Improving Your Skills: How to Write an Introduction Paragraph for Your Research Paper
Your introduction paragraph to your research paper is an important way to make a first impression. Your reader will get a glimpse of your argument, your writing style and overall quality of work. It will also provide a road map for the rest of your paper. Without this element your readers may not want to continue reading your paper. For these reasons, it’s important that you pay particular attention to this paragraph and learn a few tricks to make sure you write a great one.
- Start by thinking of some questions you are trying to answer. Your entire research paper will be a response to one or more questions you presented, and your introduction is the first step towards that end. It’s a good idea to use your question as a jumping off point for the rest of your paper. You will likely refer back to your assignment extensively as you complete your paper. Your reader will have a clue as to how you plan on answering and have a guide for the rest of your paper.
- Determine how broad or general you want your opening to be. You don’t have too much room in your introduction to talk about too broad a subject. Your introduction is a much more effective paragraph when you zoom in your view and focus only on the topic of your paper. Anecdotes and quotes are great but they should be related to the argument you plan to make in the rest of your research paper. Remember that your reader should have no trouble understanding the relationship between your introduction and your research.
- Try writing your introduction after you’ve written your body paragraphs. There are no rules that state you have to write your introduction first. In fact, a very good technique is to write your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your paper. If you aren’t sure of what direction your paper will take when you first start writing then you should wait to discover your main argument. The writing process can be a very important and effective way to organize your ideas, refine your thoughts, and work through complicated issues. Sometimes the easiest way to get through your introduction is by knowing all of your evidence first.
- Be straightforward and confident when writing your first few sentences. Get started right by making sure your first sentences provide information that is useful in understanding the rest of your paper. Avoid starters like “In this paper I will” or “This research shows that”; neither is especially interesting. It’s more effective to say what you mean in a clear and declarative sentence. Push your assignment confidently. After all, you can’t assume that your reader will believe your statement if you show any doubt.