Though it may often be overlooked, writing an introduction can be one of the most difficult but significant processes in writing academic papers. Often, writers may find it relatively easy to brainstorm or develop some sense, ideas and examples to present in response to an assignment, hence might seem not hard to write. However, in the final draft of an academic paper or any other writing work, the writer is expected to adequately and authoritatively introduce the middle parts of the academic paper, in a manner making sense to the intended reader.
Therefore, the introduction stands as a bridge that carries the readers from their usual lives and thoughts to the writer’s position of argument and analysis. In other words, it hooks the readers into the topic or subject matter, and make them to care about what is being presented. It provides the personal impression of the writer’s argument, style of writing and the overall work quality. Hence, a concise, well-written and engaging introduction will encourage readers to think highly of the writer’s writing and analytical skills, as opposed to a disorganized, erroneous, generalized, off-the-wall, and boring introduction.
Best writers consider an introduction as an important guide to the entire academic paper, conveying expected information to the readers, making them to know what the topic is, why the topic is significant, and how the writer plans to sequentially, chronologically, thematically, and or contrastingly present the discussion or analysis. Importantly, the introduction also contain the thesis statement that underpins the argument, its merit or premise, and the organization of the academic paper or essay. In addition, it is important to opine that, though what constitutes and introduction may vary across the disciplines and the nature of academic paper being written, the understanding of the primary tips is instrumental. In case of uncertainty with regard to students’ assignments, they may consult with their professors for further developments. The strategies applied by writers for best introductions of academic papers include:
- Commence by in-depth thinking about the question or questions the writer is attempting to answer as the entire academic paper or essay will be answering the question(s), and the introduction will be the initial stage towards that goal. The direct response to the question or questions is the thesis statement which is chained to the introduction; hence, the use of the key question(s) as a starting point.
- Writers often refer back to the assignment extensively as they prepare the academic papers or essays; hence, the prompt can also provide them with a clue on how they can approach the introduction. It is important to note that the introduction is expected to commence with a quite broad or “big picture” statement and narrowing down to specifics of the subject matter or topic of discussion. However, the writer should determine the extent of generality or broadness the opening statement should be, as even a “big picture” initial statement should be clearly focused and related to the topic of discussion.
- Writer should hook the intended reader with a provocatively great opening sentence; for instance, by using a vividly unexpected anecdote, provocative quotes, intriguing and/or surprising facts, puzzling scenario or setting, idea-provoking question, and attractive phrases. These must be well designed to bridge the reader into the content of the academic paper or essay, and must be related to the topic of the paper or essay.
- Writer can give the merit of argument some context; for instance, by presenting the reader with some information that may not be in the academic paper or essay but is instrumental in understanding the thesis statement such as background information, relevant papers or research work, or other existing facts to start the “mood”.
- Writer should preview the structure and merits of arguments in the paper to write or modify the introduction. It is advisable and more effective to write an introduction last rather than first, as the nature and merit of argument often change towards the end of the paper in comparison to the beginning of writing process. Hence, the writer will be compelled to revise the introduction to ascertain that it matches with the argument, evidences and conclusion of the academic paper as intended. However, writers should not be afraid to initially draft a tentative introduction and change it later if necessary, as some writers find it easier that way to start the writing process.
- Writer should draft a unique and arguable thesis statement which is specific, striking and can be proved. Thesis statement should adequately address the “what” and “why” questions regarding the topic, and display organization of the academic or essay paper.
Though many writers use thesis statement as the last sentence, assuming the transition into the first paragraph as being natural, this is not advisable. One short sentence ought to be used to launch into the writer’s argument and ascertain that the reader is engaged.