What Is Background Information In An Essay

Essay Structure: Providing Background Information


When you are writing an essay, providing background information is very important for a number of reasons. The most obvious being that it improves the flow of your writing, it creates interest in what you have written and it helps the reader understand the points you are making.

But background information is not all the same. Some parts of it differ from other parts. You need to know this. The best approach is to make a list of the points you wish to include as part of your background information. From this list, write it again in order of priority. Another good way to define the different points of background information is to list them as either a general or specific. Some writers even divide their background information points by saying they are either interesting or helpful.

Why would you use background information?


  • it reinforces the main point of your essay
  • it helps define a point you are making
  • it provides an historical context
  • it allows you to surprise or shock the reader
  • it gives a hint of what is to come later
  • it allows you to present statistics

Background information is often introduced in the introduction of an essay. You want to capture the reader's interest right from the beginning. You want to establish the theme or topic of your essay. You want to set up the argument or introduce the plan you make in your essay. All of these things can be done in the introduction by providing background information.

It's important to understand that there are different types of background information and that they are used in different ways and in different parts of your essays. Not all types of background information are necessarily good for every essay. Not all background information needs to appear in the introduction.

The important point is to gather as much background information as possible and then only use what will actually help your essay and in the best place possible.

Knowing how to find background information is likewise important. Knowledge is power and the greater your ability to research a topic, the better your background information supply and the better your writing content and thus the higher the grade of your essay.

Simply knowing about background information is not enough. It is a powerful tool in creating essays and making the best use of background information will seriously improve your essay writing.

Background information expands upon the key points stated in your introduction but is not the main focus of the paper. Sufficient background information helps your reader determine if you have a basic understanding of the research problem being investigated and promotes confidence in the overall quality of your analysis and findings.

Background information provides the reader with the essential context needed to understand the research problem. Depending on the topic being studied, forms of contextualization may include:

  • Cultural -- the issue placed within the learned behavior of specific groups of people.
  • Economic -- of or relating to systems of production and management of material wealth and/or business activities.
  • Historical -- the time in which something takes place or was created and how that influences how you interpret it.
  • Philosophical -- clarification of the essential nature of being or of phenomena as it relates to the research problem.
  • Physical/Spatial -- reflects the space around something and how that influences how you see it.
  • Political -- concerns the environment in which something is produced indicating it's public purpose or agenda.
  • Social -- the environment of people that surrounds something's creation or intended audience, reflecting how the people around something use and interpret it.
  • Temporal -- reflects issues or events of, relating to, or limited by time.

Background information can also include summaries of important, relevant research studies. The key is to summarize for the reader what is known about the specific research problem before you conducted your analysis. This is accomplished with a general review of the foundational research literature (with citations) that report findings that inform your study's aims and objectives.

NOTE: Research studies cited as part of the background information of your introduction should not include very specific, lengthy explanations. This should be discussed in greater detail in your literature review section.


Background of the Problem Section: What do you Need to Consider? Anonymous. Harvard University; Hopkins, Will G. How to Write a Research Paper. SPORTSCIENCE, Perspectives/Research Resources. Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, 1999; Green, L. H. How to Write the Background/Introduction Section. Physics 499 Powerpoint slides. University of Illinois; Woodall, W. Gill. Writing the Background and Significance Section. Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Communication. Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions. University of New Mexico.
 

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