Writing the introduction of a research paper can prove to be difficult if you do not follow a systematic way of doing it. The truth is, it is easy to compose one as long as you follow a guide.
Presumably, you need information on how to write the introduction when you are preparing your research proposal. But there are researchers who prefer to write the introduction after they have finished the research activity.
The five tips below apply to the former situation, that is, for those who intend to come up with their research proposal.
1. Have a focus topic.
Writing a research paper requires a focus topic. State the specific issue that you would want to focus your research on.
For example, if you are interested on the extent of damage caused by marshland conversion into housing subdivisions, then your focus topic will revolve around this environmental concern. You can narrow this down further by looking into the value of ecological services lost due to marshland conversion into housing subdivisions.
Your focus topic should be reflected in the title of your research paper.
2. Prepare an outline.
An outline serves as the framework of your introduction. You can start by just randomly writing words or phrases of ideas that you intend to expound on and then arrange them logically.
For example, the introduction based on the focus topic above may be outlined thus:
- ecological functions of marshlands
- goods and services derived by man from marshlands
- synthesis of literature on the value of marshlands
- rate of conversion of marshlands for the past decade
- impact of the conversion to wildlife living in the marshlands
Visualize a capital letter ‘V’ in your arrangement of the topics. This means that you write your introduction from a general to specific point of view or deductive perspective.
3. Point out the gaps in knowledge.
What has been done so far about your research paper’s concern? Did somebody attempt to study a similar concern before? If there are studies done ahead of you, explain why your study is different, unique and important.
Reserve the details of the review of literature section in the main body of your research paper. Your discussion in the introduction will just highlight the critical issues that need to be elucidated.
For example, you may write:
Although previous studies noted the adverse effects of wetland conversion into housing subdivisions, no attempt was made to impute monetary value to loss of ecological services. Hence, it is difficult to quantify the costs and benefits of wetland conversion to accommodate human needs for housing.
4. Write the objective/s of your research paper.
This is a critical part of your introduction. What do you really want to achieve in your research paper after having extensively reviewed relevant literature?
Based on the focus topic identified earlier, you might want to have the following as your objectives:
- The objective of this research paper is to determine the monetary value of ecological services lost due to the conversion of marshlands into housing subdivisions.
- This study attempts to identify the specific wildlife affected by housing development.
5. Explain how you will resolve the problem.
Since there is a gap in knowledge, what are the specific things you will do to bridge or fill in the gap? This part of your introduction will tell the reader how you intend to resolve the problem or meet the objectives. At the end of the study what are the expected outcomes?
Try to write as concisely as possible without leaving out important details. A two or three page introduction will be sufficient to explain the contents of your research paper. But the length, of course, entirely depends on the issue or concern you are investigating. Make your writing tight.
Essentially, the introduction is a summary or overview of the whole research paper. It provides information on what to expect when the paper is read in full.