The opening and closing of anything one writes become increasingly important with busy readers. The way a writers introduces the subject to readers could determine how they will approach the ideas or even if they will continue reading. The introduction of a research paper is especially important because research papers tend to be long and complex.
Your introduction should accomplish key goals:
- Grab attention. Open with a quote, fact, statistic, or short narrative.
- Convince readers that your paper is worth reading. Demonstrate the importance of your subject with details.
- Explain the basic context of your subject
- Narrow the topic to a specific thesis that clearly states your position
You may use the introduction to explain or justify research methods or address readers’ objections.
A conclusion should accomplish specific tasks:
- Bring the paper to an interesting, logical end
- End with a final fact, quote, or comment to provoke readers to accept your ideas and think about the topic on their own
- Reinforce the main points of the essay without unnecessary repetition
- Restate your thesis in a strategic spot where it will have the most effect on readers
- Speculate about future action
Trite, Cliched Beginnings and Endings Send Messages
Remember, readers’ memories are not very powerful. Remind them of the specific things they should take away from the reading of your essay. Just avoid saying “In conclusion, I will review ______ and _______,” because this patterned ending sounds false. In fact, avoid every writing “In conclusion” to start a paragraph which is, obviously, the last!
Often, I mine the words for my introduction from the conclusion. By that point, I know more about what I have accomplished in those body paragraphs. I can copy and paste (and reword) my conclusion, which appears sharper than the original introduction. This process might work for you, and it’s easy with the copy and paste commands. Then, go back and rewrite a conclusion, making sure it’s not just parroting the wording of the introduction. Call this the Robin Hood Principle: Stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
Read aloud both your introduction and conclusion. Hear how they sound, and make sure they are of similar quality and length without seeming identical. Lastly, avoid “According to Dictionary.com, _____ is” or any “Society verbs ___________” constructions. (“Society views the media as bad.”) Provable? Arguable?)