How to Write a Research Paper Introduction

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction

Ready to write a research paper but unsure where to start? Crafting an engaging introduction is key to setting the stage for your work and capturing your reader's interest. A well-written introduction provides the necessary background, defines the research problem, and highlights the significance of your study.

In this article, we'll guide you through the essential components of a compelling research paper introduction and share practical tips and examples to help you kick off your writing journey with confidence. From crafting a captivating opening statement to structuring your introduction for maximum impact, you'll learn how to create an introduction that sets the tone for a successful research paper.

Understanding the Purpose of a Research Paper Introduction

A research paper introduction serves as a roadmap for your readers, guiding them through the key aspects of your study. It should pique their interest, provide essential background information, and clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.

Three Key Questions Your Introduction Should Answer

  1. What am I writing about?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. What do I want the reader to know about it?

By answering these questions, you set the stage for your research and help readers understand its significance within the broader field.

Establishing Context and Defining the Research Problem



Background Information

Provide context for the topic and cite existing literature to support the research aim.

Research Problem or Question

Clearly state the problem or question your study addresses and explain its relevance.

Objectives and Scope

Outline the main objectives of your research and define its scope.

A well-crafted introduction should begin broadly, introducing the topic, then narrowing down to the focused research question or hypothesis. It should engage readers, making them eager to explore your findings and insights.

Key Components of an Effective Introduction

A compelling research paper introduction should include several key components that set the stage for your study and engage your readers. Let's explore these essential elements:

Background Information and Research Context

Provide relevant background information to contextualize your research topic. This may include:

  • Summarizing existing research and conclusions on the topic
  • Connecting your study to current issues or debates in the field
  • Identifying gaps or problems in previous research that your study aims to address

By establishing the research context, you demonstrate your awareness of the field and position your own approach within the larger scholarly conversation.

Research Problem, Objectives, and Questions

Clearly define the specific research problem or question your paper addresses. This is the core of your introduction and should be stated concisely and precisely.



Research Problem

The issue or gap in knowledge that your study aims to resolve or explore.


The main goals or purposes of your research, what you aim to achieve.

Research Questions

Specific questions your study will answer, guiding your investigation.

Emphasize the importance and relevance of your research problem, explaining why it needs to be addressed and how it contributes to the field.

Scope, Limitations, and Methodology

Outline the scope of your research, specifying what your study will and will not cover. Acknowledge any limitations or constraints that may affect your findings.

Briefly introduce your research methodology, providing an overview of the approaches, techniques, or data sources you will use to address your research problem.

By including these key components, you create a roadmap for your readers, guiding them through the essential aspects of your study and setting the stage for the rest of your paper.

Crafting a Captivating Opening Statement

Your research paper introduction is your first chance to make a lasting impression on your readers. A captivating opening statement should not only introduce your topic but also grab the reader's attention and provide a brief overview of your research [15]. Consider these strategies for crafting an engaging opening:

Hook Your Readers

  1. Start with a thought-provoking question or a surprising fact related to your research topic.
  2. Use a relevant quote or anecdote to illustrate the importance of your study.
  3. Highlight a current event or real-world problem that your research addresses.




"What if we could harness the power of AI to revolutionize healthcare?"

Surprising Fact

"Did you know that over 50% of plastic waste ends up in our oceans?"

Relevant Quote

"As Albert Einstein once said, 'The important thing is not to stop questioning.'"

Set the Stage

After capturing your readers' attention, provide a brief overview of your research topic and its significance. This sets the stage for your study and helps readers understand the broader context of your work. Be specific and informative, avoiding generic introductory phrases [16].

Narrow Down to Your Research Focus

Begin with a broad introduction to your topic, then gradually narrow down to your focused research question or hypothesis. This funnel approach helps guide readers from the general context to the specific focus of your study, making it easier for them to follow your line of reasoning.

By crafting a captivating opening statement that hooks your readers, sets the stage for your research, and narrows down to your specific focus, you'll create an engaging and informative introduction that sets the tone for a compelling research paper.

Establishing the Research Context and Background

Establishing the research context and background is crucial for setting the stage and providing readers with the necessary information to understand the significance of your study. A well-crafted background section should follow a logical sequence, starting with a brief overview of the research topic and its importance in the field.

Highlighting Gaps and Unresolved Issues

  1. Identify the gaps in existing knowledge or unresolved issues that your study aims to address.
  2. Summarize key findings from relevant literature to establish the context and rationale for conducting the research.
  3. Explain how your study contributes to filling these gaps or resolving the identified issues.

By highlighting the gaps and unresolved issues, you demonstrate the novelty and relevance of your research, making it clear why your study is needed and how it advances the field.

Providing Essential Context



Theories and Concepts

Introduce and define any theories, concepts, or terms that may be unfamiliar to the target audience.

Historical Data

If your research borrows information from a historical context, include relevant historical data to provide a comprehensive understanding.

Novelty and Uniqueness

If your research study or methodology is unique or novel, explain its novelty and how it differs from previous approaches.

When providing context, maintain a balance between offering essential information and appealing to a broader audience. Avoid ambiguity, unrelated themes, and poor organization to ensure that your background section is engaging and easy to follow.

Defining the Research Objectives and Questions

Defining clear research objectives and questions is crucial for guiding your study and providing a roadmap for your introduction. Research objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) statements that define the scope and direction of your research. They differ from research questions, which are broad statements that guide the overall direction of the research, and hypotheses, which are predictive theories expressed in general terms.

To craft effective research objectives, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the research problem and gaps in existing knowledge
  2. Review past studies on similar subjects
  3. Define the research question(s)
  4. Revise and relate the research problem based on the defined question(s) and identified gaps
  5. Formulate SMART objectives that:
    • Describe the step-by-step detail of the concept
    • Indicate the intention regarding the agenda of the paper
    • Focus on the research itself and define the specific aims of the study

Advantages of Research Objectives

Disadvantages of Research Objectives

Maintain focus and direction

Potential for unintentional bias

Optimize resource allocation

Need for careful formulation

Provide measurable outcomes

Determine feasibility

Ensure relevance

Examples of Research Objectives

  • Identifying the antiviral chemical constituents in a plant
  • Assessing employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR
  • Evaluating the potential application of AI techniques for estimating best-corrected visual acuity
  • Investigating whether sport influences psychological parameters in the personality of asthmatic children

Structuring Your Introduction for Maximum Impact

When it comes to structuring your research paper introduction for maximum impact, consider using the CARS (Create a Research Space) Model as a framework]. This model helps you organize your introduction in a logical and engaging manner, guiding readers through the key aspects of your study.

The CARS Model: A Three-Step Approach

  1. Establish a Territory
    • Provide background information and context for your research topic
    • Highlight the importance and relevance of the subject matter
    • Cite relevant literature to support your claims
  2. Establish a Niche
    • Identify gaps or unresolved issues in the existing research
    • Explain how your study addresses these gaps or problems
    • Emphasize the novelty and significance of your approach
  3. Occupy the Niche
    • State your research objectives, questions, or hypotheses
    • Briefly outline your methodology and approach
    • Preview the main findings or arguments of your paper

Keep in mind that the specific structure of your introduction may vary depending on the type of research paper you're writing. For example, an empirical research paper may require a more detailed methodology section, while an argumentative paper may focus more on engaging with various sources and perspectives.

Research Paper Type

Introduction Focus

Empirical Research

Methodology, data collection, and analysis

Argumentative Paper

Engaging with sources, presenting arguments

By following the CARS Model and tailoring your introduction to the specific needs of your research paper, you can create a well-structured and impactful introduction that sets the stage for a compelling study.


Writing a compelling research paper introduction is essential for engaging your readers and setting the stage for your study. By understanding the purpose of the introduction, incorporating key components, and structuring it effectively, you can create a roadmap that guides readers through your research and highlights its significance.

As you embark on your research journey, remember to craft a captivating opening statement, establish the research context and background, define clear objectives and questions, and follow the CARS Model for maximum impact. With these tips and examples in mind, you'll be well-equipped to write an introduction that captures your readers' attention and sets the tone for a successful research paper.


1. What is the best way to begin an introduction in a research paper? 

To start an introduction for a research paper effectively, begin with a broad overview of the topic. Then, provide general background information, gradually narrowing down to specific background research. Conclude with a focused research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement, moving from a general overview to specific details.

2. How should examples be introduced in a research paper? 

When introducing examples in a research paper, it is crucial to judiciously provide evidence where necessary. Use phrases that clearly explain how the evidence supports your argument. Emphasize your point by highlighting a specific situation to make your example more impactful.

3. What are the five essential parts of a research paper introduction? 

According to Creswell, a strong introduction in a research paper should include five key components: (a) establishing the problem that led to the study, (b) reviewing the literature related to the problem, (c) identifying gaps in the literature, (d) targeting an audience and outlining the significance of the problem for them, and (e) highlighting the importance of addressing these gaps.

4. How can one craft an effective introductory sentence? 

To write a compelling introductory sentence, keep it concise and straightforward. Introduce an unexpected element to grab attention, and avoid repeating the title. Incorporate the word "you" to engage directly with the readers. Clearly outline what will follow in the text, explain the importance of the article, address a concern or problem that the readers might have, and be cautious when using stories to ensure they add value to the point being made.