The introduction to a research paper can be the most challenging part of the paper to write. The length of the introduction will vary depending on the type of research paper you are writing. An introduction should announce your topic, provide context and a rationale for your work, before stating your research questions and hypothesis. Well-written introductions set the tone for the paper, catch the reader’s interest, and communicate the thesis statement.
- Announce your research topic. You can start your introduction with a few sentences which announce the topic of your paper and give an indication of the kind of research questions you will be asking. This is a good way to introduce your readers to your topic and pique their interest. The first few sentences should act as an indication of a broader problem which you will then focus in on more closely in the rest of your introduction, leading to your specific research questions.
- Define any key terms or concepts. It may be necessary for you to clarify any key terms or concepts early on in your introduction. You need to express yourself clearly throughout your paper so if you leave an unfamiliar term or concept unexplained, you risk your readers not having a clear understanding of your argument.
Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin pulling back into more general information that restates the main points of your argument. Conclusions may also call for action or overview future possible research. The following outline may help you conclude your paper:
In a general way,
- Restate your topic and why it is important,
- Restate your thesis/claim,
- Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,
- Call for action or overview future research possibilities.
Remember that once you accomplish these tasks, unless otherwise directed by your instructor, you are finished. Done. Complete. Don’t try to bring in new points or end with a whiz bang(!) conclusion or try to solve world hunger in the final sentence of your conclusion. Simplicity is best for a clear, convincing message.
The preacher’s maxim is one of the most effective formulas to follow for argument papers:
- Tell what you’re going to tell them (introduction).
- Tell them (body).
- Tell them what you told them (conclusion).
(From Purdue OWL)