How to Write a Research Introduction
The introduction to a research paper can be the most challenging part of the paper to write. The length of the introduction will vary depending on the type of research paper you are writing. An introduction should announce your topic, provide context and a rationale for your work, before stating your research questions and hypothesis. Well-written introductions set the tone for the paper, catch the reader's interest, and communicate the hypothesis or thesis statement.
Introducing the Topic of the Paper
Announce your research topic.You can start your introduction with a few sentences which announce the topic of your paper and give an indication of the kind of research questions you will be asking. This is a good way to introduce your readers to your topic and pique their interest.The first few sentences should act as an indication of a broader problem which you will then focus in on more closely in the rest of your introduction, leading to your specific research questions.
- In scientific papers this is sometimes known as an "inverted triangle", where you start with the broadest material at the start, before zooming in on the specifics.
- The sentence "Throughout the 20th century, our views of life on other planets have drastically changed" introduces a topic, but does so in broad terms.
- It provides the reader with an indication of the content of the essay and encourages them to read on.
Consider referring to key words.When you write a research paper for publication you will be required to submit it along with a series of key words which give a quick indication of the areas of research you are addressing.You may also have certain key words in your title which you want to establish and emphasise in your introduction.
- For example, if you were writing a paper about the behaviour of mice when exposed to a particular substance, you would include the word "mice", and the scientific name of the relevant compound in the first sentences.
- If you were writing a history paper about the impact of the First World War on gender relations in Britain, you should mention those key words in your first few lines.
Define any key terms or concepts.It may be necessary for you to clarify any key terms or concepts early on in your introduction. You need to express yourself clearly throughout your paper so if you leave an unfamiliar term or concept unexplained you risk your readers not having a clear understanding of your argument.
- This is especially important if you are attempting to develop a new conceptualization that uses language and terminology your readers may be unfamiliar with.
Introduce the topic through an anecdote or quotation.If you are writing a humanities or social science essay you can find more literary ways to begin your introduction and announce the topic of your paper. It is common for humanities essays in particular to begin with an illustrative anecdote or quotation that points to the topic of the research. This is a variation of the "inverted triangle" technique and can generate interest in your paper in a more imaginative way and demonstrate an engaging writing style.
- If you use an anecdote ensure that is short and highly relevant for your research. It has to function in the same way as an alternative opening, namely to announce the topic of your research paper to your reader.
- For example, if you were writing a sociology paper about re-offending rates among young offenders, you could include a brief story of one person whose story reflects and introduces your topic.
- This kind of approach is generally not appropriate for the introduction to a natural or physical sciences research paper where the writing conventions are different.
Establishing the Context for Your Paper
Include a brief literature review.Depending on the overall length of your paper, it will be necessary to include a review of the existing literature already published in the field. This is an important element of your paper which demonstrates that you have a strong knowledge and understanding of the debates and scholarship in your area. You should aim to indicate that you have a broad knowledge, but that you are engaging in the specific debates most relevant to your own research.
- It is important to be concise in the introduction, so provide an overview on recent developments in the primary research rather than a lengthy discussion.
- You can follow the "inverted triangle" principle to focus in from the broader themes to those to which you are making a direct contribution with your paper.
- A strong literature review presents important background information to your own research and indicates the importance of the field.
Use the literature to focus in on your contribution.A concise but comprehensive literature review can be a very effective way to frame your own research paper. As you develop your introduction, you can move from the literature to focus in on your own work and its position relevant to the broader scholarship.
- By making clear reference to existing work you can demonstrate explicitly the specific contribution you are making to move the field forward.
- You can identify a gap in the existing scholarship and explain how you are addressing it and moving understanding forward.
Elaborate on the rationale of your paper.Once you have framed your work within a broader context you can elaborate more fully on the rationale of your research and its particular strengths and importance. The rationale should clearly and concisely indicate the value of your paper and its contribution to the field.Try to go beyond saying that you are filling a gap in the scholarship and emphasise the positive contribution of your work.
- For example, if you are writing a scientific paper you could stress the merits of the experimental approach or models you have used.
- Stress what is novel in your research and the significance of your new approach, but don't give too much detail in the introduction.
- A stated rationale could be something like: "the study evaluates the previously unknown anti-inflammatory effects of a topical compound in order to evaluate its potential clinical uses".
Specifying Your Research Questions and Hypothesis
State your research questions.Once you have indicated where your research sits in the field and the general rationale for your paper, you can specify the research questions the paper addresses. The literature review and rationale frames your research and introduces your research question. This question should be developed fluently from the earlier parts of the introduction and shouldn't come as a surprise to the reader.
- The research question or questions generally come towards the end of the introduction, and should be concise and closely focused.
- The research question might recall some of the key words established in the first few sentences and the title of your paper.
- An example of a research question could be "what were the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the Mexican export economy?"
- This could be honed further to be specific by referring to a particular element of the Free Trade Agreement and the impact on a particular industry in Mexico, such as clothing manufacture.
- A good research question should shape a problem into a testable hypothesis.
Indicate your hypothesis.After you have specified your research questions you need to give a clear and concise articulation of your hypothesis, or your thesis statement. This is a statement which indicates your essay will make a specific contribution and have a clear result rather than just covering a broader topic.You should make it clear briefly how you came to this hypothesis in a way which references your discussion of the existing literature.
- If possible try to avoid using the word "hypothesis" and rather make this implicit in your writing.This can make your writing appear less formulaic.
- In a scientific paper, giving a clear one-sentence overview of your results and their relation to your hypothesis makes the information clear and accessible.
- An example of a hypothesis could be "mice deprived of food for the duration of the study were expected to become more lethargic than those fed normally".
Outline the structure of your paper.In some cases the final part of an introduction to a research paper will be a few lines that provide an overview of the structure of the body of the paper.This could simply give an outline of how you have organised the paper and how it is broken down into sections.
- This is not always necessary and you should pay attention to the writing conventions in your discipline.
- In a natural sciences paper, for example, there is a fairly rigid structure which you will be following.
- A humanities or social science paper will most likely present more opportunities to deviate in how you structure your paper.
Research Introduction Help
QuestionHow many words should it have?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's no official word count for an introduction but brevity is the soul of clarity. Do a sentence to get the reader interested in your topic and a sentence to state your thesis. You also want to include a few sentences briefly outlining the important points in the paper and some background information, if necessary. Write at least five to eight clear, concise sentences. Get to the point and don't make it too wordy.Thanks!
QuestionI want to write an introduction on my research; the topic is carbohydrates. How can I do this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCarbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients in our diet (fat and protein being the others). They exist in many forms and are mainly found in starchy foods such as bread, pasta, and rice, as well as in some beverages, e.g. fruit juices and sugar-sweetened drinks. Carbohydrates represent the most important source of energy for the body, and are vital for a varied and balanced diet.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I introduce myself in public?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart with "I am so and so, here to present this" and not "My name is so and so." The "I am" signifies that confidence.Thanks!
QuestionHow would I write a research introduction about addiction to online gaming?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerExplain how online gaming has become a daily activity for many people and how it becomes addictive. Outline the basic points of the research you plan to present in the rest of your paper without getting into specifics.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a research introduction on the high school drop out rate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart with a statistic and work from there. The best thing you can start with is a catchy piece of information or phrase.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a research introduction on computer buses and performance?kyasa kayumbaCommunity AnswerYou can say something like: "Computers brought about ease in human performance. Regardless of that the computer performance can be hindered by various ways. According to this research l discovered the following.."Thanks!
QuestionI am writing about restorative justice, plea of temporary insanity for murder and what we can do as psychologists. Can you give me a clue for introduction?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGive an overview of the current state, heavily cited, and why it leads you to believe a closer look is warranted. Use the intro to provide justification for the rest of the paper being written.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a research introduction about basketball?Piper RidgeCommunity AnswerBasketball is too broad of a topic. What specifically do you want to talk about? Do you want to talk about what it is like to work as a player? The dangers of the sport? How the sport has changed from when it was first invented? Once you have a clear question/ topic, then you can begin to write your paper and find research on specific things.Thanks!
QuestionHow I would write my introduction about smoking?Piper RidgeCommunity AnswerIs it an argumentative essay or an objective (informative) essay? You can talk about the history of how cigarettes came to be, why they are sold in stores, health issues, what they are made of, etc.Thanks!
QuestionHow to make quantitative research?Earl Nicomedes Lyle Cainglet IICommunity Answer1.state the research problem: Often stated as a question, the problem should be focused narrowly on the problem being studied. For example: "What is the optimal time for taking actual temperature with a digital thermometer?" 2. Define the purpose of the study: The purpose explains "why" the problem is important and what use the ﬁndingswill be. 3. Review related literature: The literature review provides information about what is already known, provides information about concepts, and how the concepts have been measured. It also identiﬁes gaps in knowledge that will be studied.Thanks!
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To introduce your research paper, use the first 1-2 sentences to describe your general topic, such as “women in World War I.” Include and define keywords, such as “gender relations,” to show your reader where you’re going. Mention previous research into the topic with a phrase like, “Others have studied…”, then transition into what your contribution will be and why it’s necessary. Finally, state the questions that your paper will address and propose your “answer” to them as your thesis statement.
- Use your research papers' outline to help you decide what information to include when writing an introduction.
- Consider drafting your introduction after you have already completed the rest of your research paper. Writing introductions last can help ensure that you don't leave out any major points.
- Avoid emotional or sensational introductions; these can create distrust in the reader.
- Generally avoid using personal pronouns in your introduction, such as "I," "me," "we," "us," "my," "mine," or "our."
- Don't overwhelm the reader with an over-abundance of information. Keep the introduction as concise as possible by saving specific details for the body of your paper.
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