Examples of how to write a research paper introduction
Jun 2, 2018
How to write a good introduction for an essay in three easy steps
1. Find the way to grab the reader's attention
You need to start with a hook - but how exactly can you hook the readers right from the start? There's a couple of ways to do so. First, you can surprise them with an interesting fact related to the topic of your essay. Second, you can mention something that seems to have nothing to do with your essay at all - another fact, for example, just looking random. However, if you choose this option, make sure to tie this fact to the content of your essay - otherwise, it won't look good.
Third, you could write something that would cause a certain emotional reaction: make the reader feel related, sad, angry, sympathetic, etc. Emotions not always work well when it comes to crafting a scientific paper but if it is a controversial topic, you can go for it.
2. Give some context
Now when you got the reader's attention, you can explain the whole point of your essay a bit. The tricky part here is that you have to give some context without giving too many details at the same time.
Always remember that the goal of introduction is to make the reader's curious about what comes next, not give a short summary of your essay in general. Everything you need to write to back up your idea, you can write later, in the body of your essay.
3. Write a thesis
A thesis is usually placed near the end of an introduction. It should be your idea formulated in a sentence or two - and while it might seem like something that's easy to come up with, you can actually struggle with this a lot.
That's because a thesis has to be very well-formulated. If you find it hard to come up with one, consider looking for some additional tips on essay writing.
4. Wrap it up
Some think it's okay to end an introduction right after you write your thesis. However, in some cases, it could look very abrupt if you end it like that.
If you think that ending your introduction with a thesis won't look good, try adding another sentence or two to wrap it up more smoothly, leading the reader towards the next part of an essay.
This is a basic introduction-writing scheme that works for most of the essays and similar papers. However, for some academic papers, the process could be a bit different, so it's important to cover that as well.
How to write an introduction to a research paper
You cannot write an introduction for a research paper in the same way you write one for an essay. While some tips indeed work for both cases, the others simply don't apply. A research paper is a complex and very scientific task, so, for example, appealing to the reader's emotions won't work.
So here's what you should focus on when it comes to writing a research paper introduction.
1. Make your opening sentence look solid
While your opening sentence still needs to hook the reader, it also needs to look interesting and serious. One of the best ways to start a research paper introduction is by asking a question related to the topic of your paper or by mentioning some fact you've discovered during your research.
2. Work on the thesis as well
This part is no different: every introduction for an academic paper needs to have a proper thesis statement.
3. Describe the main points of your research
Just like we've said above, a research paper is much more complex than an essay, so it's good to give the reader an idea of what to expect. That's why before you start wrapping your introduction up, focus on describing the main points of your research.
However, don't go into too many details here. You have to be brief, simply listing the main idea or ideas of your research. And then you can move on to the wrapping up part.
How to write an introduction speech or an introduction letter
Sometimes it's not only the papers you need to write introductions for - its the letters and the speeches as well. The guidelines for their writing are very similar.
For example, when you're writing a speech, you need to start with mentioning the name of the speaker (be it you or someone else you're writing this for) and their title (in case they have one). If you're doing this for someone else, make sure that their name is written properly.
Then you can mention some biographic facts related to the topic of the speech. Mentioning some personal facts is okay too, as long as they can surprise the audience even a bit.
And if you want to learn how to write an introduction letter, here's what you should pay attention to:
- you should always start with addressing the person you're writing to (if it's possible);
- then you need to introduce yourself: mention your name, your position, and anything else that you find relevant;
- tell how you were able to contact the person and why you're writing them;
- say what do you hope to accomplish with the help of this letter and how you're planning to do this: for example if you're writing to schedule a meeting, offer some time period when it can be done, etc;
- include other information the recipient might need: your contact data, your goals, and so on;
- thank the recipient for reading your letter and considering your proposal.
As you see, there are plenty of ways of how to write an introduction. Though they differ for various papers, it's still possible to master them and to start crafting proper introduction quick enough.
Knowing how to write an introduction is yet another part of the process of writing a research paper.
In the introduction, you are attempting to inform the reader about the rationale behind the work, and to justify why your work is essential in the field.
The introduction does not have a strict word limit, unlike the abstract, but it should be as concise as possible. It can be a tricky part of the paper to write, so many scientists and researchers prefer to write it last, to make sure they haven’t missed anything important.
For a longer research paper, where you use an outline, it can be useful to structure your introduction around the outline. Here are a few outline examples.
The introduction gives an overall review of the paper, but does address a few slightly different issues from the abstract.
It works on the principle of introducing the topic of the paper and setting it in a broader context, gradually narrowing the topic down to a research problem, thesis and hypothesis. A good introduction explains how you mean to solve the research problem, and creates ‘leads’ to make the reader want to delve further into your work.
You should assume that your paper is aimed at someone with a good working knowledge of your particular field.
For example, a paper about evolutionary adaptations need not go into too much detail about Darwin – it’s assumed your reader already has this knowledge..
A behavioral science paper only needs to mention Pavlov and Skinner in passing, as their theories are standard for any first year undergraduate..
Like in any good Hollywood movie, the first task of the introduction is to set the scene. This gives your paper a context and allows readers to see how it fits in with previous research in the field.
This section, comprising the first paragraphs of your introduction, can be based around a historical narrative, chronologically outlining the very first research in the field to the current day.
In many fields, this could make up an entire essay in itself, so be careful to stick to only relevant information..
The background then leads into the rationale behind the research, revealing whether it is building upon previous research, looking at something that everybody else has overlooked, or improving upon a previous research project that delivered unclear results.
This section can then flow into how you are going to fill the gap, laying out your objectives and methodology. You are trying to predict what impact your research will have and the consequences of rejecting or accepting the null hypothesis.
The introduction is the place to highlight any weaknesses in the experiment from the start.
For example, an ideal experiment should have perfectly randomized samples, but there are many good reasons why this is not always possible. As long as you warn the reader about this, so that they are aware of the shortcomings, then they can easily judge the validity of the research for themselves.
This is much better than making them wait until you point the weaknesses out in the discussion.
You should also highlight any assumptions that you make about conditions during the research. You should set out your basic principles before embarking upon the experiment: any research will be built around some assumptions.
For example, if you were performing educational research, you may assume that all students at the same school are from a very similar socio-economic background, with randomization smoothing out any variables. By alerting the reader to the fact that these assumptions have been made, you are giving them the opportunity to interpret and assess the results themselves. After all, a weakness in your paper might later inspire another research question, so be very clear about your assumptions early on..
There are a few tips that can help you write a strong introduction, arouse interest and encourage the reader to read the rest of your work.
Keep it Short
A long and rambling introduction will soon put people off and lose you marks. Stick closely to your outline for the paper, and structure your introduction in a similar way.
Define the Problem
The entire introduction should logically end at the research question and thesis statement or hypothesis. The reader, by the end of the introduction, should know exactly what you are trying to achieve with the paper. In addition, your conclusion and discussion will refer back to the introduction, and this is easier if you have a clearly defined problem.
As you write the paper, you may find that it goes in a slightly different direction than planned. In this case, go with the flow, but make sure that you adjust the introduction accordingly. Some people work entirely from an outline and then write the introduction as the last part of the process. This is fine if it works for you.
Once your introduction is complete, you can now think about tackling the rest of the paper..
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