The writing style developed by the American Psychological Association, or APA, and used in the social sciences puts an emphasis on being concise and clear. APA style discourages overly poetic language and metaphor and is intended to give professional colleagues a common format within which to communicate ideas and findings. Writing an engaging introduction and an elegant conclusion are important parts of the process.
Format Your Introduction
The introduction is the first paragraph of the main body of your paper. If your instructor requires you to write an abstract, your paper will begin on the page after the abstract; otherwise, begin on the page following the title page. Use a serif typeface, such as Times New Roman, and set your word processing program to double space the lines. Center your title on the page; don't use boldface type or underlining with the title. On the next line, indent an inch using the tab key and begin your introduction paragraph.
Begin Your Introduction
A good introduction makes an intriguing assertion that your paper will then address. Introduce your topic briefly. For example, you could write, "Psychologists have recently discovered hitherto unforeseen effects of classical music on the brain of a child under three. Less attention has been paid to the direct connections to language development." Give a quick summary of relevant background: "Smith (1978) studied toddlers raised backstage at rock concerts and concluded that their language development was accelerated six months beyond that of his control group. Jones (1997) studied toddlers in households where music was not allowed and found that their language development was significantly delayed. This suggests a positive correlation between exposure to music and early language learning."
Your Thesis Statement
In the last sentence of your introduction, state your thesis: "This paper compares the work of Smith and Jones in an attempt to isolate the connection between music and language development in the early years and suggest questions in need of further study." Your thesis encapsulates your entire paper into a single sentence; the ideas you summarize in the earlier part of your introduction should flow logically to this statement of the purpose of your work.
The conclusion of an APA paper is the final paragraph, where you restate your thesis and tie together the ideas that support it that you have referenced, spelled out and argued for in earlier paragraphs. Don't just restate the information, but put it into logical order -- as it should be in the body of your paper -- like a series of steps the reader can climb, illustrating the connections between each piece that reinforce your thesis. End with a suggestion for either further study or action that should be taken.
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