Purpose• The introduction to a paper is a very important section, in that it sets the expectations of the reader. While there is no one formula for a good introduction, in general, an introduction to a formal paper of this type should accomplish the following:
An introduction should attractthe readers attention.• Magazine and newspaper articles often accomplish this with brief but interesting anecdotes, questions that capture the readers curiosity, something of personal relevance to the reader, or other apt quotations, provocative questions, or statements.• Very often just raising the interesting issue that your thesis explores is enough to pull your reader in.
It should be explicitAfter having read the introduction, the reader should haveno doubt about what the central point of your paper is.
It should be significantYou should convince your audience that it should careabout what you have to say, though attention to relevanceand significance is part of constructing a successful thesis.
It can give a previewWriters often summarize in a brief list of three or so points howyou are going to back up your thesis, so as to prepare the readerand improve the readers recognition and retention of thosepoints.
Not a place for longbackgroundA common impulse is to start a paper with the story of when aperson was born, or with some historical background. However,unless some brief information is necessary to understand theterms within or significance of the thesis, save the backgroundfor your next paragraph.
Not too longAn introduction should be a single paragraph, at least for thelength of papers for this class. A page-long intro is usually toolong -- half a page or less is good. If your opening anecdote is along one, you dont have to finish it in the introduction -- justintroduce enough of it to get the readers attention and establishthe significance of your thesis. You can finish it in the body of thepaper. (In fact, such a "teaser" is a common device of newspaperfeature writers.)
Not a dictionary definitionWere not interested in how Websters defines "Postmodernism."We are interested in YOUR take on it.
Not a grand generalizationThe cliché of the "pyramid form" introduction often leads touninteresting sentences that begin with "Since the beginning oftime..." or "Throughout history...". Showing the significance ofyour thesis does not mean that you have to demonstrate itsimportance in the history of art or tie it to some universalobservation.
Parts of an Introduction• Hook• Background/Definition• Thesis
Hook (To attract the reader) 1. Pose a specific question that will invite the reader to keep reading for the answer - a provocative question works well to engage readers, so long as it doesnt put them off 2. Choose statistics that you expect will surprise your reader or that go against the common belief about a topic 3. Tell a short, interesting anecdote (or story) related to the topic 4. Provide an interesting (and relevant) quote 5. Develop an unusual or unexpected comparison
Definition and Background• It is not a place for a dictionary definition or a long background BUT • You need to give enough information for the reader to understand your thesis. • You need to anticipate for a differing definition for your topic
Thesis• Thesis has three parts 1. Significance 2. Your opinion 3. Your reasons or process
Thesis – Significance• Does my thesis pass the "So what?" test?• Tell the reader, why your opinion or paper is important?
Thesis – Opinion• Do I answer the question?• Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?• Is my thesis statement specific enough?• Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument.
Process• Does my thesis pass the "how and why?" test?• Process can guide the reader and show your organization before they start reading your paper
Sample Thesis (Opinion andProcess)• A thesis STATES A POINT TO BE MADE, not just a topic or a question: • Less effective: • We need to protect nature • More effective: • Protecting our forests is important due to its ability to deter erosion, keep green house gases low and provide substance for our ecosystem
Sample Cont. • Less effective: • This paper is a comparison of McDonalds and Burger King burgers. • More effective: • While McDonalds is cheaper the flame broiled burgers of Burger King is juicer and is more flavorful.
Sample Cont.• A thesis should be SIGNIFICANT. It should not state the obvious. For the purposes of this class, it should be disputable. That is, no one wants to read a paper consisting entirely of facts or statements no one would ever contest. Creative and well-supported interpretations are much more interesting to read: • Less effective: • Dogs bark when they are nervous. • More effective: • Unlike wild dogs, domesticated dogs bark to alert the owners of potential dangers, so they make good watch dogs.• Remember: you dont want the reader to finish the paper and say, "So what?"
Sample Cont.• A thesis should go significantly beyond class discussion, proposing an original interpretation. • A paper should never summarize or restate other peoples ideas, whether from class discussions or other sources. Of course, these sources may help provide inspiration for your own ideas or evidence for your points, but the thesis should be an idea original with you.
Sample Cont.• A thesis should be a single, distinct idea: • Less effective: • Comic book movies make a lot of money and they are usually interesting. • More effective: • Movies based on comic books are interesting due to their …. • Or: • Movies based on popular comic books earn a lot of money because ….
Sample Cont.• Most importantly, make sure the thesis is PRECISE AND FOCUSED: • Not effective • The music of Pink is good. • More effective: • The early music of Pink combines folksy sound with her belief in animal activism and women’s rights through effective lyrics.
NEXT• Please go to the WIKI for a more detailed description and examples