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A research paper introduction should shine

Many students overlook the importance of the introduction to their research paper. After all, much of the challenge is incorporating their research into the paper in a comprehensible way, and that takes place in the body of the paper. However, the introduction is the very first part of the paper which the audience encounters. If it falls flat, it can create a negative attitude in the reader, and the remainder of the paper may be judged harshly.

Common Mistakes

There are several mistakes commonly made by students when writing their research paper introductions. The first is length—many shortchange their introduction, making it too brief and bland. The second is writing their introduction prior to writing the body of their paper and failing to go back and revise it.

Research Paper Introduction Length

Because the introduction doesn’t contain what many students feel is critical information to the body of the paper, they tend to be overly brief in composing it. However, it’s important to take into account the fact that the introduction is also the audiences’ chance to become acquainted with your thesis statement. While you’ve become overly familiar with your thesis, it’s important to write your introduction with a fresh tone and perspective for the sake of your audience.

Writing the Introduction After Writing the Paper

It may seem counterintuitive to write the first part of the paper after writing the rest of it, but there is solid logic for following this strategy. The introduction of the paper serves two purposes:

  • Sharing the thesis with the audience.
  • Highlighting and summarizing the support for the thesis.

As you write the body of the paper, you are very likely to refine your original ideas and adjust your outline as you incorporate new sources. These adjustments are natural, and desirable, but if you’ve pre-written the introduction, it doesn’t reflect them. There are two methods one can use. The first is to write the introduction in advance, and simply revise it afterwards, and the second is to write the body of the paper first and then write the introduction. The second method is often preferable, because starting the introduction fresh after recently completing the bulk of the paper usually leads to a better result.

Things to include in the introduction:

  • The paper’s thesis
  • An explanation of the thesis and your rationale for choosing it
  • Highlights of supporting points
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