How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)

The research paper introduction section, along with the Title and Abstract, can be considered the face of any research paper. The following article is intended to guide you in organizing and writing the research paper introduction for a quality academic article or dissertation.

The research paper introduction aims to present the topic to the reader. A study will only be accepted for publishing if you can ascertain that the available literature cannot answer your research question. So it is important to ensure that you have read important studies on that particular topic, especially those within the last five to ten years, and that they are properly referenced in this section. 1 What should be included in the research paper introduction is decided by what you want to tell readers about the reason behind the research and how you plan to fill the knowledge gap. The best research paper introduction provides a systemic review of existing work and demonstrates additional work that needs to be done. It needs to be brief, captivating, and well-referenced; a well-drafted research paper introduction will help the researcher win half the battle.

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

  • Present your research topic
  • Capture reader interest
  • Summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Define your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Highlight the novelty and contributions of the study
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The research paper introduction can vary in size and structure depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or is a review paper. Some research paper introduction examples are only half a page while others are a few pages long. In many cases, the introduction will be shorter than all of the other sections of your paper; its length depends on the size of your paper as a whole.

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Table of Contents

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The introduction in a research paper is placed at the beginning to guide the reader from a broad subject area to the specific topic that your research addresses. They present the following information to the reader

  • Scope: The topic covered in the research paper
  • Context: Background of your topic
  • Importance: Why your research matters in that particular area of research and the industry problem that can be targeted

The research paper introduction conveys a lot of information and can be considered an essential roadmap for the rest of your paper. A good introduction for a research paper is important for the following reasons:

  • It stimulates your reader’s interest: A good introduction section can make your readers want to read your paper by capturing their interest. It informs the reader what they are going to learn and helps determine if the topic is of interest to them.
  • It helps the reader understand the research background: Without a clear introduction, your readers may feel confused and even struggle when reading your paper. A good research paper introduction will prepare them for the in-depth research to come. It provides you the opportunity to engage with the readers and demonstrate your knowledge and authority on the specific topic.
  • It explains why your research paper is worth reading: Your introduction can convey a lot of information to your readers. It introduces the topic, why the topic is important, and how you plan to proceed with your research.
  • It helps guide the reader through the rest of the paper: The research paper introduction gives the reader a sense of the nature of the information that will support your arguments and the general organization of the paragraphs that will follow. It offers an overview of what to expect when reading the main body of your paper.

What are the parts of introduction in the research?

A good research paper introduction section should comprise three main elements: 2

  • What is known: This sets the stage for your research. It informs the readers of what is known on the subject.
  • What is lacking: This is aimed at justifying the reason for carrying out your research. This could involve investigating a new concept or method or building upon previous research.
  • What you aim to do: This part briefly states the objectives of your research and its major contributions. Your detailed hypothesis will also form a part of this section.

How to write a research paper introduction?

The first step in writing the research paper introduction is to inform the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening statement. The second step involves establishing the kinds of research that have been done and ending with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to address. Finally, the research paper introduction clarifies how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses. If your research involved testing hypotheses, these should be stated along with your research question. The hypothesis should be presented in the past tense since it will have been tested by the time you are writing the research paper introduction.

The following key points, with examples, can guide you when writing the research paper introduction section:

  • Highlight the importance of the research field or topic
  • Describe the background of the topic
  • Present an overview of current research on the topic

Example: The inclusion of experiential and competency-based learning has benefitted electronics engineering education. Industry partnerships provide an excellent alternative for students wanting to engage in solving real-world challenges. Industry-academia participation has grown in recent years due to the need for skilled engineers with practical training and specialized expertise. However, from the educational perspective, many activities are needed to incorporate sustainable development goals into the university curricula and consolidate learning innovation in universities.

  • Reveal a gap in existing research or oppose an existing assumption
  • Formulate the research question

Example: There have been plausible efforts to integrate educational activities in higher education electronics engineering programs. However, very few studies have considered using educational research methods for performance evaluation of competency-based higher engineering education, with a focus on technical and or transversal skills. To remedy the current need for evaluating competencies in STEM fields and providing sustainable development goals in engineering education, in this study, a comparison was drawn between study groups without and with industry partners.

  • State the purpose of your study
  • Highlight the key characteristics of your study
  • Describe important results
  • Highlight the novelty of the study.
  • Offer a brief overview of the structure of the paper.

Example: The study evaluates the main competency needed in the applied electronics course, which is a fundamental core subject for many electronics engineering undergraduate programs. We compared two groups, without and with an industrial partner, that offered real-world projects to solve during the semester. This comparison can help determine significant differences in both groups in terms of developing subject competency and achieving sustainable development goals.

Write a Research Paper Introduction in Minutes with Paperpal

Paperpal Copilot is a generative AI-powered academic writing assistant. It’s trained on millions of published scholarly articles and over 20 years of STM experience. Paperpal Copilot helps authors write better and faster with:

  • Real-time writing suggestions
  • In-depth checks for language and grammar correction
  • Paraphrasing to add variety, ensure academic tone, and trim text to meet journal limits

With Paperpal Copilot, create a research paper introduction effortlessly. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through how Paperpal transforms your initial ideas into a polished and publication-ready introduction.

how long should an intro to a research paper be

How to use Paperpal to write the Introduction section

Step 1: Sign up on Paperpal and click on the Copilot feature, under this choose Outlines > Research Article > Introduction

Step 2: Add your unstructured notes or initial draft, whether in English or another language, to Paperpal, which is to be used as the base for your content.

Step 3: Fill in the specifics, such as your field of study, brief description or details you want to include, which will help the AI generate the outline for your Introduction.

Step 4: Use this outline and sentence suggestions to develop your content, adding citations where needed and modifying it to align with your specific research focus.

Step 5: Turn to Paperpal’s granular language checks to refine your content, tailor it to reflect your personal writing style, and ensure it effectively conveys your message.

You can use the same process to develop each section of your article, and finally your research paper in half the time and without any of the stress.

The purpose of the research paper introduction is to introduce the reader to the problem definition, justify the need for the study, and describe the main theme of the study. The aim is to gain the reader’s attention by providing them with necessary background information and establishing the main purpose and direction of the research.

The length of the research paper introduction can vary across journals and disciplines. While there are no strict word limits for writing the research paper introduction, an ideal length would be one page, with a maximum of 400 words over 1-4 paragraphs. Generally, it is one of the shorter sections of the paper as the reader is assumed to have at least a reasonable knowledge about the topic. 2 For example, for a study evaluating the role of building design in ensuring fire safety, there is no need to discuss definitions and nature of fire in the introduction; you could start by commenting upon the existing practices for fire safety and how your study will add to the existing knowledge and practice.

When deciding what to include in the research paper introduction, the rest of the paper should also be considered. The aim is to introduce the reader smoothly to the topic and facilitate an easy read without much dependency on external sources. 3 Below is a list of elements you can include to prepare a research paper introduction outline and follow it when you are writing the research paper introduction. Topic introduction: This can include key definitions and a brief history of the topic. Research context and background: Offer the readers some general information and then narrow it down to specific aspects. Details of the research you conducted: A brief literature review can be included to support your arguments or line of thought. Rationale for the study: This establishes the relevance of your study and establishes its importance. Importance of your research: The main contributions are highlighted to help establish the novelty of your study Research hypothesis: Introduce your research question and propose an expected outcome. Organization of the paper: Include a short paragraph of 3-4 sentences that highlights your plan for the entire paper

Cite only works that are most relevant to your topic; as a general rule, you can include one to three. Note that readers want to see evidence of original thinking. So it is better to avoid using too many references as it does not leave much room for your personal standpoint to shine through. Citations in your research paper introduction support the key points, and the number of citations depend on the subject matter and the point discussed. If the research paper introduction is too long or overflowing with citations, it is better to cite a few review articles rather than the individual articles summarized in the review. A good point to remember when citing research papers in the introduction section is to include at least one-third of the references in the introduction.

The literature review plays a significant role in the research paper introduction section. A good literature review accomplishes the following: Introduces the topic – Establishes the study’s significance – Provides an overview of the relevant literature – Provides context for the study using literature – Identifies knowledge gaps However, remember to avoid making the following mistakes when writing a research paper introduction: Do not use studies from the literature review to aggressively support your research Avoid direct quoting Do not allow literature review to be the focus of this section. Instead, the literature review should only aid in setting a foundation for the manuscript.

Remember the following key points for writing a good research paper introduction: 4

  • Avoid stuffing too much general information: Avoid including what an average reader would know and include only that information related to the problem being addressed in the research paper introduction. For example, when describing a comparative study of non-traditional methods for mechanical design optimization, information related to the traditional methods and differences between traditional and non-traditional methods would not be relevant. In this case, the introduction for the research paper should begin with the state-of-the-art non-traditional methods and methods to evaluate the efficiency of newly developed algorithms.
  • Avoid packing too many references: Cite only the required works in your research paper introduction. The other works can be included in the discussion section to strengthen your findings.
  • Avoid extensive criticism of previous studies: Avoid being overly critical of earlier studies while setting the rationale for your study. A better place for this would be the Discussion section, where you can highlight the advantages of your method.
  • Avoid describing conclusions of the study: When writing a research paper introduction remember not to include the findings of your study. The aim is to let the readers know what question is being answered. The actual answer should only be given in the Results and Discussion section.

To summarize, the research paper introduction section should be brief yet informative. It should convince the reader the need to conduct the study and motivate him to read further. If you’re feeling stuck or unsure, choose trusted AI academic writing assistants like Paperpal to effortlessly craft your research paper introduction and other sections of your research article.

1. Jawaid, S. A., & Jawaid, M. (2019). How to write introduction and discussion. Saudi Journal of Anaesthesia, 13(Suppl 1), S18.

2. Dewan, P., & Gupta, P. (2016). Writing the title, abstract and introduction: Looks matter!. Indian pediatrics, 53, 235-241.

3. Cetin, S., & Hackam, D. J. (2005). An approach to the writing of a scientific Manuscript1. Journal of Surgical Research, 128(2), 165-167.

4. Bavdekar, S. B. (2015). Writing introduction: Laying the foundations of a research paper. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 63(7), 44-6.

Paperpal is an AI writing assistant that help academics write better, faster with real-time suggestions for in-depth language and grammar correction. Trained on millions of research manuscripts enhanced by professional academic editors, Paperpal delivers human precision at machine speed.

Try it for free or upgrade to  Paperpal Prime , which unlocks unlimited access to premium features like academic translation, paraphrasing, contextual synonyms, consistency checks and more. It’s like always having a professional academic editor by your side! Go beyond limitations and experience the future of academic writing.  Get Paperpal Prime now at just US$19 a month!

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Writing an Introduction for a Scientific Paper

Dr. michelle harris, dr. janet batzli, biocore.

This section provides guidelines on how to construct a solid introduction to a scientific paper including background information, study question , biological rationale, hypothesis , and general approach . If the Introduction is done well, there should be no question in the reader’s mind why and on what basis you have posed a specific hypothesis.

Broad Question : based on an initial observation (e.g., “I see a lot of guppies close to the shore. Do guppies like living in shallow water?”). This observation of the natural world may inspire you to investigate background literature or your observation could be based on previous research by others or your own pilot study. Broad questions are not always included in your written text, but are essential for establishing the direction of your research.

Background Information : key issues, concepts, terminology, and definitions needed to understand the biological rationale for the experiment. It often includes a summary of findings from previous, relevant studies. Remember to cite references, be concise, and only include relevant information given your audience and your experimental design. Concisely summarized background information leads to the identification of specific scientific knowledge gaps that still exist. (e.g., “No studies to date have examined whether guppies do indeed spend more time in shallow water.”)

Testable Question : these questions are much more focused than the initial broad question, are specific to the knowledge gap identified, and can be addressed with data. (e.g., “Do guppies spend different amounts of time in water <1 meter deep as compared to their time in water that is >1 meter deep?”)

Biological Rationale : describes the purpose of your experiment distilling what is known and what is not known that defines the knowledge gap that you are addressing. The “BR” provides the logic for your hypothesis and experimental approach, describing the biological mechanism and assumptions that explain why your hypothesis should be true.

The biological rationale is based on your interpretation of the scientific literature, your personal observations, and the underlying assumptions you are making about how you think the system works. If you have written your biological rationale, your reader should see your hypothesis in your introduction section and say to themselves, “Of course, this hypothesis seems very logical based on the rationale presented.”

  • A thorough rationale defines your assumptions about the system that have not been revealed in scientific literature or from previous systematic observation. These assumptions drive the direction of your specific hypothesis or general predictions.
  • Defining the rationale is probably the most critical task for a writer, as it tells your reader why your research is biologically meaningful. It may help to think about the rationale as an answer to the questions— how is this investigation related to what we know, what assumptions am I making about what we don’t yet know, AND how will this experiment add to our knowledge? *There may or may not be broader implications for your study; be careful not to overstate these (see note on social justifications below).
  • Expect to spend time and mental effort on this. You may have to do considerable digging into the scientific literature to define how your experiment fits into what is already known and why it is relevant to pursue.
  • Be open to the possibility that as you work with and think about your data, you may develop a deeper, more accurate understanding of the experimental system. You may find the original rationale needs to be revised to reflect your new, more sophisticated understanding.
  • As you progress through Biocore and upper level biology courses, your rationale should become more focused and matched with the level of study e ., cellular, biochemical, or physiological mechanisms that underlie the rationale. Achieving this type of understanding takes effort, but it will lead to better communication of your science.

***Special note on avoiding social justifications: You should not overemphasize the relevance of your experiment and the possible connections to large-scale processes. Be realistic and logical —do not overgeneralize or state grand implications that are not sensible given the structure of your experimental system. Not all science is easily applied to improving the human condition. Performing an investigation just for the sake of adding to our scientific knowledge (“pure or basic science”) is just as important as applied science. In fact, basic science often provides the foundation for applied studies.

Hypothesis / Predictions : specific prediction(s) that you will test during your experiment. For manipulative experiments, the hypothesis should include the independent variable (what you manipulate), the dependent variable(s) (what you measure), the organism or system , the direction of your results, and comparison to be made.

If you are doing a systematic observation , your hypothesis presents a variable or set of variables that you predict are important for helping you characterize the system as a whole, or predict differences between components/areas of the system that help you explain how the system functions or changes over time.

Experimental Approach : Briefly gives the reader a general sense of the experiment, the type of data it will yield, and the kind of conclusions you expect to obtain from the data. Do not confuse the experimental approach with the experimental protocol . The experimental protocol consists of the detailed step-by-step procedures and techniques used during the experiment that are to be reported in the Methods and Materials section.

Some Final Tips on Writing an Introduction

  • As you progress through the Biocore sequence, for instance, from organismal level of Biocore 301/302 to the cellular level in Biocore 303/304, we expect the contents of your “Introduction” paragraphs to reflect the level of your coursework and previous writing experience. For example, in Biocore 304 (Cell Biology Lab) biological rationale should draw upon assumptions we are making about cellular and biochemical processes.
  • Be Concise yet Specific: Remember to be concise and only include relevant information given your audience and your experimental design. As you write, keep asking, “Is this necessary information or is this irrelevant detail?” For example, if you are writing a paper claiming that a certain compound is a competitive inhibitor to the enzyme alkaline phosphatase and acts by binding to the active site, you need to explain (briefly) Michaelis-Menton kinetics and the meaning and significance of Km and Vmax. This explanation is not necessary if you are reporting the dependence of enzyme activity on pH because you do not need to measure Km and Vmax to get an estimate of enzyme activity.
  • Another example: if you are writing a paper reporting an increase in Daphnia magna heart rate upon exposure to caffeine you need not describe the reproductive cycle of magna unless it is germane to your results and discussion. Be specific and concrete, especially when making introductory or summary statements.

Where Do You Discuss Pilot Studies? Many times it is important to do pilot studies to help you get familiar with your experimental system or to improve your experimental design. If your pilot study influences your biological rationale or hypothesis, you need to describe it in your Introduction. If your pilot study simply informs the logistics or techniques, but does not influence your rationale, then the description of your pilot study belongs in the Materials and Methods section.  

How will introductions be evaluated? The following is part of the rubric we will be using to evaluate your papers.

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How to Write a Research Introduction

Last Updated: December 6, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,647,167 times.

The introduction to a research paper can be the most challenging part of the paper to write. The length of the introduction will vary depending on the type of research paper you are writing. An introduction should announce your topic, provide context and a rationale for your work, before stating your research questions and hypothesis. Well-written introductions set the tone for the paper, catch the reader's interest, and communicate the hypothesis or thesis statement.

Introducing the Topic of the Paper

Step 1 Announce your research topic.

  • In scientific papers this is sometimes known as an "inverted triangle", where you start with the broadest material at the start, before zooming in on the specifics. [2] X Research source
  • The sentence "Throughout the 20th century, our views of life on other planets have drastically changed" introduces a topic, but does so in broad terms.
  • It provides the reader with an indication of the content of the essay and encourages them to read on.

Step 2 Consider referring to key words.

  • For example, if you were writing a paper about the behaviour of mice when exposed to a particular substance, you would include the word "mice", and the scientific name of the relevant compound in the first sentences.
  • If you were writing a history paper about the impact of the First World War on gender relations in Britain, you should mention those key words in your first few lines.

Step 3 Define any key terms or concepts.

  • This is especially important if you are attempting to develop a new conceptualization that uses language and terminology your readers may be unfamiliar with.

Step 4 Introduce the topic through an anecdote or quotation.

  • If you use an anecdote ensure that is short and highly relevant for your research. It has to function in the same way as an alternative opening, namely to announce the topic of your research paper to your reader.
  • For example, if you were writing a sociology paper about re-offending rates among young offenders, you could include a brief story of one person whose story reflects and introduces your topic.
  • This kind of approach is generally not appropriate for the introduction to a natural or physical sciences research paper where the writing conventions are different.

Establishing the Context for Your Paper

Step 1 Include a brief literature review.

  • It is important to be concise in the introduction, so provide an overview on recent developments in the primary research rather than a lengthy discussion.
  • You can follow the "inverted triangle" principle to focus in from the broader themes to those to which you are making a direct contribution with your paper.
  • A strong literature review presents important background information to your own research and indicates the importance of the field.

Step 2 Use the literature to focus in on your contribution.

  • By making clear reference to existing work you can demonstrate explicitly the specific contribution you are making to move the field forward.
  • You can identify a gap in the existing scholarship and explain how you are addressing it and moving understanding forward.

Step 3 Elaborate on the rationale of your paper.

  • For example, if you are writing a scientific paper you could stress the merits of the experimental approach or models you have used.
  • Stress what is novel in your research and the significance of your new approach, but don't give too much detail in the introduction.
  • A stated rationale could be something like: "the study evaluates the previously unknown anti-inflammatory effects of a topical compound in order to evaluate its potential clinical uses".

Specifying Your Research Questions and Hypothesis

Step 1 State your research questions.

  • The research question or questions generally come towards the end of the introduction, and should be concise and closely focused.
  • The research question might recall some of the key words established in the first few sentences and the title of your paper.
  • An example of a research question could be "what were the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the Mexican export economy?"
  • This could be honed further to be specific by referring to a particular element of the Free Trade Agreement and the impact on a particular industry in Mexico, such as clothing manufacture.
  • A good research question should shape a problem into a testable hypothesis.

Step 2 Indicate your hypothesis.

  • If possible try to avoid using the word "hypothesis" and rather make this implicit in your writing. This can make your writing appear less formulaic.
  • In a scientific paper, giving a clear one-sentence overview of your results and their relation to your hypothesis makes the information clear and accessible. [10] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
  • An example of a hypothesis could be "mice deprived of food for the duration of the study were expected to become more lethargic than those fed normally".

Step 3 Outline the structure of your paper.

  • This is not always necessary and you should pay attention to the writing conventions in your discipline.
  • In a natural sciences paper, for example, there is a fairly rigid structure which you will be following.
  • A humanities or social science paper will most likely present more opportunities to deviate in how you structure your paper.

Research Introduction Help

how long should an intro to a research paper be

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Use your research papers' outline to help you decide what information to include when writing an introduction. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Consider drafting your introduction after you have already completed the rest of your research paper. Writing introductions last can help ensure that you don't leave out any major points. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how long should an intro to a research paper be

  • Avoid emotional or sensational introductions; these can create distrust in the reader. Thanks Helpful 50 Not Helpful 12
  • Generally avoid using personal pronouns in your introduction, such as "I," "me," "we," "us," "my," "mine," or "our." Thanks Helpful 31 Not Helpful 7
  • Don't overwhelm the reader with an over-abundance of information. Keep the introduction as concise as possible by saving specific details for the body of your paper. Thanks Helpful 24 Not Helpful 14

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About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To introduce your research paper, use the first 1-2 sentences to describe your general topic, such as “women in World War I.” Include and define keywords, such as “gender relations,” to show your reader where you’re going. Mention previous research into the topic with a phrase like, “Others have studied…”, then transition into what your contribution will be and why it’s necessary. Finally, state the questions that your paper will address and propose your “answer” to them as your thesis statement. For more information from our English Ph.D. co-author about how to craft a strong hypothesis and thesis, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

Writing a concise yet compelling introduction is a challenge for many people. Still, it’s an important skill whether you’re in high school, an undergrad, or pursuing a doctoral degree. The introduction is what helps your reader decide if they’re interested in your paper or not. So, remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression!  

Research papers follow the same basic format, especially within the social sciences. It’s important to keep it concise (no more than 4 pages) while laying out only the most important information for your reader. Anyone can write a good research paper introduction by following this standard format. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the introduction’s purpose and why it’s so important to the rest of your paper. Then, we’ll share some tips to help you write a winning introduction that will leave your reader wanting more. 

Check out this video where Dave explains the basic formula for writing a research paper introduction. 

This post was written by Abbie Van Wagner (freelance writer) on behalf of Dr. Dave Maslach for the R3ciprocity project (check out the YouTube Channel or the writing feedback software ).

What is the Introduction, and Why Does it Matter? 

There’s a reason that literally every research paper starts with an introduction. Academic research papers typically begin the same way and provide the same kind of information to the reader within the first few pages. 

Introductions are always your reader’s first encounter with your work, so you want to pique their interest as quickly as possible while giving them the information they need to understand the rest of the paper. Plus, you want them to want to keep reading!  

Still, introductions do a lot more than just tell your reader what the paper is about. A properly written introduction will help your reader understand your topic, the scope of your research, the paper’s context, existing research and literature, the problem or question you’re seeking to resolve, and why any of your research matters.

Even with all that information, your introduction should still be relatively short compared to the rest of your research paper. Creating a clear and concise intro is a struggle for many writers, so don’t feel bad if you have to edit yours down more than once. 

How Long Should a Research Paper Introduction Be? 

The exact length of your intro depends on your paper’s length. In any case, the introduction should typically be the shortest section of your paper. So, depending on how long your whole paper is, the introduction could be half of a page or two or three pages long.

Your introduction should never be more than four pages long (double spaced), but one to two pages is probably pretty close to ideal in most cases. 

At the end of the day, you will have to determine how long your introduction needs to be. You want to provide the reader with enough background information, context, and implications to convince them the research paper is worth reading. Still, you don’t want to summarize your entire report with thousands of unnecessary words.   

For more paper-writing advice, check out this article which provides writing tips from a graduate student.  

How to Format Your Research Paper’s Introduction

Research papers (particularly in the social sciences) follow the same basic format. By using this template to guide your writing, you’ll have an easier time getting organized and including only the necessary information in your introduction. 

For more discussion on structuring the rest of your research paper, check out this video where Dave explains how to write one in 47 hours or less!

Introduction Part One

The first paragraph of your research paper is an important one. It’s the introduction to your introduction. This is where you set the tone for your paper and grab the reader’s attention, so you’ll want to be clear and concise without overloading them with more information than they need. 

This is where you’ll address the current research related to your topic or research area. When you start out, the information should be very broad, as you’ll narrow the scope as you progress through the intro and paper.

The first part of your introduction is where you tell the reader, “this is what we know.” 

To learn more about citing existing literature, check out this article which discusses the best citation software for research papers.

Introduction Part Two 

The next part of your introduction is where you’ll narrow your scope a little further as you introduce an unresolved gap in the research or other problem. This may be a puzzle or issue which opens the door for more investigation. 

This part of the introduction typically says something along the lines of: 

  • “Despite everything we know about this topic, we still don’t know this ,” or 
  • “Even with all the progress and advancements in the field, we still aren’t sure about this .” 

After stating what we “still don’t know,” you’ll need to define what “ this” is while also discussing why “ this ” matters. 

Giving this added explanation is critical, but it’s something that many people miss. If you don’t take the time to explain why this question or research gap you’ve discovered is important, the paper is dead in the water. 

Just figuring out that something hasn’t been explained or studied before isn’t automatically enough to warrant a research paper. Remember, just because something hasn’t been studied before doesn’t always mean that it needs to be studied now . It’s your job as the writer to stress the importance of the research and why the subject is relevant now. 

Some ways to do this include discussing the practical applications of the research now or in the future, explaining how the research could change the field, expressing new theories, or filling holes in the existing literature. 

Introduction Part Three

The third part of your introduction should address your research methods and findings. Whether you conducted a qualitative or quantitative study, performed an experiment, looked at data, or used some other methodology, this is where you’ll explain that to the reader. 

To learn more about research design, check out this video ! 

You’ll explain exactly what you did and how you did it, then discuss the findings. It would look something like “we did this…” and “ when we did this , we found this.. .” 

So, in other words, you provide a brief overview of the major findings of the research. While you may have a lot of information about your methodology and findings, you should try to be concise within the introduction. That means selecting a few of the major findings that will inform the reader about the importance of your research. 

Sometimes this part of the introduction requires weeding through your findings and only selecting the most interesting or most relevant items. You might think of it as just picking out the “sexy” findings that will encourage the reader to continue with your paper. 

Use this part of your introduction to play into the reader’s curiosity so they will want to find out more! As you summarize your results and select which findings to include, consider what the reader may think about and what questions they may have. 

If you feel like you need more help writing your research paper, check out Dave’s Essential Guide to Writing Research Papers . 

Essential Guide To Writing Research Papers

And, if you want more information about specifically writing your methods and analysis sections, you should watch this video !

Introduction Wrap-Up and Final Paragraphs

The end of your introduction will address the theoretical implications of the research. In this area of the intro, you should discuss how your findings contribute to solving the problem or filling in the research gap you mentioned earlier. 

In this part of your introduction, you get to brag on yourself a little bit by telling the reader that you solved your research question (yay!) and also why that matters. 

To strengthen your research paper, you will definitely want to make a theoretical implication, stretch the existing theory, or discuss a new theory. You can also include practical applications here or explain how your research fits into our existing understanding of the field.

A good rule of thumb is to try to include two or three of these implications in your discussion. If you feel that your results or findings have even more applications or theoretical implications, you will certainly address those later in your paper. But, for the purposes of your introduction, you want to keep it concise and limit the amount of discussion to just the most important or most relevant findings and implications.

The last sentence of your introduction should be a broad statement about how your research advances the literature. 

If you’re thinking about reviewing someone else’s research paper, check out this video where Dave talks about the steps for reviewing an article.

Putting It All Together

Keeping your introduction concise and neatly assembled is key. You are going to be putting a lot of information into a small amount of writing, so it will be important to keep yourself organized and only include the most relevant information. 

Your introduction will set the tone for your research paper, so try to include the most interesting data and findings to help pique the readers’ interest. 

Remember, you will expand and go into more detail in the paper, so don’t give it all away in the first few pages. Instead, write your introduction last (after your paper is complete), read it, slim it down, and repeat as needed.  

For more information and tips on writing research papers, check out The Ultimate Guide to Academic Papers . 

Top Research Papers: Your Complete Guide To Academic Papers

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How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? pp 193–199 Cite as

How to Write the Introduction to a Scientific Paper?

  • Samiran Nundy 4 ,
  • Atul Kakar 5 &
  • Zulfiqar A. Bhutta 6  
  • Open Access
  • First Online: 24 October 2021

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An Introduction to a scientific paper familiarizes the reader with the background of the issue at hand. It must reflect why the issue is topical and its current importance in the vast sea of research being done globally. It lays the foundation of biomedical writing and is the first portion of an article according to the IMRAD pattern ( I ntroduction, M ethodology, R esults, a nd D iscussion) [1].

I once had a professor tell a class that he sifted through our pile of essays, glancing at the titles and introductions, looking for something that grabbed his attention. Everything else went to the bottom of the pile to be read last, when he was tired and probably grumpy from all the marking. Don’t get put at the bottom of the pile, he said. Anonymous

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1 What is the Importance of an Introduction?

An Introduction to a scientific paper familiarizes the reader with the background of the issue at hand. It must reflect why the issue is topical and its current importance in the vast sea of research being done globally. It lays the foundation of biomedical writing and is the first portion of an article according to the IMRAD pattern ( I ntroduction, M ethodology, R esults, a nd D iscussion) [ 1 ].

It provides the flavour of the article and many authors have used phrases to describe it for example—'like a gate of the city’ [ 2 ], ‘the beginning is half of the whole’ [ 3 ], ‘an introduction is not just wrestling with words to fit the facts, but it also strongly modulated by perception of the anticipated reactions of peer colleagues’, [ 4 ] and ‘an introduction is like the trailer to a movie’. A good introduction helps captivate the reader early.

figure a

2 What Are the Principles of Writing a Good Introduction?

A good introduction will ‘sell’ an article to a journal editor, reviewer, and finally to a reader [ 3 ]. It should contain the following information [ 5 , 6 ]:

The known—The background scientific data

The unknown—Gaps in the current knowledge

Research hypothesis or question

Methodologies used for the study

The known consist of citations from a review of the literature whereas the unknown is the new work to be undertaken. This part should address how your work is the required missing piece of the puzzle.

3 What Are the Models of Writing an Introduction?

The Problem-solving model

First described by Swales et al. in 1979, in this model the writer should identify the ‘problem’ in the research, address the ‘solution’ and also write about ‘the criteria for evaluating the problem’ [ 7 , 8 ].

The CARS model that stands for C reating A R esearch S pace [ 9 , 10 ].

The two important components of this model are:

Establishing a territory (situation)

Establishing a niche (problem)

Occupying a niche (the solution)

In this popular model, one can add a fourth point, i.e., a conclusion [ 10 ].

4 What Is Establishing a Territory?

This includes: [ 9 ]

Stating the general topic and providing some background about it.

Providing a brief and relevant review of the literature related to the topic.

Adding a paragraph on the scope of the topic including the need for your study.

5 What Is Establishing a Niche?

Establishing a niche includes:

Stating the importance of the problem.

Outlining the current situation regarding the problem citing both global and national data.

Evaluating the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages).

Identifying the gaps.

Emphasizing the importance of the proposed research and how the gaps will be addressed.

Stating the research problem/ questions.

Stating the hypotheses briefly.

Figure 17.1 depicts how the introduction needs to be written. A scientific paper should have an introduction in the form of an inverted pyramid. The writer should start with the general information about the topic and subsequently narrow it down to the specific topic-related introduction.

figure 1

Flow of ideas from the general to the specific

6 What Does Occupying a Niche Mean?

This is the third portion of the introduction and defines the rationale of the research and states the research question. If this is missing the reviewers will not understand the logic for publication and is a common reason for rejection [ 11 , 12 ]. An example of this is given below:

Till date, no study has been done to see the effectiveness of a mesh alone or the effectiveness of double suturing along with a mesh in the closure of an umbilical hernia regarding the incidence of failure. So, the present study is aimed at comparing the effectiveness of a mesh alone versus the double suturing technique along with a mesh.

7 How Long Should the Introduction Be?

For a project protocol, the introduction should be about 1–2 pages long and for a thesis it should be 3–5 pages in a double-spaced typed setting. For a scientific paper it should be less than 10–15% of the total length of the manuscript [ 13 , 14 ].

8 How Many References Should an Introduction Have?

All sections in a scientific manuscript except the conclusion should contain references. It has been suggested that an introduction should have four or five or at the most one-third of the references in the whole paper [ 15 ].

9 What Are the Important Points Which Should be not Missed in an Introduction?

An introduction paves the way forward for the subsequent sections of the article. Frequently well-planned studies are rejected by journals during review because of the simple reason that the authors failed to clarify the data in this section to justify the study [ 16 , 17 ]. Thus, the existing gap in knowledge should be clearly brought out in this section (Fig. 17.2 ).

figure 2

How should the abstract, introduction, and discussion look

The following points are important to consider:

The introduction should be written in simple sentences and in the present tense.

Many of the terms will be introduced in this section for the first time and these will require abbreviations to be used later.

The references in this section should be to papers published in quality journals (e.g., having a high impact factor).

The aims, problems, and hypotheses should be clearly mentioned.

Start with a generalization on the topic and go on to specific information relevant to your research.

10 Example of an Introduction

figure b

11 Conclusions

An Introduction is a brief account of what the study is about. It should be short, crisp, and complete.

It has to move from a general to a specific research topic and must include the need for the present study.

The Introduction should include data from a literature search, i.e., what is already known about this subject and progress to what we hope to add to this knowledge.

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Samiran Nundy

Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India

Institute for Global Health and Development, The Aga Khan University, South Central Asia, East Africa and United Kingdom, Karachi, Pakistan

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Nundy, S., Kakar, A., Bhutta, Z.A. (2022). How to Write the Introduction to a Scientific Paper?. In: How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries?. Springer, Singapore.

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How to write an introduction section of a scientific article?

An article primarily includes the following sections: introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Before writing the introduction, the main steps, the heading and the familiarity level of the readers should be considered. Writing should begin when the experimental system and the equipment are available. The introduction section comprises the first portion of the manuscript, and it should be written using the simple present tense. Additionally, abbreviations and explanations are included in this section. The main goal of the introduction is to convey basic information to the readers without obligating them to investigate previous publications and to provide clues as to the results of the present study. To do this, the subject of the article should be thoroughly reviewed, and the aim of the study should be clearly stated immediately after discussing the basic references. In this review, we aim to convey the principles of writing the introduction section of a manuscript to residents and young investigators who have just begun to write a manuscript.


When entering a gate of a magnificent city we can make a prediction about the splendor, pomposity, history, and civilization we will encounter in the city. Occasionally, gates do not give even a glimpse of the city, and it can mislead the visitors about inner sections of the city. Introduction sections of the articles are like gates of a city. It is a presentation aiming at introducing itself to the readers, and attracting their attention. Attractiveness, clarity, piquancy, and analytical capacity of the presentation will urge the reader to read the subsequent sections of the article. On the other hand as is understood from the motto of antique Greek poet Euripides “a bad beginning makes a bad ending”, ‘Introduction’ section of a scientific article is important in that it can reveal the conclusion of the article. [ 1 ]

It is useful to analyze the issues to be considered in the ‘Introduction’ section under 3 headings. Firstly, information should be provided about the general topic of the article in the light of the current literature which paves the way for the disclosure of the objective of the manuscript. Then the specific subject matter, and the issue to be focused on should be dealt with, the problem should be brought forth, and fundamental references related to the topic should be discussed. Finally, our recommendations for solution should be described, in other words our aim should be communicated. When these steps are followed in that order, the reader can track the problem, and its solution from his/her own perspective under the light of current literature. Otherwise, even a perfect study presented in a non-systematized, confused design will lose the chance of reading. Indeed inadequate information, inability to clarify the problem, and sometimes concealing the solution will keep the reader who has a desire to attain new information away from reading the manuscript. [ 1 – 3 ]

First of all, explanation of the topic in the light of the current literature should be made in clear, and precise terms as if the reader is completely ignorant of the subject. In this section, establishment of a warm rapport between the reader, and the manuscript is aimed. Since frantic plunging into the problem or the solution will push the reader into the dilemma of either screening the literature about the subject matter or refraining from reading the article. Updated, and robust information should be presented in the ‘Introduction’ section.

Then main topic of our manuscript, and the encountered problem should be analyzed in the light of the current literature following a short instance of brain exercise. At this point the problems should be reduced to one issue as far as possible. Of course, there might be more than one problem, however this new issue, and its solution should be the subject matter of another article. Problems should be expressed clearly. If targets are more numerous, and complex, solutions will be more than one, and confusing.

Finally, the last paragraphs of the ‘Introduction’ section should include the solution in which we will describe the information we generated, and related data. Our sentences which arouse curiosity in the readers should not be left unanswered. The reader who thinks to obtain the most effective information in no time while reading a scientific article should not be smothered with mysterious sentences, and word plays, and the readers should not be left alone to arrive at a conclusion by themselves. If we have contrary expectations, then we might write an article which won’t have any reader. A clearly expressed or recommended solutions to an explicitly revealed problem is also very important for the integrity of the ‘Introduction’ section. [ 1 – 5 ]

We can summarize our arguments with the following example ( Figure 1 ). The introduction section of the exemplary article is written in simple present tense which includes abbreviations, acronyms, and their explanations. Based on our statements above we can divide the introduction section into 3 parts. In the first paragraph, miniaturization, and evolvement of pediatric endourological instruments, and competitions among PNL, ESWL, and URS in the treatment of urinary system stone disease are described, in other words the background is prepared. In the second paragraph, a newly defined system which facilitates intrarenal access in PNL procedure has been described. Besides basic references related to the subject matter have been given, and their outcomes have been indicated. In other words, fundamental references concerning main subject have been discussed. In the last paragraph the aim of the researchers to investigate the outcomes, and safety of the application of this new method in the light of current information has been indicated.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is TJU-39-Supp-8-g01.jpg

An exemplary introduction section of an article

Apart from the abovementioned information about the introduction section of a scientific article we will summarize a few major issues in brief headings

Important points which one should take heed of:

  • Abbreviations should be given following their explanations in the ‘Introduction’ section (their explanations in the summary does not count)
  • Simple present tense should be used.
  • References should be selected from updated publication with a higher impact factor, and prestigous source books.
  • Avoid mysterious, and confounding expressions, construct clear sentences aiming at problematic issues, and their solutions.
  • The sentences should be attractive, tempting, and comjprehensible.
  • Firstly general, then subject-specific information should be given. Finally our aim should be clearly explained.

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  • A Research Guide
  • Research Paper Guide

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

  • Purpose of intro
  • Key elements
  • Writing an effective intro
  • Step-by-step guide
  • Research intro checklist
  • Introduction formats
  • Good and bad examples

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

An introductory paragraph is vital for any academic paper. It allows you to show reviewers why your research topic is worth reading about. In this article, we will explore the tips to make a good introduction paragraph. You’ll get a step-by-step tutorial on writing your paper’s informative yet laconic intro.

What is the purpose of an introduction?

The purpose of a research paper intro is to provide an overview and context for the study being conducted. A research paper engages the reader, establishes the importance of the research topic, and outlines the study’s objectives and scope.

The paper intro also presents the question or hypothesis and summarizes relevant background characteristics and existing literature.

An effective introduction helps the reader understand the significance and relevance of the research paper and sets the stage for the subsequent sections. The introduction captures the reader’s attention and creates a foundation for understanding the research and its contributions.

The key elements of a scientific paper introduction

The introduction of your research paper should include several key elements, including the problem statement, hypothesis/thesis/research question, purpose, and background.

Let’s explore each of these parts of the research paper intro in detail:

  • Problem Statement : identifies the specific issue or gap in knowledge that the research paper aims to address. It highlights the problem’s relevance, significance, and potential impact on the field of study. The problem statement sets the stage for the research by clearly stating the project or research gap.
  • Hypothesis / Thesis / Research Question : a paper hypothesis predicts the relationship between variables, a thesis statement presents the main argument or claim, and a research question seeks to put a specific aspect on a research paper.
  • Purpose: describes the overall objective or goal the research paper aims to achieve. It outlines the researcher’s intention and provides a clear direction for the investigation. The purpose statement typically explains why the research is being conducted and what the researcher hopes to accomplish by the end of the study.
  • Background : provides the necessary context and information to familiarize readers with the research paper. It presents a concise review of the relevant literature, previous studies, and theoretical frameworks that have shaped the understanding of the problem.

Shortly, the introduction section of a research paper combines these key elements to introduce the problem, state the hypothesis/thesis/research question, define the paper’s purpose, and provide the background necessary for readers to understand the significance and context of the study.

How to write an effective intro?

To start an introduction for a research paper, consider the following steps:

  • Hook the reader : begin with a compelling opening sentence or a thought-provoking statement that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be an interesting fact, a relevant anecdote, or a surprising statistic related to your research paper.
  • Provide background information : offer a brief overview of the paper and its significance in the field. This helps to improve the structure of an introduction and demonstrate why it is important to investigate the point further in a paper.
  • State the problem : clearly articulate the problem statement or research gap your study aims to address. Explain the specific issue or gap in knowledge that your research paper seeks to explore, emphasizing its relevance and potential impact.
  • Present the research question/hypothesis/thesis : formulate a concise and focused research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement in the intro that guides your scientific paper. This sets the direction for your research and provides a clear focus for the reader.
  • Outline the purpose and objectives : explain the overall purpose of your research paper and the specific objectives you aim to achieve. This helps readers understand why your study is being conducted and what you hope to accomplish.
  • Preview the structure : briefly introduce the organization and structure of your research paper. Mention the main sections or components that will be covered, giving readers a sense of what to expect as they continue reading the paper.

Remember, the intro should be concise and engaging, providing a clear roadmap for your research and capturing the reader’s interest from the very beginning. There are different ways to start a research paper, and you can pick the intro that suits you best.

Writing an introduction to a research paper: key steps

Here’s a short guide on getting you started with an introduction:

  • Start with an attention-grabbing opening : begin your intro with a captivating statement, a relevant quote, a surprising fact, or an intriguing anecdote. This will engage the reader’s interest and make them curious about your research paper.
  • Provide background information : write a brief overview of the research topic to provide context and establish the importance of the subject matter. Discuss key concepts, definitions, or historical background relevant to your study. This section should help the reader understand the broader context of your research paper.
  • State the research problem or gap : clearly define the specific problem or research gap your study aims to address. Explain why this problem is significant and deserving of investigation. This helps the reader understand the purpose and relevance of your research paper.
  • Present your research question or thesis statement : formulate a clear and concise research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement that serves as the central focus of your study. This statement should guide your research paper and articulate your introduction format.
  • Outline the structure of the paper : write a brief preview of your research paper’s main sections and organization. This helps the reader understand the flow of your paper and what to expect in each section. Provide a roadmap by mentioning the key points or arguments discussed in subsequent sections.

By following these steps, you can create an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and sets the stage for the rest of your research paper, clearly understanding your study’s problem, purpose, and structure.

Writing a checklist for a proper college paper introduction

Here’s a short writing checklist for a research paper intro:

  • Attention-grabbing opening:
  • Does the research paper introduction example start with a compelling statement, relevant quote, surprising fact, or intriguing anecdote?
  • Is the opening engaging enough to capture readers’ attention and make them curious about the research paper?
  • Background information:
  • Have you provided a concise overview of the research topic, including relevant definitions, concepts, or historical context?
  • Does the background information help the reader understand the broader context and importance of the subject matter?
  • Clear problem statement:
  • Have you clearly stated the specific problem or research gap that your study aims to address?
  • Does a research introduction have a well-defined, strong, and significant problem statement?
  • Research question or thesis statement:
  • Have you presented a clear and concise research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement that guides your paper?
  • Does the research question or thesis statement align with the problem statement and set the direction for your research paper?
  • Structure and organization:
  • Did you write a brief overview of the structure and organization of the research paper?
  • Does the introduction outline the main sections or components covered in the paper?
  • Coherence and flow:
  • Is the intro logically organized? Does it have smooth transitions between ideas and paragraphs?
  • Does the intro flow smoothly from the opening to the problem statement, research question, and purpose?
  • Conciseness and clarity:
  • Have you kept the introduction concise, avoiding unnecessary details or tangents?
  • Is the language clear, avoiding jargon or overly technical terms that may confuse the reader?
  • Relevance and significance:
  • Have you clearly explained the relevance and significance of the research topic and the paper’s potential impact?
  • Does the introduction effectively communicate why your research is important and worth exploring?

This checklist will help you to review your research essay introduction to ensure it effectively grabs the reader’s attention, provides necessary background information, states the problem clearly, presents a focused research question or thesis statement, outlines the structure of the paper, and maintains coherence and clarity throughout.

Types of intro formats

Different academic disciplines may follow specific formatting styles for research introduction, such as MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago, ASA (American Sociological Association), and AMA (American Medical Association).


To write an introduction paragraph, you should understand the differences between the most common academic formats for your future paper.

MLA (Modern Language Association):

  • Primarily used in humanities, literature, and arts disciplines.
  • Features in-text citations using the author-page format (e.g., “Smith 45”).

APA (American Psychological Association):

  • Commonly used in social sciences, psychology, and education.
  • Utilizes in-text citations with the author-date format (e.g., “Smith, 2019”).
  • Often used in history, humanities, and some social sciences.
  • Offers two styles: the notes-bibliography system and the author-date system.
  • Includes a bibliography page to list all sources used.

ASA (American Sociological Association):

  • Primarily used in sociology and related social sciences.
  • Utilizes in-text citations with the author-date format (e.g., “Smith 2019”).

AMA (American Medical Association):

  • Commonly used in medical, health, and biological sciences.
  • Features in-text citations with a superscript number (e.g., “Smith^1”).
  • Emphasizes accuracy and consistency in citation style.

All formatting styles mean a set of rules and guidelines for citing sources, formatting headings, page layout, and referencing. It’s important to consult the specific style guide or manual associated with your field of study before you write.

These might include guidelines provided by your institution to ensure proper paper formatting and adherence of a research introduction to the chosen style.

Research introduction sample

Now that you know how the idea goes in the introduction of a research paper, let’s see the practical examples of good and bad introductions and discuss their differences.

Good example:

Title: “Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity: A Comprehensive Analysis”


Climate change is a pressing global issue that has far-reaching consequences for our planet. Its effects on various ecosystems, particularly biodiversity loss, have attracted significant attention from researchers and policymakers alike.

This research paper aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of climate change on biodiversity, focusing on key regions and species vulnerable to these changes. By examining the latest scientific literature, empirical studies, and expert opinions, we will explore the complex interplay between climate change and biodiversity loss, shed light on the underlying mechanisms, and propose potential mitigation strategies.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for developing effective conservation strategies and promoting sustainable practices that will help preserve our planet’s invaluable natural heritage.

Bad example:

Title: “Climate Change and Biodiversity”

Climate change and biodiversity are two important topics that have received considerable attention recently. Climate change refers to the long-term alteration of temperature and precipitation patterns, while biodiversity encompasses the variety of life forms found on Earth.

In this research paper, we will discuss the impact of climate change on biodiversity and explore various examples and case studies. The paper will also highlight the significance of addressing this issue and present potential solutions.

By delving into this subject, we aim to contribute to the existing body of knowledge and raise awareness about the importance of protecting biodiversity in climate change.

To begin an introduction paragraph, don’t provide too much background or theory at once. Remember to arrange your thoughts concisely while keeping the important information for the paper body.

A good intro should answer the four basic questions:

  • What was I studying?
  • Why was this topic important to investigate?
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study?
  • How will this study advance our knowledge?

Remember that you might not get a second chance to create a positive first impression. That’s why it’s equally important to keep your paper laconic and to end an introduction paragraph with a call to action to read your research paper.

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how long should an intro to a research paper be

How Long Should a Research Paper Be?

how long should an intro to a research paper be

How Long Should A Research Paper Be? An Overview

In short, research paper's average length can range from 1,500 words for research proposals and case studies - all the way to 100,000 words for large dissertations.

Research, by its nature of being complex, requires a careful and thorough elucidation of facts, notions, information, and the like - which is all reflected in its most optimal length.

Thus, one of the critical points that you need to focus on when writing either a complex research paper or a less complex research paper is your objective and how you can relay the latter in a particular context. Say you are writing a book review. Since you will only need to synthesize information from other sources to solidify your claim about a certain topic, you will perhaps use paraphrasing techniques, which offer a relatively lower word count when compared to a full-blown descriptive research paper.

Even when both types of research differ in word counts, they can effectively attain their objectives, given the different contexts in which they are written and constructed. 

Certainly, when asked about how long is a research paper, it surely depends on the objective or the type of research you will be using. Carrying out these objectives will warrant you to do certain paper writing tasks and techniques that are not necessarily long or short when you compare them to other research types. 

At Studyfy, we care for the attainment of your research objectives. We understand that achieving such will contribute to the success of your research completion. While maintaining the ideal word count for a research paper, you are in a meaningful position to understand the various elements that can enrich your paper, even if it looks overwhelming.

How Long Should the Introduction of a Research Paper Be?

The research introduction section most likely occupies approximately 30-40% of the entire research paper.

The introduction of a regular academic paper can total 1750-2000 words depending on the research type and complexity of the research niche or topic. That is why, in writing this section, you must enrich the content of your paper while maintaining readability and coherence for the benefit of your readers.

The introduction houses the background of the study. This is the part of the paper where the entire context of the paper is established. We all know that the research context is important as it helps the readers understand why the paper is even conducted in the first place. Thus, the impression of having a well-established context can only be found in the introduction. Now that we know the gravity of creating a good introduction, let us now ask how long this section should be.

Generally speaking, the paper’s introduction is the longest among all the sections. Aside from establishing the context, the introduction must house the historical underpinnings of the study (important for case studies and ethnographic research), salient information about all the variables in the study (including their relationship with other variables), and related literature and studies that can provide insight into the novelty and peculiarities of the current research project.

To better understand the general composition of your research introduction, you may refer to the breakdown of this section below:

  • Context Establishment and Introduction of Key Terms. In this subsection, you will articulate the background (historical, social, economic, psychological, etc.) of the study, including the ecosystem and the niche of your study interest. Furthermore, key terms found as variables in your study must be properly defined operationally and theoretically, if necessary. This comprises 20% of the introduction, or about 350-500 words.
  • Related Literature and Studies. This is the subsection where you will criticize and integrate existing literature and studies to highlight the research gap that you intend to fill in. This comprises 25% of the introduction or about 450-600 words.
  • Thesis statement. This part of the introduction can only be a paragraph or a couple of sentences, as this needs to be straightforward in relaying the identified research gap of the researchers. This comprises 5% of the introduction or about 90-100 words.
  • Objectives or Research Questions. This subsection should outline the aims of the study, especially highlighting the inquiries that concern the relationship between the variables and how the research will progress to fill in the identified gaps. This comprises 5% of the introduction or about 90-100 words.

Theoretical and/or Conceptual Framework. These frameworks, when better assisted with a visual representation, guide the entire research process and provide a structure for understanding the relationship between the variables in the study. This comprises 10% of the introduction or about 180-200 words.

how long should an intro to a research paper be

Elements of Good Research Writing Process– While Maintaining the Ideal Word Count!

  • Clarity of Purpose . All types of writing, whether long or short, have its clarity of purpose as the heart of the text. In research, it is manifested through the inclusion of a research question or hypothesis. A good research paper does not repeat these elements without a purpose in mind. Though they can be emphasized throughout the development of the paper, the manner of doing it must be in a logical and purposeful way. 

To guide you in writing process of doing so, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the research question or hypothesis clearly stated?
  • Does the introduction provide a clear overview of the purpose of the study?
  • Does the purpose of the study repeat purposefully in the latter sections of the paper?
  • Does the purpose of the study repeat logically in the latter sections of the paper?

2. Literature Review . When appending related literature and studies to your paper, the question must not revolve around whether you have supplied a lot of these pieces of information, making your article wordy and ideal. While the literature review adds a significant ‘chunk’ to your paper, with some paper formats even allotting a specific section for it, we must carefully consider what and how we can integrate them. It subsequently entails a critical analysis of a piece of literature or study and logically places it beside information that you desire to contest. As they say, a good literature review identifies knowledge gaps, highlights the author’s familiarity with the topic, and provides an overview of the research areas that show a disparity of agreement. In order to have these characteristics, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I integrated relevant literature in my review?
  • Have I placed it logically within a specific piece of information based on my presumption?
  • Do they identify a concept or piece of information that is otherwise unknown to the field?
  • Have I critically analyzed existing research to identify the research gap?

3. Logical Flow. Research will not be whole without its parts. Researchers must know how to tie everything together and ensure that each part is functional in itself and supplements with other parts. When dealing with a large body of text, the logical flow of the paper might be a considerable concern. Along with the confusion brought about by the wordiness and complexity of the topic, your readers might get lost because of incoherence and inconsistencies with the presentation of ideas, leading to them not reading your paper any further. Thus, while ensuring that you get the word count that you want, you might want to ask yourself these questions first:

  • Does the introduction progress logically from the general background to the specific research question?
  • Do the transition devices between sections and individual paragraphs of the body facilitate a smooth flow of ideas?
  • Is there a clear hierarchy of ideas, with each paragraph contributing to the overall argument?
  • Have I organized ideas in a way that makes the document easy to track?
  • Have I pursued a logical sequence of presenting information?

4. Language Use and Style. Developing an academic language throughout your paper and maintaining a formal style of paper writing are all the more important in research writing process, and mind you, it can also help you increase your word count in a sustainable way! Incorporating this form of language and style into your paper entails more than just adding incoherent or overly manufactured words that may be viewed as fillers.

Strategies and known practices are said to hit multiple objectives without compromising the quality of the paper. You may expand your points by providing detailed explanations, introducing sufficient pieces of evidence that supports your claims, addressing counterargument through the presentation of related literature or studies, or clarifying complex concepts through chunking. To better understand these techniques, some of these questions might be helpful for you:

  • Is the language clear and concise?
  • Have I avoided unnecessary jargon or complex sentences or paragraphs?
  • Have I avoided repetition or redundancy in the document?
  • Have I expanded on key points by providing more detailed explanations and examples?
  • Have I discussed nuances, variations, or exceptions to your results?
  • Have I clarified some complex concepts or theories by chunking them into more detailed explanations?

How Long Should a Paragraph Be in a Research Paper?

For the research paper introduction section, a typical paragraph count will be 12-15, excluding the literature review section. Each subsection has 1-2 individual paragraphs. The mentioned section, on the other hand, can have paragraphs totaling 10-20. The conclusion section, on the other hand, is considered ideal if it has 5-7 paragraphs. 

The paragraph count differs from one research type to another and even from one paper section to another. While it is worth deciding how long should a paragraph be in a research paper, it is more important to take note of the importance of ideas that should be included in each paragraph within a certain section. Take the review of the literature section as an example. The number of literature in the paper is said to be equal to the number of paragraphs allotted for the section. The reason lies in the uniformity of importance these pieces of literature hold, provided that they are closely associated with the research gap. 

Do you feel like you need to pay for a research paper in hopes of finding a model article with the right paragraph count? Look no further, as Studyfy has its in-house research paper writing service that houses professionals and experts for your academic paper writing help. Its reasonable price– no deadline markup nor additional hidden charges– is tantamount to the expertise each writer has put into their work.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be in a Research Paper?

A concluding section, then, must only comprise 5% of the total word count of the paper, translating to approximately 400 words. This measly allocation may put you into a flimsy situation, especially if you do not know how to manage your vocabulary well and you keep on adding filler words that can sacrifice the importance of this section. Ditch the nonsense and construct your conclusion in a concise yet enriching way.

In concluding a research paper, it is important to always synthesize the big chunks of information examined in the data analysis and discussion. As worn out as the reader may look after reaching this point, the conclusion must act as a “mellow point” for them, entrusting them only with important pointers of the study. Sometimes, the conclusion part of the paper, even though less wordy than its preceding sections, may be difficult to construct, as you still need to have a basis– a scaffold– to refer to, and synthesizing, just like analyzing and evaluating data, is just as hard and laborious.

Through its superb essay writing services , plus applying top-notch quality assurance to academic papers like research articles, Studyfy can help you achieve the best for last with an effective, meaningful, and content-rich conclusion. Your readers will not think twice about using your study as a model for their own works!

How Long is a Research Paper in terms of its Various Types?

As mentioned in the first part of the article, the word count of an academic paper is dependent on the type of research you wish to conduct. While the general word count has been given, we cannot deny the fact that this threshold is only an estimation. There might be a time when you are tasked to create a research article that is different from a standard IMRAD-structured (Introduction, Methodology, Results, Analysis, Discussion) research paper. You are in for a treat, as we will provide you with a cheat sheet for the word count of several types of write-ups in the realm of research:

how long should an intro to a research paper be

Research Proposal

Specific Purpose/s: A preliminary outline that contains the research question, minimal literature review, methodology, and significance of the research undertaking.

"Word Count Range: 1500-3000 words"

Review Article

Specific Purpose/s: Review bodies of literature about an overarching topic or niche, analyze a particular section, synthesize according to certain themes, and identify knowledge gaps from the findings.

"Word Count Range: 5000-10,000 words"


Specific Purpose/s: Involves the use of statistical analyses of multiple studies to provide a quantitative synthesis of the evidence.

"Word Count Range: 5000-15,000 words"

Specific Purpose/s: Presents an in-depth and intrusive analysis of a specific case, one which aims to illustrate a broader concept or novel phenomenon.

"Word Count Range: 1500-5000 words"

Conference Paper

Specific Purpose/s: Presents a brief introduction, salient research findings, and implications connected to a given theme by a conference or colloquium.

"Word Count Range: 2000-5000 words"


Specific Purpose/s: Regarded as a terminal scholarly requirement for doctorate students, this is an in-depth discussion of an otherwise original research finding, often written in chapters. It contributes significantly to the body of knowledge of a particular study of interest.

"Word Count Range: 50,000-100,000 words (depending on the institution)"

Are you contemplating buying research papers of different types? Studyfy got your back! Its roster of writers and editing experts leaves no space for errors, ensuring that both quality and quantity– that’s right: content and word count are not compromised. The variety of expertise within ensures that all research and scholarly works are delivered to your liking. Pay less– no hidden charges and markups while you enjoy the best quality of writing with Studyfy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the introduction in a research paper.

AThe introduction takes up about 30-40% of the entire paper since the context and research background should be specified and further discussed. For a general academic paper with 4000 words, the introduction must be approximately 1500 words. You can do the math for the rest!

How long is a research paper, considering that there are many of them?

There is no one-size-fits-all guideline in determining the word count of a plethora of research papers in the world. Although there is an accepted word count range for each research type (as presented in the previous section), there are several factors that should likewise be considered in determining the word count: specific guidelines set by the institution you are working with, the complexity of the topic, audience, and depth of analysis. 

Do I have to include all of the prescribed subsections of the introduction to increase the word count?

While the prescribed subsections have significant functions in the research paper introduction, some of them are not required to be included. The decisions depend on the type of research you wish to conduct and the external guidelines that you might need to follow. Some disciplines, such as social sciences, require a research article to have a theoretical framework, whereas others do not. Some research papers follow the standard IMRAD paper format that infuses the literature review section into the introduction, while the Germanic Thesis paper format, for example, regards the former as a separate section.

How do I increase my word count without compromising the quality of my research paper?

The dilemma of choosing quality over quantity has long been debunked: you do not have to choose in the first place. All you need is a set of writing strategies and techniques that will target those two birds using one stone. You may provide more detail to some ambiguous or novel terms. You can add additional works of literature to some concepts that promote abstraction. You may include examples or empirical pieces of evidence to create a more concrete representation of a concept or theory. Lastly, you may use subheadings to efficiently allocate word count for your chosen discussion topics.

Why is it important to track the word count of a research paper?

There are various reasons why we need to do it. Some institutions that publish scholarly journals follow certain guidelines in word count as one of the primary requirements. A specified limit enables researchers to allocate the number of words to several sections of their writing efficiently. Most institutions also use paper length as a predictor of publication cost. The longer the word count is, the costlier the publication will be. Lastly, reading engagement is affected by word count, as readers tend to shy away from reading an article that is long, boring, and insubstantial. 

Can a writing service help me achieve my goals of writing within the right word count range?

Certainly! Studyfy offers several academic services, including writing services and research papers for sale . Understanding your various writing needs, writers can cater to the needed style, word count, formatting, and any other aspects so that you can have the best quality write-up without having to fear extra charges and big markups.

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How Long Should A Research Paper Be?

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You must have known what research looks like. It has a particular structure that should be followed at any cost since it is the criteria for  writing a research paper . Several questions come into the mind of students such as how to write a research paper, how long should a research paper be, etc.

That’s why we have brought a series of research writing and addressing different questions related to it. This blog aims to answer queries about the duration your research should ideally take, including insights on how to write an 8-page paper effectively. Although it depends upon the guidelines given by your teacher, there is also a standard length of research writing. Let’s dive in and learn everything about the ideal word count of any research.

Table of Contents

What is a Research Paper?

A research paper is an essay that is based on your investigational work you have completed or will complete on just one or many specific topics of a specific discipline. Research or investigation essays are lengthy depending on the scope and extensive nature of the topic.

It’s just an analysis of the topic from your own perspective. A student or a reader present facts and their theories in front of the audience to inform them about the specific subject matter. If you dont know how long is a research paper, here we will take you on a deeper tour to help you understand these essays thoroughly.

What is the Standard Length of a Research Paper?

Discussing the standard length of a paper, it’s important to note that it varies depending on the specific instructions given to each student and the structural requirements related to their chosen finance research topics . It is never a fixed one for all types of papers yet, there are some conditions and possibilities because of which the word count varies.

Research that has a thesis statement only requires 2 to 3 arguments to be proved and will be summed up in 500 to 700 words. After providing the introduction and a little background on the research, you can directly shift to mentioning the arguments and claims so you may prove the statement and complete the research.

Some research requires detailed analysis and interpretation of the findings. This kind of paper has several stages such as introduction, background, thesis statement, objective, research questions, literature review, research methodology, data collection, discussion, findings, conclusion, and bibliography. Such research easily crosses 5000 words because it is important to discuss everything about the topic.

So it entirely depends upon the structure you are following to write the research. It could be as long as just 500 words, or 5000 words, and even more. It all varies therefore you must be prepared for writing a paper no matter how long it should be.

How long is introduction in research paper?

Many students wonder how long should an introduction be in a research paper? The simple answer to this query is as short as possible that justify the requirements and employ all the methods that are necessary for coveying your message.

Typically, a standard length of introductory paragraph is 300-500 words. If your topic needs more than the standard word count than always ask for suggestion from your professor on first priority. We hope now you know how long should an introduction be for a research paper. 

Why Considering Length of a Research Paper is Important

Identifying the length of research is important because of so many reasons. You might have never realized the significance of considering how long a paper should be, so here we go with some of the vital reasons.

1. Going Extra May Ruin Your Research

You cannot write more than is required in research. If you are doing so then you are automatically ignoring the quality measures of writing a paper. If you are writing more than words than is required then there are chances you are going to submit a poor quality research work.

2. Sticking to the Guidelines is Important

When your guidelines have mentioned 1000 words maximum and you are submitting research of 2000 words, you already know what wrong you have done. If you are not sticking to the guidelines it will result in deduction of marks, fall in grades, and repetition of the class course.

3. Having a Balance is Good

It is necessary to keep a balance between the word count of all the headings. Without this much-needed balance, you might end up submitting a poor paper that has a longer introduction, and a shorter explanation of the findings. That’s why attaining a balance is important in your research word count.

4. Delivering Quality Research is the Criteria

When you are delivering quality content, you will be appreciated no matter what. If you consider the length of your research, you are one step forward in delivering quality research work to your teacher.

How Long Should a Research Paper Be?

This question is valid and one of the frequently asked questions by the students of high school and college. It is also important to know before you start working on your paper. Don’t forget to read the instructions provided by your teacher, however, we have more suggestions for you regarding the length of the research.

how long should a research paper be

1. It All Depends On Your Teacher First

Your teacher indeed decides what should be the ideal length of your research. They have given some guidelines to you and you need to follow them. The teachers always know the best and they will suggest to you how long your essay should be.

Some teachers have kept a certain word limit for the paper while others provide you complete freedom to write as long as you want. It is necessary to figure out what’s best for your research. In high schools, a standard length of any research is a maximum of 7 to 8 pages while the minimum should be 5 pages.

2. Check How Much Length is Required to Justify Your Statement

Sometimes it is based on the  thesis for research paper . From the part of the abstract to the conclusion, there must be a balance between the word count of every heading. It is your responsibility as a writer to track the word count when you are trying to justify your thesis by giving several arguments and claims.

If you have decided how many arguments it will take to prove your thesis, then you have already finalized the length of your research. All you have to do is prepare everything in advance and see if you are proving your point within 5 or 8 pages.

3. It Shouldn’t Miss Any Point

A researcher must be discussing all the standard details that could justify the purpose of writing the paper. It must have all the headings properly discussed. Since all the points must be 100% clear in the research, deciding on a word limit in the very beginning could be a little hard.

But it is not impossible to identify by making an outline and checking how many pages will be covered in writing about a certain topic. All you have to do is take care that no point is missing in the research. Cutting the research short and trying to discuss facts to the exact point won’t help unless you are entirely explaining every aspect as required.

How Long a Research Paper Should be in Words?

You have learned something about the ideal length of research. When it comes to the word count, the criterion is a bit different. For example, if you need a  Ph.D. research paper help , you must know the word count, typically between 70,000 to 80,000 words. As you suggest a specific word count for every heading, it is easier to guess how many words are required to summarize every title.

1. Assign Word Count To Each Heading

It is easier to assign a specific word count to every heading and then see what’s the total word length of the paper. For instance, you have to decide how many words will be used to cover your introduction section. A literature review is a second longer part after the discussion in every research so it is necessary to make an outline in advance and see what is the ideal length of every heading.

By giving a suggested word count to each heading you will make a clear pathway to follow during the complete research. It will be automatically easier for you to see how many words will be written to explain everything in your research thoroughly.

There are several sections in research that require certain word counts. Let’s see what word count is usually subjected to every heading.

An  abstract for a research paper  is the first main part that summarizes the research from the beginning to the conclusion. It contains the thesis, methodology, findings, and conclusion. So to explain the complete research in a few sentences, roughly 100 to 200 words will be required. So you may keep in mind the word count for an abstract is a maximum of 200 words.

● Introduction

An introduction is also a major part of the research and it is easily covered within 300 words maximum. Nothing else is required to explain terminologies or theories in this section.  However, there are many opinion on this topic and each have different answers. That’s the prime reason students spend day and night on google looking for answers on their questions such as how long should introduction be for research paper. In short, 300 to 500 words are more than enough to state your thoughts in an into section and persuade your readers.

● Literature Review

The literature review is the second-longest section in any research. It contains a reference to the past research done in a similar field by other researchers. Every research must have 5 to 8 or even more past papers discussed in it. Therefore the ideal word count for this section is 500 to 1000 words.

● Methodology

The methodology section also has subcategories in which you have to explain the method of research, data collection, population, research implications, research Instrument, etc. It will take around 300 to 400 words and 100 words extra if you are discussing a theoretical framework too.

● Discussion and Interpretation

This is the longest part of any research since you have to explain all the findings and tell your readers how successfully you have managed to prove your thesis. This part is as long as 500 to 1000 or even 1500 words depending upon the results and the explanation required.

● Conclusion

A conclusion is a not so lengthy part of the paper. It is usually done within only 100 or 150 words maximum. It is that simple and thus it doesn’t need so many words to finish the argument and put a full stop.

2. Form a Paper Outline

Forming a paper outline in advance will also help you in understanding how many words you may need to cover every heading. This is one of the best ideas for assigning a particular word count to every heading of the paper.

As you’ll create a paper outline, you will get an instant idea of how many words you have to write in total to complete the research. Following this strategy will surely help you won’t be puzzled later during the writing process.

3. Ask Your Instructor

It is always a good idea to ask your teacher or instructor before following any word count technique. They have assigned you a paper so they can provide you with a better guideline to write your paper. It is the easiest method of identifying the word count of your research as it’s something recommended by an expert. Your job will become much easier and simpler by just seeking advice from your teacher.

How Long a Research Paper Should be for Middle School?

A middle school student is just starting with the research work and they are at the initial stages of learning how to conduct research. To understand how long a paper should be for middle school, you need to do some work.

1. Seek Expert Help

It is always better to seek help from an expert to decide the word limit of your essay when you’re a high school student. It could be your teacher or any senior student who will help you and guide how many pages you should write for your research. It is suggested to write 4 to 5 pages when you are a middle school student in writing a paper.

2. Do Research

It is always important to do some research and find out what’s best for your paper. Google is always open to helping students in learning new things without any limit. You can open the Google search engine, write down your query in the search bar and click on it.

Next, you will have everything to read and understand how a paper for middle school will work. By doing so you will automatically get an in-depth idea of crafting research for the initial level project.

After analyzing everything you can easily guess what should be the length of any research written by a middle school student. In pages, it is suggested to write 3 to 5 pages, but in words, it is recommended to write  400 to 500 words only. You can also hire a professional paper writing service to aid you in the process.

As it’s a new thing for the students to perform, they might get nervous easily. That’s why starting slow and taking baby steps towards learning research writing will help a lot.

How long Should a Research Paper be for High School?

High school is a different stage than middle school. You are mature, better at studies, and even more creative than before. This stage comes with its challenges and one of them is writing the research. If you are a new high school student we bet you don’t know much about paper writing at this level.

When a high school student writes a research paper, it’s usually written within 500 to 1000 words. It could be more than this word count or just 5 to 6 pages. The teacher’s instructions do matter a lot in this aspect and without them, you can’t understand the criteria of research writing. It takes a lot of research, consultation, and creativity to write a paper that stands out. The competition is even tougher in high schools so you know how tough it can get to  write a research paper fast .

Your research will decide if you are going to pass the school or not. Many students stay stuck in a class because they are incapable of submitting a brilliant research paper. Most of the time it’s because they don’t know the standard guidelines for writing a paper.

They usually end up ignoring the pattern, writing incorrect information, or exceeding or limiting the length assigned for the research. So it’s better to keep in mind what is the better approach for research writing and how a high school student can learn to write it.

How Long Should a Research Paper be for College?

Have you ever thought about how long your research should be when you have finally reached college? It is the final stage of your education and writing research in this phase will require a lot of preparation. In college, you have to write the longest research papers because it is the standard of a paper written by a college student.

So how exactly long should research be for college? It starts with roughly 3000 words and goes up to 15000 words. 15000 words is a lot but students who are working on their thesis need a lot of details to justify and complete their research. Without doing this they are not getting passed at any cost so now you know why it is so important.

Different sections of the paper require their particular word count. It is sometimes difficult to identify but your teachers will always be there to guide you. Sometimes students are given the entire freedom to keep their essay length on their own. It helps them understand how easily they can prove their thesis either in a few or a lot of pages.

For newcomers in college unsure about the ideal length for research papers, utilizing Google is a great option to delve deeper into the nuances of research writing. It’s particularly helpful in exploring various guidelines related to history research topics . A lot of content is already published on the web which teaches the students almost everything they need.

We hope you know how long is a research paper, no matter if you are writing one for your middle school, high school, or college. All of them have different requirements and basic criteria that should be followed. We also hope this blog has helped you learn everything about deciding the word count or overall length of your research.

Our comment section is always open for your discussion and feedback. If you want to  get in touch  with us or discuss the topic more, just leave a comment in the given box. We would love to hear from our readers and see what they have in their minds after reading our blog.

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What’s Included: Research Paper Template

If you’re preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The research paper template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Literature review 
  • Section 3: Methodology
  • Section 4: Findings /results
  • Section 5: Discussion
  • Section 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included links to free resources to help you understand how to write each section.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Research Paper Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The research paper template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of research papers can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research papers, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level research paper?

This template can be used for a research paper at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my research paper be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. We include generic word count ranges for each section within the template, but these are purely indicative. 

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this research paper template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my research paper?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our private coaching services .

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

How Long Should a Research Paper Be? Data from 61,519 Examples

I analyzed a random sample of 61,519 full-text research papers, uploaded to PubMed Central between the years 2016 and 2021, in order to answer the questions:

What is the typical overall length of a research paper? and how long should each section be?

I used the BioC API to download the data (see the References section below).

Here’s a summary of the key findings

1- The median length of a research paper is 4,133 words (equivalent to 166 sentences or 34 paragraphs), excluding the abstract and references, with 90% of papers being between 2,023 and 8,284 words.

2- A typical article is divided in the following way:

  • Introduction section: 14.6% of the total word count.
  • Methods section: 29.7% of the total word count.
  • Results section: 26.2% of the total word count.
  • Discussion section: 29.4% of the total word count.

Notice that the Materials and methods is the longest section of a professionally written article. So always write this section in enough depth to provide the readers with the necessary details that allow them to replicate your study if they wanted to without requiring further information.

Overall length of a research paper

Let’s start by looking at the maximum word count allowed in some of the well-known journals. Note that the numbers reported in this table include the Abstract , Figure legends and References unless otherwise specified:

[1] excluding figure legends [2] excluding references

⚠ Note A review paper is either a systematic review or a meta-analysis, and an original research paper refers to either an observational or an experimental study conducted by the authors themselves.

Notice the large variability between these journals: The maximum number of words allowed ranges between 3,000 and 9,000 words.

Next, let’s look at our data.

Here’s a table that describes the length of a research paper in our sample:

90% of research papers have a word count between 2,023 and 8,284. So it will be a little weird to see a word count outside of this range.

Our data also agree that a typical review paper is a little bit longer than a typical original research paper but not by much (3,858 vs 3,708 words).

Length of each section in a research article

The median article with an IMRaD structure (i.e. contains the following sections: Introduction , Methods , Results and Discussion ) is in general characterized by a short 553 words introduction. And the methods, results and discussion sections are about twice the size of the introduction:

For more information, see:

  • How Long Should a Research Title Be? Data from 104,161 Examples
  • How Long Should the Abstract Be? Data 61,429 from Examples
  • How Long Should the Introduction of a Research Paper Be? Data from 61,518 Examples
  • How Long Should the Methods Section Be? Data from 61,514 Examples
  • How Long Should the Results Section Be? Data from 61,458 Examples
  • How Long Should the Discussion Section Be? Data from 61,517 Examples
  • Length of a Conclusion Section: Analysis of 47,810 Examples
  • Comeau DC, Wei CH, Islamaj Doğan R, and Lu Z. PMC text mining subset in BioC: about 3 million full text articles and growing,  Bioinformatics , btz070, 2019.


  • How Long Should an Introduction Be?
  • How Long Should an Introduction Be to Craft It Properly?

Preliminary Phases & Crucial Steps

The next measures to undertake, bringing this all together.

The success of every essay is dependent on the preliminary phase. This is the beginning before the start. A researcher ought to study his/her project in the greatest details.

  • Determine how long should an introduction be
  • Identify your audience for more precise introduction writing
  • Take your audience by surprise to carry on properly all way long
  • Use approved information & convincing facts
  • Ask a meaningful question
  • Implement a thesis statement

These are the main points every student should focus on to create an appropriate introduction using perfect grammar and punctuation . The experts from respectful academic writing services know how to compose an introduction. You can learn from their experience, use this informative article. It contains the needed information to provide you with effective instructions & prompts.

We will review the main elements needed to write effective introductions for all kinds of essays . We will highlight a few more things that are essential & help to compose a good introduction.

There are several steps to undertake & the first one is to determine how long should an introduction be. Many students aren’t sure about this point.

No matter what essay type you are assigned & how long it is, the length of the introduction is never longer than five sentences(one paragraph). Even if you are using some citations , you should follow this instructions. If your paper is a typical 500-word essay, summarize it with an AI for free and devote about 3-5 sentences for the intro.

The next issue is to decide what to implement there. This strongly depends on the people who are supposed to read your work. You ought to recognize & understand your audience. Know what they wish to read & learn in your research. Afterward, introduce it in an interesting manner. For example, in the introduction to this guide for personal trainers , the author outlines the problem they will be addressing along with the solution to that problem at a high level.

Do not forget to consider your topic & the peculiarities of the academic subject. Find the appropriate background. The found information should be relevant & fully reflect your main question.

Try to take your audience by surprise. Find & add some uncommon but official facts, statistics relevant to your research. This will be an outstanding beginning. Your readers will be captivated, impressed by the original content & will be eager to read on.

You should remember for good that the information you wish to use in your introduction must be officially approved. One cannot select the opinions of people who have no proofs for their theories. Be selective. Surf the Internet & visit local libraries. Find scientific works related to your project, select the most adequate & effective ones.

Another effective tip to hook the reader’s attention is to use an appropriate anecdote or relevant example. Draw attention to a specific problem. Ask a provoking question to go to the main claim.

After you ignite a desire to read, you should make the foundations firmer. The defining factor for the successful writing of the introduction is a thesis statement. This is a brief argument that reveals the main purpose of your project. Commonly, it takes a single sentence but it’s allowed completing it in two.

Your thesis should be used to communicate directly with your readers. Try to make it catchy & interesting. This final hook will make them fully absorbed with your research. Do not forget to describe how you are going to prove it.

To craft an impressive thesis, a researcher should create a good context. Relate your study to a larger theme. Start with a broader meaning & smoothly narrow it to guide the path to your main purpose. This is when your background plays its important role. Choose the evidence carefully & you will succeed.

Keep your introduction simple & short. A good one does not include generalizations & clichés. These are your worst enemies. It’s remarkable that you should avoid them throughout the entire text. They make any texts stereotypical & boring. Remember that your readers don’t wish to read the old things they already know. They look for some original points that will enrich their own knowledge.

The introductory part means a lot & you should fulfill every step properly using proper transition words . Eric, one of our best writers, knows some effective methods to put thoughts on paper appropriately. He wishes to share his rich & successful experience.

It is important to complete the preliminary stages correctly. This ensures the successful writing of your introduction. Choose your topic, research it to plainly understand what you are supposed to disclose. Find the relevant information sources that are official & reflect on your main question in full. Take some notes because it’s impossible to keep everything in your head. Study the found data & select the one that suits your topic most. Mind that it affects the conclusion because you ought to restate the main points of your research in the end. Be watchful with the supporting evidence & always verify the dependability. You can read free samples to make sure you do everything correct. Write your thesis in plain & meaningful words - use good English. Clarify your main purpose & explain how you are going to continue your research. Use the keywords that fully explain your main design. Follow these simple prompts & recommendations,  you will avoid unnecessary complications.

In the meanwhile, be careful with your original approaches. It is good when a researcher implements some uncommon structures, intriguing facts, terms. You should not use complex and/or unknown words & abbreviations. Everything ought to be easy to comprehend. Don’t confuse your readers. They will quit reading in the very beginning.

Keep in your memory these recommendations & warnings. They are universal & are suitable for any piece of writing. They help to craft an effective beginning for all essay types, for such complicated papers as dissertations and suchlike.

Under the condition, you have some difficulties with the introductory part leave this matter to the specialists of our writing resource . Place instant orders on the advantageous conditions & receive the assistance of the top quality. 

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  • Research paper

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

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Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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  • Review Article
  • Published: 08 February 2024

Short- and long-term variability of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets

  • Edward Hanna   ORCID: 1 ,
  • Dániel Topál   ORCID: 2 , 3 ,
  • Jason E. Box   ORCID: 4 ,
  • Sammie Buzzard   ORCID: 5 , 6 ,
  • Frazer D. W. Christie   ORCID: 7 ,
  • Christine Hvidberg   ORCID: 8 ,
  • Mathieu Morlighem   ORCID: 9 ,
  • Laura De Santis   ORCID: 10 ,
  • Alessandro Silvano   ORCID: 11 ,
  • Florence Colleoni   ORCID: 10 ,
  • Ingo Sasgen   ORCID: 12 , 13 ,
  • Alison F. Banwell   ORCID: 14 ,
  • Michiel R. van den Broeke   ORCID: 15 ,
  • Robert DeConto 16 ,
  • Jan De Rydt   ORCID: 6 ,
  • Heiko Goelzer   ORCID: 17 ,
  • Alexandra Gossart 18 ,
  • G. Hilmar Gudmundsson   ORCID: 6 ,
  • Katrin Lindbäck   ORCID: 19 , 20 ,
  • Bertie Miles   ORCID: 21 ,
  • Ruth Mottram   ORCID: 22 ,
  • Frank Pattyn   ORCID: 23 ,
  • Ronja Reese   ORCID: 6 ,
  • Eric Rignot   ORCID: 24 , 25 , 26 ,
  • Aakriti Srivastava   ORCID: 27 ,
  • Sainan Sun   ORCID: 6 ,
  • Justin Toller   ORCID: 28 ,
  • Peter A. Tuckett 29 &
  • Lizz Ultee   ORCID: 30  

Nature Reviews Earth & Environment ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Climate change
  • Cryospheric science

The variability of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets occurs on various timescales and is important for projections of sea level rise; however, there are substantial uncertainties concerning future ice-sheet mass changes. In this Review, we explore the degree to which short-term fluctuations and extreme glaciological events reflect the ice sheets’ long-term evolution and response to ongoing climate change. Short-term (decadal or shorter) variations in atmospheric or oceanic conditions can trigger amplifying feedbacks that increase the sensitivity of ice sheets to climate change. For example, variability in ocean-induced and atmosphere-induced melting can trigger ice thinning, retreat and/or collapse of ice shelves, grounding-line retreat, and ice flow acceleration. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is especially prone to increased melting and ice sheet collapse from warm ocean currents, which could be accentuated with increased climate variability. In Greenland both high and low melt anomalies have been observed since 2012, highlighting the influence of increased interannual climate variability on extreme glaciological events and ice sheet evolution. Failing to adequately account for such variability can result in biased projections of multi-decadal ice mass loss. Therefore, future research should aim to improve climate and ocean observations and models, and develop sophisticated ice sheet models that are directly constrained by observational records and can capture ice dynamical changes across various timescales.

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how long should an intro to a research paper be

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The authors are grateful to the World Climate Research Programme’s Climate & Cryosphere core project, the International Arctic Science Committee and SCAR for co-sponsoring an ISMASS workshop that led to this collaboration. E.H. and A. Silvano acknowledge funding from NERC (NE/W005875/1, NE/Y000129/1 and NE/V014285/1). F.D.W.C. acknowledges funding from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. R.R. was supported by the TiPACCs project, which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 820575. J.D.R. was supported by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (grant agreement no MR/W011816/1). H.G. received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement number 869304, PROTECT and the Research Council of Norway under projects 295046 and 324639. L.D.S. acknowledges funding from the PNRA19_00022 project. F.C. acknowledges funding from the PNRA18_00002 project and from the SCAR INSTANT Programme. R.M. received funding from the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme under grant agreement number 101060452, OCEAN:ICE. I.S. acknowledges funding by the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM (Regional Climate Change), a joint research project of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (HGF). A.G. acknowledges financial support from the New Zealand Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (grant number ANTA1801; Antarctic Science Platform). The authors thank S. Hanna for the help with figure preparation.

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Edward Hanna

Institute for Geological and Geochemical Research, HUN-REN Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (MTA-Centre of Excellence), Budapest, Hungary

Dániel Topál

Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Geological Survey of Denmark & Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark

Jason E. Box

School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Cardiff, Cardiff, UK

Sammie Buzzard

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Sammie Buzzard, Jan De Rydt, G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, Ronja Reese & Sainan Sun

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Laura De Santis & Florence Colleoni

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Alessandro Silvano

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Ingo Sasgen

Institute of Geography, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany

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Alison F. Banwell

Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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Robert DeConto

Norce Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Heiko Goelzer

Antarctic Research Centre, Te Puna Pātiotio, Victoria University of Wellington, Te Herenga Waka, Wellington, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa New Zealand

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E.H. designed and co-ordinated the Review and raised support for the ISMASS workshop. E.H., J.E.B., S.B., F.D.W.C., C.H., M.M., D.T., L.D.S. and A. Silvano led the writing, and all authors contributed to the writing and discussion of ideas. I.S. designed Fig.  1 , D.T. designed Figs.  2 and 5 , F.C. designed Fig.  3 and J.E.B. designed Fig.  4 .

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Hanna, E., Topál, D., Box, J.E. et al. Short- and long-term variability of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Nat Rev Earth Environ (2024).

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