familiar with intricate details about your topic.
- Avoid discussing unrelated themes. Stick to what's directly relevant to your research problem.
- Ensure your background is well-organized. Information should flow logically, making it easy for readers to follow.
- While it's vital to provide context, avoid overwhelming the reader with excessive details that might not be directly relevant to your research problem.
- Ensure you've covered the most significant and relevant studies i` n your field. Overlooking key pieces of literature can make your background seem incomplete.
- Aim for a balanced presentation of facts, and avoid showing overt bias or presenting only one side of an argument.
- While academic paper often involves specialized terms, ensure they're adequately explained or use simpler alternatives when possible.
- Every claim or piece of information taken from existing literature should be appropriately cited. Failing to do so can lead to issues of plagiarism.
- Avoid making the background too lengthy. While thoroughness is appreciated, it should not come at the expense of losing the reader's interest. Maybe prefer to keep it to one-two paragraphs long.
- Especially in rapidly evolving fields, it's crucial to ensure that your literature review section is up-to-date and includes the latest research.
Example of an effective background of the study
Let's consider a topic: "The Impact of Online Learning on Student Performance." The ideal background of the study section for this topic would be as follows.
In the last decade, the rise of the internet has revolutionized many sectors, including education. Online learning platforms, once a supplementary educational tool, have now become a primary mode of instruction for many institutions worldwide. With the recent global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid shift from traditional classroom learning to online modes, making it imperative to understand its effects on student performance.
Previous studies have explored various facets of online learning, from its accessibility to its flexibility. However, there is a growing need to assess its direct impact on student outcomes. While some educators advocate for its benefits, citing the convenience and vast resources available, others express concerns about potential drawbacks, such as reduced student engagement and the challenges of self-discipline.
This research aims to delve deeper into this debate, evaluating the true impact of online learning on student performance.
Why is this example considered as an effective background section of a research paper?
This background section example effectively sets the context by highlighting the rise of online learning and its increased relevance due to recent global events. It references prior research on the topic, indicating a foundation built on existing knowledge.
By presenting both the potential advantages and concerns of online learning, it establishes a balanced view, leading to the clear purpose of the study: to evaluate the true impact of online learning on student performance.
As we've explored, writing an effective background of the study in research requires clarity, precision, and a keen understanding of both the broader landscape and the specific details of your topic.
From identifying the research problem, providing context, reviewing existing literature to highlighting research gaps and stating objectives, each step is pivotal in shaping the narrative of your research. And while there are best practices to follow, it's equally crucial to be aware of the pitfalls to avoid.
Remember, writing or refining the background of your study is essential to engage your readers, familiarize them with the research context, and set the ground for the insights your research project will unveil.
Drawing from all the important details, insights and guidance shared, you're now in a strong position to craft a background of the study that not only informs but also engages and resonates with your readers.
Now that you've a clear understanding of what the background of the study aims to achieve, the natural progression is to delve into the next crucial component — write an effective introduction section of a research paper. Read here .
Frequently Asked Questions
The background of the study should include a clear context for the research, references to relevant previous studies, identification of knowledge gaps, justification for the current research, a concise overview of the research problem or question, and an indication of the study's significance or potential impact.
The background of the study is written to provide readers with a clear understanding of the context, significance, and rationale behind the research. It offers a snapshot of existing knowledge on the topic, highlights the relevance of the study, and sets the stage for the research questions and objectives. It ensures that readers can grasp the importance of the research and its place within the broader field of study.
The background of the study is a section in a research paper that provides context, circumstances, and history leading to the research problem or topic being explored. It presents existing knowledge on the topic and outlines the reasons that spurred the current research, helping readers understand the research's foundation and its significance in the broader academic landscape.
The number of paragraphs in the background of the study can vary based on the complexity of the topic and the depth of the context required. Typically, it might range from 3 to 5 paragraphs, but in more detailed or complex research papers, it could be longer. The key is to ensure that all relevant information is presented clearly and concisely, without unnecessary repetition.
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What Is Background in a Research Paper?
So you have carefully written your research paper and probably ran it through your colleagues ten to fifteen times. While there are many elements to a good research article, one of the most important elements for your readers is the background of your study. The background of your study will provide context to the information discussed throughout the research paper. Background information may include both important and relevant studies. This is particularly important if a study either supports or refutes your thesis.
In addition, the background of the study will discuss your problem statement, rationale, and research questions. It links introduction to your research topic and ensures a logical flow of ideas. Thus, it helps readers understand your reasons for conducting the study.
Providing Background Information
The reader should be able to understand your topic and its importance. The length and detail of your background also depend on the degree to which you need to demonstrate your understanding of the topic. Paying close attention to the following questions will help you in writing the background information in your research paper:
- Are there any theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may be unfamiliar to the target audience and will require you to provide any additional explanation?
- Any historical data that need to be shared in order to provide context on why the current issue emerged?
- Are there any concepts that may have been borrowed from other disciplines that may be unfamiliar to the reader and need an explanation?
Is the research study unique for which additional explanation is needed? For instance, you may have used a completely new method
What Makes the Introduction Different from the Background?
Your introduction is different from your background in a number of ways.
- The introduction contains preliminary data about your topic that the reader will most likely read , whereas the background clarifies the importance of the paper.
- The background of your study discusses in depth about the topic, whereas the introduction only gives an overview.
- The introduction should end with your research questions, aims, and objectives, whereas your background should not (except in some cases where your background is integrated into your introduction). For instance, the C.A.R.S. ( Creating a Research Space ) model, created by John Swales is based on his analysis of journal articles. This model attempts to explain and describe the organizational pattern of writing the introduction in social sciences.
Related: Ready with the background and searching for more information on journal ranking? Check this infographic on the SCImago Journal Rank today!
Points to Note
Your background should begin with defining a topic and audience. It is important that you identify which topic you need to review and what your audience already knows about the topic. You should proceed by searching and researching the relevant literature. In this case, it is advisable to keep track of the search terms you used and the articles that you downloaded. It is helpful to use one of the research paper management systems such as Papers, Mendeley, Evernote, or Sente. Next, it is helpful to take notes while reading. Be careful when copying quotes verbatim and make sure to put them in quotation marks and cite the sources. In addition, you should keep your background focused but balanced enough so that it is relevant to a broader audience. Aside from these, your background should be critical, consistent, and logically structured.
Writing the background of your study should not be an overly daunting task. Many guides that can help you organize your thoughts as you write the background. The background of the study is the key to introduce your audience to your research topic and should be done with strong knowledge and thoughtful writing.
The background of a research paper typically ranges from one to two paragraphs, summarizing the relevant literature and context of the study. It should be concise, providing enough information to contextualize the research problem and justify the need for the study. Journal instructions about any word count limits should be kept in mind while deciding on the length of the final content.
The background of a research paper provides the context and relevant literature to understand the research problem, while the introduction also introduces the specific research topic, states the research objectives, and outlines the scope of the study. The background focuses on the broader context, whereas the introduction focuses on the specific research project and its objectives.
When writing the background for a study, start by providing a brief overview of the research topic and its significance in the field. Then, highlight the gaps in existing knowledge or unresolved issues that the study aims to address. Finally, summarize the key findings from relevant literature to establish the context and rationale for conducting the research, emphasizing the need and importance of the study within the broader academic landscape.
The background in a research paper is crucial as it sets the stage for the study by providing essential context and rationale. It helps readers understand the significance of the research problem and its relevance in the broader field. By presenting relevant literature and highlighting gaps, the background justifies the need for the study, building a strong foundation for the research and enhancing its credibility.
The presentation very informative
It is really educative. I love the workshop. It really motivated me into writing my first paper for publication.
an interesting clue here, thanks.
thanks for the answers.
Good and interesting explanation. Thanks
Thank you for good presentation.
Hi Adam, we are glad to know that you found our article beneficial
The background of the study is the key to introduce your audience to YOUR research topic.
Awesome. Exactly what i was looking forwards to 😉
Hi Maryam, we are glad to know that you found our resource useful.
my understanding of ‘Background of study’ has been elevated.
Hi Peter, we are glad to know that our article has helped you get a better understanding of the background in a research paper.
thanks to give advanced information
Hi Shimelis, we are glad to know that you found the information in our article beneficial.
When i was studying it is very much hard for me to conduct a research study and know the background because my teacher in practical research is having a research so i make it now so that i will done my research
Very informative……….Thank you.
The confusion i had before, regarding an introduction and background to a research work is now a thing of the past. Thank you so much.
Thanks for your help…
Thanks for your kind information about the background of a research paper.
Thanks for the answer
Very informative. I liked even more when the difference between background and introduction was given. I am looking forward to learning more from this site. I am in Botswana
Hello, I am Benoît from Central African Republic. Right now I am writing down my research paper in order to get my master degree in British Literature. Thank you very much for posting all this information about the background of the study. I really appreciate. Thanks!
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Background information identifies and describes the history and nature of a well-defined research problem with reference to contextualizing existing literature. The background information should indicate the root of the problem being studied, appropriate context of the problem in relation to theory, research, and/or practice , its scope, and the extent to which previous studies have successfully investigated the problem, noting, in particular, where gaps exist that your study attempts to address. Background information does not replace the literature review section of a research paper; it is intended to place the research problem within a specific context and an established plan for its solution.
Fitterling, Lori. Researching and Writing an Effective Background Section of a Research Paper. Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences; Creating a Research Paper: How to Write the Background to a Study. DurousseauElectricalInstitute.com; Background Information: Definition of Background Information. Literary Devices Definition and Examples of Literary Terms.
Importance of Having Enough Background Information
Background information expands upon the key points stated in the beginning of your introduction but is not intended to be the main focus of the paper. It generally supports the question, what is the most important information the reader needs to understand before continuing to read the paper? Sufficient background information helps the reader determine if you have a basic understanding of the research problem being investigated and promotes confidence in the overall quality of your analysis and findings. This information provides the reader with the essential context needed to conceptualize the research problem and its significance before moving on to a more thorough analysis of prior research.
Forms of contextualization included in background information can include describing one or more of the following:
- Cultural -- placed within the learned behavior of a specific group or groups of people.
- Economic -- of or relating to systems of production and management of material wealth and/or business activities.
- Gender -- located within the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with being self-identified as male, female, or other form of gender expression.
- Historical -- the time in which something takes place or was created and how the condition of time influences how you interpret it.
- Interdisciplinary -- explanation of theories, concepts, ideas, or methodologies borrowed from other disciplines applied to the research problem rooted in a discipline other than the discipline where your paper resides.
- Philosophical -- clarification of the essential nature of being or of phenomena as it relates to the research problem.
- Physical/Spatial -- reflects the meaning of space around something and how that influences how it is understood.
- Political -- concerns the environment in which something is produced indicating it's public purpose or agenda.
- Social -- the environment of people that surrounds something's creation or intended audience, reflecting how the people associated with something use and interpret it.
- Temporal -- reflects issues or events of, relating to, or limited by time. Concerns past, present, or future contextualization and not just a historical past.
Background information can also include summaries of important research studies . This can be a particularly important element of providing background information if an innovative or groundbreaking study about the research problem laid a foundation for further research or there was a key study that is essential to understanding your arguments. The priority is to summarize for the reader what is known about the research problem before you conduct the analysis of prior research. This is accomplished with a general summary of the foundational research literature [with citations] that document findings that inform your study's overall aims and objectives.
NOTE : Research studies cited as part of the background information of your introduction should not include very specific, lengthy explanations. This should be discussed in greater detail in your literature review section. If you find a study requiring lengthy explanation, consider moving it to the literature review section.
ANOTHER NOTE : In some cases, your paper's introduction only needs to introduce the research problem, explain its significance, and then describe a road map for how you are going to address the problem; the background information basically forms the introduction part of your literature review. That said, while providing background information is not required, including it in the introduction is a way to highlight important contextual information that could otherwise be hidden or overlooked by the reader if placed in the literature review section.
Background of the Problem Section: What do you Need to Consider? Anonymous. Harvard University; Hopkins, Will G. How to Write a Research Paper. SPORTSCIENCE, Perspectives/Research Resources. Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, 1999; Green, L. H. How to Write the Background/Introduction Section. Physics 499 Powerpoint slides. University of Illinois; Woodall, W. Gill. Writing the Background and Significance Section. Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Communication. Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions. University of New Mexico.
Structure and Writing Style
Providing background information in the introduction of a research paper serves as a bridge that links the reader to the research problem . Precisely how long and in-depth this bridge should be is largely dependent upon how much information you think the reader will need to know in order to fully understand the problem being discussed and to appreciate why the issues you are investigating are important.
From another perspective, the length and detail of background information also depends on the degree to which you need to demonstrate to your professor how much you understand the research problem. Keep this in mind because providing pertinent background information can be an effective way to demonstrate that you have a clear grasp of key issues, debates, and concepts related to your overall study.
The structure and writing style of your background information can vary depending upon the complexity of your research and/or the nature of the assignment. However, in most cases it should be limited to only one to two paragraphs in your introduction.
Given this, here are some questions to consider while writing this part of your introduction :
- Are there concepts, terms, theories, or ideas that may be unfamiliar to the reader and, thus, require additional explanation?
- Are there historical elements that need to be explored in order to provide needed context, to highlight specific people, issues, or events, or to lay a foundation for understanding the emergence of a current issue or event?
- Are there theories, concepts, or ideas borrowed from other disciplines or academic traditions that may be unfamiliar to the reader and therefore require further explanation?
- Is there a key study or small set of studies that set the stage for understanding the topic and frames why it is important to conduct further research on the topic?
- Y our study uses a method of analysis never applied before;
- Your study investigates a very esoteric or complex research problem;
- Your study introduces new or unique variables that need to be taken into account ; or,
- Your study relies upon analyzing unique texts or documents, such as, archival materials or primary documents like diaries or personal letters that do not represent the established body of source literature on the topic?
Almost all introductions to a research problem require some contextualizing, but the scope and breadth of background information varies depending on your assumption about the reader's level of prior knowledge . However, despite this assessment, background information should be brief and succinct and sets the stage for the elaboration of critical points or in-depth discussion of key issues in the literature review section of your paper.
Background of the Problem Section: What do you Need to Consider? Anonymous. Harvard University; Hopkins, Will G. How to Write a Research Paper. SPORTSCIENCE, Perspectives/Research Resources. Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, 1999; Green, L. H. How to Write the Background/Introduction Section. Physics 499 Powerpoint slides. University of Illinois; Woodall, W. Gill. Writing the Background and Significance Section. Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Communication. Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions. University of New Mexico.
Background Information vs. the Literature Review
Incorporating background information into the introduction is intended to provide the reader with critical information about the topic being studied, such as, highlighting and expanding upon foundational studies conducted in the past, describing important historical events that inform why and in what ways the research problem exists, defining key components of your study [concepts, people, places, phenomena] and/or placing the research problem within a particular context. Although introductory background information can often blend into the literature review portion of the paper, essential background information should not be considered a substitute for a comprehensive review and synthesis of relevant research literature.
Hart, Cris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998.
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How to Write the Background of a Study
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The background to a study sets the scene . It lays out the “state of the art”. It tells your reader about other research done on the topic in question, via useful review papers and other summaries of the literature.
Updated on May 5, 2023
The background to your study, sometimes called the ‘state of the art’ (especially in grant writing), sets the scene for a paper. This section shows readers why your research is important, relevant, and why they should continue reading. You must hook them in with a great background to your study, which is part of the overall introduction to your research paper.
In higher impact articles, such as those published in Nature or Science (which is what we are all aiming for, after all …), the study background is t he middle section of an essentially three-part introduction . This section is framed by a presentation of ‘the question’ (first part of the introduction) and a quick explanation of ‘what this paper will do’ (the third part of the introduction).
The introduction of a research paper should be “shaped” like an upside down triangle:
Start broad. Set the scene with a large-scale general research area [e.g., why doing a PhD erases your writing skills (ha ha) or mental health in teenagers and why this is such a widespread global issue] and then focus down to the question your research addresses (e.g., how can writing skills be improved in PhD students, or brain scans and how these can be used in treatment).
Read on to learn more about framing your next research paper with a well-written and researched background section.
What is the background of a study?
The background to a study sets the scene . It lays out the “state of the art”. It tells your reader about other research done on the topic in question, via useful review papers and other summaries of the literature.
A background is not a literature review: No one wants to read endless citations back-to-back in this section. You don’t need to list all the papers you’ve read, or all the work done in the past on this topic.
Set the scene and frame your question in the context of the literature. Seek out review articles in particular. The aim of this section is to build on what has come before so your reader will be armed with all the information they need to understand the remainder of your article, and why - in context - the aims of your study are important.
How to write the background to your research paper
Cater to your audience.
It’s important to frame your background to the right audience.
The background of your study needs to be pitched differently depending on your target journal. A more subject-area specific journal (e.g. Journal of Brain Studies ) will be read by specialists in your field. Generally, less information to set up the paper in a wider context and less background information will be required. Your readers are already experts on the topic in question .
However, if you are aiming your paper at a more general audience (a journal like Nature or Science , for example) then you're going to need to explain more in your background. A reader of a specialized journal will know about the neocortex within the brain and where this is located, but a general reader will need you to set things up more.
Readers are always the most important people in research publishing, after all: If you want your work to be read, used, and cited (and therefore drive up your H-index as well as your institution’s ranking) you’ll need a well-pitched background of your study.
What is included in the background of a study?
Remember this section sits in the middle of the introduction. Here’s a handy template for what to include:
- Existing research on the area of study (not everything, but a broad overview. Aim to cite review papers if you can). Start this section with preliminary data and then build it out;
- Mention any controversies around your topic (either that you’ve identified, or that have been picked up by earlier work. Check the discussion sections of recent articles for pointers here);
- Any gaps in existing research?, and;
- How will your study fill these gaps? State your research methodologies. Any further research that needs to be done?
Aim for one paragraph , or a series of short paragraphs within one section. The last two of the topics outlined above can be short, just one or two sentences. These are there to hook the reader in and to frame your background so that the text leads into the final section of the introduction where you explain ‘What your paper is going to do’.
And finally…some thoughts
I used to get really bogged down with article writing, especially the shape of the introduction.
Here’s a trick to keep in mind: Remember that the average length of an academic research paper published in a peer reviewed journal is around 4,000 - 5,000 words - not too long.
This means that you're likely going to be aiming for an article of about this length the next time you sit down to write: Not too many words for an effective and well-structured introduction. You’ve got about 1,500 - 2,000 words maximum. And aim to keep it short (this will be enforced by word count limits, especially in higher impact journals like Nature and Science ). Editors at these journals are trained to cut down your writing to make sure your research fits in.
Less is more, in other words.
Keeping tight word count limits in mind means you can’t write an expansive, flowing background to your study that goes off in all directions and covers a huge amount of ground. Keep an eye on our tips for what to include, cite review papers, and keep your readers interested in the question your paper seeks to address.
A well written background to your study will ensure your paper gets read all the way through to the end. Can’t ask for more than that!
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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide
Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.
The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your topic and get the reader interested
- Provide background or summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.
Table of contents
Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.
The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.
The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.
For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:
A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:
Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.
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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.
In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.
Argumentative paper: Background information
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.
Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .
Empirical paper: Describing previous research
For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.
This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.
Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.
The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.
Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance
In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.
Empirical paper: Relate to the literature
In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:
- What research gap is your work intended to fill?
- What limitations in previous work does it address?
- What contribution to knowledge does it make?
You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.
Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.
The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).
Argumentative paper: Thesis statement
The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.
Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis
The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.
Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.
A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.
- This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
- We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.
If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.
For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:
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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.
In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.
If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.
- This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
- This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …
Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.
- Argumentative paper
- Empirical paper
Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.
The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
and your problem statement
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an overview of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .
A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.
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Writing Research Background
Research background is a brief outline of the most important studies that have been conducted so far presented in a chronological order. Research background part in introduction chapter can be also headed ‘Background of the Study.” Research background should also include a brief discussion of major theories and models related to the research problem.
Specifically, when writing research background you can discuss major theories and models related to your research problem in a chronological order to outline historical developments in the research area. When writing research background, you also need to demonstrate how your research relates to what has been done so far in the research area.
Research background is written after the literature review. Therefore, literature review has to be the first and the longest stage in the research process, even before the formulation of research aims and objectives, right after the selection of the research area. Once the research area is selected, the literature review is commenced in order to identify gaps in the research area.
Research aims and objectives need to be closely associated with the elimination of this gap in the literature. The main difference between background of the study and literature review is that the former only provides general information about what has been done so far in the research area, whereas the latter elaborates and critically reviews previous works.
What is background research, tyes of background information.
- General Sources
- Subject Specific Sources
Background research (or pre-research) is the research that you do before you start writing your paper or working on your project. Sometimes background research happens before you've even chosen a topic. The purpose of background research is to make the research that goes into your paper or project easier and more successful.
Some reasons to do background research include:
- Determining an appropriate scope for your research: Successful research starts with a topic or question that is appropriate to the scope of the assignment. A topic that is too broad means too much relevant information to review and distill. If your topic is too narrow, there won't be enough information to do meaningful research.
- Understanding how your research fits in with the broader conversation surrounding the topic: What are the major points of view or areas of interest in discussions of your research topic and how does your research fit in with these? Answering this question can help you define the parts of your topic that you need to explore.
- Establishing the value of your research : What is the impact of your research and why does it matter? How might your research clarify or change our understanding of the topic?
- Identifying experts and other important perspectives: Are there scholars whose work you need to understand for your research to be complete? Are there points of view that you need to include or address?
Doing background research helps you choose a topic that you'll be happy with and develop a sense of what research you'll need to do in order to successfully complete your assignment. It will also help you plan your research and understand how much time you'll need to dedicate to understanding and exploring your topic.
Some types of information sources can be particularly helpful when you're doing background research. These are often primarily tertiary sources meaning that, rather than conducting original research they often summarize existing research on the topic.
Current Events Briefs Databases like CQ Researcher are focused on understanding controversial topics in current events. They provide information about the background of the issue as well as explanations of the positions of those on either side of a controversy.
Encyclopedias Encyclopedias are ideal sources for doing background research in order build your knowledge about a topic sufficiently to identify a topic and develop a research plan.
Dictionaries Dictionaries include both general dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary as well as more specialized dictionaries focused on a single area. Dictionary entries are usually shorter and less detailed than encyclopedia entries and generally do not include references. However, they can be helpful when your research introduces you to concepts with which you aren't familiar.
Textbooks Your textbook is a potential source of background information, providing an explanation of the topic that prepares you to focus and dig deeper. Textbooks give a general overview of lot of information.
Statistics While you may find that it's difficult to make sense of statistics related to your topic while you're still exploring, statistics can be a powerful tool for establishing the context and importance of your research.
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- Last Updated: Nov 6, 2023 4:08 PM
- URL: https://guides.lib.odu.edu/background
How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)
The research paper introduction section, along with the Title and Abstract, can be considered the face of any research paper. The following article is intended to guide you in organizing and writing the research paper introduction for a quality academic article or dissertation.
The research paper introduction aims to present the topic to the reader. A study will only be accepted for publishing if you can ascertain that the available literature cannot answer your research question. So it is important to ensure that you have read important studies on that particular topic, especially those within the last five to ten years, and that they are properly referenced in this section. 1 What should be included in the research paper introduction is decided by what you want to tell readers about the reason behind the research and how you plan to fill the knowledge gap. The best research paper introduction provides a systemic review of existing work and demonstrates additional work that needs to be done. It needs to be brief, captivating, and well-referenced; a well-drafted research paper introduction will help the researcher win half the battle.
The introduction for a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your research topic
- Capture reader interest
- Summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Define your specific research problem and problem statement
- Highlight the novelty and contributions of the study
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The research paper introduction can vary in size and structure depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or is a review paper. Some research paper introduction examples are only half a page while others are a few pages long. In many cases, the introduction will be shorter than all of the other sections of your paper; its length depends on the size of your paper as a whole.
Table of Contents
What is the introduction for a research paper, why is the introduction important in a research paper, what are the parts of introduction in the research, 1. introduce the research topic:, 2. determine a research niche:, 3. place your research within the research niche:, frequently asked questions on research paper introduction, key points to remember.
The introduction in a research paper is placed at the beginning to guide the reader from a broad subject area to the specific topic that your research addresses. They present the following information to the reader
- Scope: The topic covered in the research paper
- Context: Background of your topic
- Importance: Why your research matters in that particular area of research and the industry problem that can be targeted
The research paper introduction conveys a lot of information and can be considered an essential roadmap for the rest of your paper. A good introduction for a research paper is important for the following reasons:
- It stimulates your reader’s interest: A good introduction section can make your readers want to read your paper by capturing their interest. It informs the reader what they are going to learn and helps determine if the topic is of interest to them.
- It helps the reader understand the research background: Without a clear introduction, your readers may feel confused and even struggle when reading your paper. A good research paper introduction will prepare them for the in-depth research to come. It provides you the opportunity to engage with the readers and demonstrate your knowledge and authority on the specific topic.
- It explains why your research paper is worth reading: Your introduction can convey a lot of information to your readers. It introduces the topic, why the topic is important, and how you plan to proceed with your research.
- It helps guide the reader through the rest of the paper: The research paper introduction gives the reader a sense of the nature of the information that will support your arguments and the general organization of the paragraphs that will follow. It offers an overview of what to expect when reading the main body of your paper.
A good research paper introduction section should comprise three main elements: 2
- What is known: This sets the stage for your research. It informs the readers of what is known on the subject.
- What is lacking: This is aimed at justifying the reason for carrying out your research. This could involve investigating a new concept or method or building upon previous research.
- What you aim to do: This part briefly states the objectives of your research and its major contributions. Your detailed hypothesis will also form a part of this section.
How to write a research paper introduction?
The first step in writing the research paper introduction is to inform the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening statement. The second step involves establishing the kinds of research that have been done and ending with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to address. Finally, the research paper introduction clarifies how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses. If your research involved testing hypotheses, these should be stated along with your research question. The hypothesis should be presented in the past tense since it will have been tested by the time you are writing the research paper introduction.
The following key points, with examples, can guide you when writing the research paper introduction section:
- Highlight the importance of the research field or topic
- Describe the background of the topic
- Present an overview of current research on the topic
Example: The inclusion of experiential and competency-based learning has benefitted electronics engineering education. Industry partnerships provide an excellent alternative for students wanting to engage in solving real-world challenges. Industry-academia participation has grown in recent years due to the need for skilled engineers with practical training and specialized expertise. However, from the educational perspective, many activities are needed to incorporate sustainable development goals into the university curricula and consolidate learning innovation in universities.
- Reveal a gap in existing research or oppose an existing assumption
- Formulate the research question
Example: There have been plausible efforts to integrate educational activities in higher education electronics engineering programs. However, very few studies have considered using educational research methods for performance evaluation of competency-based higher engineering education, with a focus on technical and or transversal skills. To remedy the current need for evaluating competencies in STEM fields and providing sustainable development goals in engineering education, in this study, a comparison was drawn between study groups without and with industry partners.
- State the purpose of your study
- Highlight the key characteristics of your study
- Describe important results
- Highlight the novelty of the study.
- Offer a brief overview of the structure of the paper.
Example: The study evaluates the main competency needed in the applied electronics course, which is a fundamental core subject for many electronics engineering undergraduate programs. We compared two groups, without and with an industrial partner, that offered real-world projects to solve during the semester. This comparison can help determine significant differences in both groups in terms of developing subject competency and achieving sustainable development goals.
The purpose of the research paper introduction is to introduce the reader to the problem definition, justify the need for the study, and describe the main theme of the study. The aim is to gain the reader’s attention by providing them with necessary background information and establishing the main purpose and direction of the research.
The length of the research paper introduction can vary across journals and disciplines. While there are no strict word limits for writing the research paper introduction, an ideal length would be one page, with a maximum of 400 words over 1-4 paragraphs. Generally, it is one of the shorter sections of the paper as the reader is assumed to have at least a reasonable knowledge about the topic. 2 For example, for a study evaluating the role of building design in ensuring fire safety, there is no need to discuss definitions and nature of fire in the introduction; you could start by commenting upon the existing practices for fire safety and how your study will add to the existing knowledge and practice.
When deciding what to include in the research paper introduction, the rest of the paper should also be considered. The aim is to introduce the reader smoothly to the topic and facilitate an easy read without much dependency on external sources. 3 Below is a list of elements you can include to prepare a research paper introduction outline and follow it when you are writing the research paper introduction. Topic introduction: This can include key definitions and a brief history of the topic. Research context and background: Offer the readers some general information and then narrow it down to specific aspects. Details of the research you conducted: A brief literature review can be included to support your arguments or line of thought. Rationale for the study: This establishes the relevance of your study and establishes its importance. Importance of your research: The main contributions are highlighted to help establish the novelty of your study Research hypothesis: Introduce your research question and propose an expected outcome. Organization of the paper: Include a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences that highlights your plan for the entire paper
Cite only works that are most relevant to your topic; as a general rule, you can include one to three. Note that readers want to see evidence of original thinking. So it is better to avoid using too many references as it does not leave much room for your personal standpoint to shine through. Citations in your research paper introduction support the key points, and the number of citations depend on the subject matter and the point discussed. If the research paper introduction is too long or overflowing with citations, it is better to cite a few review articles rather than the individual articles summarized in the review. A good point to remember when citing research papers in the introduction section is to include at least one-third of the references in the introduction.
The literature review plays a significant role in the research paper introduction section. A good literature review accomplishes the following: Introduces the topic – Establishes the study’s significance – Provides an overview of the relevant literature – Provides context for the study using literature – Identifies knowledge gaps However, remember to avoid making the following mistakes when writing a research paper introduction: Do not use studies from the literature review to aggressively support your research Avoid direct quoting Do not allow literature review to be the focus of this section. Instead, the literature review should only aid in setting a foundation for the manuscript.
Remember the following key points for writing a good research paper introduction: 4
- Avoid stuffing too much general information: Avoid including what an average reader would know and include only that information related to the problem being addressed in the research paper introduction. For example, when describing a comparative study of non-traditional methods for mechanical design optimization, information related to the traditional methods and differences between traditional and non-traditional methods would not be relevant. In this case, the introduction for the research paper should begin with the state-of-the-art non-traditional methods and methods to evaluate the efficiency of newly developed algorithms.
- Avoid packing too many references: Cite only the required works in your research paper introduction. The other works can be included in the discussion section to strengthen your findings.
- Avoid extensive criticism of previous studies: Avoid being overly critical of earlier studies while setting the rationale for your study. A better place for this would be the Discussion section, where you can highlight the advantages of your method.
- Avoid describing conclusions of the study: When writing a research paper introduction remember not to include the findings of your study. The aim is to let the readers know what question is being answered. The actual answer should only be given in the Results and Discussion section.
To summarize, the research paper introduction section should be brief yet informative. It should convince the reader the need to conduct the study and motivate him to read further.
1. Jawaid, S. A., & Jawaid, M. (2019). How to write introduction and discussion. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 13(Suppl 1), S18.
2. Dewan, P., & Gupta, P. (2016). Writing the title, abstract and introduction: Looks matter!. Indian pediatrics, 53, 235-241.
3. Cetin, S., & Hackam, D. J. (2005). An approach to the writing of a scientific Manuscript1. Journal of Surgical Research, 128(2), 165-167.
4. Bavdekar, S. B. (2015). Writing introduction: Laying the foundations of a research paper. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 63(7), 44-6.
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- A Research Guide
- Research Paper Guide
How to Write a Background for a Research Paper
- What is the background
- Background structure
- Literature review vs background
- Step-by-step writing guide
- Tips to avoid mistakes
Background information example
The background of any academic paper is the academic backbone it relates to. Thus, you must carefully write the first section to keep the end goal clear for your reader.
We’ve got you covered if you need more time or writing skills to create a solid study paper! This article will provide the necessary information to write a background for a research paper. Let’s go!
What is the background of the study in research?
The research paper background refers to the section, component, or thesis that provides context and justification for conducting the study. It outlines the existing knowledge, gaps, and limitations in the field or topic you currently investigate.
The definition of “background” says it should begin with a general introduction to the subject matter, providing an overview of the broader scientific area. It aims to familiarize the reader with the topic and establish its significance and relevance in the existing body of knowledge.
Furthermore, the background of the study highlights the specific problem or knowledge gap that the current study aims to address. It emphasizes the need for further investigation, highlighting the unanswered questions or areas where you have to conduct an additional examination.
The background of the study also plays a crucial role in shaping the study objectives, questions, and hypotheses . By reviewing the existing literature and identifying gaps, academic associates can formulate clearer goals and design appropriate methodologies to address the specific problems.
The background of the study structure
The background statement can vary depending on the scientific field and the paper or thesis requirements. However, it generally follows a logical flow and includes several key components. Here is a standard structure for the background structure:
- Introduction: Begin with a brief introduction that provides an overview of the chosen topic and its importance. This section should capture the reader’s interest and establish the context for the study.
- Current problem: As an academic author, you must clearly identify the scientif problem or gap in the existing knowledge the study aims to address. Please explain why this problem is significant and why it requires further investigation.
- Literature review: Review the relevant literature related to the research topic. Summarize critical theories, concepts, and findings from previous studies directly relevant to the research problem. Discuss the existing knowledge and highlight any limitations or gaps the current study aims to fill.
- Research questions/objectives/hypotheses: To write background information, you should clearly state the research questions, objectives, or assumptions that guide the study. These should be directly derived from the research problem and align with the gaps identified in the literature review.
- Study rationale: Explain the potential contributions and implications of the study. Discuss how the findings may advance knowledge, address practical issues, or have broader impacts in the field or society. Justify why the study is worth conducting and how it adds value to the existing body of knowledge.
- Scope and limitations: Define the size of the study by outlining the boundaries and specific aspects you will cover. Discuss any limits or constraints impacting the study’s findings or generalizability.
- Summary: Provide a concise summary or conclusion of the background section of a research paper, emphasizing the research problem, significance, and the need for further investigation.
It’s important to note that you can imply changes to the structure based on your requirements and the specific guidelines provided by your college advisor.
Difference between literature review and background
The literature review and the background of the study are two distinct components of a research paper or thesis, although they are closely related. Let’s explore the differences between these two sections:
Steps to write a good background section
When writing a background section for a research paper, you can follow these three steps to ensure a clear and compelling presentation:
Identify the Research Problem
- Begin by clearly identifying and defining the research problem or gap in the existing knowledge that your study aims to address.
- Consider the significance and relevance of the problem within your research field or discipline.
- Briefly explain why the problem is essential and how addressing it can contribute to the existing body of knowledge.
Review the Relevant Literature
- Conduct a thorough literature review to gather relevant information and understand the current state of knowledge on your research topic.
- Summarize critical theories, concepts, and findings from previous studies that directly relate to your research problem.
- Highlight any gaps, controversies, or limitations in the existing literature that your study aims to address.
- Organize the literature review logically, either by themes, sub-topics, or chronologically, depending on what they mean for your research.
Provide Rationale and Objectives
- Provide a clear rationale for conducting your study based on the research problem and the gaps identified in the literature review.
- Explain why your research is essential and how it will contribute to filling the identified gaps or advancing knowledge in the field.
- State the specific research objectives or questions your study aims to answer.
- Align the objectives with the research problem and the gaps identified in the literature, demonstrating how your study will address those gaps.
Following these steps, you can create a well-structured and coherent background section that establishes your research’s context, significance, and rationale. Remember to provide sufficient background information and be concise yet informative in your presentation.
The main tips to avoid mistakes
Here are a few tips to help you avoid common mistakes when writing background paragraphs:
- Focus on the research topic;
- Be concise and clear;
- Use credible and up-to-date sources;
- Provide a logical flow;
- Avoid excessive jargon and technical terms;
- Balance breadth and depth;
- Use citations appropriately;
- Revise and proofread.
By following these tips, you can enhance the quality of your background section, ensuring that it effectively sets the stage for your research and engages the reader from the beginning of your paper.
To write the background of a research paper, you must understand the overall structure and know exactly how this section should look.
Let’s see an excellent example of a background section for a research paper on the topic of “The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health”:
“The rapid rise of social media platforms in recent years has transformed how people communicate, connect, and share information. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have become integral parts of daily life for millions of individuals worldwide.
While social media offers numerous benefits, including increased social connectivity and access to diverse perspectives, concerns have been raised regarding its potential impact on mental health.
Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between social media use and mental health outcomes, focusing on depression, anxiety, and body image dissatisfaction.
This study seeks to contribute to the existing knowledge by employing a longitudinal design and examining a broad range of mental health outcomes among a diverse sample of adults aged 18-45.
Research has shown that excessive use of social media and constant exposure to carefully curated and idealized representations of others’ lives can contribute to feelings of inadequacy, social comparison, and low self-esteem.
Additionally, cyberbullying has emerged as a significant concern, as individuals may experience harassment, negative comments, and exclusion within the online environment”.
You have to be very concise and clear to write a background paragraph. Remember that it often serves as the first point of contact between your research and the reader. As a result, the background section has to focus on the study, explaining the significance and relevance of the research problem.
- Writing a Research Paper
- Research Paper Title
- Research Paper Sources
- Research Paper Problem Statement
- Research Paper Thesis Statement
- Hypothesis for a Research Paper
- Research Question
- Research Paper Outline
- Research Paper Summary
- Research Paper Prospectus
- Research Paper Proposal
- Research Paper Format
- Research Paper Styles
- AMA Style Research Paper
- MLA Style Research Paper
- Chicago Style Research Paper
- APA Style Research Paper
- Research Paper Structure
- Research Paper Cover Page
- Research Paper Abstract
- Research Paper Introduction
- Research Paper Body Paragraph
- Research Paper Literature Review
- Research Paper Background
- Research Paper Methods Section
- Research Paper Results Section
- Research Paper Discussion Section
- Research Paper Conclusion
- Research Paper Appendix
- Research Paper Bibliography
- APA Reference Page
- Annotated Bibliography
- Bibliography vs Works Cited vs References Page
- Research Paper Types
- What is Qualitative Research
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- Study Background & Introduction
Q: What should I write in the background of the study in a concept paper?
What should I include in the background of the study? Do I need to do a search or should it just be opinion-based?
Asked on 03 Jan, 2020
A concept paper is like a preamble to your study: it provides a roadmap or outline for your study before you commence the study. So, in the concept paper, you need to talk about why you are conducting the study and what you are aiming to achieve through the study. However, a concept paper is usually quite short compared with the final paper (after completing the study). You needn’t write great details in the concept paper, but only key points about your study. Thus, you don’t need to write a long background (context) for your study in the concept paper. However, you will still need to do a detailed review of the existing literature in the broad research area to arrive at the question of your study. Doing a detailed literature review will also help you determine if you are looking in the right direction. Additionally, it will provide a lot of information for when you write the final paper.
To answer the final part of your question, any opinion you provide in the final paper has to be an informed opinion, based on your review of previous literature. Correctly speaking, it should be a knowledgeable viewpoint or perspective. Also, due to the limited scope and length of a concept paper, you cannot really provide any opinion or viewpoint in it, although you can talk about the potential outcomes of your study.
For more information on concept papers, refer to the following resources:
- What is a concept paper?
- How can I write a concept paper on fast food consumption?
- What are the three strategies in elucidating a concept paper?
Answered by Editage Insights on 09 Jan, 2020
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- Statement of the problem
- Background of study
- Scope of the study
- Types of qualitative research
- Rationale of the study
- Concept paper
- Literature review
- Introduction in research
- Under "Editor Evaluation"
- Ethics in research
- Review paper
- Responding to reviewer comments
- Predatory publishers
- Scope and delimitations
- Open access
- Plagiarism in research
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- "Reject and Resubmit" status
- Decision in process
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