As you begin to write introduction in a research paper, consider the following questions:
- What is the significance of the problem under study? How it can solve some immediate or non-immediate problem? What people will get benefit from it? What is its scope to you and to others?
- What previous research has been conducted on the same topic? The topic is not too much exhausted?
- How your research will be different from the previous researches on the same topic?
- What knowledge your research will build to the available body of knowledge?
- What are the hypothesis and objectives of your study? You can have primary and secondary hypothesis and primary and secondary objectives think about all of them.
- Once you are done with answering all of the above questions you are ready to write an introduction. Your introduction will answer the above questions so you should be ready for what is coming next.
In general, the research paper begins with the introduction section, this section introduces the specific problem, research strategy, and the significance of the study. The introduction section of the research can be clearly identified and you do not need to provide the heading of introduction to it. The only part that comes before introduction is the abstract of the research paper. Although, abstract is not a major section of the research paper. The other major sections of the research paper that follow include review of literature, materials and methods, results and discussions and conclusion. References or bibliography follows the conclusion section but just like abstract we cannot call it a major section of the research paper.
A good research paper introduces the research problem and provide answers to some basic questions as mentioned above. The answers to these questions should be presented in a sequential, logical, smooth, precise, and concise manner. To know about the style of writing in an introduction read Writing Styles in a Research Paper. The introduction section should not take a large proportion of your research paper as you have to provide further details in the next sections. The next sections will be more elaborate, descriptive, and explanatory in nature so you should reserve space for them.
Significance of the problem
The basic aim of writing an introduction is to specify the readers why this specific research needs to be conducted. There might be past researches conducted on the same topic. You have to specify in the introduction why this research is important and why you are undertaking it. This significance or scope of your research problem should be presented in a logical but impressive manner. The readers are always interested in knowing what is your point of view on the significance of your topic.
Previous researches on your topic
Provide concise but well researched details about the previous researches on this topic and how they related to your topic. Do not go into unnecessary details you might have to write a literature review where you can provide more details. Your aim should be to let the readers know that why this research should be conducted even though there are many other researches conducted on the same topic. You can also present a logical sequence that shows how your research will add to the current knowledge in that topic. There might be some knowledge gap and you want to find the clues to fix it.
State your hypothesis
After you are done with the basic background of your topic and its significance now present your hypothesis. You should inform the readers about your strategy to solve this problem and for this sake you have to state your hypothesis and research objectives. You should keep in mind that the readers and the jury might ask you questions related to your hypothesis and objectives.
Good hypothesis and objectives are the key to success in a research. The hypothesis as well as objectives should be constructed with care. Your hypothesis builds the focus of your research, it should not be developed just for the sake of interest. Your should present your hypothesis and objectives in a clear, precise, and objective manner. The readers will know your direction and focus through your hypothesis and objectives.
Length of introduction
The length of your introduction depends on the overall length of your research paper. There is no hard and fast rule but it is always better to ask your teacher what she expects. If your research paper is no more than 5 or 6 pages long you can write a half to one page introduction. On the other hand if your research paper is lengthy comprising fifty or so pages you can write the introduction on multiple pages.
Usually in undergraduate research paper you do not need to write a lengthy introduction, as Lester (1967) says “an introductory section is seldom necessary in an undergraduate research paper: the opening paragraph(s) of the text will be normally sufficient.”
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association: Washington D.C. 2009. 6th Ed. Pp-27-29.
- Lester, J. D., Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. 1967. Scott, Foresman and Co: Illinois. Pp-76-77.