I. Structure and Approach
The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions for the reader:
- What is this?
- Why should I read it?
- What do you want me to think about / consider doing / react to?
Think of the structure of the introduction as an inverted triangle of information that lays a foundation for understanding the research problem. Organize the information so as to present the more general aspects of the topic early in the introduction, then narrow your analysis to more specific topical information that provides context, finally arriving at your research problem and the rationale for studying it [often written as a series of key questions] and, whenever possible, a description of the potential outcomes your study can reveal.
These are general phases associated with writing an introduction:
1. Establish an area to research by:
- Highlighting the importance of the topic, and/or
- Making general statements about the topic, and/or
- Presenting an overview on current research on the subject.
2. Identify a research niche by:
- Opposing an existing assumption, and/or
- Revealing a gap in existing research, and/or
- Formulating a research question or problem, and/or
- Continuing a disciplinary tradition.
3. Place your research within the research niche by:
- Stating the intent of your study,
- Outlining the key characteristics of your study,
- Describing important results, and
- Giving a brief overview of the structure of the paper.
NOTE: Even though the introduction is the first main section of a research paper, it is often useful to finish the introduction late in the writing process because the structure of the paper, the reporting and analysis of results, and the conclusion will have been completed. Reviewing and, if necessary, rewriting the introduction ensures that it correctly matches the overall structure of your final paper.
II. Delimitations of the Study
Delimitations refer to those characteristics that limit the scope and define the conceptual boundaries of your research. This is determined by the conscious exclusionary and inclusionary decisions you make about how to investigate the research problem. In other words, not only should you tell the reader what it is you are studying and why, but you must also acknowledge why you rejected alternative approaches that could have been used to examine the topic.
Obviously, the first limiting step was the choice of research problem itself. However, implicit are other, related problems that could have been chosen but were rejected. These should be noted in the conclusion of your introduction. For example, a delimitating statement could read, "Although many factors can be understood to impact the likelihood young people will vote, this study will focus on socioeconomic factors related to the need to work full-time while in school." The point is not to document every possible delimiting factor, but to highlight why previously researched issues related to the topic were not addressed.
Examples of delimitating choices would be:
- The key aims and objectives of your study,
- The research questions that you address,
- The variables of interest [i.e., the various factors and features of the phenomenon being studied],
- The method(s) of investigation,
- The time period your study covers, and
- Any relevant alternative theoretical frameworks that could have been adopted.
Review each of these decisions. Not only do you clearly establish what you intend to accomplish in your research, but you should also include a declaration of what the study does not intend to cover. In the latter case, your exclusionary decisions should be based upon criteria understood as, "not interesting"; "not directly relevant"; “too problematic because..."; "not feasible," and the like. Make this reasoning explicit!
NOTE: Delimitations refer to the initial choices made about the broader, overall design of your study and should not be confused with documenting the limitiations of your study discovered after the research has been completed.
ANOTHER NOTE: Do not view delimitating statements as admitting to an inherent failing or shortcoming in your research. They are an accepted element of academic writing intended to keep the reader focused on the research problem by explicitly defining the conceptual boundaries and scope of your study. It addresses any critical questions in the reader's mind of, "Why the hell didn't the author examine this?"
III. The Narrative Flow
Issues to keep in mind that will help the narrative flow in your introduction:
- Your introduction should clearly identify the subject area of interest. A simple strategy to follow is to use key words from your title in the first few sentences of the introduction. This will help focus the introduction on the topic at the appropriate level and ensures that you get to the subject matter quickly without losing focus, or discussing information that is too general.
- Establish context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. The key is to summarize for the reader what is known about the specific research problem before you did your analysis. This part of your introduction should not represent a comprehensive literature review--that comes next. It consists of a general review of the important, foundational research literature [with citations] that establishes a foundation for understanding key elements of the research problem. See the drop-down menu under this tab for "Background Information" regarding types of contexts.
- Clearly state the hypothesis that you investigated. When you are first learning to write in this format it is okay, and actually preferable, to use a past statement like, "The purpose of this study was to...." or "We investigated three possible mechanisms to explain the...."
- Why did you choose this kind of research study or design? Provide a clear statement of the rationale for your approach to the problem studied. This will usually follow your statement of purpose in the last paragraph of the introduction.
IV. Engaging the Reader
The overarching goal of your introduction is to make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should grab the reader's attention. Strategies for doing this can be to:
- Open with a compelling story,
- Include a strong quotation or a vivid, perhaps unexpected anecdote,
- Pose a provocative or thought-provoking question,
- Describe a puzzling scenario or incongruity, or
- Cite a stirring example or case study that illustrates why the research problem is important.
NOTE: Choose only one strategy for engaging your readers; avoid giving an impression that your paper is more flash than substance.
Freedman, Leora and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Introduction. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Introductions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Introductions. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; “Writing Introductions.” In Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide. Peter Redman. 4th edition. (London: Sage, 2011), pp. 63-70; Resources for Writers: Introduction Strategies. Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sharpling, Gerald. Writing an Introduction. Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick; Samraj, B. “Introductions in Research Articles: Variations Across Disciplines.” English for Specific Purposes 21 (2002): 1–17; Swales, John and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004; Writing Your Introduction. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University.
Guidelines on Writing a Research Proposal
Writing a research proposal is rightfully considered as one of the most complex tasks and requires mastery of multiple skills. It is a paper, which aims to deliver a brief information on the research you want to conduct, explaining the main reasons why it will be useful for the reader and for the society. A correct research proposal should contain:
- the main idea of the paper;
- reasons why the research should be conducted;
- used methodology.
You should give an overview of your studies and interest others to go on reading. A research paper is usually the first step for students to get funding for their project, so it is crucial to create a thoughtful and deep paper.
You should pay attention to the common mistakes and use a research proposal template if needed in order to avoid them. First, you need to be precise and perform a clear vision of what you are going to describe (provide a clear idea, time, place and so on). You should always stay focused on the problem, avoiding too many details on minor issues. You shouldn’t forget about correcting any grammar or lexical mistakes, which will definitely spoil the overall impression. Finally, you should pay careful attention to citing other works in your study to show that you have conducted a thoughtful research and know the subject perfectly.
In this article, we will give you an overview of how to write a proposal for a research paper and make it stand out from the rest.
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Research Proposal Example and Sample
Most of the students struggle to find information on how to write a research proposal and spend lots of money when hiring others to complete the task. Using a proposal sample can be of a great help for those, who want to create a research paper on their own but don’t know where to start.
A previously downloaded template can greatly help any student and give an overall information on such aspects like:
- Format of the paper. You will be able to get information on the structure not to miss any important section;
- Learn more about the most important parts, which can be easily skipped when not knowing about the most catchy sections;
- Avoid the mistakes that were previously made.
Using proposal examples is a great way to learn from someone else’s experience and create an outstanding powerful proposal.
Research Proposal Outline
It is impossible to conduct a thorough paper without using a sample research proposal. It will greatly help you to shape your research and give its readers the best impression.
Research Proposal Examples
Research Proposal Format
Research Proposal Outline
Research Proposal Sample
Research Proposal Template
A research proposal format consists of six main parts:
- Introduction. It is should be both brief and catchy. You need to grab reader’s interest and make him go on reading. In this section you should describe the main problem you are going to work on, the methodology and the importance of your research to persuade the reader that the results of the study may be useful;
- Background. In this section, you should give a more detailed overview of the problem. It is not an essay, so you should follow a clear structure and use a research paper example if needed. In this part you should give more details about the aim of your study, explain why it is worth completing, enumerate the main problems you want to face and offer a brief plan of your future research;
- Review of the sources. This section is usually very difficult to complete, as it contains lots of information and you need to structure it thoughtfully. A research proposal outline can be of a great use to see how you need to process the literature in order to make the whole structure clear and simple. Here you need to show that there are researches, based on your field of interest but they lack the data you are going to perform;
- Research methods. This section is very important, because you need to provide effective methods that will be used in your research study. Try to list methods that were not previously used by other researches and order new research design, based on literature overview;
- Assumptions and consequences. Even though it is a proposal and not a research proposal sample, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid describing the results of the project. In this section you need to clarify what impact will your study have, what are the suggestions and potential changes in the field. You should also give information how it will influence the lives of others and how the results will be used;
- Conclusion. This section should be brief and straight to the point. You need to emphasize why your research is important and why it should be done. You should also write a few sentences on the potential field of its implementation and why people will benefit from it.
We hope, that with the help of this data you will be able to interest the reader and be able to create a deep and thoughtful research paper.