Writing the Introduction and Conclusion - From Professional Experience to Expert Advice - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Writing the Introduction and Conclusion
From Professional Experience to Expert Advice
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Particularly for the practical article, it might be appropriate to begin with an anecdote that leads directly into the topic. There are numerous examples of this throughout this book. Based on 30 years of experience with editing a journal, introductions and conclusions frequently are the places where the most editing is necessary. Perhaps this is the case because the papers written for classes seldom have a strong introduction or conclusion. Some common mistakes that authors make are:

· There is a long preamble at the beginning that often is cut. Instead, authors need to stride right into the thesis.

· The manuscript does not conclude, in the sense of wrapping everything up; rather, the writer abruptly stops writing or the conclusion falls flat.

· There is little correlation between the introduction and conclusion when they should be like mirror images. The introduction begins broadly and quickly narrows to the point while the conclusion recaps the main points and broadens out to state the wider implications.

Figures 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4 represent a strategy for drafting the introduction and conclusion. They are based on the classic structure of the essay.

Fig. 6.2 A writing “formula” for the introduction (Source: Jalongo (2013a))

Fig. 6.3 A writing “formula” for conclusions (Source: Jalongo (2013a))

Fig. 6.4 Dana Miller’s practical article (Source: Miller (2009))

Activity 6.7: Introductions and Conclusions

Locate several exceptionally well-written published practical articles, cut and paste the introduction and conclusion side by side. Do you see evidence of the upside down triangle and right side up triangle structure?

Online Tool

Read Chapter 3, “Writing the Introduction and Conclusion of a Scholarly Article” by John Corbett at http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_41223_en.pdf

Think of introductions and conclusions as the “bookends” for the practical article. For more advice on introductions and conclusions, refer to Table 6.3 with excerpts from the article “Executive Leadership: Another Lever in the System?” (Harris, Brown & Abbot, 2006).

Table 6.3

Example of alignment among the introduction, pronouncement paragraph, and conclusion

Introduction [Note that it begins with a more general statement and narrows to the point]

It is widely accepted that there is an important and influential link between leadership and school improvement. Researchers from the international fields of school effectiveness and school improvement have consistently highlighted the importance of leadership as a powerful lever for change and development…

Pronouncement [Each of the themes is a main heading of the manuscript]

… this article draws upon this personal experience of being an executive head teacher in a school in very challenging circumstances. A number of key themes will be explored, which are as follows:

 Building leadership capacity;

 Changing the school culture;

 Ensuring rapid change;

 Forging collaborative partnership and external links;

 Establishing whole school evaluation and planning;

 Signaling moral purpose and securing momentum

Each theme will be considered separately and will be presented in a way that captures the voice and experience of the executive head

Conclusion [Notice how it touches upon the thesis and broadens out to the more general issue]

Topic sentence, paragraph one:

In this article we have explored the dynamics of a relatively new and under-researched approach to leadership

First sentence, paragraph two:

This article offers a starting point for thinking about a form of leadership that develops capacity both within and across schools

First sentence, last paragraph:

The promise of sustainable improvement resides in widely distributed and highly differentiated forms of leadership practice both within schools and between schools.

Last sentence [note how it broadens back out (right-side up triangle) and uses a short sentence at the end that echoes the title/main thesis):

We need to be thinking much more imaginatively and radically about new forms of leadership practice in our schools if system renewal is to be successfully achieved. Put bluntly, we need many more leadership levers to pull