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General Research Paper Guidelines: Introduction

Introduction

Generally, all academic introductory sections should introduce readers to your topic and scope, moving readers from a broad overview to your specific, narrow focus. In an academic introduction, you should also indicate your perspective on or argument about your given topic and explain to readers why the study of your topic is important. An introduction can range from a single paragraph to multiple paragraphs, depending on the length and scope of your draft.

For research papers, in particular, you want to make sure your introduction not only meets the general guidelines above but also does the following:

  • Includes a central argument, problem statement, or thesis statement, detailing the intent, rationale, and/or purpose of your research.
  • Addresses why your problem or topic is important.
  • Outlines the design, method, and/or key characteristics of your research.
  • Describes important results or conclusions of your research.
  • Provides a brief, yet clear overview of the structure of the paper.