Introductions

It is but a short step from structured abstracts to structured texts. In the following chapters we shall see how each part of the structure of a scientific article (the introduction, method, results, discussion and conclusion) can indeed be subdivided into finer structures.

Swales and Feak (2004) describe what they characterise as 'moves' in the various sections of academic articles. Basically, a 'move' is a stage in the argument that all writers go through. The 'moves' for the introduction are typically as follows (p. 244):

• Move 1: The authors establish a research territory:

(a) by showing that the general research area is important, central, interesting, problematic or relevant in some way (optional);

(b) by introducing and reviewing items of previous research in the area (obligatory).

• Move 2: They then establish a 'niche' by indicating a weakness in the account so far:

(a) by indicating a gap in the previous research, raising a question about it or extending previous knowledge in some way (obligatory).

• Move 3: They then occupy the niche by saying they are going to put this right:

(a) by outlining the purposes or stating the nature of the present research (obligatory);

(b) by listing research questions or hypotheses to be tested (optional);

(c) by announcing the principal findings (optional).

Swales and Feak argue that most introductions to academic articles follow this basic structure. Lewin et al. (2001) offer a similar, but more detailed, analysis that readers might also find useful.

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