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Knowing how to write an introduction is yet another part in the process of writing a research paper.

In the introduction, you are attempting to inform the reader about the rationale behind the work, justifying why your work is an essential component of research in the field.

The introduction does not have a strict word limit, unlike the abstract, but it should be as concise as possible. It can be a tricky part of the paper to write, so many scientists and researchers prefer to write it last, ensuring that they miss no major points.

For a longer research paper, where you use an outline, it can be useful to structure your introduction around the outline. Here are a few outline examples.

The introduction gives an overall review of the paper, but does address a few slightly different issues from the abstract.

It works upon the principle of introducing the topic of the paper and setting it into a broad context, gradually narrowing down to a research problem, thesis and hypothesis. A good introduction explains how you mean to solve the research problem, and creates ‘leads’ to make the reader want to delve further into your work.
You should assume that your paper is aimed at someone with a good working knowledge of your particular field.

Example of an essay introduction

Essay Question: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described as an unlikely nation. Why?

On the eve of 1860 the word Italy described not a nation, but a geographical area. The peninsula was split into eight separate states, all independent of one another. Economically, while the whole of Europe seemed to be surging ahead, Italy was lagging behind. At this time, Italy was seen as an unlikely nation because of the many obstacles that lay in the way of unification. The main obstacles were the dislike and distrust between the states and the "slowness of the great bulk of Italians to accept or even comprehend the idea of Italy" (Mack Smith,1968: 2). There was also a lack of planning and common goals amongst the minority of the population that supported and were prepared to fight for a unified country. This was exacerbated by the disagreement and dislike between the leaders of Il Risorgimento, the Italian independence movement.

orientation to the topic

thesis statement

outline of argument