The introduction of a research paper comes after the title and the abstract sections. The majority of the audience would like to read the introduction; therefore, begin your research paper strongly as a researcher. The introduction provides an opportunity for the researcher to highlight why the research topic is worth investing time to read to reviewers and readers.
In the overall structure of a research paper, an introduction is essential because it serves several functions: It provides background to the study; it introduces the topic and the objectives and provides an overview of the research paper. A great introduction provides a strong foundation and inspires readers to read the other sections of the research paper, like methodology, findings, and discussion.
This article presents guidelines on how to write an effective introduction for a research paper. These guidelines apply to full research papers and papers reporting novel research results.
- Begin broadly, then narrow it down
The first paragraph of your introduction should explain your research’s broad area then narrow down to specific objectives. It is useful in positioning the research topic in the entire field of your study.
- Enumerate the research aims and significance
Your introduction should state the significance and aims of your research project; otherwise, readers and reviewers will reject it. It means you enumerate what you intend to achieve and why readers should find your results interesting.
- Provide citation but do not overdo
Your introduction should seek concurrence with recent and appropriate literature related to your study. Offer your readers a complete and precise review of related literature.
- Do not over cite a single point.
For each point, provide citations if necessary, but do not offer many citations to just one point. In case you feel that all the citations are essential and essential, then cite them with specificity.
- State your research question or hypothesis
Research in the field of empirical sciences can become effective if the researcher states its hypothesis. However, research in the fields of formal sciences is better off with research questions.
- Provide an overview of your research paper
Dedicate the last paragraph of your introduction to provide an overview of each section of your research paper. It means that you offer your audience an organizational overview of your paper.
- Keep it short
Avoid the temptation of writing long introductions; rather, it should be short and to the point. Journal guidelines offer the approximate size of the introduction. In general, introductions should be between 500 to 1000 words.
- Project your paper rather than telling
The introduction should strive to explain the importance of the research topic. The problem with most research paper introduction is the narration of the objectives rather than showing its importance.
- Do not overwhelm readers with many details
For papers in the field that summarizes the main research results before explaining methodology, then do not describe many details in your results. It is because results need the support of other sections for readers to understand.
- Consult journal requirements
Nearly all the journal has specific requirements for writing publishable papers and particularly for the introduction section. Such requirements might include the range of words, specific needs for content like a summary of key findings, or a hypothesis statement.
When you start writing a paper, the introduction section must be the first one you plan. It is because of the introduction act as an outline of the entire paper. From the introduction, you state the background, aims, and research questions/hypotheses.