Writing Introductions

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Corrado Alisonno

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Corrado Alisonno

Introductions for academic writing assignments can be a tricky affair. Your main goal for an introduction should be to quickly bring the reader into the academic conversation to which your paper is contributing.

Although there are a number of ways to write an introduction, a good strategy is to use the following format:

Begin with a brief personal or real-world anecdote/story related to your research paper’s topic. The idea here is to grab the reader with something relatable and engaging before you throw a bunch of authors’ names, research, and data at them. Your anecdote will also help show them how your research relates to real-world experiences.

Next, you should mention two or three articles from your research and what those authors say about the research topic. This should come right after your anecdote. Write one or two sentences about each article and what they say about the issue related to your research. These statements should be large statements about the authors’ arguments in their articles. The articles’ abstracts are a good place from which to draw this information.

  • Example: Johnson (1997) argues X. Wilson (2001), meanwhile, states Y.

Third, you need to address the gap in the field that your research is addressing. You’ve just stated what other authors think–now is the time to state where you feel that the field has fallen short in some regard and how your research will address that gap. It might look something like this:

  • Example: Despite the current research in the field, it is still unclear how X

Lastly, you want to close your introduction with your thesis statement. The thesis statement is one clearly-written sentence that states the central argument of your research. The rest of your paper should relate to this central claim and support it.

  • Example: In this paper, I argue X.

Activity

1. Try writing an introduction to your research paper using these four components. Although there is no hard and fast rule for how long it should be, a good rule of thumb for, say, a 10-page research paper, is about a one-page introduction (250-300 words, double spaced).

2. Share-out: Upload a photo of your written introduction in the comments thread below.

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