How to write a research paper introduction in simple steps

author By Mary Boies

When writing an essay, the introduction is usually only a paragraph long. It is also often relatively straightforward. The key component is, of course, the thesis statement. However, things are not this simple when writing a research paper introduction. This is because a research paper's introduction is typically a few paragraphs long, and there are several components that need to be included.

In this article, we will share all the information you need to know about the research paper introduction. Then, when you are done reading his article, you will learn how to write an excellent research paper introduction and get the maximum points for it.

Suppose you need any help writing a research paper intro or an entire research paper even after reading this article. In that case, you should order your custom research paper from our website. Then, our tutors are ready to craft a research paper introduction or complete a research paper to show you how things are done.

Let's begin.

What is a Research Paper Introduction?

A research paper introduction is the first paragraph of a research paper comprising of the overview of the topic, background information based on previous research, rationale, methodology, thesis statement, and research paper map or outline.

It comes immediately after the abstract and states the intent of your study, its characteristics, the significance of the results, and a brief overview of the structure of the research paper.

When you write a research paper, you will need to introduce it and everything about it in detail. This is important to give your reader all the information they need to understand your research paper and assess or evaluate the information therein.

Based on the information above, it is easy to conclude that the introduction of the research paper is a vital part. Therefore, every research paper must have it. Considering the introduction's importance, taking your time to write it carefully is crucial.

Probably the most essential part of the introduction of the rationale. It is the reason why the researcher chose the topic and the significance of the topic. This is essential information for the reader to quickly decide if the rest of the research paper is worth their time. Other vital parts of the introduction include the hypothesis, the methodology, the thesis statement, and the outline.

You must always keep your reader interested when writing a research paper introduction. This is because if your reader loses interest in the introduction, it is unlikely that they will take a keen interest in the rest of your research paper.

Purpose of an introduction in a research paper

An introduction is a critical part of a research paper. It may not seem like it because it is just the initial part of the research paper. However, it is pretty crucial. It is crucial because it tells your readers if your research paper is worth it.

The title of your research paper will not be enough for any serious reader to decide if your paper is good enough or not. Because of this, most readers usually go to the introduction to understand the topic's background, what informed the research, how the research was done, and all other relevant information.

A research paper that does not have a complete introduction is usually challenging to understand. It also makes the reader disinterested in the rest of the essay. So make sure that your research paper introduction has all the key elements for a research paper introduction

Six essential parts of a research paper introduction

While each research paper introduction is unique, every research paper must include at least six parts. Discover the six essential parts of a research paper introduction in the section below:

1. Overview

This is the opening for the introduction. In other words, it is the introduction to the introduction and the paper in general. The overview usually includes information about the topic, the research, and other key information. This is where your hook goes, and it should capture your readers' attention.

2. Previous research

This is one of the most important parts of the introduction. Discussing or reviewing papers and conclusions on the same topic is important. It is important to include the works of both new and old authors. The prior research will show that you have researched the topic and that you are aware of the different conclusions.

3. Rationale

Another name for the rationale is justification. Basically, the rationale part of the introduction is where the topic is justified. In other words, it is where the writer explains why the topic needs to be researched right now. Some writers link their rationale to current issues. It is not necessary to do this, but it will make your introduction very fun and engaging.

4. Methodology

Here, describe how you conducted your research and measured the results. In addition, clarify why and how you made important choices. The research methods can be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

5. Thesis statement

The introduction should conclude with a thesis statement. This particular statement summarizes the main ideas discussed in your paper. A good thesis statement is clear and straightforward.

6. An outline

Most introductions include an outline. An outline is simply a road map that guides the reader to the end of the paper. It briefly reviews what you intend in the research paper. Like signposting in the introduction of an essay, you will be signposting in your research paper introduction by letting your readers know what to expect.

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Structure of a research paper introduction

The introduction of a research paper contains a few elements that provide a brief insight into what the paper is all about. When writing your introduction, begin by stating your topic. Then, state the topic and include some relevant background information related to the topic. Be careful not to provide too many details at the beginning, but ensure that you clearly clarify your viewpoint.

After providing some background and context on your topic, inform your reader about the research you intend to conduct. State your rationale. The rationale is, in fact, the most critical part of a research paper's introduction. Once you have clearly outlined the topic, it is time to discuss its relevance. The rationale serves as an essential indicator of the significance of your research and presents your outlook on the issue. Note that the rationale should be short and precise.

Conclude your introduction by stating your thesis. Your thesis statement indicates the conclusion of the introduction of the research paper. It allows for a transition to fundamental research. This one statement supports everything that you have mentioned before. It gathers all of your ideas in a succinct and logical sentence. Keep in mind your thesis sets the tone for your entire research paper. Therefore, your thesis should be concise and engaging, provide general information on the topic, and reflect the issue's importance.

You can also include a brief, informative outline of the paper. This is, however, not a must, as not all mentors require the paper's structure overview to be included in the introduction. Nonetheless, the outline is a short paragraph that is made up of three to four sentences, which explain how you intend to proceed with the paper.

Research paper Introduction vs. Abstract

The abstract and introduction are two completely different parts of a research paper. The abstract summarizes the entire research; the objective or aim, methodology, results, and conclusion, respectively. In addition, it states the highlights of the research, with only short background information. On the other hand, the introduction contains a few elements of what is mentioned in the abstract.

Here are some of the main differences between the abstract and the introduction of a research paper;

  1. The abstract includes the study's results, while an introduction never contains the results obtained. At most, depending on the type of research, you can give a sentence to generalize the findings. Otherwise, the results are never mentioned in the introduction.
  2. The abstract states the conclusion of the study. It briefly provides the key takeaway of the research carried out. An introduction rarely provides the reader with the study findings' main takeaway.
  3. The abstract provides a few details on the methodology and research design. The introduction only offers brief information, like "in this study of women with breast cancer" or "here, using rats." Any further details, such as numerical values, are preserved for the methodology part of the paper.
  4. The abstract has a short background section, typically one or two sentences. On the contrary, the introduction unfolds the study's background briefly but more widely. It provides a clear context as to why you are conducting the study and offers a trail of evidence that led to the research being conducted.
  5. The language used in the abstract is more straightforward as it does not go into detail on the different aspects of the research. Therefore, it is vital to avoid abbreviations and jargon as much as possible and ensure you clearly and briefly communicate what is intended. On the other hand, the introduction provided more details on the research topic. In addition, it is okay to use abbreviations in the introduction segment of your research paper.
  6. An abstract does not feature reference citations. An introduction, in contrast, features reference citations.
  7. An abstract usually is 250 words long or shorter. In other cases, the abstract can surpass the 250-word limit but should not exceed 500 words long. The introduction is usually much significantly longer than the abstract.

Five Simple Steps to writing a good research paper introduction

On matters of the perfect timing to write a research paper introduction, you don't need to write it first. You can write the introduction after developing the body paragraphs of your research paper immediately before writing the conclusion.

This approach is plausible because you will have your paper written, meaning that you can present final and clear ideas or arguments covering the changes that occurred. It gives you the deserved peace of mind.

If you struggle with how or where to begin your research paper, you have come to the right place. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to write a good introduction for a research paper.

Step one: State your topic

The first purpose of the introduction is to inform the reader what your topic is and why it is important. A strong opening sentence accomplishes this. Therefore, your opening sentence should communicate the significance of the topic. For example, consider an exciting statistic, fact, question, or a strong opening sentence that will make the reader want to know more about the study.

That said, do not feel your opening sentence has to be overly creative or impressive. Relevance and clarity are still crucial. The vital thing is to properly position your ideas and guide the reader into your study.

Step two: Describe the context and background

This particular segment of the introduction differs depending on your paper's approach. In an empirical paper, for instance, this is the place you should review past studies and establish how your research fits into this space.

If the paper describes original research, you will instead offer a brief overview of past relevant studies. This is somewhat a mini literature review and should be informed by authentic engagement with literature. Your research can be less comprehensive than that of a complete literature review. Still, a clear understanding of relevant research is important to inform your individual work.

Start by mentioning the different studies conducted and conclude with gaps or limitations of the studies that you plan to respond to in your paper.

Step three: Establish the research problem

The third step entails explaining how your study fits in and which problem it deals with. In, for example, an empirical research paper, attempt to lead into the problem based on your literature discussion.

You can think in terms of these three questions.

First, what study gap does your research intend to fill? Second, what limitations in past works does it tackle? And third, what knowledge contribution does it make?

Step four: State the research question(s)

This is where you get into what you plan to express or discover in your paper. A research question refers to your answer in your research paper.

The research question should be directly presented, with minimum or no discussion. The rest of your paper will investigate and discuss the question(s); you need to mention it here.

If your study involved testing hypotheses, they should be mentioned with the research question. Note that hypotheses are normally presented in the past tense as they will already have been tested when you write the paper.

An example of a research question is "What are the impacts of daily Instagram use on body image issues amongst teenage girls?" The hypothesis can be "it was hypothesized that daily use of Instagram would be linked to reduced self-esteem ratings among teenage girls."

Step five: Provide a brief overview or outline of the paper

The last part of the introduction includes a concise outline of the rest of the research paper. Suppose your research paper is typical in the standard scientific introduction, methodology, results, and discussion format. In that case, this particular part is not compulsory. However, if your research paper is organized less predictable, describing the structure is crucial.

The overview should be direct, brief, and presented in the present tense if included in the introduction. For instance, "this paper will first explain a few cases of survey-based study into teenage use of social media and then will proceed to"

Follow the above steps for a clear, straightforward, and well-structured introduction for your research paper.

Final Remarks

Although writing a good research paper introduction can be challenging, following the steps outlined above will be the easiest part of an assignment. We encourage you to write the introduction last after writing the body paragraphs. It is the only way to ensure you incorporate the main ideas and introduce your topic to the readers.

Also Read:

Before you begin following the five steps we have outlined above, ensure that you read the research paper guidelines. It helps you understand your professor's expectations, the formatting and citation styles to use, and the scope of the paper's topic.

You can begin your research paper using a general sentence that broadly introduces the problem that your research paper is focusing on. You should then provide a narrowed-down background of the topic and introduce your thesis. The last part should be your outline, where you signpost the significant points of sections of your research paper.

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