4.3 Introduction

Course subject(s) 4. Reporting your findings


Now that we have discussed the core chapters of your report, we move on to the more specialized chapters: Introduction, Summary and Conclusions. These three chapters are essential in helping your reader find the information he or she is looking for. And although the information they contain may overlap heavily, they each have their own role to play:

The Summary is a stand-alone document, and will often be the first chapter a reader will look at. To create a coherent stand-alone document, the summary must explain the problem, the main methods used to study it, and the main conclusions drawn in the report. A reader should be able to use the summary to see if the report is relevant for him.

If the reader decides to truly read your report, the Introduction is generally the next bit to read. In this chapter, the focus lies on the problem studied in the report. It should include background information and context, motivation to study this topic, and then a clear outline of the problem studied in the report. Additionally, you should give your reader an idea of the limitations of your modelling results. Finally, your introduction should outline what will happen in the rest of your report. This provides a road-map (including chapter numbers!) of where to find what information.

The Conclusions chapter comes near the end of the report, and will focus on the results of your modelling effort. To keep this chapter coherent, you should once again state the problem that you study, but most of the chapter should be devoted to answering the questions you have posed yourself.

Keep in mind that not every reader will read every chapter of your report, which explains why information will need to be repeated. And even for a thorough reader, it can be very convenient to have a complete and coherent story to read in the Conclusions chapter, without needing to look up the precise statements of work done in previous chapters.

Our first focus for this unit will be the introduction.

The introduction of a report

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Subtitles (captions) in other languages than provided can be viewed at YouTube. Select your language in the CC-button of YouTube.

The video above outlines the purpose of the Introduction chapter, and the components it contains:

  • Background and context for the research project
  • Motivation
  • Problem
  • Limitations
  • Outline for the report

These components may each consist of one or several paragraphs, as discussed before.

Use the exercises below to get an idea of what these components may look like. Afterwards, try to come up with a rough outline for your own introduction.

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