Starting Off Your Paper: How to Write a Good Introduction for a Research Paper

Research papers are among the most important assignments you will take on starting at the college level. Familiarizing yourself with each component of a well-written research paper is must. Knowing how to write an introduction is one of the parts of writing a great paper.

Think of an introduction as an inverted pyramid, where you begin with a wide overview that narrows down to your thesis statement, which is usually the final element of the introduction paragraph. Your introduction informs your reader about the rationale behind each step of your work, justifying why your work is essential in your field.

Here are a few things to know about writing a good introduction for a research paper:

It should give a background. The first task of a good introduction is to provide context for the rest of your paper. There are several ways of giving background – from the purely chronological which outline the first kinds of related research to your work today to the anecdotal backgrounds which provide a way for your readers to understand your intentions in terms of a story they could relate to. Explore different ways to give your readers the relevant information they need to understand your work.

It should show the importance of your work. You need to show your reader why your research was important in the first place. You need to say whether you are building upon other research, or if you are exploring something that was previously overlooked. Explain how your work fills a gap in the discipline and what impact your paper will have if you successfully prove your thesis.

It should list the limitations of your work. An introduction should also be used to show any weaknesses you may have encountered with your research from the start. For instance, a perfect experiment or research project would have perfectly randomized samples or resources, but there are several good reasons why this wasn’t possible in your case. If you let the reader know beforehand, they can be more judicial in their critique of your paper.

It should point out assumptions. You should always set out your basic principles and list any assumptions you are making about the conditions of your research. For example, if you are performing research on your school’s education, you might assume that most students at the school come from similar socio-economic backgrounds with a random selection to help smooth out the variables.

It should have a great thesis. You should have had some idea of your thesis before you went off to start your research, and now that you are drafting your research paper’s introduction it’s time to strengthen this key statement. It should be concise and clear, only touching upon those things which your research can prove and it should definitively take a side on an issue. Your thesis will be on your reader’s mind throughout your paper as they read your evidence, so make sure you write a great one.