Want to know how to write an introduction/background section of a paper? Pay attention to STRUCTURE & evidence-based ARGUMENT in order to DIY (do-it-yourself) your own intro/background for a school paper or research report!
Let’s use this 2015 free full-text article by Marie Flem Sørbø et al. as a model! Past and recent abuse is associated with early cessation of breast feeding: results from a large prospective cohort in Norway . (Hint: Clicking on the article’s pdf tab may make it easier to read.)
Focus only on the INTRO/BACKGROUND section for now. Check out the STRUCTURE then the EVIDENCE-BASED ARGUMENT of the Intro/Background. This is how you should write your own.
STRUCTURE of INTRO/BACKGROUND in Sørbø et al. (2015):
- Where is the Intro/Background section located in the article?
- What heading is used for the section?
- Where are the research questions located in the Intro/Background? (HINT: this is the standard place in all papers & in this case the authors call them “aims.)
ARGUMENTS in INTRO/BACKGROUND in Sørbø et al. (2015):
- Look at the first (topic) sentence of each paragraph in INTRO/BACKGROUND & listen to the systematic argument the researchers are making for WHY their study is important.
- “Breast feeding has long been acknowledged as the optimal infant nutrition conferring beneficial short-term and long-term health effects for both infants and mothers.1–5 …
- Abuse of women is common worldwide, as one in three women during lifetime suffer partner or non-partner abuse.10 …Adverse effects [of abuse]… are barriers to breast feeding.*…
- Given the overwhelming evidence of the positive effects of breast feeding, knowledge about factors influencing breastfeeding behaviour is essential….
- We explored the impact of abuse of women on breastfeeding behaviour in a large prospective population in Norway where the expectations to breast feed are high, and breast feeding is facilitated in the work regulations….” (pp. 1-2)
- Now look at the research & other evidence written down AFTER each of above key sentences that SUPPORT each idea.
- Notice that the INTRO/BACKGROUND is NOT a series of abstracts of different studies!! Instead evidence is grouped into key arguments for the study: Breast feeding is best, Abuse is common, Abuse creates barriers to breastfeeding, & Therefore, knowing about factors affecting breastfeeding is important). [Note: Of course, if your particular professor or editor asks you to do a series of abstracts, then you must, but do group them in arguments like the topic sentences.]
All this leads naturally, logically to …(drum roll please!)…the research questions/hypotheses, which are the gaps in our knowledge that the research will fill. This sets up the rest of the research article!
Critical Thinking: Your turn! Write your own Intro/Background using
- Structure: Placement in article, heading, placement of research question/hypothesis
- Argument: Key idea topic sentences (make a list 1st) with supporting research & other evidence (your literature review).
For more info on Intro/Background: Review my blogpost Intro to Intro’s
*ok, yeh. I cheated and included one additional sentence to capture the authors’ flow of argument.
If you are writing something for publication, watch this 2 minute video before selecting a journal! You’ll thank yourself for doing it.
< 2 minute video that tells you how to think, check, submit:
Don’t be fooled. It’s a lot of work to prepare something to publish, and you want your work to appear in a credible source and be accessible. It’s YOUR reputation!
If you are a student search for literature, it is important to know this also!! You want to use the highest quality evidence you can find for your projects.
Share your quality projects for sure! You learned from them & so can the larger community. Make your voice heard.
Let below encourage you to encourage you to publish, present, disseminate your quality improvement projects!!
Davidoff & Batalden in 2005 wrote these words that still apply today:
In contrast with the primary goals of science, which are to discover and disseminate new knowledge, the primary goal of improvement is to change performance. Unfortunately, scholarly accounts of the methods, experiences, and results of most medical quality improvement work are not published, either in print or electronic form. In our view this failure to publish is a serious deficiency: it limits the available evidence on efficacy, prevents critical scrutiny, deprives staff of the opportunity and incentive to clarify thinking, slows dissemination of established improvements, inhibits discovery of innovations, and compromises the ethical obligation to return valuable information to the public.The reasons for this failure are many: competing service responsibilities of and lack of academic rewards for improvement staff; editors’ and peer reviewers’ unfamiliarity with improvement goals and methods; and lack of publication guidelines that are appropriate for rigorous, scholarly improvement work. We propose here a draft set of guidelines designed to help with writing, reviewing, editing, interpreting, and using such reports. We envisage this draft as the starting point for collaborative development of more definitive guidelines. We suggest that medical quality improvement will not reach its full potential unless accurate and transparent reports of improvement work are published frequently and widely.
Critical thinking: What is a QI project on your unit in which others might be interested? Sketch out an outline using headings recommended here: http://ocpd.med.umich.edu/moc-qi/presenting-publishing-qi
For more Info see Davidoff & Batalden. (2005). Toward stronger evidnece on quality improvment. Draft publication guidelines: the beginning of a consensus project. Quality & Safety in Health Care, 14, 319-32. doi:10.1136/qshc.2005.014787
How strong is the evidence regarding our holiday Santa Claus (SC) practices? And what are the opportunities on this SC topic for new descriptive, correlation, or experimental research? Although existing evidence generally supports SC, in the end we may conclude, “the most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see” (Church, as cited in Newseum, n.d.).
If you want to know the answers, check out: Highfield, M.E.F. (2011). Here comes Santa Claus: What’s the evidence? Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 33(4), 354-6. doi: http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.csun.edu/10.1097/TME.0b013e318234ead3 Using bona fide published work, the article shows you how to evaluate the strength of evidence and how to apply it to practice. You can request a full-text for your personal use from your library or from the author via www.researchgate.net/home .
Critical thinking: Check out this related research study with fulltext available through PubMed: Black Pete through the eyes of Dutch children
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27322583 ). Write a follow-up research question based on the findings of this study & post in comments below.
For more info: For those unfamiliar with ResearchGate, it is a site where you can track authors who publish in your area of interest, and you can set up your own profile so that people can track your work. Take a look.
Want to write for publication? CHECK OUT NURSE AUTHOR & EDITOR as one of the best places to learn to improve your writing: http://naepub.com/
A few suggestions from me
- You should have the goal of disseminating a project that will help others. Just trying to publish “something” won’t take you far. Figure out the unique twist of your ideas. Talk it over with colleagues & see what they find interesting.
- Select as many journals from this list or other lists that you think might be interested: https://nursingeditors.com/journals-directory/
- Write a query email to each journal to see if they are interested. NOTE: some journals will tell you what format your query should follow. You can write as many query letters as you want.
- Pick a journal from those interested. YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE TO ONLY 1 JOURNAL at a time. If that journal rejects you can then submit to 1 other, and so on.
- Edit your paper with that journal’s audience in mind.
- Get a peer to read thoroughly and critique your article! THEN you have to LISTEN to all their concerns. If something is unclear to a peer, it will probably be unclear to a peer-reviewer.
- Format & submit EXACTLY, EXACTLY as they ask on the journal instructions to authors. (If you want to annoy editors and reviewers just ignore their instructions to potential authors.)
- Wait & keep your fingers crossed
- If they turn back to you for revisions that is a GOOD SIGN. It means they’re interested and you should address every concern.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Check our Nurse Author & Editor for sure! http://naepub.com/