Introductions and Conclusions in Academic Writing

While different fields and disciplines tend to do things a bit differently, in academic writing like the kind we’re practicing in this class there are certain introductory and concluding tasks that readers expect writers to complete.

Introductions tend to:

  • Establish a topic or area of inquiry and a reason for writing about the topic –  (this is a framing element)
  • Establish the existing lines of thought (what other writers have to say) about the topic by introducing representative sources voicing those lines of thought – (this is a conversation element)
  • Establish your own initial perspective on the lines of thought in the sources –  (this is a framing element, a conversation element, and a contribution element)
  • Establish the more specific (than the topic or area of inquiry) central concerns or questions you intend to focus on in  the essay –  (this is a framing element)
  • Establish your own initial claims about the central concerns or questions of the essay (in somewhat simpler form than the ones you’ll arrive at in the conclusion) – (this is a contribution element)

Conclusions tend to:

  • Pull together and connect the threads of your (now more complex) argument as developed in the body section through engagement with the ideas, claims, evidence, examples, and perspectives of other writers to address the central concerns and answer the driving questions of the essay
  • Address evidence or perspectives (naysayers) for which your argument is unable to account, or which requiring hedging
  • Discuss implications of your argument, explaining what else must or might be true if the reader accepts the writer’s argument
  • Discuss the significance of the conclusions you have drawn for the specific audience of readers targeted by the essay – how can they use the conclusions in their work or life

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