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Writing Center

Effective introductions and thesis statements, make them want to continue reading.

Writing an effective introduction is an art form. The introduction is the first thing that your reader sees. It is what invests the reader in your paper, and it should make them want to continue reading. You want to be creative and unique early on in your introduction; here are some strategies to help catch your reader’s attention:

  • Tell a brief anecdote or story
  • As a series of short rhetorical questions
  • Use a powerful quotation
  • Refute a common belief
  • Cite a dramatic fact or statistic

Your introduction also needs to adequately explain the topic and organization of your paper.

Your  thesis statement  identifies the purpose of your paper. It also helps focus the reader on your central point. An effective thesis establishes a tone and a point of view for a given purpose and audience. Here are some important things to consider when constructing your thesis statement.

  • Don’t just make a factual statement – your thesis is your educated opinion on a topic.
  • Don’t write a highly opinionated statement that might offend your audience.
  • Don’t simply make an announcement (ex. “Tuition should be lowered” is a much better thesis than “My essay will discuss if tuition should be lowered”).
  • Don’t write a thesis that is too broad – be specific.

The thesis is often located in the middle or at the end of the introduction, but considerations about audience, purpose, and tone should always guide your decision about its placement.

Sometimes it’s helpful to wait to write the introduction until after you’ve written the essay’s body because, again, you want this to be one of the strongest parts of the paper.

Example of an introduction:

Innocent people murdered because of the hysteria of young girls! Many people believe that the young girls who accused citizens of Salem, Massachusetts of taking part in witchcraft were simply acting to punish their enemies. But recent evidence shows that the young girls may have been poisoned by a fungus called Ergot, which affects rye and wheat. The general public needs to learn about this possible cause for the hysteria that occurred in Salem so that society can better understand what happened in the past, how this event may change present opinion, and how the future might be changed by learning this new information.

By Rachel McCoppin, Ph.D. Last edited October 2016 by Allison Haas, M.A.

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Guide to Writing Introductions and Conclusions


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.


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 understand the idea of writing sequences using 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:

» 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):

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.

» 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.

» Open with an Interesting Statistic

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

» 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.

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


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 they 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).

» 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.

» 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.

» 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:

» 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.


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Introduction and Conclusion: Writing Tips

  • Introduction


Introductions should:

  • Begin in an interesting way
  • Start with a general idea about the topic and end with a specific statement about the focus of the paper (thesis statement). Use a funnel approach by starting broad and getting more narrow by the thesis.
  • Have a thesis statement that begins with a claim or statement and exactly why you are writing about this claim or what you will be focusing about the claim (so what clause).

Introductions should not:

  • Only be a sentence or two long. Introductions should be full paragraphs (5-6 sentences).
  • Begin with the thesis statement. The thesis statement should be the last sentence (or two) of the introduction paragraph.
  • Have wording like: “In this paper I will write about” or “I will focus on” be specific but do not spell out the obvious. (Remember to be interesting to the reader!)


Conclusions should:

  • Begin in an interesting way that serves to begin to tie up the main points.
  • Should have a summary of each main idea that the essay talks about.
  • Show how these ideas relate to the thesis statement
  • End in a way that comes full circle and ties up all loose ends

Conclusions should not:

  • Begin with “In Conclusion”
  • Introduce any new ideas
  • End abruptly
  • Leave the reader wondering how the main ideas relate to the thesis
  • Only be a sentence or two long.  Conclusions should be full paragraphs.

Writing Icon Purple Circle w/computer inside

Writing Scholarly Introductions - Group Session

Bookshelf with multicolored books and human shaped bookends

Monday 3:00 p.m. 

The introduction to any type of writing is important as it sets the tone for the reader and builds their expectations for what is to come. Equally important is the conclusion since it is the last contact a writer has with the reader. Together, they form the bookends that encapsulate the argument made within the paper itself. In this interactive group session, you will learn how to create scholarly introductions and conclusions that will capture your reader’s interest and ensure that they leave knowing your intended points.  

Key Resource: Thesis Writing Tips

Thesis Writing Tips

Thesis Statement

Some ways to help strengthen your thesis are as follows:

  • Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a "working thesis," a basic or main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may need adjustment along the way.
  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it's possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough?   Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument.  If your thesis contains words like "good" or "successful," see if you could be more specific: why is something "good"; what specifically makes something "successful"? Does my thesis pass the "So what?" test? If a reader's first response is, "So what?" then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It's o.k. to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the "how and why?" test? If a reader's first response is "how?" or "why?" your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.
  • Remember: A strong thesis statement takes a stand, justifies discussion, expresses one main idea and is specific. Use the questions above to help make sure each of these components are present in your thesis.

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Writing an introduction and thesis.

Starting the first paragraph can be one of the most daunting tasks of essay writing, but it does not need to be. Investing some time in planning can save much anxiety and frustration later.

An effective introductory paragraph will engage the reader with some reason to learn about your topic and will warm him or her up to your topic with important background information and ideas before stating your essay’s controlling idea (thesis.) It should include the following:

  • Hook (also called a Lead-in, Opener, or Attention Grabber) that will arouse the interest of as many people possible in your target audience group.
  • Identification and general discussion of the topic , including why the topic is important and worthy of analysis.
  • Background info (e.g. history of the controversy, or summary of the literature/ articles.) This is any information necessary to lead down to your controlling idea on the subject, including the who , what , when , where , why , and how.
  • Explanation that narrows your focus down to your thesis.
  • Thesis (your controlling idea for the whole essay), possibly including , preceded by or followed by a brief indication of your subtopics. (This latter part is sometimes called a blueprint, roadmap of reasons, forecast of points, etc.).

It is essential that the first sentence “hooks” your intended reader with something that is both interesting at first glance and relevant to the focus of your essay.  Try one or a combination of the following hooks:

  • Example: The number of emergency room visits associated with energy drinks has more than doubled in this country in the last five years, from about 10,000 to over 20,000.
  • Example: There I was, stranded with no cell phone beside a remote Colorado road in mid-January. I had long since lost feeling in my feet, and, peeling back my socks, I saw to my horror that my toes were completely black with frostbite.
  • Example: For a first-time parent, a child is a megaphone, proclaiming that he or she is not the center of the universe anymore.
  • Example: An important purpose of fiction is to reveal truth.
  • Example: Has anyone you know ever been the victim of identity theft?
  • Example: Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserables , once declared, “ He who opens a school door closes a prison.”

Options for that Middle Material

You might have a great idea for your hook and even a tentative thesis, but what about the sentences that are supposed to go between them? How are you going to meaningfully and smoothly bridge this gap? It might depend on what kind of essay you are writing. Here are some suggestions, though don’t feel locked into that one option just because it is labeled for your type of essay. Also , be aware that some of these options might naturally contain their own hooks.

  • For a Position/Argument/Persuasive Essay : Be sure to establish that a real controversy exists before giving your position in the thesis. What is the issue? Why do people disagree about it? Are there more than just two sides? How long has this controversy existed? What are the ‘roots’ or brief history of the conflict? Lead down to your position (thesis), and then your body paragraphs will be the reasons for your position.
  • For a Solution Essay : Highlight the problem or need. Get the reader to understand that one exists. What is it? Why is it a problem or need? How long has it been around? Who and/or what is affected? Then work down to the thesis, which in this case is your proposed solution. The body paragraphs will then be breaking down your solution into its reasons and/or steps.
  • For a Compare/Contrast Essay : If the main point of your essay is to show how two things are significantly similar, consider first explaining that people often perceive them as completely different and unrelatable—why is that? If the main point of your essay is to show how two things are significantly different, consider first explaining that people often perceive them as essentially the same—explain why and then lead down to your thesis.
  • For a Current Events or History Essay : Consider beginning at a different point in time than the one focused on in the body of your paper. For example, if your paper is to focus on a specific current event/situation between Israelis and Palestinians, you might lead in with a brief overview of the groups’ long-term history. Alternately, if the focus of the paper is on a historical event or period, you might begin with discussion about the present-day region or nation, or you could begin at a point even further in the past that led up to the period of focus.
  • For an Illustrative/Descriptive Essay : If your task is to describe a person, place, thing, process, or concept, then you must begin by motivating the reader as to his/her/its appeal or importance (as with any introduction.) For more personal, informal essays, you can relate your own earliest experiences with that person, place, or thing, possibly explaining your first impressions. For more formal essays, highlight his/her/its significance to a larger group of people or to a larger purpose/function.
  • For a Research/Expository Essay : Explain who is/has been affected, and how much or often. Also be sure to define any major terms that you will be using throughout the paper if they are not necessarily understood by your intended audience.
  • For a Cause/Effect Essay : If your essay will be focusing on the causes of a particular event, condition, or situation, explain who or what is affected by it. How prevalent is it? If the focus of the essay is on the effects of something, you might provide background by discussing what leads/has led up to it (its causes).
  • For an Analytical Essay (e.g. literature, philosophy, article response): Before diving into interpretation and analysis, use your introduction to announce the original work and author/theorist, giving background about either or both. Consider a brief summary of the story, concept, or major ideas of the piece, then narrow down to the specific ideas you will be working with in the essay.

A Quick Thesis Formula

Tips for your thesis.

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible, yet still able to be developed in different ways through your body paragraphs.   Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions: “Communism collapsed due to societal discontent.” Communism where? What does “societal discontent” mean? Society can be discontent about anything! Here is an improvement: “Co mmunism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite’s inability to address the economic needs of the people .”

The Topic is relatively specific: communism in Eastern Europe. Also, the Main Point (italicized segment) is clear. Now in this example, the Details (how the body paragraphs will be broken down) are only hinted at, but that might be enough for some courses as long as you have strong, guiding topic sentences that connect back to these key words from the thesis.

In some courses though, especially ENGL 1010, you might need to absolutely spell out the breakdown of subtopics in your thesis (a forecasting thesis). So here is an example of one, and to make it even more ENGL 1010-friendly, it is an argumentative thesis. The Topic , Main Point , and Details are indicated:  “The public sale of fireworks in Pennsylvania should be prohibited because of fireworks’ danger to people , noise disturbance , and potential damage to property .”

Thesis Pitfalls

Check to make sure your thesis is not…

  • Too broad or general: “Drugs have a negative effect on society.”
  • Too big to be adequately covered within the assigned length of a paper: “Warfare in Europe has greatly evolved through the centuries with many different forms.”
  • Too narrow a focus to sustain an essay of the required length: “All students should have an alarm clock to wake them up in the morning.”
  • A question: “What will the United States do to curb gun violence?”
  • An obvious idea: “Spending more money than you earn results in debt.”
  • Combative, insulting, assuming, or confrontational: “Gun nuts need to understand that they don’t need to have so many guns because violence is evil.”
  • A basic definition of a word: “Sexism is   prejudice or discrimination based on sex or gender .”
  • Lacking any strong stand: “Legislation surrounding same-sex marriage is a hotly debated issue today.”
  • Stating a fact, offering little room for expansion: “Sixty-seven percent o f pregnant women have claimed to have a higher level of smell sensitivity.”
  • Containing more than one main idea: “Asbestos abatement is a complicated process, and it is also important to check one’s home for radon.” (A thesis can have more than one idea, but the hierarchy should be clear. That is, one should be easily identifiable as the main idea, while the others are clearly supporting it).”

Other Introduction Paragraph PItfalls

  • Writing a very attention-grabbing hook, but failing to connect its meaning with the rest of the paragraph.
  • Going too deep into your reasons or subtopics within your introduction, and so setting yourself up to be repetitive later in the essay.
  • Opening with a cliché statement or a very obvious idea.
  • Referring to your essay or referring to yourself as the writer of the essay (“In this essay I will tell you about…”)
  • Relying immediately on a reference source to define your subject for you. (“According to Webster’s Dictionary…” or “Wikipedia states…”)

A Final Word

Remember, your introductory paragraph sets the tone for your essay and is your first impression, so it is worth taking your time on. But don’t worry if it does not come off sounding exactly right the first time. We are all learners as writers! It is natural and necessary to return to your introduction for revision after you have drafted the rest of your essay, just to make sure it is still consistent with what the paper has evolved into.

We at the Learning Commons are here to help at any stage of the writing process. Please come in anytime to go over what you have so far , even if you haven’t written anything down yet . We can help you find your direction. Also check out our handout s “Building Body Paragraphs” and “ Writing a Conclusion , ” among many others . We hope you take joy in your writing as you investigate a subject that interests you and that you also have the chance to express yourself well.

  • Adaptations for format / ADA compliance. Authored by : Dann Coble. Provided by : Corning Community College. License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • Authored by : Keith Ward. Provided by : Corning Community College. License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright

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The first paragraph or two of any paper should be constructed with care, creating a path for both the writer and reader to follow. However, it is very common to adjust the introduction more than once over the course of drafting and revising your document. In fact, it is normal (and often very useful, or even essential!) to heavily revise your introduction after you've finished composing the paper, since that is most likely when you have the best grasp on what you've been aiming to say.

The introduction is your opportunity to efficiently establish for your reader the topic and significance of your discussion, the focused argument or claim you’ll make contained in your thesis statement, and a sense of how your presentation of information will proceed.

There are a few things to avoid in crafting good introductions. Steer clear of unnecessary length: you should be able to effectively introduce the critical elements of any project a page or less. Another pitfall to watch out for is providing excessive history or context before clearly stating your own purpose. Finally, don’t lose time stalling because you can't think of a good first line. A funny or dramatic opener for your paper (also known as “a hook”) can be a nice touch, but it is by no means a required element in a good academic paper.

Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Roadmaps Links

  • Short video (5:47): " Writing an Introduction to a Paper ," GWC
  • Handout (printable):  " Introductions ," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center
  • Handout (printable): " Thesis Statements ," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center
  • NPS-specific one-page (printable)  S ample Thesis Chapter Introduction with Roadmap , from "Venezuela: A Revolution on Standby," Luis Calvo
  • Short video (3:39):  " Writing Ninjas: How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement "
  • Video (5:06): " Thesis Statements ," Purdue OWL

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How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

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The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.

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Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction

Open with a (personal) story, begin with a problem, define a clear research gap, describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences, support your argument with sufficient evidence, consider possible objections, address the empirical research context, give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.

An introductory chapter plays an integral part in every thesis. The first chapter has to include quite a lot of information to contextualise the research. At the same time, a good thesis introduction is not too long, but clear and to the point.

A powerful thesis introduction does the following:

  • It captures the reader’s attention.
  • It presents a clear research gap and emphasises the thesis’ relevance.
  • It provides a compelling argument.
  • It previews the research findings.
  • It explains the structure of the thesis.

In addition, a powerful thesis introduction is well-written, logically structured, and free of grammar and spelling errors. Reputable thesis editors can elevate the quality of your introduction to the next level. If you are in search of a trustworthy thesis or dissertation editor who upholds high-quality standards and offers efficient turnaround times, I recommend the professional thesis and dissertation editing service provided by Editage . 

This list can feel quite overwhelming. However, with some easy tips and tricks, you can accomplish all these goals in your thesis introduction. (And if you struggle with finding the right wording, have a look at academic key phrases for introductions .)

Ways to capture the reader’s attention

A powerful thesis introduction should spark the reader’s interest on the first pages. A reader should be enticed to continue reading! There are three common ways to capture the reader’s attention.

An established way to capture the reader’s attention in a thesis introduction is by starting with a story. Regardless of how abstract and ‘scientific’ the actual thesis content is, it can be useful to ease the reader into the topic with a short story.

This story can be, for instance, based on one of your study participants. It can also be a very personal account of one of your own experiences, which drew you to study the thesis topic in the first place.

Start by providing data or statistics

Data and statistics are another established way to immediately draw in your reader. Especially surprising or shocking numbers can highlight the importance of a thesis topic in the first few sentences!

So if your thesis topic lends itself to being kick-started with data or statistics, you are in for a quick and easy way to write a memorable thesis introduction.

The third established way to capture the reader’s attention is by starting with the problem that underlies your thesis. It is advisable to keep the problem simple. A few sentences at the start of the chapter should suffice.

Usually, at a later stage in the introductory chapter, it is common to go more in-depth, describing the research problem (and its scientific and societal relevance) in more detail.

You may also like: Minimalist writing for a better thesis

Emphasising the thesis’ relevance

A good thesis is a relevant thesis. No one wants to read about a concept that has already been explored hundreds of times, or that no one cares about.

Of course, a thesis heavily relies on the work of other scholars. However, each thesis is – and should be – unique. If you want to write a fantastic thesis introduction, your job is to point out this uniqueness!

In academic research, a research gap signifies a research area or research question that has not been explored yet, that has been insufficiently explored, or whose insights and findings are outdated.

Every thesis needs a crystal-clear research gap. Spell it out instead of letting your reader figure out why your thesis is relevant.

* This example has been taken from an actual academic paper on toxic behaviour in online games: Liu, J. and Agur, C. (2022). “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games. Games and Culture 1–24, DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397

The scientific relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your work in terms of advancing theoretical insights on a topic. You can think of this part as your contribution to the (international) academic literature.

Scientific relevance comes in different forms. For instance, you can critically assess a prominent theory explaining a specific phenomenon. Maybe something is missing? Or you can develop a novel framework that combines different frameworks used by other scholars. Or you can draw attention to the context-specific nature of a phenomenon that is discussed in the international literature.

The societal relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your research in more practical terms. You can think of this part as your contribution beyond theoretical insights and academic publications.

Why are your insights useful? Who can benefit from your insights? How can your insights improve existing practices?

introduction paragraph vs thesis

Formulating a compelling argument

Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights. Think of an argument as an umbrella statement, or core claim. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.

Including an argument in the introduction of your thesis may seem counterintuitive. After all, the reader will be introduced to your core claim before reading all the chapters of your thesis that led you to this claim in the first place.

But rest assured: A clear argument at the start of your thesis introduction is a sign of a good thesis. It works like a movie teaser to generate interest. And it helps the reader to follow your subsequent line of argumentation.

The core claim of your thesis should be accompanied by sufficient evidence. This does not mean that you have to write 10 pages about your results at this point.

However, you do need to show the reader that your claim is credible and legitimate because of the work you have done.

A good argument already anticipates possible objections. Not everyone will agree with your core claim. Therefore, it is smart to think ahead. What criticism can you expect?

Think about reasons or opposing positions that people can come up with to disagree with your claim. Then, try to address them head-on.

Providing a captivating preview of findings

Similar to presenting a compelling argument, a fantastic thesis introduction also previews some of the findings. When reading an introduction, the reader wants to learn a bit more about the research context. Furthermore, a reader should get a taste of the type of analysis that will be conducted. And lastly, a hint at the practical implications of the findings encourages the reader to read until the end.

If you focus on a specific empirical context, make sure to provide some information about it. The empirical context could be, for instance, a country, an island, a school or city. Make sure the reader understands why you chose this context for your research, and why it fits to your research objective.

If you did all your research in a lab, this section is obviously irrelevant. However, in that case you should explain the setup of your experiment, etcetera.

The empirical part of your thesis centers around the collection and analysis of information. What information, and what evidence, did you generate? And what are some of the key findings?

For instance, you can provide a short summary of the different research methods that you used to collect data. Followed by a short overview of how you analysed this data, and some of the key findings. The reader needs to understand why your empirical analysis is worth reading.

You already highlighted the practical relevance of your thesis in the introductory chapter. However, you should also provide a preview of some of the practical implications that you will develop in your thesis based on your findings.

Presenting a crystal clear thesis structure

A fantastic thesis introduction helps the reader to understand the structure and logic of your whole thesis. This is probably the easiest part to write in a thesis introduction. However, this part can be best written at the very end, once everything else is ready.

A reading guide is an essential part in a thesis introduction! Usually, the reading guide can be found toward the end of the introductory chapter.

The reading guide basically tells the reader what to expect in the chapters to come.

In a longer thesis, such as a PhD thesis, it can be smart to provide a summary of each chapter to come. Think of a paragraph for each chapter, almost in the form of an abstract.

For shorter theses, which also have a shorter introduction, this step is not necessary.

Especially for longer theses, it tends to be a good idea to design a simple figure that illustrates the structure of your thesis. It helps the reader to better grasp the logic of your thesis.

introduction paragraph vs thesis

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What is a thesis statement? I need some examples, too.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, includes the points discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience. Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction. Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading.

You can read chapter four of Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers an eBook in our online collection, click the title to open: "How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?" .

Another option is to think of a thesis statement as one complete sentence that expresses your position .

  • Narrows the topic down to a specific focus of an investigation.
  • Establishes a direction for the entire paper.
  • Points forward to the conclusion.
  • Always stated in your introduction. (Usually at the end of the first paragraph).
  • Always take a stand and justify further discussion.

A thesis statement is not a statement of fact.

Your readers—especially your instructors—want to read writing that engages them. Consequently, you must write thesis statements that are arguable, not factual. Statements of fact seem easy to write about because, well, they are easy to prove. After all, they’re facts. The problem is that you cannot write engaging papers around statements of fact. Such theses prevent you from demonstrating critical thinking and analytical skills, which you want to show your instructor. If you were to write a paper around the next two statements, your writing would probably be quite dull because you would be restating facts that the general public already knows.

Thesis Statements always take a stand and justify further discussion.

In order to make your writing interesting, you should develop a thesis statement that is arguable. Sometimes you will be writing to persuade others to see things your way and other times you will simply be giving your strong opinion and laying out your case for it.

Take a look at the following examples:

Statement of fact:

Small cars get better fuel mileage than 4x4 pickup trucks.

Arguable thesis statement:

The government should ban 4x4 pickup trucks except for work-related use.

Foul language is common in movies.

The amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of foul language in real life.

State ment of fact:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.

Arguable thesis statement/opening paragraph:

Researchers think the incidence of celiac disease is increasing in the USA not only because of an increase in the ability and awareness to diagnose it, but also because of changes in the agricultural system. In particular, they are looking at the increased use of pesticides, insecticides, and genetically modified wheat as culprits. Some of these theories are more likely to be valid than others.

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Comments (6)

  • this is really helpful by rita on Nov 14, 2021
  • Yes, thank you. This is really helpful. It's been YEARS since I have encountered the term "thesis statement", and I needed a refresher on what it was before beginning my final presentation for a college course. This page answered all of my questions! by Brigitte on Dec 06, 2021
  • Thank You. This helped by Deborah Smith on Mar 23, 2022
  • Great explanation. This will definitely help my writing, by Jack on Dec 15, 2022
  • This a very helpful website for me. Thank you by Catie on Jan 09, 2023
  • This is very helpful. Thank you by George Wilson on Jan 31, 2024

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Introductory Paragraph

Parts of the introductory paragraph.

In this lesson, you will learn about the two parts of an introductory paragraph. An introductory paragraph is usually the first paragraph of an essay. The two parts of an introductory paragraph are as follows:

Thesis Statement

According to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center , the hook has two basic purposes:

  • To draw the reader in
  • To give context to the essay topic

Drawing the Reader In

As the writer, you only have one chance to draw your reader in and make them want to read your essay. While it can sometimes be difficult to know what combination of thoughts and words might draw your reader in, there are some things you can do to have a much better chance of success. Let’s explore this by looking at an example.

Imagine for a moment that you were asked to write an essay in response to the following question:

What is one thing you can do to overcome a specific thinking error?

If you were writing an essay in response to that prompt, how could the first paragraph in your essay, the introductory paragraph, draw your reader in and make him or her want to read your essay? What kind of hook could you use?

Let’s explore this question by looking at a few examples of some approaches you could take.

  • Elder Jorg Klebingat in a talk entitled “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” taught, “Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving saints...to abandon belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between [us] and God...As long as [we] allow these voices to chisel away at [our] soul, [we] can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence.” This “campaign” Elder Klebingat describes between the adversary and us oftentimes results in something called “thinking errors.”
  • I can remember vividly the first time I truly felt like giving up. It was in a Physical Education class in primary school and my teacher, Mr. Scott, needed me to successfully spike a volleyball over the net before the end of class that day. If I did not, I would not pass the class. Though his request was simple, to me it felt completely impossible. I had failed to fulfill his requirement for the past four days. Why would this day be any different? “What’s the use in trying?” I thought to myself. “I might as well just give up now and not even try instead of trying and failing in front of my peers.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was suffering from in that moment was something far worse than a simple lack of athleticism. I had a thinking error.
  • Take a moment to think back on one of the most challenging times of your life. What was it like? What caused it and what made it so hard? What impact did that difficult situation have on your mind? What thoughts did you have (and perhaps still have) as you worked through that difficult situation? Hard times are hard no matter what. A lot of times they are actually made harder though by our own minds. Keeping a healthy state of mind is hard and it can be even harder when going through challenges. This is largely due to the tendency we all have to commit thinking errors-false ways of thinking and viewing the world.

Though pretty simple approaches, any one of these three types of hooks (if related to your topic or thesis statement) could do a wonderful job of drawing your reader in and making him or her want to read your essay.

Giving Context to the Essay Topic

Another basic purpose of the hook is to give context to the essay topic. So what is “context” and why is it important when writing a hook? Let’s explore that a little bit further with a simple analogy.

Have you ever had access to a cell phone or computer? If so, you have likely seen or even used some of the “Map” applications or features it has. Perhaps you typed in your home address and then saw some satellite (aerial) images of your home. Perhaps you then zoomed out so you could see your yard, the surrounding neighborhood, and even some of the other neighborhoods close by. Maybe you even zoomed far out enough to see surrounding buildings, neighborhoods, or even cities you had not seen before- context around your own home or neighborhood that made you view where you live a little differently or more clearly.

Think of your hook and its purpose of giving context to your essay topic as the “zoom” feature of your essay. Much like the zoom feature on a digital map gives you context for your home by allowing you to see how it fits in with the neighborhood, surrounding neighborhoods, and even surrounding cities, the hook of your essay can give your reader context for your essay topic and thesis statement by zooming out a little so your reader can see how the topic you are addressing fits in with the other more broad (and perhaps more familiar) topics that surround it. Taking the time to adjust the “zoom” feature within your hook will ensure that your reader has enough context for your essay topic to find and understand your thesis statement (the heart and home) of your essay.

It may take some time and practice to determine how far you need to zoom out on your essay topic to provide you reader with the right amount of context to find and understand your thesis statement, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit. A good way to test if you are on the right track is to write out your best version of a hook (one that does what it can to draw your reader in and give context to your essay topic) and your best version of a thesis statement (a sentence that establishes the controlling idea of your essay based on your essay topic) and then have a close family member or friend read it over. If the hook zooms out enough (gives enough context) for your thesis statement to seem logical and make sense, then you probably have the right amount of zoom. If not, then you may have to look at zooming out or in a bit more so the location and content of your thesis statement make sense.

Ponder and Record

As you review the above material, please consider the following questions and record your answers:

  • Based on what you read in the “Drawing the Reader In” section above, which approach are you likely to take when writing your hook (i.e. will you share an engaging example, a thought-provoking quote, a related personal experience, or a series of thoughtful questions)?
  • How could you also use those approaches in the “drawing your reader in” section to give context (or the right amount of zoom) to your essay topic?

Another important part of the introductory paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement serves as the road map for the rest of your essay -it indicates the controlling idea you will be focusing on throughout your essay (your response to the prompt question) and also outlines the controlling ideas of each of your body paragraphs.

To write a truly effective thesis statement, there are a few simple things you should remember. Your thesis statement should:

  • Indicate the controlling idea of the essay
  • Outline the controlling idea of each body paragraph of your essay
  • Be the last sentence in the introductory paragraph
  • Be reviewed (and rewritten, if necessary)

This is a chart of things an Effective Thesis Statement Should do. 1. Be the last sentence in the introductory paragraph. 2. Indicate the controlling idea of the essay. 3. Outline the controlling idea of each body paragraph. 4. Be reviewd and written if necessary.

Indicate the Controlling Idea of the Essay

One of the keys to a great basic (or body) paragraph is a single controlling idea-as stated in the topic sentence of that paragraph. The basic essay is no different. Just as the basic paragraph requires a single controlling idea, so too does the basic essay. And just as that controlling idea is established in the topic sentence of a basic paragraph, the controlling idea of the basic essay is established within its thesis statement.

To illustrate this idea, let’s look at an example. Imagine once again that you were asked to write an essay in response to the following question:

What might your answer be? Perhaps something like:

One thing I could do to overcome the thinking error of giving up would be to pay more attention to the circumstances in which the thinking error usually occurs.

The answer to that question indicates the controlling idea of your essay. Since one of the roles of your thesis statement is to establish the controlling idea of your essay, this same answer, if phrased properly, can become the thesis statement for your essay.

One thing I can do to overcome my thinking error of giving up is to take a step back and pay closer attention to the conditions in which this thinking error seems to occur.

  • Based on the prompt question example above, what would your thesis (or answer) for that prompt question be?

Outline the Controlling Idea of Each Body Paragraph

Another thing your thesis should do is outline the controlling ideas for each of your body paragraphs. Sometimes the prompt question you are answering asks for only one specific answer, resulting in just one specific controlling idea in one body paragraph. This is the case with the prompt question above. It asks for one thing that can be done to overcome a specific thinking error.

This is not always the case though. Many prompt questions may ask for two or three items to be focused on instead of just one. What might a thesis statement like that look like? How could a thesis statement indicate not only the controlling idea for the entire essay, but also the controlling ideas that will be addressed by the two or three body paragraphs to follow?

Let’s explore this by looking at a different version of the same prompt question. Imagine for a moment that the prompt question did not simply ask for “one thing” you could do to overcome a specific answer, but rather “two” or “three”? Something like:

What are three things you can do to overcome a specific thinking error?

What might a thesis statement that needs to address not just one but three things a person can do to overcome a specific thinking error look like? It could take on many forms, one of which can be seen in the example below:

Three things I could do to overcome my thinking error of giving up would be to pay closer attention to the conditions in which the thinking error usually occurs, act to immediately change my physical and mental state so I can stop the thinking error, and then consistently reflect and evaluate how successful I was in stopping the thinking error.

Notice how this thesis statement answers the prompt question while also outlining the controlling ideas for each of the three body paragraphs to follow?

  • How might your thesis statement change if the prompt question asked to indicate not one but three things you could do to overcome a thinking error?

This expectation sounds simple, but you would be surprised by how many students struggle with this sometimes. When writing a basic essay, it is important that you place your thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph. It should come after the hook, as shown in the graphic below:

This is an image with three different portions of an introductory paragraph. 1.Hook, 2.Context, and 3.Thesis Statement.

This will help your reader to quickly identify the direction your essay is headed. It will also help your reader know what controlling ideas will likely be shared in your other body paragraphs.

Be Reviewed (and Rewritten, if Necessary)

Sometimes the body paragraphs and their supporting details slightly (or even greatly) change the direction of the essay or your answer to the prompt question. After you have written the other parts of your essay (especially the body paragraphs) it is always a good idea to go back and review the introductory paragraph (specifically the thesis statement) to ensure that the thesis “answer” to the prompt question and the answer you support throughout the body paragraphs of your paper match with one another.

Think of it this way, how frustrated would you be if you were promised a map to the local theme park for a day of fun, only to receive directions to an oil refinery? You would likely be frustrated by the fact that what you were promised up-front was not delivered to you in the end.

Always make sure the roadmap you issue to your reader in the introductory paragraph matches the actual directions they receive in the body of your essay.

  • What are the four keys to writing a powerful thesis statement?
  • Why should the thesis statement be placed at the end of the introductory paragraph? Why not the beginning?
  • Why would it be important to revisit the introductory paragraph after the rest of the essay has been written? What purpose would that serve?

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  • Research paper

Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

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introduction paragraph vs thesis

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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Introduction – Definition, Overview & Examples

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In the sphere of academic writing , the introduction holds a significant section in many types of papers ranging from academic essays to historical papers, serving as a crucial framework that provides insight into the core essence of the entire paper. An ideal introduction engages the readers, sets the tone, and includes a thesis statement , which navigates the following discourse. Crafting a compelling introductory paragraph poses an essential writing skill to improve your writing style and initial impressions of a paper.


  • 1 Introduction in a nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Introduction
  • 3 Contents of an introduction
  • 4 Overview of structure and key aspects
  • 6 Thesis introduction
  • 7 Introduction vs. closing paragraph
  • 8 Don’ts for writing a good introduction

Introduction in a nutshell

An introduction in academic papers is the initial section where the author provides a brief overview of the topic, outlines the main questions or issues to be addressed, and presents the thesis statement to guide readers on what to expect from the rest of the paper. It sets the stage for the discussion and helps engage the reader’s interest and understanding of the context and significance of the study.

Definition: Introduction

There are several definitions for introductions. The general one is that is at the beginning of all kinds of papers and poses an essential framework. The functions of introductions are, among others, to smoothly transition the readers into the core of the entire paper. Therefore, it forms one of the three cornerstones of many types of paper in the academic realm, next to the main body and conclusion .

A concise, engaging, and well-written introduction skillfully makes the reader excited and draws their attention to the topic by arousing interest. The introductory paragraph also needs to describe the objective of your paper and state the methods you will use to achieve your goal. It entails a sneak peek into the theoretical or empirical framework, as well as, the methodology of the paper. Moreover, it houses the rule of thumb for thesis statements, which presents a crucial role in guiding the arguments and discourse that follow. Oftentimes, the introduction includes thesis acknowledgments regarding existing literature, i.e., it provides contrasts or alignments between the study and already existing studies surrounding the same or similar topics. This plays an imperative role in contributing to the overall academic debate on the topic.

Contents of an introduction

The background for context, sentence structure , and putting ideas in context are critical aspects to consider when aiming to draw attentive readers and composing an effective introduction. Effective strategies for a good introductory paragraph are to fulfill relevance, research topic, and procedure:

  • Relevance: Why is the research topic important? Hook the reader!
  • Research topic: What is the research question and/or topic matter that will be covered?
  • Procedure: What effective strategy should be used to answer the research question?

In short, the introductory paragraph initiates the topic matters for the area of research, as well as the research question, derived from it. A well-written introduction tells the reader why answering the research question will lead to new, important insights.


Paper outline of methods

Equally important is the essay outline of the methods used to answer the research question.


In the introductory paragraph, you need to justify how and why you have narrowed down your topic. This will be summarized by a shorter introduction and description of your line of argument and the structure of your research paper .

Tip: Make sure not to turn your introduction into a simple reproduction of your table of contents .

Like the concluding paragraph, the introductory paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis should not represent a fragment, but a constant introduction. This means that sweeping statements should be avoided so that the reader does not need to rely on insights established within the main body to understand the topic of the paper.

Overview of structure and key aspects

Find more detailed information below by clicking on the relevant aspect.

Step 1: Leading to the topic

There are numerous ways to eager readers to your research topic:

  • A provocative proposition

“Sociology can no longer be dissociated from insights and findings on women’s situation in society that have been developed by feminist scientists over the last 20 years.”

  • Thought-provoking questions
  • What can the differences between individuals be attributed to?
  • Is it genetics or environmental factors?
  • What comprises the practical relevance of this question?
  • An experiential report 

“Over the last few weeks I have interviewed former teachers of a primary school for girls on the immediate post-war era. Amongst other things I wanted to find out what it meant to them to have taught girls. Unanimously, the pedagogical ambition was found to be the same, regardless of the students being boys or girls.”

  • A puzzling scenario

“However, while many businesses report increased visibility, there’s a surprising lack of evidence correlating social media marketing with actual sales.”

“Education and slavery were incompatible with each other.”

Note: Most of the time, well-known or famous quotes don’t work in academic papers, quote an author of a reference or source instead.

Structuring an introductory paragraph

  • Introduce the general context or background: Perhaps you could explain the title in your own words or use a quotation from an author who offers a supporting or contradictory statement about your topic area.
  • Definitions: Are you using any complex terminology or acronyms that need definitions ? Try to use a working definition from an expert in your subject area, rather than referring to broad statements of a dictionary.
  • Introduce the ideas in context: You cannot include everything, e.g., in a 2000-word English essay introduction; select between three and five key ideas and introduce them in the order they are discussed.

Step 2: Justification of the topic’s relevance

The introductory paragraph of your thesis or research paper contextualizes your overall topic within the greater context of the area of research and establishes a connection to other studies in the general field.

The following three introduction paragraph examples are guidelines as to how you can best tie in with the most current research:


The following example illustrates how you can point the reader to your topic’s significance:

Introduction significance of the study

This significance of the study starts off with broad statements and gradually tapers off to a specific group or person. In essence, it delves into the general contribution of the study like the importance of this study to society as a whole, and then proceeds towards its contribution to individuals including yourself as a researcher.

Step 3: Subject of your research paper or academic essay

When writing the introduction to your research paper or your academic essay , it is crucial to touch upon what will be researched.

This can be done by addressing your research question. Keep the aspects in mind, you will be narrowing your research topic down to, and what definition of the key terms used in your research question you want to follow.

The research question is a product of your topic in research, which is why it needs to be evident and clear that there is a relationship between the question and the topic throughout your entire paper.

Step 4: Objectives of your research paper

Other vital aspects to include in the introductory paragraph are the objective you are pursuing, and the outcome you are anticipating.

The title of your research paper is not identical to your objectives. Typically, the title of your research paper or essay describes the general subject area rather than the niche you want to cover.

The introduction paragraph examples below show how to account for the objective of your paper in one sentence.

This paper reviews the problem of Pennsylvania’s dwindling landfill space, evaluates the success of recycling as a solution to this problem, and challenges the assumption that Pennsylvania will run out of landfill space by the year 2020.

As this paper will show, the fundamental problem behind the Arab-Israeli conflict is the lack of a workable solution to the third stage of partition, which greatly hinders the current

Step 5: Outline of methods

Writing an effective introduction also involves having a firm grasp of the methods you will be using to achieve your research goal. For this, you must depict the way you anticipate achieving your objectives in the introduction paragraph of your essay or research paper and how you went about to answer the research question.

Furthermore, a summary of the theoretical framework of your research paper is an essential part of the introduction, including the literature review .

In terms of empirical research like a dissertation based on empirical studies, the introduction needs to explain the methods utilized to analyze the data you gathered in your study and the proceess behind it.

Related background in the introduction paragraph, such as work experience or research stays, is a plus when it is appropriate. However, this information should only be used if relevant.

Step 6: Limitations of your research questions

Acknowledging your limitations plays a crucial factor in writing an effective introduction for your research, as they dissociate your research topic from other studies in the field.

Therefore, giving valid reasons for any limitations and restrictions makes your research unique and different from others. The introduction paragraph of your research paper clarifies why you restrict your research topic to a certain, potentially very specific research area, and why this is important to achieve the goals you set out to, whether this pertains to a bachelor’s thesis, or any other research paper.

Step 7: Differentiation and disambiguation of terms

If you use specific terminology in your research paper, it is integral to include a section explaining these fundamental terms in your introduction, so the readers can grasp a good understanding of your reseach topic.

Explanations of terms that are only relevant to individual segments of your research paper should not be part of the introduction paragraph. Focus on terms that you might use (slightly) differently than your readers might expect, and define them accordingly.

Step 8: Outline of the structure of your research paper or essay

Based on the table of contents of your paper, it is essential to provide a brief outline of the paper’s structure in the introduction. The outline should contain a clear representation of argumentative choice.

In essence, you give a short overview of how you will go about answering your research question, which is reflected in the structure of your research paper. This will also be helpful to keep the reader excited and attentive for the following discourse.

The main purposes of the investigation into children’s Internet addiction are to study the phenomenon, learn about both views, reveal the true opinion, and create a list of recommendations for parents.

I will be exploring how these POV cameras are being utilized in teaching, with a focus on science education, to gather data and provide virtual experiences – both in the lab and in the field.

Note: As a rule of thumb, the quality of the explanations depends on the length of your research paper: The shorter your research paper, the shorter your initial explanations in the introduction paragraph.

Keep in mind that the main goal is to keep the reader hooked and provide a thorough understanding of why you have chosen to proceed a certain way.

The University of Leicester gives an example of an effective essay introduction. Be aware that essays are a particular kind of research paper and differ from, e.g., articles or ‘scientific’ term papers . The example below illustrates the sections of an introduction regarding the following research question “What is the importance of imitation in early child development?”

Introduction example for essay

Thesis introduction

„We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax.”

Samuel Goldwyn, film producer and publisher.

While a scientific research paper is not a film script and no professor will expect an earthquake when sitting down to read the introduction paragraph of your research paper, you still want to achieve a similar mind-blowing effect with your introduction.

Your introduction paragraph needs to captivate the reader and arouse curiosity. It is the initial impression of your paper, and therefore, should not make a negative impression. A catchy introduction guarantees that the reader will keep reading your paper with interest.

The introduction paragraph is the actual beginning of your paper, as neither the abstract, foreword, nor table of contents belong in the actual body of it.

In the introduction paragraph, you reach out to the reader for the first time, and ideally, you want to leave a good impression. Thus, the introduction poses the flagship of your research paper.

Length of the introduction paragraph

Planning your writing is quite a pragmatic endeavor. This includes deciding on how long each part of the text needs to be. The lengths of individual parts of your research paper depend on the overall length of your paper.

While the main body of your research paper should be the longest, the introduction paragraph should account for up to 15% of the scope of your text. It is advised to restrict the introduction down to only 5%, which is the equivalent of approximately one page in a 20-page research paper. Some institutional guidelines advise 10%, therefore, depending on your institution, this may vary.

In overall, the introduction paragraph of your research paper, essay, or dissertation should account for 5-15% of your paper. It is further urged to write your introduction paragraph in such a manner that it holds a sensible relation to the rest of the text. Writing an effective introduction is not an easy task just because it is comparatively short. Be brief but precise, boil everything down to its essence, and save the longer versions of explanations for the main body of the text.

Note: The introduction does not anticipate the main body. Instead, the introduction announces the content of the main body. In other words, the introduction paragraph paves the way into the main body of your paper. As an announcement, the introduction needs to be to the point by definition.

Introduction vs. closing paragraph

Where to start on that blank piece of paper in front of you? As ironic as it might sound, it is a just and well debated question. The introduction paragraph and the closing paragraph are closely linked. While the closing paragraph summarizes the main body of your research paper, the introduction paragraph prepares the reader for it. Hence, both conclusion and introduction are part of brackets that parenthesize your research paper.

Essentially, you should write the introduction paragraph at the end of your writing process. This is because you are likely to know only at the end of your work what you could actually achieve. Therefore, it is recommended to write a rough draft at first and complete the initial introduction along the way.

Writing an introduction is considered the most difficult part. Therefore, it is efficient to write a rough draft at first and finalize it once you know where you are headed. The first step of the writing process, should be the main body. This strategy can also prevent writer’s block . Adding an appropriate quote that gets the reader started and is then followed by the research discourse and a research question is an effective way of beginning your writing process.

It is also imperative that you have gained a thorough overview of your research topic prior writing your introduction, especially for more complicated topics, to captivate the reader.

Don’ts for writing a good introduction

The following table summarizes important aspects you should refrain from when writing your introduction:

The introduction does not anticipate the main body, it rather announces the content of the main body. Hence, the introduction paragraph navigates the reader to the main body of your research discourse. Based on this, the introduction needs to be short and precise by definition.

How do I start my introduction?

  • Understand the purpose: Background and thesis statement
  • Start with a hook: Anecdote, question, quotation, statistics , bold statement
  • Tailor it to your audience: What is the target group? What do they know already?
  • Revise and refine: Complete it along the way, finalize it at the end of writing

What is an introduction and example?

An introduction primarily states the purpose of an academic paper. It conveys the central or main points that will be covered. The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction, with any background information given beforehand. Introductions come right after the table of contents page, but before the body of the essay or thesis.

Click here to get to the example.

What is an introduction in simple words?

An introduction of any scientific paper represents the beginning part of the paper, where you provide basic information to transition the reader to the main discourse of the paper.

What are the contents of an introduction?

Every introduction should clearly state the purpose of your paper with a summary of the main points that will be discussed. It should be enough to give the reader an overview of what to expect in the main body of the writing. It can also include an explanation of elements that are not mentioned within the scope of the remaining writing, such as background information that may be relevant to the thesis statement. The thesis statement should always be placed towards the end of the introduction.

How do you write a good introduction?

A good introduction captures the reader’s attention immediately, which in turn makes them want to read the remaining pages of the paper. It should clearly state the main topic, provide relevant context, and explain your specific area of focus. Ultimately, it should provide the most relevant and helpful information about your research topic. The reader should be informed of any background information prior to reading the body of the thesis or essay.

What is the difference between a summary and an introduction?

The main difference between an introduction and a summary is their purpose. The introduction gives the reader a brief description of the topic and the main ideas that will be covered. A summary, on the other hand, briefly explains everything that is covered in a text in a few condensed sentences. Therefore, a summary is more general while an introduction points to the main topics and relevant ideas of the academic text.

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Introduction How to get an essay started

Getting started can often be difficult. Even professional writers say that the hardest part of writing is the beginning. Writing an introduction to an essay can therefore seem a daunting task, though it need not be so difficult, as long as you understand the purpose and the structure of the introduction. An example essay has been given to help you understand both of these, and there is a checklist at the end which you can use for editing your introduction.

Purpose of the introduction

When writing an introduction to an academic essay, it is useful to remember the main purpose of the introduction. In general, the introduction will introduce the topic to the reader by stating what the topic is and giving some general background information. This will help the reader to understand what you are writing about, and show why the topic is important. The introduction should also give the overall plan of the essay.

In short, the main purpose of the introduction is to:

  • introduce the topic of the essay;
  • give a general background of the topic;
  • indicate the overall plan of the essay.

This last purpose is perhaps the most important, and is the reason why many writers choose to write the introduction last , after they have written the main body , because they need to know what the essay will contain before they can give a clear plan.

Structure of the introduction

Although essays vary in length and content, most essays will have the same overall structure, including the introduction. The structure is related to the purpose mentioned above. The introduction to an essay should have the following two parts:

  • general statements (to introduce the topic and give the background);
  • a thesis statement (to show the structure).

General statements

The general statements will introduce the topic of the essay and give background information. The background information for a short essay will generally just be one or two sentences. The general statements should become more and more specific thesis statement , which is the most specific sentence of the introduction--> as the introduction progresses, leading the reader into the essay (some writers talk about "attracting the readers' attention", though for an academic essay, this is less important). For longer essays, the general statements could include one or more definitions , or could classify the topic, and may cover more than one paragraph.

The following is an example of background statements for a short essay ( given below ):

Although they were invented almost a hundred years ago, for decades cars were only owned by the rich. Since the 60s and 70s they have become increasingly affordable, and now most families in developed nations, and a growing number in developing countries, own a car.

These sentences introduce the topic of the essay (cars) and give some background to this topic (situation in the past, the situation now). These sentences lead nicely into the thesis statement (see below).

Thesis statement

The thesis statement is the most important part of the introduction. It gives the reader clear information about the content of the essay, which will help them to understand the essay more easily. The thesis states the specific topic, and often lists the main (controlling) ideas that will be discussed in the main body. It may also indicate how the essay will be organised, e.g. in chronological order, order of importance, advantages/disadvantages, cause/effect. It is usually at the end of the introduction, and is usually (but not always) one sentence long.

In short, the thesis statement:

  • states the specific topic of the essay;
  • often lists the main (controlling) ideas of the essay;
  • may indicate the method of organisation of the essay;
  • is usually at the end of the introduction;
  • is usually one sentence.

Here is an example of a thesis statement with no subtopics mentioned:

While cars have undoubted advantages, they also have significant drawbacks.

This thesis statement tells us the specific topic of the essay (advantages and disadvantages of cars) and the method of organisation (advantages should come first, disadvantages second). It is, however, quite general, and may have been written before the writer had completed the essay.

In the following thesis statement, the subtopics are named:

While cars have undoubted advantages, of which their convenience is the most apparent, they have significant drawbacks, most notably pollution and traffic problems.

This thesis gives us more detail, telling us not just the topic (advantages and disadvantages of cars) and the method of organisation (advantages first, disadvantages second), but also tells us the main ideas in the essay (convenience, pollution, traffic problems). This essay will probably have three paragraphs in the main body.

Example essay

Below is a discussion essay which looks at the advantages and disadvantages of car ownership. This essay is used throughout the essay writing section to help you understand different aspects of essay writing. Here it focuses on the thesis statement and general statements of the introduction (mentioned on this page), topic sentences , controlling ideas, and the summary and final comment of the conclusion. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay.

Although they were invented almost a hundred years ago, for decades cars were only owned by the rich. Since the 60s and 70s they have become increasingly affordable, and now most families in developed nations, and a growing number in developing countries, own a car. While cars have undoubted advantages, of which their convenience is the most apparent, they have significant drawbacks, most notably pollution and traffic problems . The most striking advantage of the car is its convenience. When travelling long distance, there may be only one choice of bus or train per day, which may be at an unsuitable time. The car, however, allows people to travel at any time they wish, and to almost any destination they choose. Despite this advantage, cars have many significant disadvantages, the most important of which is the pollution they cause. Almost all cars run either on petrol or diesel fuel, both of which are fossil fuels. Burning these fuels causes the car to emit serious pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxide. Not only are these gases harmful for health, causing respiratory disease and other illnesses, they also contribute to global warming, an increasing problem in the modern world. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (2013), transportation in the US accounts for 30% of all carbon dioxide production in that country, with 60% of these emissions coming from cars and small trucks. In short, pollution is a major drawback of cars. A further disadvantage is the traffic problems that they cause in many cities and towns of the world. While car ownership is increasing in almost all countries of the world, especially in developing countries, the amount of available roadway in cities is not increasing at an equal pace. This can lead to traffic congestion, in particular during the morning and evening rush hour. In some cities, this congestion can be severe, and delays of several hours can be a common occurrence. Such congestion can also affect those people who travel out of cities at the weekend. Spending hours sitting in an idle car means that this form of transport can in fact be less convenient than trains or aeroplanes or other forms of public transport. In conclusion, while the car is advantageous for its convenience , it has some important disadvantages, in particular the pollution it causes and the rise of traffic jams . If countries can invest in the development of technology for green fuels, and if car owners can think of alternatives such as car sharing, then some of these problems can be lessened.

Union of Concerned Scientists (2013). Car Emissions and Global Warming. www.ucsusa.org/clean vehicles/why-clean-cars/global-warming/ (Access date: 8 August, 2013)

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Below is a checklist for an essay introduction. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 26 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

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Identifying Thesis Statements, Claims, and Evidence

Thesis statements, claims, and evidence, introduction.

The three important parts of an argumentative essay are:

  • A thesis statement is a sentence, usually in the first paragraph of an article, that expresses the article’s main point. It is not a fact; it’s a statement that you could disagree with.  Therefore, the author has to convince you that the statement is correct.
  • Claims are statements that support the thesis statement, but like the thesis statement,  are not facts.  Because a claim is not a fact, it requires supporting evidence.
  • Evidence is factual information that shows a claim is true.  Usually, writers have to conduct their own research to find evidence that supports their ideas.  The evidence may include statistical (numerical) information, the opinions of experts, studies, personal experience, scholarly articles, or reports.

Each paragraph in the article is numbered at the beginning of the first sentence.

Paragraphs 1-7

Identifying the Thesis Statement. Paragraph 2 ends with this thesis statement:  “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.”  It is a thesis statement for three reasons:

  • It is the article’s main argument.
  • It is not a fact. Someone could think that peoples’ prior convictions should affect their access to higher education.
  • It requires evidence to show that it is true.

Finding Claims.  A claim is statement that supports a thesis statement.  Like a thesis, it is not a fact so it needs to be supported by evidence.

You have already identified the article’s thesis statement: “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.”

Like the thesis, a claim be an idea that the author believes to be true, but others may not agree.  For this reason, a claim needs support.

  • Question 1.  Can you find a claim in paragraph 3? Look for a statement that might be true, but needs to be supported by evidence.

Finding Evidence. 

Paragraphs 5-7 offer one type of evidence to support the claim you identified in the last question.  Reread paragraphs 5-7.

  • Question 2.  Which word best describes the kind of evidence included in those paragraphs:  A report, a study, personal experience of the author, statistics, or the opinion of an expert?

Paragraphs 8-10

Finding Claims

Paragraph 8 makes two claims:

  • “The United States needs to have more of this transformative power of education.”
  • “The country [the United States] incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other nation in the world.”

Finding Evidence

Paragraphs 8 and 9 include these statistics as evidence:

  • “The U.S. accounts for less than 5 percent of the world population but nearly 25 percent of the incarcerated population around the globe.”
  • “Roughly 2.2 million people in the United States are essentially locked away in cages. About 1 in 5 of those people are locked up for drug offenses.”

Question 3. Does this evidence support claim 1 from paragraph 8 (about the transformative power of education) or claim 2 (about the U.S.’s high incarceration rate)?

Question 4. Which word best describes this kind of evidence:  A report, a study, personal experience of the author, statistics, or the opinion of an expert?

Paragraphs 11-13

Remember that in paragraph 2, Andrisse writes that:

  • “People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.” (Thesis statement)
  • “More must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.” (Claim)

Now, review paragraphs 11-13 (Early life of crime). In these paragraphs, Andrisse shares more of his personal story.

Question 5. Do you think his personal story is evidence for statement 1 above, statement 2, both, or neither one?

Question 6. Is yes, which one(s)?

Question 7. Do you think his personal story is good evidence?  Does it persuade you to agree with him?

Paragraphs 14-16

Listed below are some claims that Andrisse makes in paragraph 14.  Below each claim, please write the supporting evidence from paragraphs 15 and 16.  If you can’t find any evidence,  write “none.”

Claim:  The more education a person has, the higher their income.

Claim: Similarly, the more education a person has, the less likely they are to return to prison.

Paragraphs 17-19

Evaluating Evidence

In these paragraphs, Andrisse returns to his personal story. He explains how his father’s illness inspired him to become a doctor and shares that he was accepted to only one of six biomedical graduate programs.

Do you think that this part of Andrisse’s story serves as evidence (support) for any claims that you’ve identified so far?   Or does it support his general thesis that “people’s prior convictions should not be held against them in pursuit of higher learning?” Please explain your answer.

Paragraphs 20-23

Andrisse uses his personal experience to repeat a claim he makes in paragraph 3, that “more must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.”

To support this statement, he has to show that barriers exist.  One barrier he identifies is the cost of college. He then explains the advantages of offering Pell grants to incarcerated people.

What evidence in paragraphs 21-23 support his claim about the success of Pell grants?

Paragraphs  24-28 (Remove questions about drug crimes from federal aid forms)

In this section, Andrisse argues that federal aid forms should not ask students about prior drug convictions.  To support that claim, he includes a statistic about students who had to answer a similar question on their college application.

What statistic does he include?

In paragraph 25, he assumes that if a question about drug convictions discourages students from applying to college, it will probably also discourage them from applying for federal aid.

What do you think about this assumption?   Do you think it’s reasonable or do you think Andrisse needs stronger evidence to show that federal aid forms should not ask students about prior drug convictions?

Supporting English Language Learners in First-Year College Composition Copyright © by Breana Bayraktar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing Introductory Paragraphs with Thesis Statement

Table of Contents

Are you a student tasked to write an essay? Have you finished your outline already? If not, you might want to learn about writing an  introductory paragraph with thesis statement example .

Writing an essay can be challenging, especially if writing isn’t your forte. However, you should remember that it has three major parts: the introduction, body, and, conclusion. The inverted triangle format shows that you should put utter importance on the introduction part.

This article will teach you how to write an  introductory paragraph with thesis statement example . You will learn about the definition of an essay’s introduction and how to write one. Follow these tips and ace that homework of yours!

What Is an Introductory Paragraph?

The introductory paragraph of any text is also known as its  introduction .

Introductions intend to prepare the reader’s mind about what they will encounter by going through the entire essay. It is supposed to contain all necessary information about the topic discussed in the paper.

This part is essential because it acts as a gateway for readers to understand what the text will tackle fully.

An introduction provides a glimpse of the arguments and claims presented through the document’s body.

In the inverted pyramid format, the introduction covers a vast expanse. It indicates that it is the essential part of a text.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

Three Things to Remember When Writing an Introductory Paragraph

Writing an introduction helps your readers better understand your essay. It acts like a movie teaser that informs them about the content they will expect from the text.

However, you should write an excellent introductory paragraph to hook them further into reading your document.

This section will provide you with tips on how to create an outstanding introduction for your paper.

1. Introduce or Summarize the Content

You might wonder, “is this the same thing with a conclusion?” The answer here is “no.” 

The purpose of an introduction is to provide an expectation for the readers about the content they will read. A conclusion, on the other hand, intends to digest all the content read by the readers.

Summarizing the content gives the readers a quick overview of what they will read. Typically, you can create this part while outlining your essay’s draft.

2. Keep It Simple

Next, your introduction should be simple. Ensure that your readers can easily understand the message of your introductory paragraph.

Avoid jargon or technical terms, especially when writing for a general audience. A complex introduction might intimidate them, causing them to refrain from reading your text.

Also, the ideal rule of thumb for an introductory paragraph is just around three sentences. Anything more than that might be too long to read.

3. Write Your Thesis Statement

The best way to write an introductory paragraph is by including your thesis statement. You might ask, “what is a thesis statement?”

This is the most crucial component in your entire document. It is the heart of the paper.

The thesis statement talks about the main points for each succeeding paragraph. It helps present the primary arguments, issues, or claims stated throughout the paper.

An outstanding introductory paragraph comes with an informative thesis statement.

Introductory Paragraph With Thesis Statement Example

TOPIC:  The Physical Development of Baby Ducks


Ducks are one of the most well-known avian (birds) species. During their mating season, they usually lay about nine eggs on average. T hese eggs turn into baby ducks known as “ducklings” that physically develops through sunlight, food, and other environmental factors.

As you can see through the introductory paragraph with the thesis statement example above, it only has three sentences. You may distinguish the thesis statement as the underlined sentence in the last part of the introduction.

The introduction of your essay is the essential part of any text. Ensure to follow the tips above to create a unique introductory paragraph. Remember, you must introduce or summarize the content , keep it simple, and write a thesis statement when making an introduction.

Writing Introductory Paragraphs with Thesis Statement

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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