Research paper introduction is a crucial component of any research project. This relatively small part that takes up to 10% of your entire project gives a reader the first impression of you and your paper. It can either save or doom your grade. Do not assume that saying something remotely related to your topic is okay for your research paper introduction. Instead, check these effective solutions to get your research papers started.
Research paper introduction: your goals
The introduction for a research paper is like the trailer for a movie. It grabs readers’ attention, presents the topic, lists the research questions, but never gives the answers to them. The introduction should not be confused with the abstract, which includes both questions and answers. In general, your main goals in writing the introduction for a research paper are:
- grab readers’ attention and show why they should continue reading your paper;
- provide broader context for your study;
- briefly outline what and how you are going to investigate;
- formulate your goals and the questions you are going to address.
Research paper introduction: main components
As you now understand the main goals of research paper introductions, you may still wonder how to start a research paper. Here are the main components that will allow you to write a winning introduction for a research paper:
- Background and broader context for your research problem (do not go too far with it). In this section of your research paper introduction, you might want to use keywords from the title of your paper.
- A brief literature review, focusing on the explanation of the current understanding of the issue offered by other scholars (with citations). Do not include too many sources (3-5 should be enough).
- Significance of the study (why this problem is topical and important).
- A brief discussion of your research design and methods and why you chose them.
- Research questions or hypotheses. A research question takes the form of an interrogative sentence and ends up with a question mark. A hypothesis takes the form of a declarative sentence and ends up with a period. You may include either research questions or hypotheses in your introduction. Both variants are correct.
- A thesis statement briefly and concisely explaining what readers can expect from your project.
Research paper introduction: structure
There is no precise word count limit for research paper introductions. However, you should attempt to make them brief and not exceed 10% of the entire project. The common structure for research paper introductions is an inverted pyramid. The opening sentence would be the broadest part that includes general information. The following sentences would be narrower, providing more specific information, and a thesis statement is the top of the inverted pyramid – its narrowest part, and the most focused sentence in the entire introduction.
Research paper introduction: style
The main recommendations for the style of your research paper introductions are:
- use active voice and first person plural (we) unless something different is required by your instructor;
- do not overuse “we”;
- use the past tense to discuss your investigation and methods, because readers will read your research paper introduction only when the rest of your project is already completed (however, use the future tense for your thesis statement and the present tense for factual information);
- use domain-specific language.
Research paper introduction: constructions to use
These are some valuable phrases you might want to use for particular parts of your research paper introductions:
- The purpose of this study was to…
- We investigated four main mechanisms of…
- This paper will examine…(Future tense for a thesis statement)
- The focus of this paper will be on…
This was all you needed to know for writing winning introductions for research papers. Now you know how to start a research paper and can successfully achieve this goal.