Sip Introduction Format Essay
What is the IMRaD Format?
The IMRaD (often pronounced “im-rad”) format is a scientific writing structure that includes four or five major sections: introduction (I); research methods (M); results (R); analysis (a); and discussion (D). The IMRaD format is the most commonly used format in scientific article and journal writing and is used widely across most scientific and research fields.
When Do I Use the IMRaD Format?
If you are writing a paper where you are conducting objective research in order answer a specific question, the IMRaD format will most likely serve your purposes best. The IMRaD format is especially useful if you are conducting primary research (such as experimentation, questionnaires, focus groups, observations, interviews, and so forth), but it can be applied even if you only conduct secondary research (which is research you gather from reading sources like books, magazines, journal articles, and so forth.)
The goal of using the IMRaD format is to present facts objectively, demonstrating a genuine interest and care in developing new understanding about a topic; when using this format, you don’t explicitly state an argument or opinion, but rather, you rely on collected data and previously researched information in order to make a claim.
While there are nuances and adjustments that would be made to the following document types, the IMRaD format is the foundational structure many research-driven documents:
- Recommendation reports
- Plans (such as an integrated marketing plan or project management plan)
How Does the IMRaD Format Work?
As mentioned above, the IMRaD format includes four or five major sections. The little “a” has had multiple interpretations over the years; some would suggest it means nothing other than “and,” as in “Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion,” but others have argued that the “a” should be viewed as “Analysis” in papers where the “Results” section may not be immediately clear and a section that analyzes the results is important for reader comprehension. Either way, the “a” often remains in lower-case to indicate that, while it’s often important, it isn’t always necessary. Below, we’ll review the five major sections, with “a” given equal weight to the other sections.
Note that these five sections should always go in the order listed below:
- Introduction: The introduction states the research problem or the question(s) you intend to address through research. Your introduction would typically include some variation of the following:
- Statement of the topic you are about to address
- Current state of the field of understanding (often, we call this a literature review and it may even merit having its own section)
- Problem or gap in knowledge (what don’t we know yet or need to know? what does the field still need to understand? what’s been left out of previous research? is this a new issue that needs some direction?)
- Forecast statement that explains, very briefly, what the rest of the paper will entail, including a possible quick explanation of the type of research that needs to be conducted
- Methods: The research methods section can go any number of different directions, depending on the type of research you conducted. Regardless of what you did for your research, though, this section needs to be very clear, very specific, very detailed, and only focused on research. Avoid explaining what the research means–this is for the next sections, Analysis and Discussion.While the research section is often considered the most boring section for someone to read, it is also considered the most important section to build your credibility. If your research methods are sound, your paper holds a lot more weight. A few tips to make your methods section work well:
- Separate each type of research you conducted (interviews, focus groups, experiments, etc.) into sub-sections and only discuss one research method in each sub-section (for clarity and organization, it’s important to not talk about multiple methods at once)
- Be very detailed about your process. If you interviewed people, for example, we need to know how many people you interviewed, what you asked them, what you hoped to learn by interviewing them, why chose to interview over other methods, why you interviewed those people specifically (including providing they demographic information if it’s relevant), and so forth. For other types of data collection, we need to know what your methods were–how long you observed; how frequently you tested; how you coded qualitative data; and so forth.
- Don’t discuss what the research means. You’ll use the next two sections–Analysis and Discussion–to talk about what the research means. To stay organized, simply discuss your research methods. This is the single biggest mistake when writing research papers, so don’t fall into that trap.
- Results: The results section is critical for your audience to understand what the research showed. Use this section to show tables, charts, graphs, quotes, etc. from your research. At this point, you are building your reader towards drawn conclusions, but you are not yet providing a full analysis. You’re simply showing what the data says. Follow the same order as the Methods section–if you put interviews first, then focus groups second, do the same in this section. Be sure, when you include graphics and images, that you label and title every table or graphic (“Table 3: Interview Results“) and that you introduce them in the body of your text (“As you can see in Figure 1, seventy-nine percent of respondents…”)
- Analysis: The analysis section details what you and others may learn from the data. While some researchers like to combine this section with the Discussion section, many writers and researchers find it useful to analyze the data separately. In the analysis section, spend time connecting the dots for the reader. What do the interviews say about the way employers think about their employees? What do the observations say about how employees respond to workplace criticism? Can any connections be made between the two research types? It’s important in the Analysis section that you don’t draw conclusions that the research findings don’t suggest. Always stick to what the research says.
- Discussion: Finally, you conclude this paper by suggesting what new knowledge this provides to the field. You’ll often want to note the limitations of your study and what further research still needs to be done. If something alarming or important was discovered, this is where you highlight that information. If you use the IMRaD format to write other types of papers (like a recommendation report or a plan), this is where you put the recommendations or the detailed plan.
Example of the IMRaD Format
Back to the Organization Memo
How to Write an Introduction
- Grab the reader's attention.
- Present the reason for the post's existence.
- Explain how the post will help address the problem that brought your reader to it.
Blink. Blink. Blink. It's the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers -- amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced -- know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.
I mean, you already have a blog post you want to write. Can't you just dive in and write it? Why all the pomp and circumstance with this dag-blasted introduction?
Here's the thing -- intros don't have to be long. In fact, we prefer them to be quite quick. They also don't have to be so difficult, but they do have to exist. They prepare the reader and provide context for the content he or she is about to read.
Let's break down exactly how to write an introduction that's short, effective, and relatively painless. And if you're ever having trouble churning out those intros, come back here and re-read this formula to lift yourself out of that writing rut.
How to Write an Introduction
To write an introduction, be mindful of what it's supposed to achieve. The main goals here are to draw in your reader -- a relative stranger, most of the time -- and concisely let her know what the article is about. Generally, that consists of three key components:
Step 1) Grab the reader's attention. That looks different for every piece of writing, but we've provided some suggestions below.
Step 2) Present the reason for the post's existence.
Step 3) Explain how the post will help address the problem that brought your reader to it.
As a lover of all things meta, I will, of course, use this post's introduction as an example of how to write an intro. It contains different components that create the above introduction "formula," which you can refer to that when you get stuck with your own.
Below, we've gone into more detail on each component.
The Introduction Paragraph
1) Grab the reader's attention.
There are a few ways to hook your reader from the start. You can be empathetic ("Don't you hate it when...?"), or tell a story, so the reader immediately feels some emotional resonance with the piece. You could tell a joke ("Ha! This is fun. Let's read more of this."). You could shock the reader with a crazy fact or stat ("Whoa. That's crazy. I must know more!").
For this intro, I went the "empathetic" route.
Writer's block stinks. Blank screens and taunting cursors -- the worst. Who's with me?
2) Present the reason for the post's existence.
Your post needs to have a purpose. The purpose of this post is to address a specific problem -- the pain in the butt that is writing intros. But, we have to do it, and therein lies the approach to something important: making writing introductions easier.
Just because you know the purpose of your post, doesn't mean the reader does -- not yet, anyway. It's your job to validate your post's importance and give your audience a reason to keep reading.
3) Explain how the post will help address the problem.
Now that the reader is presented with a problem that he or she can relate to -- and obviously wants a solution -- it's time to let the audience know what the post will provide, and quickly.
In other words, the introduction should set expectations. Take this post, for example. I don't want the reader to dive in and expect to see a list of reasons why introductions are important. I want you to expect to read about what makes a good introduction. But if I hadn't clarified that in the introduction, you might have expected the former. After all, be honest -- did you skim over or forget the title of this post already? That's okay. That's why we tell the reader exactly what the post will provide, and why it's valuable.
The underlined sentenced is a way of saying, "Keep reading." We already established that there's a problem -- here's how I'm going to make it easy for you to solve.
Of course, there are other valid ways to write introductions for your marketing content -- don't feel the need to follow this formula for every single piece of content, as some are more casual than others. But, this guide should help provide a solid framework to follow if you're just getting started, or if it's just one of those days when the words aren't flowing.
But what are some examples of great introductions in the wild? We thought you might ask -- which is why we picked out some of our favorites.
5 Introduction Examples
1) "Confessions of a Google Spammer," by Jeff Deutsch
There are a few reasons why we love this introduction. Immediately, it grabs our attention -- how the heck did this guy make fifty grand every month? And just from 10 hours a week?
But unlike some spammy comments that might contain a similar sentiment, he almost immediately serves us something unexpected -- he tells us not to do that.
Then, he states the true purpose of the blog -- to explain why we should "never, never ever follow in [his] footsteps." In just three sentences, this introduction has captivated us and validated the story's existence with a looming life lesson. The takeaway? Keep it short, but powerful.
2) "Announcing the public preview of Azure Advisor," by Shankar Sivadasan
Here's a great example of an introduction that presents a problem and a solution to it. Sure, it's easy to build apps on Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform -- but maybe you had some issues with its setup. Well, wouldn't you know? Azure Advisor is here to address those challenges, and you can preview it for free.
But wait -- there's more. The introduction not only immediately presents a problem and a solution, but it concisely summarizes just how this product provides a fix. And, it explains why the text will be helpful, with the sentence, "In this blog post, we will do a quick tour of Azure Advisor and discuss how it can help optimize your Azure resources."
That's a best practice for brands that have made a mistake -- even a small one. Technology is great, but it can come with bugs. That's where an intro like this one can be so helpful. It acknowledges the problem, states what the brand has done to address it, and alerts the reader to continue to learn how that solution will work.
3) "Taste the Season at Sushi Sora," by Chris Dwyer
Strong introductions aren't just important for blogs -- they're essential to quality editorial pieces, too. That's why we love this introduction to an article from Destination MO, the Mandarin Oriental's official online magazine.
Remember that thing we said about a captivating start? In addition to being empathetic or funny, visuals can be huge -- not just an actual picture or video, but words that actually help the reader envision what you're describing. This introduction does just that, with expressive phrases like, "the magical silhouette of Mount Fuji on the horizon." Well, yeah. That does sound magical. But where can I go for such a view? None other than the "Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo," the author tells me, especially "from the sushi counter at Sushi Sora."
Here's the thing about this intro -- it gives the reader something to aspire to. We've briefly discussed aspirational marketing before, but this instance is one where it can be used in a brief introduction. After reading this first paragraph, I want to go to Tokyo. And when I'm there, I want to stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Then, I want to take in the views from its high-end sushi restaurant.
With just two sentences, I've gone from reading an article with my morning coffee, to fantasizing about a thousand-dollar vacation. So whenever possible, use your introduction to paint a picture, and to help your reader dream.