How to Build an Introduction for a Research Paper

A good research paper needs a good, strong beginning to it.  While your entire paper may be just as important, it is often the introduction that makes your grade.  It is where you must pull your readers in and get them interested in what you are studying.  If a professor is reading your essay and your introduction is sloppy or poorly written, he may not want to continue reading because the rest of the paper will be just as bad.  So here are some helpful tips for building an introduction that is informative, appealing, and explanatory. 

Be prepared

It is always good get information from reliable sources.  More than likely you will be required to include some scholarly sources for your paper.  These type of sources come from academic journals and articles, many of which you can access online for free.  Having an outline to follow is always a good tool to have and can be a big help in organizing your work. 

First impressions count

Just as if you were meeting a person for the first time, making a good impression on your readers with those first lines is an important step.  Your first few sentences should state your primary objective while catching the attention of your audience. 

A pattern of order

Keep in mind that a standard research paper introduction follows a pyramid pattern.  You start with the basic subject you are studying or the question you are trying to answer.  The sentences or paragraphs that follow should describe your methods of research and what supporting information you will be using.  The last part of your introduction is your hypothesis.  This is where you explain your point of view and give the reader your predictions on the subject matter being studied. 

Topic importance

Your introduction is the tool you create to explain the importance of your research topic.  What is the significance of your research topic? What are your reasons for researching it? What methods and sources will you be providing to support main idea? What is your hypothesis concerning the subject matter? These are some of the questions you are seeking to answer with an introduction. 

The lead in

Your introduction should also include specific general information regarding your topic.  This includes the historical context regarding your research subject, as well as an abstract of the sources and evidence you will be presenting.  Your introduction prepares your reader for the rest of your essay.

Stay on topic

Keep your sentences brief if you can.  You don’t want to bore your readers with an introduction so long that they don’t want to read anymore.  This is where you outline comes in handy.  It helps to ensure that your introduction sticks to the main idea of your paper and identifies key factors. 


As you build your introduction, don’t panic if your work isn’t beginning exactly as you planned.  Sometimes after you organize all your information, your sources lead in you in a different direction.  Just relax, remember to stay on track, don’t ramble, be sure to include and explain key methods and points about your subject, and you should do just fine.


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