What makes an introduction powerful?
It’s an important question because an introduction is the first impression readers have of your research paper. A strong introduction tells your readers not only what you will prove or show—it makes them want to read it.
You want to write an introduction that engages your reader, conveys the importance of your topic, and how and what you plan to demonstrate. These elements are what moves your audience, so they feel a desire to finish your research paper.
A powerful introduction says to the reader, “You must read me!”
3 Key Components of Strong Introductions
So what are the key parts a good introduction should have? 1) a compelling hook, 2) important background information and 3) a provable and specific thesis statement. If you put those 3 pieces together you’ll have an effective introduction.
#1 Compelling Hook
A hook is the first 1 or 2 sentences of your paper. It is meant to grab your readers’ attention, so they want to see what comes next. If you want to learn about hooks check out my blog post, “7 Sensational Types of Essay Hooks.” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/7-sensational-types-of-essay-hooks/ There you’ll find more details about hooks and how to use them in your essays.
Here are 5 that work well in academic writing.
Powerful Statement /Declaration
In this hook, you begin with a sentence that makes a firm claim. For example, “Every day Facebook invades its users’ privacy.” This sentence forces readers to reflect on whether or not they agree with this statement. To do that they need to read your research paper.
In this case, most people have already formed an opinion about Facebook, and here you’ll either challenge or deepen their perspectives.
This hook is popular because people love to learn facts and statistics. Studies can be very persuasive. We regard studies as evidence or proof and place great value on statistics. When readers see statistics, they want to know more about how it will relate to what you write. However, make sure the facts you use come from a credible source.
When you start your paper or essay with a question, people will want to learn the answer to it. They are naturally curious, so an intriguing question makes them want to continue reading. Make sure this question connects to what you will write about. An off-topic question is confusing.
Quotations are very popular. They can be inspiring and thought-provoking. You can use quotations from famous people, experts, characters, or even people mentioned in your paper. For example, if you are writing a case study you could select a quotation from one of the participants in the study. Quotations work well when they connect with the rest of your academic essay or paper. Make sure the relationship between the quotation and your writing is clear.
In this hook, you take 2 different things and state how they are similar or the same. For example, “Facebook is a digital version of prison people want to be in.” This sentence takes 2 different things “Facebook” and “prison” and claims they are alike. The comparison of Facebook being like a digital version of prison is a strong visual. Your readers will want to see how you show a connection between these 2 things.
Both similes and metaphors accomplish the same thing in your hook. The difference is that a simile uses the words “like” and “as” to make the comparison, “Writing a novel is like running a marathon.” A metaphor states one thing is another, “Writing a novel is running a marathon.”
#2 Important Background Information
The next group of sentences in your introduction express the circumstance and/or relevant information about your topic. A lot of times you will see writers describe a problem, an issue or provide historical context.
Include the information people need to know to understand your topic and why it matters. If you are writing about Facebook and privacy, people would want to see what the situation is and why privacy matters. A good question to ask here is, “What is the context?”
Also, start with general information first and in the following sentences be more specific. Those specific sentences lead to the most important piece of your introduction: your thesis statement.
#3 Provable and Specific Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a sentence that describes what you will prove or show in your research paper. Think of it as the point of view (POV) or opinion you have about your topic. It also guides how you will organize your essay or paper.
A strong thesis statement is clear and specific and one you can prove. For example, Children should not use digital devices until they are at least 3 years old because it lowers their attention span, limits social interaction and causes sleep problems.
This thesis statement sets up the organization of your paper. Each of the 3 effects of children using digital devices is part of the body. These sections of the body would go toward proving your thesis statement.
- Body Part A: Digital devices lower a child’s attention span.
- Body Part B: Digital devices limit a child’s social interaction with others.
- Body Part C: Digital devices cause sleep problems.
So how do you create a thesis statement?
- Examine your topic, and briefly research it. I suggest reading any class notes you have and reading some background sources on your topic. What do people say about your topic?
- Ask yourself, “What do I think about this topic?”
- Brainstorm ideas and review them. What are the ideas that you can find research on?
- Write a sentence that connects your topic to what you will show, reveal, or prove about it. (Do not use the first person “I think” or “I feel” in your thesis statement).
- Evaluate your thesis statement. Is it specific? Can you prove it with evidence?
Write A Strong Introduction
There are different ways you can approach writing an introduction. You could write the body of your paper first and then write the introduction. You could write the thesis statement first and then write the hook and background information.
I like to write a thesis statement first, write the body of my paper and then the conclusion. Afterward, I go back and write the rest of my introduction.
Some people like to begin with a hook and write a strong introduction before anything else. Write the way that suits you best. As long as you include a compelling hook, important background information, and a provable and specific thesis statement, you’ll have an impressive introduction.
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