How To Compose A Winning Term Paper Introduction: A Step-By-Step Guide

First impressions do count. The introduction to your term paper is vital: It must get your reader in the right frame of mind. It will make a huge different to their perception of your work, and their receptivity to your message. Of course, that means better marks in the academic world! But, the skill is one that will serve you well in whatever you do, because, like it or not, we mostly do judge books by their covers. But rather than simplistic instructions like “your paper must have a beginning, a middle, and an end”, how do you make the most of your introduction? Follow our step-by-step guide to find out.

Step 1

First, and surprisingly, don’t start with your introduction! Think about your main argument, enough to have a robust and convincing structure. This may sound strange, but most often your introduction is not written first… Your core idea is developed and refined before just launching in!

Step 2

Following, look ahead to your conclusion, and outline that too. Why? Because your introduction sets everything up to lead to your conclusion, and maximise support for your last opportunity to win the support of your reader. In a sense, your introduction asks the question that your conclusion answers, hopefully with the strong agreement of your audience.

Step 3

Step three, then, is to very clearly indicate the problem or hypothesis that your paper will address.

Step 4

But don’t leave it hanging there: Step four is to give your reader a reason to care about the problem. For example, “As the predictions of climate change scientists become more urgent and more dire, it is critical that we identify mechanisms to address the potential economic impacts on poorer nations, lest we face humanitarian disasters on scale never before seen on earth.”

Step 5

Now that your reader is invested in reading further, step five is to help them follow along, and gain the best understanding of your work. Give the reader an indication as to how your paper will proceed. Will you give some background information, and then present an argument on the work of another scholar? If you have any very critical assumptions or understandings that the reader must understand, present them here.

Step 6

Having laid a solid foundation, your final step is to gently ease your reader into the main body of your paper. Look to make an easy, effective, transition into the core of your work. For example, a simple signpost sentence, like this: “We will begin making the argument by outlining the most current work of scholars in the field.”

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