The introduction section is a key part of the abstract in original articles, that conveys a message to the readers whether they should read the article or not.
You may ask why!
My answer is:
The introduction section of the abstract should include a statement of the problem, or the study logic. If this section is written weakly, or sometimes wrongly, it directly says that the paper is useless and there is no need to spend time reading it!
In my experience,
I have seen hundreds of abstracts with no clear statement about the necessity of the study in the introduction section. Also, many of them have used an inappropriate writing style or addressed irrelevant information! Indeed sometimes, the author cite the sources in the introduction section of the abstract, which is a big technical mistake.
Here, I recommend a simple but efficient approach to organizing and writing the different sentences of the introduction section of an abstract for an original article.
The introduction section should consist of two sub-sections:
Depending on the format of the journal, the author may write those sub-sections separately, or write them all under ‘Introduction”.
This sub-section may consist of two short sentences, with the first sentence specifically mentioning the core content and the statement of the problem, or any statement that refers to the study logic or shows how necessary the study was. Most authors forget to state the problem in that specific study population, and wrongly, they just state it in general. For example, if the author studied the prevalence of Hepatitis B for the first time in the Seychelles, they should not state the problem worldwide, or in Africa.
They should be explaining the logic behind the study exactly in the Seychelles, for example, the increasing reports of Hepatitis B in the islands and the inadequate knowledge on the occurrence and prevalence of Hepatitis B in the islands.
Therefore, the background sub-section should not be something like a general statement. It should either state the problem in the study population (that is the reason the authors performed this research, or study logic), or say something about the gap in the existing knowledge of an issue in the study population that encouraged them to do the research in order to fill that gap or made the study necessary.
In the objective sub-section, the author should quickly address the main research question or hypothesis in the form of a research objective.
The author may present the general objective of the study or address one specific key objective, or list more than one specific objective. This part usually consists of one sentence, but in some cases, it may consist of more sentences. Even in such rare cases, my recommendation is to merge the specific objectives all in one clear and complete sentence.
For example, if the author requires presenting all of the main specific objectives, they can use this format:
The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of X, to determine the relationship between X and Y, and to assess the effect of X on Y.
In the above example, the author has presented three specific objectives in one clear, concise and complete sentence.
The author should be aware of using appropriate verbs in stating the specific objectives, as those verbs have special meanings in terms of research methods and statistics. For example, “To Determine”, “To Identify”, “To Asses”, “To Examine” and “To Develop” are commonly used verbs in stating the specific objectives of quantitative research while verbs like “To Explore” and “To Investigate” are commonly used in stating the specific objectives of qualitative research.