I am required to make the first chapter of my scientific paper be called "Einleitung" in German, that would be "Introduction" in English, but the second one should be "Grundlagen", which I can't find a good translation for.

There are a couple of translations on dict.cc (http://www.dict.cc/?s=grundlagen), but none really fits in my opinion.

While the introduction contains meta-information about the paper itself (aims, procedures, structure, etc.), the chapter with the title that I am looking for is the first real chapter of the paper, containing the basics about the topic, with definitions of words and a general start into the topic.

While I used "basics" in the paragraph above, which actually describes what I am looking for quite well, I find that word to sound too casual and non-scientific. The other suggestions by dict.cc, for example principles don't fit nicely, since the chapter contains more than just that.

But I am sure an English paper contains chapters like these with standard titles that are used as a standard. What would be the name of the chapter I am describing?

  • "Theory" is what I have found so far on other resources
    – Post Self
    Jun 27, 2017 at 16:42
  • 3
    Take a look at Grundlagen. I kind of like "Background" since you are basically bringing readers up to date before getting into the detailed information. You might ask this on German Language SE.
    – user3169
    Jun 27, 2017 at 16:45
  • 4
    Fundamentals is a Latinate word which preserves the metaphor of the German word. Jun 27, 2017 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


I found this PDF from the University of North Carolina Wilmington titled Organization of a Traditional Academic Paper that I think is a very helpful description of each of the traditional sections of a paper along with a section title or in some cases, a list of possible section titles.

It suggests that the section after the introduction could be "Background", "History", "Review-of-Literature", or "Methodology" and describes that section as "[...] this section would provide the necessary background or history for understanding the discussion to come [...] this section justifies the research done by either showing that the writer has done their homework and/or has a clear understanding of research methods."

I think that "Background" would be the best choice from that list based on what you've explained about your second section, although I also like StoneyB's suggestion of "Fundamentals".

  • I'm reminded of the (unlabeled) parts of a Supreme Court opinion. The first part of the main opinion is blocked out with letters and is unofficially referred to as the "background" in that it covers the history of the case and how it ended up in front of the SC. The rest of the main opinion is blocked out with numbers and contains argument, opinion, and relevant case law.
    – Andrew
    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:36

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