Writing a research paper is a challenge for many high school and college students. One of the biggest hang-ups many students have is getting started. Finding a topic and doing the research may be half the battle, but putting words to paper or starting an introduction often proves to be an intimidating task. If done correctly, an introduction is a simple and effective way to write the entire paper quickly.
Conduct Thorough Research
Conduct your research thoroughly. One problem students run into when starting a research paper introduction is failing to properly research the topic. Research doesn't involve just gathering sources. It also involves reading and mentally digesting the source material. Some students have difficultly with the introduction because they don't understand the topic.
Map Out Key Ideas
Create a map or outline of your paper. You must understand the direction your paper is going before you can properly write the introduction. By creating an outline, you highlight the important elements that your paper will explore, which makes writing the introduction easier than if you just dive right into it without a sense of direction or purpose. By definition, an introduction introduces the paper topic. Your intent should be to summarize the extent of your research in one or two paragraphs, without necessarily giving away the ending.
Experiment with Opening Paragraphs
Write multiple rough drafts of your opening paragraph. You should complete each one independently of the others and of your paper outline. You shouldn't ignore your paper outline; instead, attempt to write the introduction without directly relying on the outline. This allows your creative juices to flow and provides new insights about developing the paper's body and conclusion. If you can't write the introduction without looking at source material, you don't grasp your research.
Select and Fine Tune Your Opening Paragraph
Choose the best version of your introduction and revise it. You should write a final version of your introduction before moving on to the research paper's body. Your introduction should summarize your paper, indicate its importance for future research and describe your research's extent or sources. A complete introduction will use a literature review that summarizes existing background knowledge to set the stage for the research being conducted, which should then be followed by establishing the scope, context and importance of the research. The introduction for an average research paper is typically several paragraphs in length since it needs to cover a lot of information to properly introduce the topic.
Ask someone to proofread and critique the introduction. Preferably, you should ask the teacher or professor who assigned the paper to read the introduction, making sure it conforms to the assignment's requirements. If it's written correctly, your instructor can ascertain most of the paper's content without reading the entire document. Your instructor can also provide direction for the rest of your paper.