“A bad beginning makes a bad ending”- Euripides, Greek dramatist.
Imagine you have been invited to a grand palace for a royal feast. Your excitement knows no bounds, but soon it turns into disappointment: the gates of the palace look shabby and dingy. With every step now, you are regretting your decision and want to run away.
Reading a research paper is like taking a journey through the author’s mind palace and the introduction is its gates. The title and abstract of your article have formed a strong prelude, capturing the reader’s attention. But now, to convert their reading session into a citation, a strong and stimulating introduction is crucial to keep your readers hooked. The responsibility of guiding them through your mind’s palace is on the shoulders of the introduction. It should “introduce” all the appropriate parts (methods, results, discussion, and conclusion) of the paper without leaving the reader exhausted or overwhelmed.
Purpose of introduction
It’s all about answering the three questions:
What, Why, and So what?
The beginning of the introduction should tell the reader what the paper is about, to set the right context. A brief explanation about the broad research topic and any prior research that has been conducted is a good way to begin. Since a research paper does not have a separate literature review section, this is where you fill gaps in the knowledge of the readers and mention any relevant literature. Then, move to the focus area and narrow it down to the research question.
The next part should give the rationale for your research. Simply explain why you chose this topic, used a particular methodology, and why is your study needed? Answering these questions will help the reader understand the significance of the study and be curious about how you found the answers to the research question.
The last part should describe the conclusion of the study, explain the importance of the results, and present the broader real-life implications of the study. Giving real-life applications increase the value of any research paper.
The 4-step approach to writing the introduction
The introduction, roughly spread over three to four paragraphs, makes up about 10% of the paper. To write an engaging introduction to your study, follow these steps:
1. Give background information and context