Introduction paragraphs


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How To Write A Good Introduction Paragraph

How To Write A Good Introduction Paragraph

how to write an introduction paragraph

Writing an introductory paragraph is easier than it may seem. The key to a successful intro is knowing the components that go into it. Much like a watch has components that, when put together, make it work properly, an introductory paragraph must have its own individual components for it to work.

Step 1: Topic Sentence

The first step needed is to create a topic sentence. Your topic sentence should foreshadow the rest of the essay by telling the reader the main idea of your paper. The topic sentence should also capture the reader’s attention or “hook” them into your essay. You want to give them a reason to continue reading. You can accomplish this by starting off with a quote, questions, or breaking a social stigma with an interesting fact. If for example, you are writing an essay about coffee, then you may start it off like this: “Half of Americans are drug addicts as caffeine has become the most widely used drug in the world.” Another way to compose a topic sentence is to separate your individual ideas. For example, “Coffee is an addictive drug because it stimulates the nervous system, causes increased alertness, and can be addictive.” This allows you to create paragraphs around these ideas and lets the reader know what lies ahead.

Step 2: Give More Detail

Leading off the topic sentence, you should now tell the reader a little more about the essay . This is a fine line, as you don’t want to give too much away. Briefly describe your topic without going into any details that will be discussed in your body paragraphs. For example, leading off of our first topic sentence example you might want to say “Half of Americans are drug addicts as caffeine has become the most widely used drug in the world. With shops such as Starbucks popping up on every corner, coffee has been pushed into the limelight. Due to its growing popularity, many people have become dependent on coffee to get through their day”.

Step 3: Conclusion Sentence

Lastly, you’ll want to close your introductory paragraph. This sentence should both tie up your topic and act as a transitional sentence that leads into the next paragraph. If you wanted to lead into a paragraph describing the addictive nature of coffee, you might say “As more people are becoming dependent on coffee, caffeine has positioned itself as an addictive drug.” Don’t forget throughout your writing to add buzz words that can convey your argument in a better ways. For instance, “I want to tell you about the coffee industry” could be turned into “Let me paint you a picture of the coffee industry.” Be careful not to overdo this as too many buzz words can make it harder for the reader to understand your argument. Following these easy steps will not only make things easier, but help you order your thoughts to write better essays. And that is what, essentially, helps you get high grades!

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Writing effective introductions

Student typing an essay

Student typing an essay

Introduction

Introductions are an important part of any academic essay or report. They introduce readers to the topic being discussed and give the writer an opportunity to explain a) the topic about which they are writing and b) why they are writing about it. In addition, introductions enable the reader, within a few words, to make a decision as to whether or not they wish to continue reading.

Listen to an audio overview of the learning object

Objectives

To introduce you to five main elements considered to be the fundamental building blocks of writing introductions.
To help you gain a deeper understanding of the importance of a good introduction
To give you practice in writing good introductions.

Activity 1: The purpose and function of an introduction

As mentioned above, introductions are fundamental to a good academic essay, report or research paper. They perform many functions, some of which are listed in the introduction to this learning object. In the following exercise, you will write down additional functions that you think an introduction performs or should perform.

Instruction

In the text box beneath, write down the additional functions that a good introduction performs.


Think of all of different things you try to achieve in an introduction. For example, introducing the topic and giving general or background information.


The main possibilities (NB: an introduction does not have to do all of the following):

Giving general/background information
Filling/acknowledging a gap in knowledge/research
Providing a definition of key/important terms
Stating your purpose, the importance of the subject you are going to discuss and your thoughts on that subject (often called a thesis statement)
A summary of the points you are going to cover
A recognition of other researchers/writers who have written on the same topic

Activity 2: Identifying a good introduction

Introductions generally follow a similar pattern, even though the style of each essay is discipline and genre specific. Good introductions contain several, if not all, of the following elements:

General/background information
Supporting/further information
Filling/acknowledging a gap in knowledge/research
Providing a definition of key/important terms
Stating your purpose. That is, stating what you intend to do in the essay/paper/report.
Stating your position on the subject you are going to discuss (often called a thesis statement)
A summary of the points you are going to cover
A recognition of other researchers/writers who have written on the same topic

Instruction

Below you will find 2 example introductions to the question ‘Discuss the problems of pollution in your country’.

Read the introductions and decide which is better, remembering to focus on the reasons behind your decision. Use the criteria listed above to help you make your decision. Write your answers in the text entry boxes provided before checking with the feedback.

Since the current trend of ‘Green’ politics came to the fore, we have discovered our water is unfit for consumption, our meat is poisoned by various bacteria, and our fruit and vegetables are contaminated by chemicals. Not only are food and water affected, but the land and sea are constantly subject to chemical and nuclear dumping. In addition, sewage and various oil disasters have contributed to the increase in the killing of wildlife. Even the air we breathe is polluted every day by the millions of cars constantly pumping carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.

Despite the increased awareness of the problems of pollution in recent years, Britain continues to trail behind most of Western Europe in adopting stricter measures of control. While it is almost impossible to consider the problems of pollution with respect to one country in isolation, the most serious problems to affect Britain directly are probably those of industrial and nuclear waste, pesticides and car exhaust fumes. In what follows, each of these will be discussed together with their effects. Finally, it will be argued that to continue to ignore such problems is at the peril not only of Britain’s environment but of the environment in general.

Adapted from: Jordan, R.R. 1999. Academic Writing Course Study Skills


Introduction 1 is a weak introduction for several reasons. Firstly, it does not define what ‘green’ politics are, despite commenting on the fact that they are a current trend. Secondly, it uses very emotive language which removes an element of formality from the text. Thirdly, it introduces lots of different ideas. Fourthly, it does not specify why the author is writing about the topic/does not explain whether there is a gap in the current research/literature. Fifthly, it does not give a satisfactory amount of background information. Finally, it does not include a thesis statement

Introduction 2 is a strong introduction for several reasons.

Firstly, it provides general information.
Despite the increased awareness of the problems of pollution in recent years, Britain continues to trail behind most of Western Europe in adopting stricter measures of control.

Secondly, it provides a suitable amount of background information
While it is almost impossible to consider the problems of pollution with respect to one country in isolation, the most serious problems to affect Britain directly are probably those of industrial and nuclear waste, pesticides and car exhaust fumes.

Thirdly, there is a very clear thesis statement
Finally, it will be argued that to continue to ignore such problems is at the peril not only of Britain’s environment but of the envirionment in general.

Fourthly, there is a definite statement of purpose
In what follows, each of these will be discussed together with their effects.

Activity 3: Identifying thesis statements

Whilst there is some freedom in academic writing to include some, but not all of the key elements in an introduction, there is a broad consensus that introductions should include at least a general statement and a thesis statement. General statements are, as they imply, quite general and often give background to the topic. Thesis statements are usually more specific and can perform several functions; stating the main topic, summarising the main topic, revealing the author’s position/stance on the issues being discussed and showing how the essay/report/research paper will be organised.

Instruction

All of the following introductions have a thesis statement. Identify the thesis statement in each. Cut and paste it into the text box. The first one has been done as an example.

It is a commonplace and well documented belief amongst second language acquisition researchers and language teaching practitioners, that students’ performance does not always accurately indicate their competence and mastery of the language in question, due to their language being variable, dynamic and in a constant state of flux and change. This exploratory dissertation therefore is based on the notion that studying languages in production helps further research and understanding into second language acquisition. It thus places foreign language participants in a central and pivotal role and uses detailed transcriptions of sample data generated by participants in online situations as the basis of the analytical process. It seeks to paint a realistic picture of how learners use language in real time. Furthermore, by viewing the data through a transcription system which illustrates intonational rather than syntactic boundaries, it endeavours to view the variable and permeable language of L2 learners from a different perspective than previous studies.

Adapted from Cooper, J. 2008. Exploring learner language: Using intonation units in the analysis of low level, EFL learners’ online data. M.A. Dissertation.

Thesis statement: It seeks to paint a realistic picture of how learners use language in real time. Furthermore, by viewing the data through a transcription system which illustrates intonational rather than syntactic boundaries, it endeavours to view the variable and permeable language of L2 learners from a different perspective than previous studies.

Asynchronous online forums provide a venue for thoughtful discussion and as such have become a common component in both distance and blended courses (Cummings, Bonk & Jacobs, 2002). These online discussions allow for dynamic growth, development, and interchange of ideas among students, and therefore can play an important role in student learning (Barbour & Collins, 2005; Wu & Hiltz, 2004). Online discussions are not uniformly implemented in courses. In some courses, discussion participation is mandatory (e.g. Wu & Hiltz, 2004); in others, it is not required (Sullivan & Pratt, 1996). Some forum discussions are clearly structured by the instructor, who specifies the aspects of the topic or questions to be focused on (Black, 2005); other forums do not stipulate anything beyond the topic and alllow students free range of exploration (Dougiamas & Taylor, 2003). This essay therefore aims to tackle this issue in two parts. In the first part the essay aims to evaluate the use of asynchronous forums in education. In the second part, conclusions drawn from the evaluation will be used to offer a practical solution to the assessment of student contributions in EAP online forums in the context of the level and objectives of the course.

Adapted from Kol, S & Schcolnik, M. 2008. Asynchronous forums in EAP: assessment issues. Language Learning and Technology. 12/2. pp49-70


Thesis statement: This essay therefore aims to tackle this issue in two parts. In the first part the essay evaluates the use of asynchronous forums in education. In the second part, conclusions drawn from the evaluation will be used to offer a practical solution to the assessment of student contributions in EAP online forums in the context of the level and objectives of the course.

The ethics and legality of advertising disputed commodities is under debate. For tobacco, the use of which has straightforward, detrimental health consequences, advertising has been prohibited or minimised, in many countries. For alcohol, the use of which (as opposed to misuse) is generally accepted in most Western countries, the picture is more complex. Many prevention workers and policy makers demand total prohibition of alcohol advertising, whereas the alcohol-producing industry claims to be responsible, encouraging sensible drinking habits, e.g. in the Netherlands by only aiming adverts at mature age groups. This essay focuses on one argument in this debate: whether or not alcohol portrayals and advertising have a causal effect on drinking behaviour and seeks to highlight that this is indeed the case.

Adapted from Engels, R.C.M.E., Hermans, R., van Baaren, R.B., Hollenstein, T & Bot, S.M. 2009. Alcohol portrayal on television affects actual drinking behaviour. Alcohol & Alcoholism. 44/3. pp244-249.


Thesis statement: This essay focuses on one argument in this debate: whether or not alcohol portrayals and advertising have a causal effect on drinking behaviour and seeks to highlight that this is indeed the case

Wireless networks are a key technology to provide user mobility. Wireless mesh networks (WMNs) are self-organising networks based on a backbone of stationary wireless routers that cooperatively provide Internet access to mobile users. Moreover, WMNs are a low-cost alternative, compared to traditional cabled networks, to extend the Internet. Mobility is one of the main reasons for using wireless networks. As entertainment and news updates are a part of our daily lives, users want access to streaming audio and video applications while on the move in areas illuminated by a WMN. In such cases, the application performance perceived by users is affected by variable network connectivity, caused by various factors such as handoffs between routers, varying levels of interference, or protocol reconfiguration. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to evaluate the impact of user mobility on the performance of different protocols and applications in real scenarios. This essay will evaluate the success of P2P (peer to peer) applications on the Internet and in community networks. It will argue that this type of application if by far the most successful and beneficial to all parties.

Adapted from Moraes, I.M., Campista, M.E.M., Costa, L.H.M.K. & Duarte, O.C.M.B. 2008. On the impact of user mobility on peer-to-peer video streaming. IEEE Wireless Communcations. 15/6. pp54-62


Thesis statement: This essay will evaluate the success of P2P (peer to peer) applications on the Internet and in community networks. It will argue that this type of application if by far the most successful and beneficial to all parties.

Activity 4: Write your own introduction

 

Instruction

Using the information provided here to write an introduction to the question:

Individuals, not the state, should pay for higher education. Discuss.


Remember to start your introduction with some general or background information. For example, we could write something about the nature of the situation at the moment.

Higher education in the UK is mainly funded by the UK government, although students do make a contribution.

Or

In many countries in the world, higher education is free. In others, students have to pay.

Or

The issue of funding for higher education is one which incites interesting debates.


Suggested answer:

The issue of whether higher education should be available freely is a contentious issue which continues to create discussion around the globe. Higher education, the education one receives post 18, is seen by most as an invaluable skill which brings many economic advantages. This has never been more true than in the economic crisis the world finds itself in today. Yet the cost of such education is high and many feel that the benefits are reaped by the individual rather than the state. Therefore, it has been claimed that students should be expected to foot the bill themselves. However, in a society riddled with class division, self funded higher education would be unaffordable to a huge percentage of the population, meaning that students would have to take out substantial loans, resulting in huge amounts of debt, in order to pay for their degree. With this in mind, this essay discusses the issue of financing higher education and advocates that the state, rather than the individual, should bear the brunt of the cost.

Would you like to review the main points?


In this Learning Object we have looked at how to write an effective introduction. In doing so, you focused on the elements that are considered to be fundamental to an introduction. For example, general information, a definition, a thesis statement and a statement of purpose. These elements tend to stay the same regardless of the discipline you are writing in.

You also learnt to identify a good introduction by looking for and identifying the various elements within an introduction.

Finally, you began to write your own paragraph based on source material which gave both sides to the issue of funding in higher education.

If you would like to learn more about introductions and want to practise identifying statements of purpose, supporting statements and definitions, you could try this drag and drop activity. To complete the activity, drag the sentence on the left and drop it on the correct function on the right.

Otherwise, for more information about writing an effective introduction, look at the following websites:

The University of Manchester – great for learning new vocabulary

References:

Cooper, J. 2008. Exploring learner language: Using intonation units in the analysis of low level, EFL learners’ online data. M.A. Dissertation

Engels, R.C.M.E., Hermans, R., van Baaren, R.B., Hollenstein, T & Bot, S.M. 2009. Alcohol portrayal on television affects actual drinking behaviour. Alcohol & Alcoholism. 44/3. pp244-249

Flodstrom, A. (2010). This house believes that individuals, not the state should pay for education [Online] Available at http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/232 . Accessed on 28/7/10. Adapted

Jordan, R.R. 1999. Academic Writing Course Study Skills in English. 82 – 83. Harlow, Essex: Longman

Kol, S & Schcolnik, M. 2008. Asynchronous forums in EAP: assessment issues. Language Learning and Technology. 12/2. pp49-70

Moraes, I.M., Campista, M.E.M., Costa, L.H.M.K. & Duarte, O.C.M.B. 2008. On the impact of user mobility on peer-to-peer video streaming. IEEE Wireless Communcations. 15/6. pp54-62

Rota, M. 2009. Evolution, providence, and Gouldian contingency. Religious Studies 44, 393–412

Wolf, A. (2010). This house believes that individuals, not the state should pay for education [Online] Available at http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/232 [online]. Accessed on 28/7/10. Adapted.

 


 

Feedback. Please give us your opinion on this learning object.

 

© Jessica Cooper /Queen Mary University of London / photograph used under terms of creative commons attribution license courtesy of dbdbrobot

Introduction Paragraphs

 

 

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Introduction Paragraphs ..

.

It is true that the first impression—whether it’s a first meeting with a person or the first sentence of a paper—sets the stage for a lasting impression. The introductory paragraph of any paper, long or short, should start with a sentence that peaks the interest of readers. In a typical essay, that first sentence leads into two or three other statements that provide details about the writer’s subject or process. All of these sentences build up to the essay’s thesis statement.

The introduction paragraph typically has:

  • Attention-Getter (Lead-in)
  • Set Up for the Thesis
  • Thesis/Essay Map

Attention Getters & Lead-ins

To get a paper off to a great start, writers should try to have a first sentence that engages their reader. This first sentence should be broadly related to the topic of the essay.

Ways writers can begin:
Paradoxical or Intriguing Statement
Shocking Statement or Statistic
Rhetorical Question
Anecdote
Statement of the Problem
Proverb, Maxim, or Strong Statement

Set Up for a Thesis

After the attention getter or lead-in, writers need to gradually narrow the broad subject towards the thesis.

Gradually narrowing can:
provide background information,
explain underlying information,
describe the complexity of the issue,
introduce various layers of the subject, and

help transition from these more broad ideas to the narrow thesis.

Thesis Statements

A thesis statement manages to encapsulate an essay’s main argument in a succinct, one-sentence comment. Beginner writers often times find it useful to create an essay map thesis, where the thesis briefly lists the areas that will be discussed in the essay.

A Thesis Statement:
has a clearly stated opinion,

but does not bluntly announce the opinion ("In this essay I will…"),
is narrow enough to write a focused essay,
but is also broad enough to write at least 3 body paragraphs,
is clearly stated in specific terms,
is easily recognized as the main idea,
is forceful and direct,
is not softened with token phrases ("in my opinion" or "I think"), and
can list the 3 main points that will be made
.

In the Introduction Paragraph
NEVER EVER EVER. . .

bluntly announce the essay’s intent ("In this essay I will…),
make unreasonable statements,
apologize for the material that is being written ("In my humble opinion…"),
go into a detailed account of the writing,
include random information that has nothing to do with the essay,

use an encyclopedia or dictionary definition ("According to Webster’s…), and
dilly-dally. Get to it. Move confidently into the essay.

Question: How is this a graphical representation of an introduction Paragraph?

Answer: Because it starts broad, and gradually narrows towards a focused, but not overly specific thesis. The thesis is specific enough to fully explore the essay, but it’s not so specific that there is nothing more to write about.

Sample Introduction Paragraph

……..[Attention-Getter] After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, the debate surrounding racial profiling in airports intensified. Many people believed that profiling was the best way to identify possible terrorists, but many others worried about violations of civil liberties. While some airports began to target passengers based solely on their Middle Eastern origins, others instituted random searches instead. [Begin setting-up the thesis] Neither of these techniques seems likely to eliminate terrorism. Now many experts in the government and in airport security are recommending the use of a national ID card or Safe Traveler Card. [Thesis] If every US citizen had such a card, airlines could screen for terrorists more effectively than they do now and avoid procedures that single out individuals solely on the basis of race.

Taken from College Writers pg. 727

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