How to Write an Effective Introduction for a College Research Paper

Before you write your introduction, it's important to extensively research the topic.

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. Odds are, your paper is going to be one of many that your audience reads, so an enticing introductory paragraph can help set you apart.

How to Craft an Opening Sentence

Just as with any other type of writing, it is vital to start a research paper with an interesting sentence. Some things to keep in mind when creating your opening sentence or paragraph are:

  1. Do not write a densely worded or dull sentence
  2. Use a concept or compelling point from your research as a part of your opening sentence
  3. You can ask a question that provokes the reader to think about your topic

Keep It Short

Brevity is 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. Tips for crafting a thesis statement are:

  1. Present your theory or argument about the research paper topic in a concise manner
  2. Create a statement that can be supported by evidence that you will present in the paper
  3. 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."

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