Do you want to know how to write an introduction for a paper? If so, you’re in the right place! An introduction is your perfect opportunity to set the stage for your reader. It should get them excited about what they’re about to read, and it should tell them what they are going to learn in the reading ahead. Here are some tips that you can write an excellent paper introduction:
An easy outline for writing an introduction:
- What is the main idea of the topic?
- Is the problem stated?
- What are the solutions? (Your thesis statement will provide an answer to this.)
- Is the solution addressing social change?
To illustrate the first point, here are a few examples of paper introductions with different approaches to this problem:
Example 1: Good Introductory Introduction
“The purpose of this paper is to suggest that the feminist movement has been stalled by the irresolvable conflict between two separate ideas, namely feminism and Marxist feminism.”
Well-done. The problem and solution are stated clearly. And, according to the paper’s title, the main thesis is social change. Thus, you can tell the reader that you will address social change.
Example 2: Bad Introductory Introduction
“The purpose of this paper is to argue that Marxist feminism has been successful in its goal of introducing women into the labor force and generally improving their social status, but that it has been called into question by its failure to develop a coherent theory.”
Terrible. This kind of introduction is often thought to hide or even deny the problem with feminist thought. The word “but” does not help matters. The introduction also has several problems. First, is the point clear? The title of the paper doesn’t make it clear. Second, what is the problem? Who should be blamed? Third, how might a solution to this conflict come about?
Example 3: Good Introductory Introduction:
“The purpose of this paper is to propose that the feminist movement needs a new way of understanding capitalism as a social system.”
Good! This introduction does not shy away from stating an issue that many feminists are only now beginning to understand. However, the author of this paper is not certain just how this new understanding of capitalism will solve the problem. Thus, she is cautious in her introduction and does not make an obvious claim. On the other hand, she does define a problem that needs to be addressed.
Another way to write an introductory paper:
“The purpose of this research project is to study the relationship between feminism and Marxism.”
It appears to be another example of an introduction that doesn’t solve a whole lot of problems. The purpose is clear, but the research project doesn’t tell the reader what exactly it is going to do. What is the author’s thesis? If he wants to study the relationship between feminism and Marxism, then what relation does this relationship have?
Example 4: Bad Introductory Introduction:
“The purpose of this research project is to compare and contrast feminism and post-structuralist theories.”
Again, the problem here appears to be burying or denying things that are not immediately apparent. What is the author’s purpose? How will this purpose be accomplished? Why should the reader even care?
In conclusion, keep in mind that your introduction should tell the reader what they are about to read. It should introduce them to your topic and get them excited about learning what it has to teach. Your introduction can also inform your audience of previous research done on this topic, but be careful not to write a bibliography for your paper! Remember also that in terms of length, an introductory paragraph should be at least one sentence.
- What has been said or done on this topic?
- What is the problem with what has been said or done?
- What will you offer to solve the problem? (The answer to this question is your thesis statement.)
- How does your solution address social change? (Social change can be broadened beyond just feminism, but this point is made in the paper’s title.)
- Why is social change important? (Social change can be broadened beyond just feminism, but this point is made in the paper’s title.)
- How will you address the issue of social change?
- Who is your audience?
- What question or questions may they ask?
- What do you mean by “social change?”
- How will you answer their questions? (The answer to this question is your thesis statement. Also, this step should lead into the next paragraph.)
- How will this paper be different from others on the topic? (Try to keep your introduction concise by answering these questions. Brevity is important for good presentations!)
- What does your study contribute to knowledge about this topic?
- Who is your audience? How do you plan to address their problems?
- Why should they pay attention to you? (An excellent way of introducing yourself and alerting your audience that you are serious about what you are writing.