Why is an overview preferable to an introduction?
Overview and introduction are both important while writing a business report or general papers as they help the readers have some basic understanding of what the paper is about. Both these sections are usually found at the start/beginning of a report (Bell & Smith, 2010). However, they’re different from one another and often overview is preferred over the introduction.
An introduction illustrates the intentions of the writer towards the reader and set the attitude of the reader towards the report. This section includes of brief information of the topics that are in the report. Once a reader goes through the introduction section, he/she will have some ideas of what the report includes but can’t be sure about exactly what all topics are covered. It provides some information to the reader before moving to the other section of the report for detailed information.
Overview, on the other hand, contains basic idea about all the sections that are covered in the report or the document with a summarization of all those. It covers everything from an introduction, body to the conclusion part of the report. A reader can have some knowledge about all the topics covered in the report with an overview. If a business investment opportunity is developed and presented to the investor, they don’t want to go through all the sections at the start so in that case overview will come in handy. An investor can read the document overview to get ideas about all the topics, plans and as such so that they can decide to read further or take action. It helps people save time for people who are busy as well.
Thus, overview provides a better idea about what’s in the report then introduction which just provides some knowledge of the entire report as a whole and doesn’t talk about individual sections that are covered in the paper. The overview also helps save a lot of time of people as they don’t have to go through the entire report to get ideas of the sections that are covered and what’s covered in each of them. However, with an introduction, one must read the report in full to get ideas on the report.
Bell, A., & Smith, D. (2010). Management communication (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.
The overview is a quick summary or abstract of the project work, research, journals, report, and research. The overview/ Executive summary should have the main idea you’ll be supporting in your text and it will have only your ideas, and opinions, not the argument and example. You probably don’t put everything in your executive summary, it is only the main concept and GIST of your research and report. Writing the Abstract is the good exercise on summarization you text so that your target audience will easily get the message and the summary is not more than 250 words, it’s up to 300 words only (Andrade, 2010). The main purpose of writing an executive summary is to provide a condense, and clear message to your reader. It should have following things i.e.
The overall purpose of the study and the research problem
Your ideas, opinion, understanding and finding in the research
The basic design of the study
Major finding or trends towards as a result of your analysis
In conclusion, the abstract is condense and concrete version of the full text of the research manuscript (Staiger, 1999). The abstract must be as detail as possible within the word count limits specified by journals, articles, and report to which the paper is intended to be submitted.
The introduction is your opportunity to show reader and reviewer why your research topic/ report is worth reading about and why your research, report warrants their attention. Basically, it gives the writer’s intentions towards the attention/reader. It provides the information that is necessary/mandatory in a research for the reader’s to know before moving forward to the other section (Pratt, 2014). An introduction is the first impression of your research. A good introduction presents a broad overview of your research or your thesis and it should convince the reader that is worth reading for them. It establishes the scope, context, and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topics, stating the purpose of work in the form of research problem supported by hypothesis or set of questions, explaining briefly the methodologies approach used to examine the research problem (John, 2017). In short, a good introduction will provide a solid function and encourage readers to continue on to the main parts of your research paper - the methodology, result, and discussion.
The introduction serves as the roadmap for your research paper; by clearly stating studying background, aims, and hypothesis/ research question. A good introduction provides the reader with a brief overview of your topics and exploitation of your thesis. It should be fresh, engaging and interesting so that only get the reader attention.
Andrade, C. (2010). How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian J Psychiatry. 2010;52:187-90 , 187-190.
John, Z. M. (2017). 10 tips for writing an effective introduction to original research papers. Think Science .
Koopman, P. (2017). "How to Write an Abstract.”. The Writing Center of UNC college Art and Science .
Pratt, C. (2014). How to Write a Good Introduction. The Writing Center @ MSU .
Staiger, D. L. (1999). How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Graduate Research. The University of Kentucky .
Overview and introduction are both present in the beginning of written works. While overview are present in scholarly articles, an introduction is present in all types of writing.
Overview or Abstracts
Overview also known as abstract informs the reader about the major content of the paper. "Your goal in writing an abstract is literally to abstract or extract the essential information from the things that you read (Taylor, 2009)” Many scholarly articles are very long and people do not have time to go through all the pagers of the paper to understand the content. Thus, an abstract play an important role in informing the reader about what the paper is talking about in the first page. This helps save time of the reader. Thesis papers and journals are some of the writings where you will find abstracts. An informative abstract needs to have the following in the mentioned structure.
1. Purpose/Objective: The first sentence must give the reader a notion of what the paper is about. For example starting with, "The purpose of this study is to investigate the connection between the urban population proximity to jungles with wild squirrel population and the incidence of rabies in domestic animals. (Wordvice, 2018)” Be direct and informative about it.
2. Methods used for the study: Mention only the main study method used and be specific. For example 'Using a cross sectional analysis, this study analyzed the incidence of rabies in Brazilian squirrels from 2007-2015 and measured these results against a similar study conducted in 2011 (Wordvice, 2018)”
3. Results of the study: Focus on the most significant part of your findings. Was you finding as you had predicted it or did you find something unexpected. Only writing the main finding will help pull the reader in. For example "The proximity of a dense urban population to Brazilian squirrel habitats was found to play the greatest role in facilitating the spread of rabies to domestic animals. (Wordvice, 2018)”
5. What were the conclusions: Do not miss out on the conclusion. Your conclusion should connect the reader to the main problem that you have mentioned in the beginning. You must connect what the results means to the problem statement. For example "This study definitely answers the question regarding the correlation between proximity to Brazilian squirrels and the transmission of rabies to pets. Further studies are needed to establish casual relationships and develop preventive measures. (Wordvice, 2018)”
As a word of advice, abstract is easier to form after the main body is completed. Since the abstract requires all the details you have already written in the body, you just need to extract the essentials, summarize and present it. Avoid copying and pasting from the body.
Abstract is a type of an introduction but as compared to an abstract is not descriptive in nature. In an introduction the writer does not disclose information but rather gives less insight and hooks the reader to follow up with the reading. Thus the introduction is more creative and are found in story book, novels and any other writings aside from scholarly articles.
Overview is very informative as it answers the 5W and H. Who, what, when, where, why and how of the paper. These are based on research and facts. It provides a basis for researchers to go through multiple papers just based on the abstract. Whereas the introduction is generally not based on facts and does not inform the reader if it is reliable. It is there to entice the reader into reading the rest of the paper and can be vague leading to assumptions. Thus an overview or abstract is more preferable to an introduction as it is more informative and shares the major essence of the study and lets the reader choose to study or not.
Taylor, D. (2009, October 1). How to Write an APA Abstract . Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_C7YhazRhtA
Wordvice. (2018, Feb 8). How to Write an Abstract for a Research Paper . Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMEnRBss6V4
An introduction is generally the most read section of any written document as it is the initial section of the document. The attitude of readers towards the entire document can be influenced by the introduction part. It generally consists of the background, problems and proposed solution (Etalle, 2004). The readers may find it difficult to understand what the report is about if the introduction part is missed. It can be viewed as a mental road map that should address the concerns of the readers regarding what they are reading, why the topic they are studying is important, what they knew about the topic beforehand and how it will advance new ways of learning and understanding (University of Southern California, 2018).
An overview is the brief representation of overall content of the report. It is short the short description of the content that aims on providing readers with the main idea without explaining all the details (Bell & Smith, 2006). It consists of brief explanation regarding the issues incorporated in the report, reasons for the readers to go through it, desired response from them after reading it and the objectives of writing the report. It provides clear ideas about what the readers can expect from the report by providing a high- class summary.
Though both the introduction and overview have their own significance, an overview is preferable to an introduction due to the following reasons:
It gives better idea about the report as it is not just limited to introducing the topic.
It saves time and effort of the readers as they can get the gist of the report through overview.
It is more informative and detailed than introduction that makes it easier to decide whether the whole paper is worth a read or not.
It provides quick preview of the entire document at a glance while introduction is more focused on developing effective context on which the report can be built on.
Thus most of the readers prefer to read overview over introduction of the report to extract the main idea.
Bell, A. H., & Smith, D. M. (2006). Mnagement Communication. New York: Wiley.
Etalle, S. (2004, October). How to Write an Introduction: A Suggestion . Retrieved from https://www.win.tue.nl/~setalle/introduction.html
University of Southern California. (2018, June 17). General Reference and Research Help . Retrieved from Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper.
According to Medina (2006), introduction is the attention grabbing methods, usually the first paragraph of the writing which just gives the frame work of the subject matter. Whereas, overview, as from its name suggests the overall viewing of any subject matter. In another words, the comprehensive summary of any subject matter, the broader yet concise version of the topic or the short description of all the parts of the content is known as the overview. Bell & Smith (2006), in their book Marketing Communication, an overview the torch light for the path which shows the path ahead with all detailed data and facts about the subject which helps readers to understand what all is about.
For instance, if I ask my friend for the introduction of his organization, then his explanation with company’s name, establishment date, and what the purpose of their establishment etc. would be introduction; whereas, overview of his organization, would be about their history, inception, goals, and impacts, working areas, partners, team members and strategic plans of the coming years. This overview is a detailed and richer part of a managerial communication than the introduction.
An overview is preferable to an introduction because of the following points listed below:
It introduces terms, theories and concepts that have been referred for the content inside the report or article.
It is the overall short version or form of the report so it helps saving the time as reader can just go through it and knows about the essential information from it and helps readers to know whole report in short summary.
It is in-depth writing about the report or article.
It helps readers to understand about the context and environment where and how the article is written and what references or what topics are covered in the article or report.
It is the complete guide and complete communicable information in detailed structure in short form while introduction is limited to introducing the subject matters and doesn’t give readers an idea about the detailed structure of the content, which makes an overview preferable to an introduction.
Bell, A. H., & Smith, D. (2006). Management Communication . John Wiley and Sons Inc.
Medina, A. L. (2006). Where the Beginning Ends: Studying Leads in Literature in Order to Write Attention‐Getting Introductions. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50 (3), 190-193.