by Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM
The Scholarship of Public Health addresses topics relevant to scientific publishing, dissemination of evidence and best practices, and the education of current and future professionals. This column presents some considerations and best practices for writing the introduction of a manuscript for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.
Ideally, introductions should be a string of clearly worded thesis statements that lead into each paragraph in a manner that walks the reader from the problem being addressed to the purpose for the paper. As such, introductions should begin with a presentation of the problem and end with a statement of the question to be answered or the knowledge to be generated. A good introduction is like a string of stepping stones that comprise a path for the reader to follow. For example, in a classic JPHMP article by Levy and colleagues, the introduction begins with a very clear problem statement: “Smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature mortality.” They follow with national and global morbidity and mortality data. They continue in the next paragraph by stating that “Substantial evidence indicates that tobacco control policies, especially when combined in a comprehensive program, can substantially reduce smoking rates.” This second paragraph does a nice job of providing a potential solution, leading to the purpose of their paper, which begins the third paragraph: “This article provides an evidence-based review of the various tobacco control policies that contribute to reduced smoking initiation and increased quitting behavior and success.“ In less that 300 words, the authors do an excellent job of presenting a justification for their paper in a straightforward manner that a novice to the world of tobacco control could easily understand. Levy and co-authors do a similarly nice job in an update of their tobacco control policy work that was recently published in the journal.
In summary, it’s important to lay a solid foundation for your manuscript in the introduction, so that the rationale for your work will be clear to even the novice reader. For JPHMP, the introduction should not be a thorough review of the literature but rather a logical presentation of the existing evidence in a manner that leads the reader to appreciate the reason you conducted your study or implemented your policy or program. In the end, you want to leave the reader with a good understanding of why your topic is important, the purpose of the paper, and desire to learn how you conducted the study. If nothing else, you should be compelling enough to encourage the reader to stick around for the results!
Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and an Associate Professor in the Department of Implementation Science of the Wake Forest School of Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Follow him at Twitter and Instagram. [Full Bio]
Read previous posts by this author:
- Building a Global Research Network
- Choosing a Team and Being an Academic Team Player: Part II
- Choosing an Academic Team and Being a Team Player: Part I
- Achieving Balance Through Work-Life Integration
- The Dangers of Hunting Industry-Funded Witches
- Writing the Methods Section of Your Manuscript for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
- Teaching Public Health Practice For Non-Practitioners
- Writing a Cover Letter to a Journal
- Writing the Results Section of Your Manuscript for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
- A Few Tips on Avoiding Burnout in Academic Public Health
- Writing the Discussion Section of Your Manuscript for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
- Impact Factor: The Metric You Love to Hate
- Finding Time for Scholarly Writing, Part II
- Finding Time for Scholarly Writing, Part I
- Who Is a Scientist, Anyway?
- Letting Journal Editors Do (Some of) Your Work for You
- Selecting the “Best” Journal as an Outlet for Your Work
- How Can Public Health Students Make Themselves Competitive for Employment?
- Writing an Abstract for Publication
- When Is Public Health Coming to Students of Public Health?