Module 3.1: Essay introduction

There are two essential stages in an Introduction:

  • The thesis statement
  • Summary of main points to be discussed

In addition sometimes the following stages are also required:

  • Orientation to the topic
  • Stating the scope of the discussion
  • Defining your terms

The thesis statement

The thesis statement of the Introduction functions in the same way as the controlling idea of the paragraph (see Module 2). That is, it states the writer's perspective on the topic of the essay or assignment.

Summary of main points

The main points that the essay is going to raise can be raised either before or after the thesis statement.

Orientation to the topic

Sometimes the writer needs to provide the reader with brief background information, or a context for the writing, such as a historical perspective. This stage is not always present in an Introduction. If required, this stage occurs as the opening sentence or sentences.

Stating the Scope of the discussion (To be included only when necessary)

Sometimes the writer feels that topic of an assignment is too extensive to cover in a limited number of words, so will choose to limit the discussion. For instance diabetes can affect all age groups: infants, children, adolescents and adults. The writer might state this fact and then state that only the effects of the disease on two sections of the population, namely infants and older adults, will be considered in the essay.

Defining your terms

Some topics require you to define what you understand by certain terms in the essay question. This is particularly so if the words are highly technical or are 'common' words used by the community but used within health science and nursing to have specialised meaning. For instance, the words 'older adult' would have to be defined to indicate what age groups you were actually considering within your essay. 'Older adult' is a vague term until it is defined.

Below are two sample Introductions where most of the above stages are identified.

Example 1

The study of nanoparticles is an important emerging field within nanotechnology. These particles are providing new solutions to many intractable problems. Are nanoparticles likely to revolutionise our provision of health care?

'Nano' is a prefix in the International System of Units and is mostly used in the field of science to apply to branches of microscopic technology, such as molecular manufacturing, electronics and medical science. 'Nanoparticles' are ultra fine particles which are used widely in various branches of technology. Because nanotechnology is a comparatively new area of study and within this field the research into nanoparticles is even more recent, it is too soon to say whether the use of nanoparticles will ultimately be shown to have a positive or negative impact on humankind and the environment. This essay will discuss the numerous ways nanotechnology has already revolutionised industry and the provision of health care. In addition, this essay will consider the potential harmful effects of nanoparticles on the health of researchers and technicians working in the field of nanotechnology.

Explanation:

The introduction begins by defining the two terms as one way of showing the breadth of the field of nanotechnology. Also the writer needs to establish a common understanding with the reader about the topic. This sentence also 'doubles' as an orientation to the topic.

The second sentence (in bold) is the thesis statement. The writer is undecided whether nanoparticles will eventually be beneficial or harmful for humanity and the environment. Opinion words are in italics.

This last sentence alerts the reader to the main points that the writer is going to consider in the essay.

Example 2

If is often claimed that cultural factors influence our experience of pain. Is it important for health care practitioners to take culture into account when treating a patient with persistent pain?

INTRODUCTION


1. Pain and culture are both nebulous terms which are difficult to define authoritatively. However, they are both important considerations in the provision of health care.  2. Pain can be categorised as either short term, such as that experienced after surgery or a mishap, or as chronic or persistent pain which is defined as "continuous pain for most days of the week for the last three months" (NSW Health, n.d.).  3. Culture has an impact on attitudes to health and well-being, yet culture is generally ‘invisible’ in communication between a patient and the nurse. 4. Culture is the “set of attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours shared by a group of people and communicated from one generation to the next via language” (Barnouw, 1985 cited in Matsumoto, 1997, p.5). 5. While cultural factors are undoubtedly important, they are not the only major considerations in treating patients with persistent pain since research indicates that genetics, social, environmental and psychological factors may also affect the way patients experience pain and how they respond to treatment.

 

Explanation
1. Provides a brief orientation to topic of the essay question.

2 & 4 defining terms.

5. "While cultural factors are undoubtedly important, they are not the only major considerations in treating patients with persistent pain" (thesis statement).

5. "research indicates that genetics, social, environmental and psychological factors may also affect the way patients experience pain and how they respond to treatment" (summary of main points).

3. This sentence functions as a transition to the definition of culture but also contains elements of thesis: "yet culture is generally 'invisible’ in communication between a patient and the nurse".

QuizImage

Before you proceed to the next module, please complete these quizzes. Make sure you answer all the questions before you check the answers.

Part 1

Part 2