The introduction for a research paper doesn’t just set the stage for your reader, it also provides you with an opportunity to introduce yourself as well as your topic.
Following the tips below will help you create a compelling and informative introduction that pulls your reader in and informs them of what they’re about to read (and whether they should or shouldn’t continue reading).
1) Use the introduction to Grab your readers’ attention
The introduction for a research paper needs to grab the reader’s attention and give them an idea of what the paper is about. Here are three tips to help you write an attention-grabbing introduction
- Give readers background information on your topic: What do they already know? How will this paper differ from others they have read? What kind of questions will it answer? What perspectives does it bring to bear? Why should we care? Who cares about these things, anyway? If you can answer these questions convincingly, then the rest of your work will be a breeze!
- State the purpose of your study in a sentence or two: State explicitly how you set out to investigate something, how that investigation was done, and what conclusions were drawn.
- Highlight some points that may surprise people: There is always more than one way to look at any issue, and if there’s anything that really sets your work apart, this would be a good place to say so! As with all introductions, try to end with a bang rather than with a whimper.
- End by giving readers something to chew on (for example, summarizing the major point(s) of your discussion), or by raising an intriguing question (e.g., Is it possible that…). A question mark is not necessary here but can serve as a useful tool for grabbing attention.
- Try starting sentences with What if… to make people think. For example, What if I told you that… grabs attention because it asks readers to consider a new possibility. It also provides an opportunity to explain why such a thought might be worth exploring.
2) Keep the introduction to your research paper short and simple
The introduction for your research paper should be short and simple, giving the reader an overview of what to expect without getting bogged down in too much detail. Start with a general statement about your topic, then narrow it down to your thesis statement.
Be sure to answer why this is important or interesting. Consider writing two versions of the intro: one that is concise, and one that offers more depth. Read each aloud to see which one you like better.
3) Explain your topic
Before you can write a clear and concise introduction, you need to know what your paper is going to be about. Narrow your focus and choose a specific angle to approach your topic.
Once you have a better understanding of what you’ll be writing about, you can start crafting your introduction. The best introductions also tell the reader why they should care about your research.
One way to do this is by explaining how your research will add to the conversation on a particular subject matter or idea.
Another strategy might be discussing the importance of your work in relation to other literature that has been published in the field.
Whatever you decide, make sure it’s something that makes people want to read more.
What are you interested in? Why are you doing this research? What are the limitations of previous scholarship? How does your project contribute to scholarly discourse? These questions might help guide your writing.
If your intro still feels too vague, try outlining each point as a separate paragraph with 3-5 sentences each.
When you go back and reread these paragraphs, see if there are any points that overlap or seem redundant. If so, cut them out!
And don’t forget to mention whether this study was conducted qualitatively or quantitatively; the introduction is a great place to discuss methodology!