How to Write the Perfect Research Paper Introduction

Imagine you are setting up a story. Imagine you are writing a story about your research and you are setting people up for it. Obviously, you are not doing this literally, so you do not need to write about how the rain fell like pebbles of glass, but put yourself in the mindset of introducing a story and you may find it easier to write the perfect research paper introduction.

Being too clinical is not a good idea

There is a misconception that your research paper is some sort of serious document that is supposed to read like it was written by an academic robot–but that is not the case. The point of your research paper is to get the information across to your reader.

Getting the information across in your research paper isn’t simply a case of noting it down like a robot, otherwise we would just write research papers as one long list of pertinent details. You cannot be too casual in the way you get your message across, but that doesn’t mean you need to jump to the other extreme and be too clinical about it.

Examples of using the “story writing” mindset

Here are the first three sentences of a research paper introduction that is too clinical, then too casual, and then just right. They do not show the full introduction, just the first three lines. Remember that the third example is set up with the mindset of telling a story.

Too clinical example
This paper discusses the data we took from the patients. The data is arranged by pertinence, and it includes anomalous findings. Work was carried out over seven days, and all standard procedures were observed.

Too casual example
We took lots of readings from patients and made sure we did it scientifically correct. Any of the anomalies were recorded. It took us seven days of hard graft but we did it right.

Just right example
Our team has just spent seven days taking data from patients, and this report shows our findings. In the report, you will find all of our findings, plus all our anomalous results, and each entry has been arranged by how relevant we think they are. Every member followed correct procedure to be sure of fair results.

Do you see how the third one feels more like it is something a coworker may say to you over lunch? That is true of the casual example too, but it goes too far as it uses colloquial language and vague terms such as “Scientifically correct.”

Your introduction should be cognizant of the research paper’s aim

As a rule, your research paper should provide insight, answer questions, bind the questions, provide research, provide results, and should not have too much dense text. You should also add in recommendations when needed.

Dense text is a way students sometimes write. They cover a topic and add so much information that it is hard to tell what is truly important and what is of marginal consequence.

If you write your introduction knowing all the aims of your research, then it becomes far easier to get your introduction right. In essence, your introduction should be promising all the factors that were just mentioned. You are promising to give insights, answers, etc.

What is your original hypothesis?

Before you get bogged down in the introduction and thesis, you should consider your original hypothesis. How will it affect your research paper and how will it affect its introduction? Knowing this will help write your introduction, especially if you avoid contradictions.

If you think your research may produce a certain result, then you must have a base hypothesis to lead you to that thought. You may create your research paper thesis based on that thought. You must make sure your introduction doesn’t create a contradiction later.

Your thesis may be “I will discover why water is blue,” with the hypothesis that it has a very light blue tinge to it. Therefore, it would be a contradiction if you were to say in your introduction, “though water is clear, I will research into why it looks blue.” The statement itself is okay, but if your hypothesis is that there is a blue tinge to water, then your introduction has set up a contradiction, and since your hypothesis may appear in your essay later, you are actually setting up a contradiction in your essay.

Consider writing it last

Simply write a mock introduction at first and then do your research based on the ideas and principles you have in your head or that relate to your topic. Once you have finished your research paper you can go back to your introduction and write one that fits perfectly with the rest of your paper. You can even add a few storytelling hints into the introduction because you know how what is in the conclusion. You could write something such as, “We suspect water looks blue because long wavelength light is absorbed by it.” Then your thesis can be a question such, which would be “Why does water appear to be blue?”