CommunityData:Advice on writing a background section to an academic paper
Advice given to Aaron and Mako in a revise and resubmit letter from Mac Parks (editor of the Journal of Communication) that is generally useful. This is edited to remove details that only really impacted the paper in question:
- An introduction/background needs to do just three things:
- First, it needs to identify the general purpose of the study and justify why its worth doing. That's usually done in the opening paragraph, certain within the first page or so.
- Second, the choice of research settings is justified unless otherwise obvious.
- Third, and most important, the bulk of the introductory setting should be devoted to defining the key terms in your hypotheses and advancing the arguments to justify your hypotheses in terms of your own reasoning and previous literature.
- Nothing else matters. We really don't need additional background or other material that moves the spotlight away from your hypotheses.