Things NOT To Include In The Introductory Paragraph Of A Research Paper

Writing an introductory paragraph is a lot like deciding what to wear for a job interview. First impressions are everything, and professionalism is not only appreciated, but required. The introduction is the author’s chance to state up front what they are attempting to prove with their research, and should highlight the main areas that the paper will focus on. It should make a strong statement, and should summarize the main ideas the author is covering without giving away all the goods. You wouldn’t wear a mini-skirt to an interview, give the potential boss a high five for a greeting, and say “What’s up man?” The introduction is your one shot to make a solid impression, to be an expert (even if you feel like you’re faking it), and to make clear and concise statements about the topics you will be discussing in your paper.

The introduction should also leave readers with a little nugget statement that helps them understand why this topic is applicable and relevant. This is not to be confused with personal commentary. There is NO room for irrelevant/tangent personal opinions in an academic paper. However, a statement of relevancy is necessary for bringing purpose to the research, and will help the reader know up front why your research paper is pertinent for them to read.

Things NOT to Include in the Intro

(Because they will instantly ruin your credibility in the academic world)

  • Your life story. Remember this is research; NOT your life story. Your reader doesn’t care what you think, they care what you know. Stay away from statements such as

    “I think...”

    “In my experience...”

  • Personal pronouns such as: I, me, you, mine, my.
  • Statements that cannot be backed up with facts later on in your paper.
  • An apology. Remember, you are the expert! After all, you have done your research. Never leave your reader wondering whether or not you know what you’re talking about.
  • Cheese: Avoid statements that tell the reader what you are about to say in a cheesy way. Stay away from statements like,

    “In this paper I will...”

    “The goal of my research is to...”

Often it is helpful to draft the thesis statement first, write the body paragraphs of support second, and then go back and do the introductory paragraph last. The reason many authors utilize this practice is it helps guide the statements that are there to gain interest in the topic and support the thesis. The thesis statement summarizes the elements discussed in your paper, so avoid feeling pressure to complete the introductory paragraph first. Often, as you develop your body paragraphs, the direction of your paper may change some, or you may make new discoveries about the topic that you will want to include in that first impression of the introduction. Following these few and simple guidelines will put you well on your way to completing a solid academic research paper.


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