So, I told you how to be a riveting writer. Now, let me give you the low down on academic writing! The introductory paragraph




I did not anticipate that I would be doing some kind of a series when I wrote the first installment on academic writing. But, like I said in the first kind of these posts, that the blog forum does not really permit a lengthy investigation into academic writing. With that realisation, I have decided to continue to look at the genre of academic writing in an effort to offer you the full low down on this topic. 
I hope that you have registered for some logic classes since the last post, or at least have investigated the topic!

Anyways, I think the following tips will be just as valuable as the ones offered in the first post of this kind. 

I mentioned to you in the first post that structure is absolutely key in an academic essay. Most lecturers would forgive a small vocabulary in an essay; but most certainly not a poor thesis and progression of argument. 

Following on from that fundamental of academic writing, I want to suggest another critical and supporting rudiment. The introductory paragraph will make you or break you. It is just as critical as a well articulated thesis if not for the only reason that it supports it. The introductory paragraph is literally a summary of your entire argument. Most people conclude that indeed, the conclusion takes on this role. It does not. The introductory paragraph firmly states your thesis and the outline of the progression of your argument. 

So for that matter, if using a classic introductory construction whereby the thesis is the very first sentence, each sentence after the thesis is stated should be a thesis statement of the main paragraphs that push your arguments. I say main because not every paragraph within reason ( I will talk about this in another post) resoundingly pushes your argument. Some may indeed, be constructed for the purpose of illustrating, giving examples; so you can see why they will not be necessarily deemed a main point in an argument as opposed to just the evidence to support the point. 

The last sentence, in the introductory paragraph affirms the thesis at the start while alluding to the conclusion. However, it by no means can be a wishy washy statement. It must be a definitive, authoritative statement that establishes your point of view while giving some indication as to how your argument will culminate. 

Far those academic writers who are more practical in nature and not so concerned with the rudiments of academic writing, mastery of the introductory paragraph is just as critical to you. Lecturers, especially in foundation courses where the student compliment ranges from 100 to 300, simply do not have the time or the patience to read through every script. 

Their process for separating the sheep from the goats is the introductory paragraph and the conclusion ( I will discuss in another post). When having just read your intro and conclusion, they can deduce without ambiguity your thesis, the strength of it, the fluidity of the argument  and without an abrupt conclusion, you have gained at least 60%. 

With such a feat they will further oblige you and peruse the rest of the script, as the should, making sure that your referencing is correct and the evidence used to support the argument is apt and valid. Mind you, the referencing is another post in and of itself, because they manner in which I reference it ( no pun intended) is quite au contraire. People literally lose grades for bad referencing as plagiarism is the ultimate sin in academia. However, for first time academic writers, any such indiscretions can be corrected and with practice eradicated completely. What cannot be, is the first time impression(s) of your ability to form an argument. And that is where the introduction and conclusion come in. That is the only evidence any lecturer will ever have of your ability. 

Given the importance of the introductory paragraph to the development of the argument, I usually dedicate 80% of my time to it. I must get it right. And I know that there is the debate about when you should write it, at the start or at the end. 

I prefer at the start. Do the work to get it right and everything roles off like water off of a duck's back. To achieve this, you have to do your reading and research and come to your desk with a thesis in mind. It could change and probably will. But do the reading first, so you have a good idea of the argument that you want to construct and the evidence that you will use. 

Now let the writing begin:

This point is absolutely critical to any and all writing. Come to the pen and paper- I really don't advocate this electronic way of writing on the computer, sorry, with a clear mind. Get whatever is on your mind out of your shnozz. Just get it out and put it on the paper. So, if you have to draft a couple of F...Yous to a few people, go straight ahead. When that is accomplished, remember look at the question again as indicated in the first post and let the design of the question inform the direction you will take. For instance, remember I spoke about discuss. That usually means a comparison of different arguments. You know then from the outset that your introductory paragraph must convey a privileged thesis with others to be evaluated fairly. 

With that in  mind, just start- don't censor yourself. Academic writing is like driving- you do the maneuver as slowly and as best as you can, not to be pretty. Give yourself time, and write in as simple a language as you can. You can always go back and pretty it up. 

This process of writing the introductory paragraph should take at least a couple of hours if not days. I know, I know, days?!! Yes, that is why you should start early and not the night before submission. It is that important. 

This process would of course include editing. With each edit, your thesis becomes more refined. And hence my point, just start. At the moment in time, at the very start, what you have written on your paper is NOT the final outcome. it is just the start, so there is no need for frustration. Respect and embrace the process. The very first paragraph you write will make you cry; but with confidence you can step back from it and give it an honest critique. With one week's worth of editing your introduction WILL be ready for even the most discriminating of lecturers.

Petra Marie…Inspired Be