The introduction is meant to provide context and tell the reader what you’re going to be talking about, so it must be engaging from the get-go. In this article, we’ll explore a step-by-step guide for writing research paper introductions.
Research papers are typically assigned in high school or college. Still, they can also be an assignment at work if your company requires certain levels of knowledge on a particular subject before doing any work. A research paper starts with an introduction paragraph that gives background information on the research problem and tells the reader what they will read in the remainder of the document while reflecting on the research paper topic.
Parts of an Introduction of a Research Paper
The introduction of your paper should include the following:
Begin with a sentence that describes the problem or topic, give context about why it is an important area of research and then end with a thesis statement. The background paragraph should be between three to five sentences long.
Purpose of the research
Give the reader an idea of what you plan to investigate and why it is important. The purpose of the research could be to investigate how a phenomenon occurs or why something happens, but it could also simply be to prove that something is true or false.
A thesis statement tells the reader what you will be discussing in your research paper. It should follow closely to your purpose. This will not be demonstrated until later paragraphs, but it tells the reader what to expect in your paper. The thesis statement should appear at the end of your introduction.
Methods used for this research
Briefly state what methods you intend to use and why they are appropriate. The reader needs to have a sense of where the research is coming from.
Theoretical framework or literature review
Some papers do not require a theoretical framework while others are built around one. If you are reviewing previous research, state so here and list both its contributions and limitations. What questions remain unanswered? The Literature Review should also consist of three to five sentences.
Significance of the research
The importance of the research should be apparent to the reader at this point. This is also where you can indicate possible uses for your findings or how it fits into existing research.
Limitations of your study
Limitations could include the possibility that your data is not conclusive, or that your results cannot be generalized to a larger population than the sample tested in this experiment. Keep it relevant and succinct because if this section becomes too long the reader might lose interest.
How to Write a Research Paper Introduction – Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Start with a hook
The purpose of the hook is to get your reader’s attention. There are different approaches you can take when it comes to a hook. One approach is asking the reader an intriguing question, such as, “Can robots dream when they are turned off?” It would be difficult for anyone not to want to read about this question more in-depth and put your paper on hold until they do so.
Other hooks can be statistics that most people may not know, a quote by someone famous, or even a statistic. If you have some exciting data on the subject of your paper and can do an effective job explaining why this is important to the reader, then you may hook them into reading more in-depth about your topic.
Step 2: Give context
After you catch your reader’s attention with a hook or an interesting question, you must continue by providing enough context for the information in your paper to make sense.
For example, if your paper was on how a robot may dream, you might start with:
“Research suggests that robots can create images in their minds when they are turned off. In this state, when the robot’s sensors evaluate whether or not it is receiving input from its environment, the data received by these sensors is what the robot creates in its mind. This can be compared to how when we sleep, our brains create images and memories based on the input that we receive from our senses.”
Step 3: Provide a thesis statement
After you hook the reader in with context, it is important to tell them what will happen or what your paper will be talking about in the remainder of the paper. This is a thesis statement.
Thesis statements are the main argument or point that your research paper will be about. Students often make the following mistakes while defining their thesis statements:
– Making the main argument too broad. For example, in the paper about robots and dreaming when turned off (electric sleep), a thesis statement such as “robots have dreams” would be very vague and difficult to work with because it is not specific.
– Making a weak claim or statement that an opposing point of view can easily refute.
– Making the argument too narrow or too specific. Let us take, for example, the following thesis statement “robots often have dreams during the electrical sleep because their sensors are not receiving input while turned off, and this is similar to creating images when we sleep.” This statement would be difficult to work with because it’s very specific and nuanced.
To determine the best thesis statement, it is necessary to consider what is going on in the world in terms of research and news. For example, robotics has been a popular topic lately, so writing about robots may not be as hard as five or ten years ago because there will be more awareness about the subject.
Step 4: Tie everything together/Concluding
After you have hooked the reader into your research paper, provided them with context and a thesis statement, supported your argument in the body paragraphs, it is important to tie everything together in conclusion.
For example, after discussing that robots can potentially dream in their off time when they’re not receiving input from their environment, you might conclude with:
“So how does this relate to humans? When we sleep at night and our eyes are closed, our brains create images in our minds that reflect what our senses pick up. Some people believe that dreams can predict the future, which sounds like a phenomenon similar to robots dreaming. Although, since humans are constantly receiving sensory input from their environment throughout the day, it will be difficult for dreams to predict the future, this is something that we can look forward to learning more about as technology advances.”
Examples of an Introduction to a Research Paper
“Many factors affect the resiliency of a person. One factor that is often overlooked, but an important predictor of resiliency and personal growth after trauma, is optimism. Previous literature has found that those with high levels of optimism recover faster and better from traumatic events. While it is accepted that survivors of trauma who are more optimistic recover faster and better than those who are not, the question remains: How does optimism influence resilience? And how can we train people to become more optimistic so they will be resilient after a traumatic event?
We have conducted a study about the relationship between optimism, resilience, and posttraumatic growth. While this is a relatively new research area in psychology, we hope to contribute to the current knowledge of how optimism influences resiliency after trauma. Our focus has been on using group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to increase optimism in survivors of traumatic events through teaching them to reframe their thoughts.”
Introduction example 2
“According to the National Association of School Psychologists, “Educators from pre-K through college spend a great deal of time and effort helping students cope with stress” (NASP, 2017). In an attempt to reduce academic anxiety among students, teachers have been utilizing mindfulness training as a form of coping. However, there is a lack of quantitative research that validates these strategies as effective means to reduce stress among students. Therefore, our study examined the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction versus cognitive restructuring on anxiety in college students with high academic achievement.
We hypothesized that both interventions would significantly reduce participants’ anxiety levels; however, the magnitude would be larger for students in the mindfulness-based stress reduction condition. Our findings did not support our hypothesis; both interventions were successful at reducing anxiety levels of participants, but there was no significant difference based on intervention type.”
Introduction example 3
“Cancer is a complex disease and has been the focus of much research in the past decade. Previous findings have shown that people diagnosed with cancer go through many psychological changes, such as shock, fear, anxiety, anger and depression. The literature suggests that cancer patients show higher levels of resilience than other patient groups. However, this research often focuses on patients with breast cancer and the long-term effects of chemotherapy.
There is a lack of literature investigating the type or level of support provided to children diagnosed with cancer and how they cope with the stress and anxiety associated with their disease. Therefore, we have conducted a study that investigates the resilience and coping strategies used by children diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, we wanted to know if there were any differences between boys and girls and the types of support they receive from family or friends during their cancer treatment.
Even though our studies are small, they are important in informing researchers and health professionals about the resilience of children diagnosed with cancer. By providing information on how resilient these patients are, we can better inform family members or friends how to help these kids cope during their treatment.”
Mistakes to Avoid while Crafting a Research Paper Introduction:
1. Do not use pronouns- In general, avoid using any pronoun (such as I/me/my) in the first sentence of your introduction. This is because you want to keep the focus on your paper topic and not yourself. You can refer back to yourself later once you have provided context for the reader about what you’re writing about.
2. Don’t introduce yourself- While you wouldn’t want to use pronouns in the first sentence, there is no need to give a complete introduction about yourself (such as saying where you’re from) in your introduction, either. The reader can learn more about you later when you discuss the topic at hand.
3. Avoid using quotes- It is best to avoid using quotes within your introduction because quotes tend to be distracting for the reader. If you choose to use a quote, make sure that it directly relates to your paper’s thesis statement and further supports what you’re trying to say.
4. Stay away from rambling- The beginning of your paper should be short and engaging, i.e., just a few sentences. Start with a basic statement that summarizes your entire paper’s thesis statement and catches the reader’s attention. You can go into more detail later on, but your introduction should be able to stand on its own without the need for any further explanation
5. Avoid being vague- After providing context and giving a brief overview of your topic, it is important to be specific with your thesis statement so that the reader knows exactly what you will be discussing. A vague thesis will only result in a confusing introduction and won’t help hook the reader into reading further.
6. Don’t use difficult words- If you want to impress your teacher or professor, try not to use any difficult words in your intro. This can result in the reader not understanding what you’re saying and then quickly leaving (which defeats the purpose of writing a good introductory paragraph).
These are all examples of good research paper introduction paragraphs because they’re engaging and helpful to the reader. If your intro doesn’t do either of those things, then you’ll probably want to re-evaluate what you’ve written and maybe look for some new material to work with. The key to good research paper writing is getting the reader interested in what you have to say, and a great way of doing that is by using engaging introductory sentences