3 Elements You Should Include in the Introduction of a Research Paper
The introduction to a research paper is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an introduction to what your audience is about to read about. Every sentence should transition fluidly in succession from the general to the specific, guiding the reader to a specific argument you will be making on a topic.
This being said, it’s still one of the most difficult parts of a research paper to write. We’ve scoured resources and found both great and terrible introductions. And we found that the best research paper introductions each have the following three elements in common:
- Contain a general introduction to the topic.
- Is interesting to read and hooks the reader.
- Includes a well-written and clear thesis.
Start your research paper with a few sentences that introduce the topic to your reader. You don’t have to get too detailed at this point; you should save details for the body of your paper. You do, however, want to work your way towards a more precise thesis statement as you go.
For instance, let’s say your research paper is on passenger airplane safety standards in the 21st century. Your first couple of sentence may talk about introduce the subject with a generalization of airplane safety standards. Your next few sentences could bring up some questions or concerns that are of interest to the public and your audience. Finally, you should take a clear position in your thesis at the end of the paragraph.
Make the introduction interesting enough to hook the reader and compel him or her to continue. Don’t start the paper with the obvious, “In this essay, I will” or “This essay is about” – both are weak introductions that should never lead a research paper. Start strong. If you’ve come across an interesting quote or a fact about the topic you are introducing, start with that.
Don’t underestimate the potential of a great anecdote that can be tied to the topic you will be presenting. If you’re going to lead your research paper with an anecdote, you should look for moments in your personal experience that is short and is an example of the larger point of your essay. While anecdotes are effective leads, they can also confuse your audience if the connection isn’t clear.
We list this first because a thesis will guide the rest of your research paper and is, therefore, the most important piece. Your thesis statement should be as clear and specific as possible. You should write the thesis so that it guides your arguments through your first draft, but also be open to refine your thesis as your arguments develop more precisely.
Your thesis is no exception to the rest of your writing: it should be as clear as possible. You want to ensure your reader understands exactly what you mean. Your thesis statement should be limited to you can accomplish in the assignment’s word limit.
A well-crafted research paper introduction will reflect well-crafted ideas. For the reader, it will signal a writer who has intelligence and commitment to the topic. Keeping these elements in mind as you craft your introduction should help your research paper stay focused and on topic.