Tips for Writing an Effective Research Paper Introduction
The introduction is the section that comes after the title and abstract. It provides background information, states your research problem, and gives a general summary of your paper. Here are tips that will help you write an introduction that will convince your readers to continue reading:
- Start by giving a general overview, then narrow down to specific details
The opening paragraph should briefly describe your research area before going into your specific focus. Doing so helps make your work available to a more widespread audience, not just the experts in your field of study.
- Notify your readers of the aims of your research and its significance
Tell your readers what you want to achieve and why they should read on to discover whether you succeed. For instance, “My goal is to A, which is crucial because it will result in B.”
- Cite thoroughly, not excessively
After you have identified your specific study topic, thoroughly examine the most current and relevant literature about your study. Your review of the literature should be thorough but not too long. Consider citing review articles instead of various individual articles already previously reviewed.
- Avoid giving multiple citations for a single point
If you have too many references worth mentioning, you should discuss them with more specificity. For instance, ” the study found there’s a significant association between A and B in men [3-6], women [7-10], and children [11-14].” Rather than, “Many studies have found a significant association between A and B [3-14].”
- State your research question or hypothesis clearly
To help your readers go through your paper smoothly, you can frame your research using either:
- A hypothesis: fitting for a study in an empirical science. For example, “This study assesses the hypothesis that A and B are linked, and I will test this hypothesis using method X.”
- Research question: more suitable for exploratory research or formal sciences. For example, “This study examines this research question: Is A related to B?” or “This study investigates whether A and B are related.”
- Give an overview of your research paper
Here’s a sample of an introduction structure:
- Introductory paragraph
- Literature review, which is usually composed of a few paragraphs
- Research targets, which tends to be a single paragraph
- Paper overview, which is optional and usually one paragraph
- Keep it short
Avoid writing an unnecessarily long introduction. Aim for at least 500 words and no more than 1000 words. However, read the guidelines and past papers for crystal clear guidance.
- Show importance, don’t state
Among the goals of the introduction is to explain the importance of studying your research topic. For example, do not say, “The introduction of new materials in the automotive industry is important.” Tell the reader why by, for instance, adding, “because it allows for the production of vehicles that are stronger and lighter hence improve safety and fuel economy.”
- Don’t drown your readers in facts
Depending on which field your writing on, you should refrain from stating the main results in your introduction. However, medicine is an exception as you’re encouraged to preview your main findings in your paper’s introduction.
- Check the journal guidelines
Journal guidelines will usually include requirements for the introduction. These may include a minimum or maximum number of words or a requirement for specific content such as a hypothesis.
When drafting your research paper, the introduction should be among the first sections you plan. It sets the scene for the rest of the paper hence why many authors first complete the other components (e.g., methods, results, and discussion) before composing the introduction.