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5 Tips for Crafting a Perfect Paper IntroductionOne of the biggest advantages to a paper of any kind, but especially a research paper, is its introduction. It’s what drives a reader to continue to engage the material presented within the piece and can have long-lasting effects on how someone views both the material and its author. For college students, the introduction of a paper is often the trickiest part of the whole writing process. Because it’s the first thing that anyone reads of a paper, crafting a strong and concise introduction is paramount to success. So how do you craft a noteworthy introduction? It’s simple enough that it can be boiled down into five steps, which are outlined for you below. By keeping these things in mind, you'll master one very important aspect of writing a research paper.
1. Incite Curiosity and Engage the ReaderA primary purpose of the introduction is to draw a reader in and keep them engaged in the paper. Whether it’s a personal statement, a thesis, or a research paper, all introductions are meant to capture a reader’s curiosity about the subject of the paper while giving them an overview of the paper’s main ideas. A curious and engaged reader is more likely to follow along with the paper if the introduction is short and concise. Depending on the subject or type of paper you’re writing about, this can easily be done within a few paragraphs, but no more than two pages. How you decide to incite curiosity and engage your reader is really up to you; however, it’s important to keep in mind not only the purpose of your paper but also the audience that you are addressing. Don’t promise things in the introduction that you won’t follow through on, and stay on message as much as possible.
2. State the ThesisYour thesis serves two purposes: it showcases the main argument of the paper and also your own judgment of that argument. The thesis is also the most important parts of your introduction. No paper is complete without the thesis being introduced at the beginning. Because your thesis statement is the central and overall idea of the paper, it’s best to wait until you’ve done your research and have crafted your paper around that idea before writing the introduction. This is to ensure that your paper accurately reflects your thesis and avoids confusion for your readers.
3. Give Readers a RoadmapMany introductions are a few pages long, and there’s a good reason for that. Papers that have complex ideas or deal with research will need to provide enough evidence in summary form that backs up the thesis. The best place to do that is the introduction. This is sometimes called a roadmap, which means that you are providing your reader with a pathway through the paper before you get started. Giving your reader a roadmap helps them understand what they can expect from the paper, what concepts you’re discussing, and why it supports your thesis.
4. Write Your Introduction LastThis may not be for everyone, but it can be useful. By writing your introduction last, you’ll have time to look over the body of your paper and decide what’s important to place at the beginning of your paper. Think about your introduction as a pre-summary of the paper. You’ll want to include your thesis, the major points you make throughout the piece, and your own intention. No introduction is complete without these things. It’s also a great way to think about your thesis. Some students find that their original thesis may not be the thesis they end up writing about. By leaving the introduction to be written at the end, you’re going to ensure that the thesis found in the body of the paper is also found in the introduction. You then avoid having a confusing paper by having competing theses.
5. Make It SimpleOne of the hardest parts of writing a paper, be it a term or research project, is keeping it simple enough that people can follow along. By engaging a few core ideas and translating them into easy to understand concepts, you’re guaranteeing that your readers will be able to follow along with the material. This ensures that your intentions and your thesis will be memorable. A simple introduction doesn’t mean it’s one paragraph; not all papers will be able to get away with such a short introduction. What it does mean is that your thesis and arguments for the thesis are understandable. This will lead the reader into the rest of the paper without feeling like they’re drowning in complex concepts from the outset. One way of looking at is this:
- If you were to try to explain the core of your paper to a third-grade student, how would you go about explaining it?
- Would you use large words and input research into the introduction? Or would you use short sentences that outline a concept in broad terms that a child could understand?
- Or would you use short sentences that outline a concept in broad terms that a child could understand?
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