How to Start a Research Paper
Beginning is always the hardest part of an assignment. The introduction should not be the first thing you begin to write when starting to work on an essay. First, tons of research should be conducted — in order for your paper to be good. Only then you will be able to extract the main points of your work, and introduce them to your readers. A good introduction will also include your personal opinion of the problem, and, therefore, will make the writing easier overall.
What Is a Research Paper?
A research paper is a type of writing in which the author does an independent analysis of the topic and describes the findings from that investigation. Furthermore, one will have to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the subject and evaluate them accordingly.
A good way to write an introduction for a research paper is to introduce your reader to the topic by telling them what you are writing about. Then, make sure you include an interesting fact, or some surprising statistical data, so that your reader will be hooked and will continue to read your research paper. Treat your essay introduction like an advertisement for a product you want to sell—if your advertisement is bad, the sales won’t be great. The same goes for a bad introduction; if it does not intrigue readers, they might lose interest in your paper.
The beginning is always the hardest part of an assignment. Regardless of if you are writing a small resume education section or a full-blown research paper - following the correct steps is very important. The introduction should not be the first thing you begin to write when starting to work on an essay.
Introduction Paragraph Outline
Present Your Essay Topic
The base of every essay is its topic. What you are writing about should always be a reflection of your topic. Simply start off your introduction by telling your readers, in a simple and accessible language, what it is you are writing your research paper about. Although, we suggest you include a “trigger” when introducing the topic of your paper. A personal reference, or a story that relates to the essay topic, are options for a good way to link plain text to people’s emotions. So, feel free to write sincerely, as if you were talking to a friend.
The best strategy to start your introduction is by writing a broad topic presentation, then gradually narrow it down to what you would like to focus on exactly. It will put your topic into perspective for readers’ general understanding. When writing your research paper, make sure to include your opinion on the issue in your introduction. This will make your topic sound more personal and it will likely become more important to your audience as well.
Provide Background Information and Context
The topic you begin writing about is likely very familiar to you, as it is expected that you have done plenty of research. But what about your readers? For the most part, the amount of context is determined by what your audience already knows—though, let’s focus on a bigger assortment of readers, to make sure everyone’s needs are met. Imagine that you are part of your audience. Read the information you provided in the introduction. Is this sufficient? Does it leave gaps and unanswered questions in your research? Your job as a writer is to provide the perfect background to your topic, which gives readers just enough information to be able to grasp your topic and enjoy your research paper to the fullest. Another extreme you should avoid is giving too much context—consequently making the audience feel bored right from the introduction. Write your essay as something that you would enjoy reading yourself, like a story, but not an academic research paper.
Explain the Importance of Your Research
There is no doubt that after plenty of research you are an expert in your field. But what about your readers? In the introduction you need to showcase the extent of your research and write about the work you have completed. This will also help your readers understand that your ideas are supported by other scholars, and you share their views in your paper.
Make sure to write about all the works you have studied in order to persuade readers of your expertise. For your introduction, simply use the names you are referencing, or their most important works, so that the audience does not feel overwhelmed. It is also necessary to cite all your sources—in order to avoid academic plagiarism.
Make Your Rationale Work
Rationale is the most important part of the beginning of your paper. Explain to readers the reasoning behind your research paper—the importance of this is a guarantee that they will keep reading and appreciate your topic. In the introduction, you need to write an explanation of how your paper fits into all the research that has already been done in that field; this shows your audience the importance of your essay and the role your research plays in the field overall.
Show the Significance of Your Research
You, and only you, understand how important your research is. The next step of your introduction is to prove to your audience how important it is. Include the basic, and the most important literature, you support your ideas with. This will show the readers your solid analytical skills, your writing capabilities, and your ability to sort out information to deliver the most important points for your paper. And the final part of the introduction is to simply explain why your research is important to the field, to society, to the whole world, and, most importantly, to the readers. When a person can relate to an idea, it is almost always a guarantee that your argument will be persuasive and have a positive outcome.
Make Sure Your Thesis Is Clear
A research paper introduction uses primary sources and data to support its thesis statement. A research paper’s thesis statement has a lot in common with a thesis for an essay, or other non-research assignment. The difference lies in the fact that in a research thesis, you gather evidence from valid sources to prove your perspective on a topic. Despite the fact that you support your thoughts by sources, the idea for your thesis in your introduction should be original and your own, as it reflects the way you think.
Here is a quick checklist for writing a thesis statement:
- Remember, the thesis is your argument. Make sure it sounds assertive.
- Write two to three versions of your thesis and choose the best one.
- Share your thesis with a neutral person—to get a different point of view.
- Discuss your thesis with others; they might have good ideas as well.
- It should appear in your introduction, and be restated in your conclusion.
Research Paper Title Page
MLA Title Page
Here are some tips from our writing team on how to format your research paper MLA title page:
- The title page is double spaced and the text needs to be centred.
- Write the name of your university or college.
- Skip about one-third of the page down and type your research paper title—include a subtitle if you have one.
- Skip several lines down and type your name, your course name and number, your instructor’s name, and your paper’s due date.
APA Title Page
- Place a running head in your page’s header:
- Use the label “Running head:” then, put your shortened title (IN UPPERCASE LETTERS), and align it all to the left.
- Place the page number in this same header, but align it to the right, and begin with page number 1.
- The header should be 1 inch from the top. Some teachers say 1/2 inch is okay as well.
- Place your paper’s title in the upper half of the page, centred. Capitalize the first letter of all of the important words in your title.
- Place your University’s name below your name, double-spaced.
Congratulations on finishing your research paper! Answer these questions to avoid careless mistakes.
- Are all of your quotations, paraphrases, and summaries accurate?
- Are all of your references accurate?
- Is your format the proper format assigned by your instructor?
- Are all the concepts defined and easily understood by an average reader?
- Is your “hook” good enough for the reader to become interested?
- Is there a structure to your introduction that is easy to navigate for the reader?
- Does your introduction give a good idea of what your paper is about?
And here are several tips for your help:
- Avoid homonyms, such as lie (to recline)/lie (to tell a falsehood), mean (average)/mean (not nice), kind (type)/kind (caring), etc.
- Introduce direct quotations, spaces, and punctuation properly.
- Don’t forget to find and correct punctuation and sentence errors.
- Be careful with commas, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences.
Research Paper Introduction Example
Now that you have a solid idea about the introduction of a research paper, let’s take a look at some examples. They will help you see how all of the rules we presented above work in practice.
Research Paper Introduction Example: Should Parents Be Held Accountable for the Criminal Acts of Their Children?
Recently, youth gang connected attacks have been occurring in an increasing prevalence, with some even causing deaths, such as the killing of a college student at Suburbs East. Such occurrences have made a lot of people to wonder about the origin of those violent actions, with much of the extent of guilt being put on the parents of such adolescents. In any event, one has to question whether the parents should be penalized for the offenses of their kids.
Some people believe that parents should be held responsible for the criminal acts of their offspring because parents are mostly accountable for the education and upbringing of their kids, and frequently impact the actions and behavior of their children until they become mature and independent. This is because they are almost always the ones that raise their kids after birth. As such, it is believed that parents start to influence the ethical range of their children from a young age, and one’s ethics are critically impacted by the way parents act and their personalities
This logic can make parents responsible for their children if they do wrong later on — because they are understood to not have raised their child in the right way. Furthermore, there is an argument that children are virtually completely controlled by their parents, as they are apt to want to make their parents happy, and they would, therefore, listen to whatever they are told to do or how they are told to behave (Michael, Andrew and Michael, 4). This, in turn, makes many people think that parents should always be the ones to be blamed for the criminal acts of their children, as they believe that they have the power to warn and control them.