Friday, August 19, 2016

What is a main idea or contribution?


What is a contribution?

·      A contribution includes an addition to your field’s overall knowledge.
It is the main idea of your paper, and the main purpose of your research.
It answers questions like:
·      What are you researching?
·      What are you trying to discover, prove, or create?
·      How do you plan to add value to your academic field?

How to determine the main idea and contribution of your paper

  • Don’t start by describing your methods: “I analyzed mobile information terminals and found many issues related to power failures and natural disasters.”
  • Instead, focus on your main idea, like this: “A single-function emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology would allow users to access important information during natural disasters. ”
  • Distilling your main idea will take some thought and effort.
  • You might need to rewrite your paper several times.
  • You might also need to write your discussion section first.
  • After confirming the terminology and methods described in your discussion section, write your conclusion.
  • Then, determine your main idea.
  • Once you decide your main idea, help readers to get it quickly by putting it in your introduction.
  • Your introduction should include the purpose of your research
  • What specific question will you explore? How does it fit with previous research?

Why you should start your paper with your main idea and contribution

  • Your readers are busy and impatient. 
  • Most of them will not read your entire paper from start to finish.
  • Instead, most readers will skim your text looking at topic sentences, key words, and headings in order to understand what you are talking about.
  • After they form their initial impressions, they might review each sentence to understand your logic and methods.
  • How can you catch and hold their attention during their initial skim?
  • First of all, be sure to include your main idea and contribution in your first paragraph.
  • Most writers do not tell us the contribution of their paper until the end of their paper.
  • Please do not make this mistake.


· Find and circle your contribution.

· If you cannot find your contribution, or if it is spread out across several sentences, spend a moment crystallizing your ideas into one clear contribution sentence.

· Then, draw an arrow to the top of the page. Your contribution goes at the top!

Homework: Reorganize and write your paper so that your contribution appears in the first sentence.

- Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting article about academic writing i really much appreciated this thanks for shearing with us.


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