The introduction has two functions: 1) to provide the context for your investigation and 2) to state the question asked and the hypothesis tested in the study. Begin the introduction by reviewing background information that will enable the reader to understand the objective of the study and the significance of the problem, relating the problem to the larger issues in the field. Include only information that directly prepares the reader to understand the question investigated. Most ideas in the introduction will come from outside sources, such as scientific journals or books dealing with the topic you are investigating. All sources of information must be referenced and included in the References Cited (or References) section of the paper, but the introduction must be in your own words. Refer to the references when appropriate. Unless otherwise instructed, place the author of the reference cited and the year of publication in parentheses at the end of the sentence or paragraph relating the idea for example, "(Finnerty, 1992)."

As you describe your investigation, include only the question and hypothesis that you finally investigated. Briefly describe the experiment performed and the outcome predicted for the experiment. Although these items are usually presented after the background information near the end of the introduction, you should have each clearly in mind before you begin writing the introduction. It is a good idea to write down each item (question, hypothesis, prediction) before you begin to write your introduction.

Write the introduction in past tense when referring to your experiment; but when relating the background information, use present tense when referring to another investigator's published work.

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