How to write the introduction of a research paper?

The introduction of a research paper is the first section that a reader notices. It should represent the gist of the paper. Therefore, the readers often base their judgment on this section. This influence of the Introduction on the reader’s perspective makes it an important part of a paper. It should portray:

  • Background of the problem.
  • The relevance of the study.
  • Reliability of the study.
  • Significance of the research.

Why the introduction of a paper should be impactful?

Before reading a research paper, the reader asks a few general questions like:

  1. Why I should read this paper?
  2. Will it help me with my research?
  3. Are the findings relevant today?
  4. What new findings does this research add in the available literature on the subject?

The introduction of a research paper should focus on answering these questions.

The length of the introduction of a research paper may vary between 100 and 500 words. Irrespective of the word count, the introduction should have these four main elements:

  • The introduction should clearly specify the statement of the problem. It should highlight the research problem with factual statements along with its importance.
  • After defining the problem statement present existing literature and information briefly. Herein, using the work of other authors, try to validate the investigation.
  • The gap in the existing literature is stated along with the significance of the concerned research. This step of stating the rationale is mainly to summarise the goals of the paper and describing its practical applicability.
  • Lastly, the hypothesis or the assumptions considered are stated along with the conclusion of the investigation.

How to engage the reader?

In order to provide more precise and specific information about the research to engage the reader, focus on three key elements:

  1. Attention Getter– The purpose of the introduction is to briefly state the entire research and maintain the interest of the reader. For this, some elements that can evoke the interest of the reader are:
    • Throw one or two questions that prompt reflective thinking.
    • Quote a famous author related to the topic or by a renowned researcher to advocate the topic.
    • Statistical information about the topic.
    • Factual information about the research problem that would surprise the reader and invoke a desire to know more about the investigation.
    • Using a series of sentence fragments for focusing on the keywords of the study.
    • Using the most suitable definitions for the key elements of the study.
    • Relating the topic with something having similar qualities.
  2. Statement– Statement refers to the one line or two-line declaration that sums up the entire paper. It is used to support the perspective and information with evidence. Instead of having a generic viewpoint, concise and precise factual information about the concerned issue or problem is presented. Thus, the thesis statement helps in validating the research problem and adds secondary support to the relevance of the study.
  3. Preview– Preview section of the introduction presents brief information about the sections covered in the research work. It states the topic and the key elements. Hence, the preview section provides the idea to the reader whether the main aspects of the research work would be interesting or not.

How to create a good flow in the Introduction?

Few points that help in writing an effective and strong innovation, encourage reader and arouse their interests are:

Dos and Don'ts to follow while writing the introduction of a research paper
Figure 1: Dos and Don’ts to follow while writing the introduction of a research paper
  • Keep the statement of Introduction short.
  • Start the introduction part from a general point of view and then narrow it down to the concerned research problem.
  • State clearly the statement of the problem, its aim and objectives, study hypothesis (if any), and rationale of the study.
  • Stick close to the outline of the research paper or goal of the researcher and structure the introduction section accordingly.
  • Define and explain the concepts related to the problem in order to avoid complications for an average reader.
  • Focus on giving complete overview of the research paper.

What NOT to write in the Introduction?

In order to avoid the distracting the reader from the core aspects of the study, avoid writing the following.

  • Don’t delve too deeply into generic aspects of the problem. The focus should be on the selected research area. Instead of general discussion-based statements, more information should be included in the concerned research problem.
  • Citation of the secondary sources should not be done excessively. Secondary sources should be cited, but it is important that originality should be maintained in the section. Excessive citation makes the study look like a review without critical assessment.
  • The methodology of showing not telling should be followed. Herein, instead of just stating that the current area is essential, the researcher should support his statement by mentioning the reasons which make the research essential.
  • Don’t deviate from the outline. In order to make the Introduction effective and engaging, the researcher should stick to the outline.

Here’s an example ‘Introduction’

Suppose a study intends to analyse the impact of e-service quality on consumer satisfaction in India’s tourism industry. The sample introduction for this research is shown below.

“Impact of e-service quality on consumer satisfaction of the Indian tourism industry”.

The tourism and hospitality industry of India has emerged as one of key drivers of economic development. With India ranking #34 in World Economic Forum’s Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness rankings, about 10.89 million foreign tourist arrivals were witnessed in 2019 across the country, a 3.1% rise over the previous year (IBEF, 2020; Kant & Sharma, 2016). A significant contributor to this favourable trend is e-commerce. As economies are moving towards digitalisation, the business environment of the tourism industry has also experienced dynamism in the past two decades. Until recently, e-services in India’s tourism industry were restricted to operational technologies like reservation facility, phone service,  and hotel bookings. Innovation ensured that companies migrated towards friendlier mediums of selling, particularly through mobile applications. Facilities like flights tracking, destination guides, occupancy rates of hospitals, and attraction guides became accessible (Pan, 2015). However, with growing dynamism, complexity in the form of industry competition has also intensified. Consumers today want personalized services at reasonable prices (Khare & Khare, 2010). This increasing competition and changing consumer demands have created the need to make relevant changes in the industry by studying the perception of customers. It is pertinent to determine what consumers want and dislike today so that services can be rendered effectively. Therefore this study aims to assess the impact of e-service quality on consumer satisfaction of the tourism industry with specific reference to Indian market. The findings of this study help in crafting innovative solutions in the e-service quality for enhancing not only consumer satisfaction but their loyalty too.

References

  • IBEF. (2020). Tourism & Hospitality Industry in India. Retrieved May 2, 2020, from https://www.ibef.org/industry/tourism-hospitality-india.aspx
  • Kant, J. P., & Sharma, M. (2016). E – Commerce as Key Factor for Tourism Development in India. International Journal of Pure and Applied Researches, 3(1), 112–117.
  • Khare, A., & Khare, A. (2010). Travel and tourism industry yet to exploit the Internet fully in India. Journal of Database Marketing and Customer Strategy Management, 17(2), 106–119. https://doi.org/10.1057/dbm.2010.9
  • Pan, B. (2015). E-Tourism. https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.3121.5681
  • Zepernick, J. (2020). 10 tips for writing an effective introduction to original research papers.
Riya Jain
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