Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Introduction and Conclusion

Writing the Introduction has been a headache for me because I can come up with several ways of introducing my main finding that democratization in Africa reduces infant mortality via increased public health service delivery. I can begin by describing poverty in Africa, a hot issue during the last couple of years. I can begin by stating a grand question of whether democracy does any good to people. Or I can begin by talking about the recent economic literature on the effect of political institutions on socio-economic outcomes...

Chapter 15 of Booth, Colomb, and Williams (1995) discusses how to write the introduction for an academic paper. They mention three ways of begining the paper: (1) Open with a striking fact or quotation; (2) Open with a relevant anecdote; and (3) Open with a general statement.

I come to think that one of the most important facts underlying my paper is that many sub-Sahara African countries have been democratized. But few people know this fact: My supervisor was surprised by looking at the list of 24 African countries that introduced multiparty elections for executive office. Robin stresses the fact that few people know many African countries are now democracy. So I should probably "open with a striking fact". Actually, my first draft began with African experience of democratization. And Ikegami-kun, one of my friends interested in development economics, told me that the introduction in the first draft was well-written. Then I changed it in the third draft that I finished this Monday.

So I'm back to the original idea.

For the conclusion, Booth, Colomb, and Williams (1995) offer three ideas.

First, close with a new significance or application. If your research is motivated by a practical problem in the world, stress one additional importance of the problem you solved. Compared to other reasons for why readers should care about the problem in the introduction, this one must be "at a level more general" and "provocative enough." If your research is not motivated by a practical problem in the world, propose an application of your research result that is "some new and perhaps even unexpected benefit of clearer understanding that your solution might have."

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