Are you about to start writing your research paper? Wondering about how to write the perfect research paper as a student? As a student, you need to understand that how you begin your research writings determine how your whole project is perceived. As a student, it is important to make the introduction to your research paper catchy, interesting, and inspiring. It needs to arouse curiosity in the reader to make them want to read more about your topic. Writing the best research paper introduction is an art every student should learn. You can choose to get research paper help from online sources.
After the research title and abstract, the next thing a reader sees in your research paper is the introduction. It is of great importance that you begin this part of your paper strongly. The introduction is the first opportunity for you to prove to your reviewers and readers that your research is worth looking at. This makes the introduction of a research paper one of the most challenging parts to write. You need to take your time to make sure you get it right the first time.
A step by step guide on how to write the best introduction for a research paper.
What is a research paper introduction?
Simply put, the introduction of a research paper is the first part of an essay the reviewer reads after your title and abstract. This is where you list any important information the reader needs to have to be able to understand your paper.
The introduction is meant to set your rationale for the entire paper. The only way to ensure people keep reading is by making your introduction amazing from the first line. How long the introduction is will depend on the type of research paper you are writing.
Why is the introduction important?
To be able to answer this question, you need to think of your research paper as a story that follows a chronological order. It needs to have a point A that leads to a point B for it to lead to a point C, which can be the conclusion. For your research paper, you cannot move to the main part of the story (point B) without going through point A, which is your introduction.
The introduction should include a bit of content about your study. This makes the discussion you elaborate throughout the paper familiar to your reader since you touched a bit on it in your introduction.
For your introduction to make sense, you need to answer two questions:
- Why is your study required in filling the gap in the knowledge that already exists about your topic?
- Why does this gap need filling?
This means that the content you present in your introduction needs to prove that there is a knowledge gap, show where it is, explain the need to fill this gap, and highlight why and how your study will fill the gap.
What should be included in your research paper introduction
Items to include in your introduction include:
- An introduction to your topic
- Research context and background
- Information about the type of research you plan to carry out
- Your rationale
- The reason why the research is important
- Your hypothesis
Other parts that you may include in your introduction include objectives and main goals of your research, an outline of the concept definitions, a brief history of your study, and any recent related discoveries.
Choose a topic
Picking a topic for your research paper is one of the essential parts of writing a research paper. Most of the time, learning institutions only give the theme and leave the topic selection to the discretion of the students. As a student, it is important to evaluate as many ideas as possible. The topic is the gateway to your introduction. It needs to catch the attention of the reader.
To pick your topic:
- Search the web to find trending topics on your research
- Come up with a list of possible topics
- Analyze these ideas and choose the best from the list
When researching the topic, always use sources that are not over five years old and avoid using sources that are not fact-checked. Pick the most original topic from your list to minimize the chances of having someone else pick the same one.
Introduce your paper’s topic
The first part of your introduction should introduce the topic to your audience. You can start with a few lines that announce the topic and indicate the research questions you intend to ask. This is one of the best ways to introduce the readers to your subject while ensuring you pique their interest.
The first few lines in your introduction should be indicators of a bigger problem that you intend to address further into your introduction, which leads to the research questions. This method is referred to as the ‘inverted triangle’ in research. This is where you begin with a broad material of your research and zoom into the specifics as you go.
For instance, a sentence such as ‘the human perspective on life on the planets has drastically changed through the 20th century’ introduces a topic, but from a broader perspective. This will give the reader an idea of what the essay is about, thus encouraging them to continue reading.
Define key terms and concepts
The introduction is the best part to clarify key concepts and terms that may be used in the research paper. It is important to express yourself clearly throughout your research paper. Brining your reader to speed with some of the concepts and terms you will use will make it easier for them to understand your research paper and argument. This step is essential, especially if you are trying to develop a new concept that uses terminologies most readers may not be familiar with.
Establish the context of the research paper
Use a literature review
Depending on how long your research paper will be, it is always necessary to start with a review of an existing piece of literature published in the niche you seek to explore. This part of your paper shows your reader that you have an understanding and in-depth knowledge of the topic and scholarly articles in the field.
Since this is only the introduction, try not to go too deep into details. You can provide an overview of a recent study related to your research. Allow this to lead to how your paper will contribute to the published work. The best literature review should present an important background for your research and show the importance of your work in the field.
Move in from the literature review to your research
A well-written literature review should act as an introduction to your research. When referring to existing work, ensure you explicitly show the contributions your research is making to the field. You can look for a gap in existing work and show the reader how your work will address and fill the gap for a more comprehensive result.
Elaborate on the rationale of your research paper
After framing your work in a broader concept, you now need to fully elaborate on the rationale of your research, its importance, and strengths. The rationale of a research paper should clearly show the value of your research and its contribution to the niche. This is where you go beyond indicating that you are filling a gap and emphasize on the actual contributing your work is making.
For instance, if you are writing a science paper, you can stress the benefits of the experimental approach you used. Clearly state the originality of your work and the significance of this approach, while ensuring you do not give too much away in the introduction. It is meant to arouse curiosity in the reader. There will be plenty of other opportunities in the body of the paper to explain your approach.
An example of a stated rationale can be “this study will evaluate the unknown anti-itching effects of a topical cream in an effort to evaluate its potential in clinical use.”
Specify the research hypothesis and questions
Stating your research questions
After clearly indicating the importance of your research in your field and the rationale of your paper, you need to specify the questions your research addresses.
The questions you seek to address should have been developed from the earlier parts of the introduction and should not be a surprise to your reader.
- Your questions should be stated at the end of your introduction. They need to be concise and focused on your topic.
- The research questions can recall some of the words used in the first few sentences of the introduction and title. An example of a research question can be “what consequences did the Free Trade Agreement have on Mexico’s export economy?”
- You can make this question more relevant by referring to a part of the trade agreement and its impact on a specific industry in Mexico.
- The best research paper question should be able to shape a concern into a hypothesis that can be tested.
Indicating the hypothesis
Once the research questions are specified, you need to clearly articulate your hypothesis or the thesis statement. A thesis statement shows the contribution your research will make and the clear result as opposed to covering a topic in general. It supports the things you have been saying throughout your introduction and collects all your thoughts into a logical statement. The thesis statement is what makes an otherwise difficult topic understandable to your reader.
A good thesis should:
- Give general information about the topic
- Engage the reader while remaining precise
- Reflect on the significance of the issues raised
You need to indicate how you arrived at this hypothesis/thesis statement in a way that references existing researched work in the topic, as you indicated in the literature review.
Outline the structure of your research paper
This is the final part of your research paper introduction. This part can consist of a few lines that give the reader a general overview of your research paper body. This part of the introduction is usually mandatory in study fields where there is a standard method of structuring research papers. Otherwise, it is not always necessary in all fields.
Transitioning the reader
Once all the above steps are completed, what is left is ushering the reader into the next part of the research paper, the body. It is advisable to use a transition phase to explain the next part of the research paper to the reader. The body should begin with the methodology. A good transition phase can explain that the reader is about to see a list of all the apparatus and tools used in the study.
Transition words are the best way to build bridges from one section of the research paper to the next to show relation and continuity.
Writing styles and grammar tips to remember
Apart from knowing how to structure the introduction of a research paper, students also need to be aware of grammar and style requirements that can affect the readability and quality of their finished work.
- Write in an active voice when possible. This shortens the sentences and enhances the impact of the information you are passing across.
- Write clear and concise sentences. This makes it possible for you to include all the details needed in an introduction section without using too many words.
- Use strong verbs whenever possible. This can impact the length and strength of your sentences.
- Always work on the arguments from the broader to the specific.
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When you start planning your research paper, the introduction should be the first part you plan. This is the roadmap to the rest of your paper and determines whether the reader remains interested. With this guide, you are better placed to plan and write an introduction that guarantees to capture the attention of your reader and reviewer.