The introduction is a guide that carries the attention of the reader from a general subject area to a specific topic of inquiry. It affirms the subject, context and importance of the research being conducted by giving a summary of the background and understanding of the story. The introduction also goes on to state the objective of the study in the form of the research aided by a set of questions or hypothesis stating briefly the research methodological approach used to examine the problem. The introduction will also outline the potential outcomes the study can reveal and summarize the remaining organization and structure of the paper.
Importance of Writing the Introduction
The introduction is like a mental road map that must provide the reader with these four questions:
- What was I studying?
- What is the significance of the research?
- What discovery was made before my study?
- In what way will my research advance the earlier discovery?
When writing the introduction, you must ensure that you summarize any prior study or research about the topic in a way that lays a groundwork for understanding the research problem (How to write an abstract). Another thing you might do is note the empirical, the broader theoretical, as well as the implications and lastly, the significance of your study.
A good introduction is crucial when writing your research paper because it is your chance to impress your reader, giving that you might not get another opportunity to make a good impression. The opening paragraphs of your research paper should provide the reader with their first impression about the logic of your argument (What is a strong argument?); your style of writing, and the overall quality of your research. Ultimately, your introduction should also provide the validity of your findings, as well as your conclusions.
If your introduction is disorganized, vague or filled with errors, it will leave a negative impression on the reader. However, a well written, concise, and engaging introduction will give the reader an insight into your writing style (Secrets to writing like a pro), your method, and your analytical skills.
Structure and Writing Style
Structure and Approach
Look at the structure of the introduction like it is am an inverted triangle of information which provides the groundwork or blueprint for understanding the research problem (How to come up with a research question). To achieve this, it must be written in a way that presents the more comprehensive aspects of the topic early in the introduction. Afterwards, you will narrow your analysis to more detailed topical information that provides context before you finally arrive at your research problem. Also, the significance of the research – often framed as a hypothesis or series of key questions to be addressed- should be noted. Whenever possible in your introduction, remember to describe the potential outcomes your study can reveal.
Delimitations of the Study
This refers to those factors that limit the scope and define the conceptual boundaries of your research. This is determined by the deliberate inclusion and exclusion decisions you make about how to investigate the research problem. What these simply means is that you should not only tell your reader what you are studying but also explain why you are using a particular approach to your research, rather than using an alternative approach.
The Narrative Flow
Below are some of the issues to keep in mind to help the narrative flow in your introduction:
- Your introduction should state clearly the subject area of interest. What you can do to achieve this is by using keywords from your title in the first sentences when writing the introduction.
- Give a summary of what is known about your specific research problem before your analysis.
- Ensure the hypothesis of your research is clearly stated.
- Explain why you chose this specific research study or design. This will naturally follow your statement of purpose in the final paragraph of the introduction.
Engage the Reader
When writing a research study in the social sciences, especially when you’re writing about an unfamiliar topic, it can come across as dry and uninteresting (Writing about something you know nothing about). Therefore, you will need to capture your reader’s attention from your introduction to make them want to read your paper (The art of attracting your reader). Here are a few ways to achieve that;
- Begin with a compelling story: No matter how obscure or esoteric your research study is, almost all research problem in the social sciences is really about the lives of people. By telling a story about an issue, you can catch the attention of the reader.
- Pose a thought-provoking question. You can use a provocative question at the beginning of your introduction that will compel the reader to consider an alternative perspective that helps inaugurate the significance of your study.
- You can also include an unexpected electrode or a strong quotation to grab your reader’s attention.
By now, you should have a clear understanding of how to introduce your research paper. Remember that your introduction is a mental road map that will guide your reader to the core subject of your research. It should provide enough answers to the reader about where they are going and how you intend to carry them there (Also learn about preparing an outline).