When you’re looking at a thesis or at research papers, they will often have both an “Introduction” and a “Background” section. These might look very similar at first glance, so is there any difference between them? If so, what’s the difference? This article will explain those differences in a straightforward way.
The “Introduction” section is a summary that outlines the major elements of the thesis. The “Introduction” will go over all the segments that the report has, and briefly explain each. The “Background”, however, is a segment that talks about the necessity of this paper, and the research that precedes it.
In the “Introduction”, you will find a general summary of what the report broadly wants to do. The introduction gives the reader a solid idea of the aim of this paper, and what to expect from each segment.
The “Background” goes into slightly different territory. The “Background” segment will talk about the similar research that has come before this paper.
The “Background” might also cover the objectives of the paper, and it’ll also talk about why this report is necessary or why it’s important.
In a report, the “Introduction” is the section that, as its name indicates, introduces the reader to the concepts of the paper. It gives the reader an idea of what the report will do, broadly speaking, and introduces each section.
A reader can just read the “Introduction” and get a fairly good idea of what the report does in each of its sections.
The “Introduction”, as part of its brief summary of the report, also summarizes the “Background” section.
Here are a few examples of the term “Introduction” in this context:
- You obviously have to draft out the introduction after everything else in the report.
- I think that your introduction needs more work, it’s not detailed enough.
- I look forward to reading more than just the introduction of your report.
- I think that this introduction does a very good job of introducing the main concepts.
- His introduction really made me want to read the rest of his report.
In a report, the “Background” segment explains the research and developments that have occurred before the publishing of this specific report. The “Background” also talks about why more research is necessary, and the topics researched in this report specifically.
The “Background” is an important part of any report, paper or thesis, as it contains the details of why this report is necessary in the first place, and explanations on how the research was executed.
In the “Background” you will find detailed and extensive explanations of the research from previous decades that enabled this report to get made.
Here are some examples of the word “Background” used in this specific meaning:
- His “Background” segment has detailed descriptions of how they ran the experiments.
- In my “Background” section I talk about the prior research on this very topic.
- You can read the “Background” to get a solid idea of why this paper is important.
- In the “Background”, he talks about how he developed his methodology for the report.
- If you want to see his aim and objectives you can read the “Background” segment.
The introduction segment comes first, as it’s shorter and summarizes all of the report, including the background itself. The background is more developed and goes into detail, so it comes after the introduction.
No, “Introduction” and “Background” are not interchangeable. Though confusing them is understandable, given the fact that they are both slightly similar in concept, they refer to different and equally important segments.
The introduction summarizes the background in conjunction with the rest of the report, and the report elaborates on the research that occurred prior to this report, so they both serve different purposes.
While both the “Introduction” and the “Background” might talk about similar things on the report itself, the “Introduction” is exclusively about the paper itself. Meanwhile, the “Background” is about the methodology of the report, but also research prior to it.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.