How to Write the Introduction of a Research Paper: Step by Step with Examples

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Introduction of a Research Paper
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When you’re writing a research paper, your introduction is where you set the tone for the entire piece. It has to draw readers in while also giving them enough information to keep reading. A good introduction will capture the reader’s attention and have them eager to learn more. If you’re struggling to come up with an Introduction of a Research Paper that’s strong and engaging, read on for some tips and examples.

The introduction of your research paper explains what your essay is about and why it matters. It’s also where you introduce your reader to the topic at hand and give them a sneak peek into what’s coming later in the paper. It should be between one and two paragraphs long, depending on how many sources you cite within this section (each source has its own “works cited” page length). With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can write an effective introduction for a research paper:

Define the problem

The first step to writing a successful introduction is to clearly and precisely define the problem you’re addressing. You want to be specific, yet general enough that it applies to a wide variety of people and situations. For example, instead of simply stating “Teenagers should eat healthier,” your opening might be, “Adolescents living in poverty often have poor eating habits,” or “Students on a tight schedule struggle to eat a healthy balanced meal during their lunch break.”

The introduction is not the place to debate the problem, but to clearly state it. You want your reader to walk away understanding what the issue is, how big of a problem it is, and why it needs to be addressed.

Define your thesis

Your thesis is the main argument you will be making in your paper. After conducting your research, you will have a wealth of information at your fingertips. The next step is to decide how to piece all of this information together to form a meaningful argument. Your thesis statement is the launching point for your entire paper. It should be a sentence that sums up the topic of your essay and acts as a guide for your research.

The most common types of thesis statements are theory-based, cause and effect, comparison, or summary. The last one is best suited for a process essay. In any of these cases, your thesis should be debatable. The introduction should be the place where you introduce this argument and explain how it relates to the problem. Your introduction should also provide an overview of what your paper will cover and how it will accomplish this goal.

Define your audience

The audience for a research paper is usually made clear by the title of the paper, but you want to make sure that you define it in your introduction as well. You can also use your introduction to make a general appeal to this audience, by stating what they are likely interested in hearing about and why they would care about these issues. For example: “Adolescents who live in poverty often have poor eating habits,” or “Students on a tight schedule struggle to eat a healthy balanced meal during their lunch break.”

Define what you will be covering

Your introduction should clearly state what you plan on covering in this paper and why it’s important to do so. Make sure to outline how this topic is relevant to your field of study and your future goals. Your reader should be able to quickly understand the importance of reading this paper. Your introduction should also clearly outline your argument and why you’ve decided to write about this topic. In addition to outlining the importance of your topic, you should also explain your position on it.

Why are you writing about this topic? What are you hoping to accomplish by doing so? You want to explain why people need to read about these issues, especially if there are no similar topics at hand that may have been covered before. For example: “Adolescents who live in poverty often have poor eating habits,” or “Students on a tight schedule struggle to eat a healthy balanced meal during their lunch break.”

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Explain the importance of the problem

Once you’ve clearly defined the problem, the next step is to explain its importance of it and why it needs to be solved. To get your reader engaged, you need to tell them why it matters, how it will impact them and their organization and what the consequences would be if the issue is not fixed. As soon as your reader understands the problem, you can move on to the next step, which is to explain how your idea or product can help them solve the problem.

You’ll want to offer a solution to their problem that they can’t get elsewhere and one that will benefit them greatly. Why is it a problem? Why should anyone care? Your reader will be more engaged in your paper if they understand why the topic matters. If they don’t see the significance of what you’re writing about, they’ll be less inclined to keep reading. You want to draw their attention and have them eager to keep reading.

Establish your scope

At the same time, you also want to establish the scope of your paper. Is the problem happening nationwide or just in your city? How many people are affected? How long has the problem been an issue? The more specific you are with your scope, the better your paper will be. You want your reader to know where you’re getting your information from and how far it spreads. Otherwise, your paper will lack credibility.

Summarize your sources

Once you’ve properly defined and explained the problem, it’s time to throw in some sources. You want to be as specific with your sources as you were with the problem. Don’t just say, “Experts say teens shouldn’t eat junk food,” but instead include a source like, “According to the American Journal of Public Health, teens are at risk of contracting diabetes and other health issues if they don’t eat nutritious food.” If you can, try to summarize multiple sources at once.

Instead of citing just one source, cite a few to support your points. This not only makes your essay more concise but also shows your reader that you’re thorough and trust the sources you’ve used.

Hook the reader with a question

A super effective way to catch your reader’s attention right off the bat is to open with a question. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) ask a question that’s directly tied to your topic; you can ask something broader. For example, if you’re writing about the decline of bees, you could pose a question like, “Why do we even need bees?” or “Why are bees important?” This helps you get the reader engaged from the get-go and piques their curiosity. It also establishes a sense of authority from the start, since people love having their questions answered.

Check in with your audience

As you’re wrapping up your introduction, take a moment to check in with your audience. Ask yourself: Who are my readers? What do they care about? What do they want to learn? What is the biggest problem or question they’re hoping to solve with this paper? This helps you make sure your introduction is specific to your audience. If you’re writing a research paper for school, you probably know who your reader is. If you’re writing a paper for a peer-reviewed publication, though, you have to do a bit more research.

Provide solutions to the problem

Finally, you want to provide solutions to the problem you’ve been discussing. You don’t have to offer a solution for every problem, but if it’s tied to your paper, it’s a good idea to address it. For example, if you’re writing a paper about how teens should eat healthily but you don’t have any suggestions for how they can do this, you’ll come across as unhelpful and uninformed.


Once you’ve properly introduced your paper, it’s time to wrap it up. This is where you recap the problem and its importance, discuss the scope of it all, and offer some solutions. You can also use this section to give your reader a brief overview of what’s to come in your essay. Remember, your summary shouldn’t be a rehash of everything you’ve already said. Instead, it’s a quick highlight reel of the most important parts. And if you’re struggling to come up with a good summary, try reading through your introduction and removing the most obvious and redundant points.


At the end of the day, the introduction is where you set the bar for the entire paper. It’s where you grab your reader’s attention and reel them in. It’s where you establish your authority and show your reader that you know what you’re talking about. Well-written introductions are critical for persuasive essays and research papers because they set the tone for the entire piece.

They help readers understand what you’re trying to say, and they can make or break your paper. The introduction is your chance to make a great first impression. Don’t waste it by skimming over this crucial part of your essay.

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