How To Start Off A Research Paper Introduction And Conclusion

First and last impressions are important in any part of life, especially in writing. This is why the introduction and conclusion of any paper - whether it be a simple essay or a long research paper - are essential. Introductions and conclusions are just as important as the body of your paper. The introduction is what makes the reader want to continue reading your paper. The conclusion is what makes your paper stick in the reader's mind.

Introductions

Your introductory paragraph should include:

1) Hook: Description, illustration, narration or dialogue that pulls the reader into your paper topic. This should be interesting and specific.

2) Transition: Sentence that connects the hook with the thesis.

3) Thesis: Sentence (or two) that summarizes the overall main point of the paper. The thesis should answer the prompt question.

The examples below show are several ways to write a good introduction or opening to your paper. One example shows you how to paraphrase in your introduction. This will help you to understand the idea of writing sequences with that use a hook, transition and thesis statement.

 

» Thesis Statement Opening

This is the traditional style of opening a paper. This is a "mini-summary" of your paper.

For example:

      Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for deaf students in the world, is world-renowned in the field of deafness and education of the deaf. Gallaudet is also proud of its charter which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in year of 1864. All of this happened in Gallaudet's history, An enormous part of Gallaudet's legacy comes from its rich history and the fame to two men: Amos Kendall and Edward Miner Gallaudet.

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

» Opening with a Story (Anecdote)

A good way of catching your reader's attention is by sharing a story that sets up your paper. Sharing a story gives a paper a more personal feel and helps make your reader comfortable.

This example was borrowed from Jack Gannon's The Week the World Heard Gallaudet (1989):

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      Astrid Goodstein, a Gallaudet faculty member, entered the beauty salon for her regular appointment proudly wearing her DPN button. ("I was married to that button that week!" she later confided.) When Sandy, her regular hairdresser, saw the button, he spoke and gestured, "Never! Never! Never!" Offended, Astrid turned around and headed for the door, but stopped short of leaving. She decided to keep her appointment, confessing later that at that moment her sense of principles had lost out to her vanity. Later she realized that her hairdresser had thought she was pushing for a deaf U.S. President.

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

» Specific Detail Opening

Giving specific details about your subject appeals to your reader's curiosity and helps establish a visual picture of what your paper is about.

For example:

      Hands flying, green eyes flashing, and spittle spraying Jenny howled at her younger sister Emma. People walked by gawking at the spectacle as Jenny's grunts emanated through the mall. Emma sucked at her thumb trying to appear nonchalant. Jenny's blond hair stood almost on end. Her hands seemed to fly so fast that her signs could barely be understood. Jenny was angry. Very angry.

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

» Open with a Quotation

Another method of writing an introduction is to open with a quotation. This method makes your introduction more interactive and more appealing to your reader.

For example:

      "People paid more attention to the way I talked than what I said!" exclaimed the woman from Brooklyn, New York in the movie American Tongues. This young woman’s home dialect interferes with people taking her seriously because they see her as a cartoonish stereotype of a New Yorker. The effects on this woman indicate the widespread judgment that occurs about nonstandard dialects. People around America judge those with nonstandard dialects because of _____________ and _____________. This type of judgment can even cause some to be ashamed of or try to change their language identity.*

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

» Open with an Interesting Statistic

Statistics that grab the reader help to make an effective introduction.

For example:

      American Sign Language is the second most preferred foreign language in the United States. 50% of all deaf and hard of hearing people use ASL.* ASL is beginning to be provided by the Foreign Language Departments of many universities and high schools around the nation.


*The statistics are not accurate. They were invented as an example.

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

» Question Openings

Possibly the easiest opening is one that presents one or more questions to be answered in the paper. This is effective because questions are usually what the reader has in mind when he or she sees your topic.

For example:

      Is ASL a language? Can ASL be written? Do you have to be born deaf to understand ASL completely? To answer these questions, one must first understand exactly what ASL is. In this paper, I attempt to explain this as well as answer my own questions.

Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.

Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement

Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper

 

Source: *Writing an Introduction for a More Formal Essay. (2012). Retrieved April 25, 2012, from http://flightline.highline.edu/wswyt/Writing91/handouts/hook_trans_thesis.htm

 

Conclusions

The conclusion to any paper is the final impression that can be made. It is the last opportunity to get your point across to the reader and leave the reader feeling as if he or she learned something. Leaving a paper "dangling" without a proper conclusion can seriously devalue what was said in the body itself. Here are a few effective ways to conclude or close your paper.

» Summary Closing

Many times conclusions are simple re-statements of the thesis. Many times these conclusions are much like their introductions (see Thesis Statement Opening).

For example:

      Because of a charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln and because of the work of two men, Amos Kendall and Edward Miner Gallaudet, Gallaudet University is what it is today - the place where people from all over the world can find information about deafness and deaf education. Gallaudet and the deaf community truly owe these three men for without them, we might still be "deaf and dumb."

» Close with a Logical Conclusion

This is a good closing for argumentative or opinion papers that present two or more sides of an issue. The conclusion drawn as a result of the research is presented here in the final paragraphs.

For example:

      As one can see from reading the information presented, mainstreaming deaf students isn't always as effective as educating them in a segregated classroom. Deaf students learn better in a more one-on-one basis like they can find in a school or program specially designed for them. Mainstreaming lacks such a design; deaf students get lost in the mainstream.

» Real or Rhetorical Question Closings

This method of concluding a paper is one step short of giving a logical conclusion. Rather than handing the conclusion over, you can leave the reader with a question that causes him or her to draw his own conclusions.

For example:

      Why, then, are schools for the deaf becoming a dying species?

» Close with a Speculation or Opinion

This is a good style for instances when the writer was unable to come up with an answer or a clear decision about whatever it was he or she was researching.

For example:

      Through all of my research, all of the people I interviewed, all of the institutions I visited, not one person could give me a clear-cut answer to my question. Can all deaf people be educated in the same manner? I couldn't find the "right" answer. I hope you, the reader, will have better luck.

» Close with a Recommendation

A good conclusion is when the writer suggests that the reader do something in the way of support for a cause or a plea for them to take action.

For example:

      American Sign Language is a fast growing language in America. More and more universities and colleges are offering it as part of their curriculum and some are even requiring it as part of their program. This writer suggests that anyone who has a chance to learn this beautiful language should grab that opportunity.

 



 

Sometimes when we write an essay we forget that we're speaking to someone (a reader).  We also forget that the beginning of our essay is technically the first impression that we make on the reader, while the conclusion is our last chance to get the reader's attention.  Rather than focusing on writing an essay that is simply "correct" (in terms of grammar, following your assignment requirements, etc.) good writers also consider whether or not they've left a lasting impression on their reader. 

Think about it: the movies you've seen and the books you've read, the ones that really stand out in your mind, probably had an intriguing opening and a compelling ending.  Your essay topic may not be as exciting as your favorite movie, but that doesn't mean you can't make sure that your ideas stand out in the reader's mind.   

The Hook

If you're not sure how to begin and end your essay, consider using what's often called the "hook" technique.  The idea behind this method is that if you hook your audience (get their attention) in the beginning of the essay, they'll want to continue reading so that they can find out how everything will turn out in the end. 

For example, to use the hook technique you might begin by saying:  Students are often surprised to know that many of their instructors were not high-ranking students in their own graduating classes.  In fact, one of the most well-respected Composition instructors here at Madeup University flunked Freshman English not once, but twice!

Then, you might conclude your essay by saying:  Any student at Madeup University will tell you that the teachers who once   struggled in their subject area are the most helpful.  Remember that Composition teacher who flunked Freshman English twice?  That was Mrs. Somebody--a popular Composition teacher and well-liked tutor in the Writing Center on campus.  The best guides are those who've experienced the struggle themselves; these teachers truly help students climb toward academic success.

Remember, it is not enough to hook your audience in the beginning. You also have lead them on a journey that comes back around in your conclusion. There is no such thing as “next season” in papers- so NO CLIFF HANGERS!

Making the RIGHT Impression

Simply put, your introduction and conclusion are the first a last chance you have to grab your reader. They are crucial in the development of trust, likability and agreement.

Below are some helpful hints to get you on your way towards becoming an impression master!

  • Write the body paragraphs before you write the introduction and conclusion
    • People often get hung up on how to begin their papers, and this means more time staring at a blank screen getting discouraged. Instead try writing your thesis and your body paragraphs first. Once you have written your body, go back and read over it asking yourself, “What is it I really want to say?” or “How do I want my reader to feel about my topic?”
  • Save one or two interesting quotes or insights for your introduction and conclusion
    •  Be careful here. Quotes are great, but the reader wants to hear what you have to say about the topic. Sometimes it’s better to find a great quote that goes against your position/topic. That way you set yourself up as a real scholar, and you create and interesting “conflict” for your reader from the beginning.
  • Catch the reader's attention by beginning with a "hook," then conclude or resolve that concept in your conclusion.
    • Remember, readers aren’t going to be interested just because your name is at the top of the paper. The hook is how you show your personality to your audience, and resolving that hook is how you show your intelligence. Like a good person, a good paper should be well- rounded!
  • Think about your audience!  Demonstrate that you care about their interests, opinions, and ideas in your introduction and conclusion
    • No one cares about someone who doesn’t care about them. A carefully thought out introduction shows readers that you as a writer care about their enjoyment and understanding rather than just pontificating ideas.

Introduction and Conclusion Checklists

A good introduction should…

A good conclusion should…

Describe what you plan to write about

Remind the reader of the main ideas that were discussed in the essay

Give the reader some idea of how you plan to discuss or approach your topic

Tie up any loose ends by resolving any unresolved questions, statements, or ideas

Give background information on your topic (when appropriate)

Discuss what can be done about your topic in the future (when appropriate)

Include a clear, concise thesis statement

Offer suggestions on ways that the reader can get involved with your topic/cause (when appropriate)

Establish a connection between the writer and the audience

Try, one last time, to convince the reader to agree with you (when appropriate)

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