Beginning and concluding a research paper often seem like the hardest part of the whole process. While slogging through all the research should be more difficult, giving your audience a sense of your topic and your goal in the paper can often be more challenging. It’s clichéd, but true—you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s what your research paper introduction is—a first impression. It is also the hook that will keep your reader interested in what you have to say in the remainder of your work. Make the most of your opening with these writing tips for a research paper introduction.
Types of papers
A contributor to Brilliant-essay.com posted in the June 27, 2013 entry “How To Write an Effective Research Paper Outline” that “The introduction should include the thesis statement or the main objective of writing the research paper, as well as some very brief and important basic information to give the readers the basic idea what the academic paper is going to be about.”
Need more clarification? According to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), there are two main types of research papers: argumentative and analytical. In their “Genre and the Research Paper” post, OWL contributors Jack Raymond Baker and Allen Brizee explained that one “goal of the argumentative research paper is persuasion.” The stance you choose to defend is known as your thesis statement: a sentence that states your topic and point of view. An analytical paper “is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation” and begins with the writer asking a question.
Still not sure which type of paper you are writing? Take heart. According to OWL, most thesis statements don’t really take shape until writing is underway. There is nothing wrong with starting your paper without a predetermined viewpoint. Be open to see where your research, and thinking, take you.
No matter which paper type you are writing, your thesis should adhere to these ideas:
- It matches the requirements of the assignment
- It’s clear and easily recognizable
- It is supported by good reasoning/data
Tips for argumentative papers
When you are crafting your thesis for an argumentative research paper, you are trying to prove your idea is correct. Do this by asking yourself these questions:
- Is your thesis debatable or controversial?
- Is it persuasive?
- Does your thesis offer reasoning, balanced emotional appeal and credibility?
- Have you supported your thesis with good information?
Tips for analytical papers
The thesis for an analytical research paper is often more fluid than that of an argumentative paper. This is because you aren’t trying to prove your ideas are right, while someone else’s are wrong; rather, you are offering a new look at your topic.
Here are some tips to begin crafting your analytical research paper’s thesis statement:
- What open-ended question do you want to explore?
- What are the component parts of your topic?
- Have you broken those parts down and examined the relationships between the parts?
- Are you establishing a clear position?
Not first, but last
Remember how we mentioned that your research paper introduction may not even take shape until you begin writing? The Writing Center at UNC actually advised students in its “Introductions” handout to try writing your paper’s introduction last. According to the handout, “The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument.”
In fact, if you do actually have an introduction established when you start writing your paper, don’t think you’re done with it. Definitely revisit your thesis statement after you have finished your research paper to ensure that your introduction matches up to the evidence and conclusion you have.
How have you mastered writing research paper introductions? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.