Write the research introduction

To many, introductions are the boring parts that tend to be neglected. To others, introductions are the envelop that reflects its inside. Do you know that your supervisors go with the latter? They usually have their impressions about your work after reading the introduction? So, how to write a good one?

Write the research introduction

What is a research introduction?

An introduction is the first passage in a journal article, dissertation, or scholarly research study. It sets the stage for the entire study through establishing the issue or concern leading to the research, by conveying information about a research problem.

Why a research introduction is important?

Because it is the initial passage in a study or proposal. Thus, special care must be given to writing it as it may encourage/discourage the reader to read further and to begin to see significance in the study.

Fortunately, there is a template or structure for writing a good, scholarly introduction. The template will be presented later in this article.

Do qualitative and quantitative introductions differ?

Yes. Because problems differ for qualitative and quantitative studies, the introduction will vary depending on the approach.

In a qualitative study, the author describes a research problem that can best be understood by exploring concept or phenomenon. A researcher explores a topic when the variables and theory base are unknown.

However, less variation is seen in quantitative introductions. In a quantitative study, the problem is best addressed by understating what factors or variables influence an outcome. In addition, in quantitative introductions, researchers sometimes advance a theory to test, and they will incorporate substantial reviews of the literature.

How can you structure your research introduction?

The deficiencies model is a popular approach that has a general template for writing a solid introduction to a proposal or research study. Once its structure is clarified, you will find it apparent in many scholarly studies.

The introduction model consists of five parts:

  1. The research problem;
  2. Studies that have addressed the problem;
  3. Deficiencies in the studies;
  4. The importance of the study for an audience; and
  5. The purpose statement.

Example of a research introduction

Since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965, America’s colleges and universities have struggled to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of their students and faculty members, and “affirmative action” has become the policy-of-choice to achieve that heterogeneity. [Authors state the narrative hook] These policies, however, are now at the center of an intense national debate. […]

In response, educators and others have advanced educational arguments supporting affirmative action, claiming that a diverse study body is more educationally effective than a more homogeneous one. Harvard University president Neil Rudenstine claims that the ‘fundamental rational for student diversity in higher education [is] its educational value” (Rudenstine, 1999, p.1). Lee Bollinger, Rudenstine’s counterpart at the University of Michigan, has asserted, “A classroom that does not have a significant representation from members of different races produces an impoverished discussion” (Schmidt, 1998, p.A32). […] [Authors identify the research problem]

Studies of the impact of diversity on student educational outcomes tend to approach the way students encounter “diversity” in an of three ways. A small group of studies treat students’ contacts with “diversity” largely as a function of the numerical or proportional racia/ethnic or gender mix of students on a campus (e.g., Chang, 1996, 1999a; Kanter, 1977; Sax, 1996) […]

These various approaches have been used to examine the effects of diversity on a broad array of student educational outcomes. The evidence is almost uniformly consistent in indicating that students in a racial/ethnically or gender-diverse community, or engaged in a diversity- related activity, reap a wide array of positive educational benefits. [Authors mention studies that have addressed the problem]

Only a relative handful of studies (e.g., Chang, 1996, 1999a; Sax, 1996) have specifically examined whether the racial/ethnic or gender composition of the students on a campus, in an academic major, or in a classroom (i.e., structural diversity) has the educational benefits claimed. Whether the degree of racial diversity of a campus or classroom has a direct effect on learning outcomes, however, remains an open question. [Deficiencies in the studies are noted]

The scarcity of information on the educational benefits of the structural diversity on a campus or in its classrooms is regrettable because it is the sort of evidence he courts appear to be requiring if they are to support race-sensitive admissions policies. [Importance of the study for an audience mentioned]

This study attempted to contribute to the knowledge base by exploring he influence of structural diversity in the classroom on students’ development of academic and intellectual skills . . . . This study examines both the direct effect of classroom diversity on academic/intellectual outcomes and whether any effects of classroom diversity may be moderated by the extent to which active and collaborative instructional approaches and used in the course. [Purpose of the study identified]


Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

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