The research paper introduction lays the foundation for the paper as a whole, and it makes the first impression on your reader.
You need to make sure that this introduction captivates your reader and piques their interest, so they will continue reading until the end of your paper.
Here are the four main strategies that you can use to help with this introduction process.
Parts of an effective research paper introduction
Grab the reader’s attention
The first thing that your introduction should do is grab the reader’s attention.
One way to do this is by posing a question or making a provocative statement that compels them to read more of your work.
Grabbing the reader’s attention is important because they have many other options when it comes to what they’re going to spend their time reading.
It doesn’t hurt to be bold in what you’re saying- but don’t go overboard either! remember the introduction is not the place to present all of your ideas; you want to draw readers into your arguments.
Consider posing a question that gets the reader thinking and eager to see how you answer it.
Or make a controversial statement about your topic to give the reader something to think about before you proceed.
Whatever strategy you decide to use, just be sure that the opening sentence (or two sentences) grabs the reader’s attention and presents some compelling idea or argument worth exploring further.
Set up your topic with background details
The next part of a research paper introduction sets up the reader with some background information about your topic.
You don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information here- instead, just provide enough detail so that the reader has a general understanding of what you’re talking about.
For example, if you’re writing about nursing practices in Japan, then mention briefly the history of nursing practices there and provide a few examples. If you’re writing about the benefits of going vegan, then mention briefly why people might choose veganism (e.g., for health reasons).
Make sure that whatever background information you include here really ties into your thesis: if it doesn’t seem relevant to your topic at all, then leave it out altogether.
Remember, your goal here is to set up the context of your topic so that readers know where you’re coming from.
Readers may already have a little bit of knowledge about the subject, but they still want to know what you’ll say about it and how you’ll add new perspectives or theories.
Introduce your thesis
The third step in the introduction is to introduce your thesis- what you’re going to talk about in the rest of the paper.
Ideally, this would happen within one paragraph of the text.
So for example, if I’m discussing veganism again, I would state my hypothesis like so:
There are many benefits associated with being a vegan. But please note that this isn’t necessarily always true for everyone! Vegans face disadvantages too, such as difficulty meeting nutritional needs. They also face social challenges, such as limited dining choices and feeling left out during events like Thanksgiving dinner. Even though some negatives exist for vegans, there are many positives as well! Vegans live longer than non-vegans, tend to have lower blood pressure levels than non-vegans, and experience less heart disease than meat eaters. Overall, vegans seem to experience better overall health than meat eaters or vegetarians.
This thesis statement is the basis for the paper and helps to show the reader what they’re going to get.
The thesis statement is also a good indicator of your stance on the topic- are you arguing for or against veganism, for instance? Do you want to focus more on the positive aspects of veganism or its negative aspects?
State your position as early as possible so that it’s clear what your research hopes to accomplish.
Give the reader a sense of what they’re going to learn in your research.
This is also a good opportunity to outline your thesis statement and preview the main points you will cover.
Highlight the purpose of your research paper
Finally, in your research paper introduction, highlight what your research is going to accomplish.
Why was it important to you to write about your topic? What insights do you hope to achieve through your research?
Let’s take my example from above-
The purpose of this reserach is to help me understand how vegans live longer than non-vegans. In doing so, I hope to understand how nutrition has an impact on longevity and human health in general. How does vegetarianism or veganism compare to eating meat? Does it affect longevity positively, negatively, or not at all? And what other effects does vegetarianism or veganism have on human health? Is there a difference between men and women when it comes to longevity and vegetarianism/veganism?
Remember that the aim of the introductory paragraph is to give the reader a sense of what you’re going to discuss and why it’s worth looking into.
By highlighting your purpose up front, you allow the reader to determine whether they’ll be interested in reading your research paper.
Additionally, by stating your purpose up front, you can establish some credibility by demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about and that it’s worth listening to.
Parts of a Research Paper Introduction Final Remarks
The introductory paragraph is an important part of any research paper.
It should catch your reader’s attention and give them an idea of what they’ll learn in your research paper.
The four parts discussed above are standard for most research papers.
However, sometimes there may be a different order, or additional parts depending on the type of research you’re writing.
For example, in social science research papers, it’s common to highlight the methods in the introduction before introducing the thesis statement.
When outlining a literature review, you might start by introducing the problem before moving on to discussing previous research done on the subject.
Either way, these elements make up a complete introductory paragraph and help set up your research paper appropriately.