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How to Write an Effective Introduction for a College Research Paper


Many college courses require students to write one or more research papers. Creating an effective and engaging introductory paragraph is one of the keys to writing a successful research essay. The introduction should guide readers into your research, providing just enough information so that they are prepared to move on to the rest of the paper.

Craft a Solid Opening Sentence

Just as with any other type of writing, it is vital to start a research paper with an interesting sentence. A poorly worded or dull first sentence can cast a negative light on everything else in the introductory paragraph. You may be able to use a concept or compelling point from your research as a part of your opening sentence that can act as a hook for the reader, or you could ask a question that provokes the reader to think about your topic and realize its importance.

Keep It Short

Brevity is not just the soul of wit, it is also essential when writing an introduction to a research paper. Lengthy, rambling introductions will quickly lose your readers' interest and give the impression that you have not organized your thoughts. Keep in mind that the goal is not to create a shortened version of your paper. Instead, the introduction should briefly introduce your topic before declaring the particular point you want to make about it.

Create a Focused Thesis Statement

An effective introduction to a research paper needs to have a clear and tightly focused thesis statement. This thesis statement should give your theory or argument about the research paper topic, and it should be a statement that can be supported by the evidence that you are going to present. While thesis statements are sometimes broken into multiple sentences, it is best if you can express your thesis in a single sentence placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.

Include Your Main Points

Immediately before or after your thesis statement -- or even in the same sentence -- include the subtopics or points that you will delve into in the body of your paper. The subtopics should be based on your research and understanding of the topic, and you should choose them to help support the contention you make in your thesis statement. Instead of going into detail about the subtopics in the introductory statement, simply list them briefly. For example, you might write, "Seniors should own dogs because dog ownership reduces blood pressure, encourages people to exercise more and offers opportunities for socialization."

About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.

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