Introductions and Conclusions

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 12008

You can't judge a book by its cover but you can judge an essay by its introduction. If it's ineffective, readers will lose interest. The conclusion creates a "Wow" impact if it's done well. Learn how!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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When meeting new people, we make first impressions.

  • Why are first impressions, as well as parting words, so important?
  • What effect do they have?

The body of your paper has been drafted, and it's now time to draft the introduction and conclusion.

Many young writers are daunted by this task. As there were guidelines to forming the body of your paper (Related Lessons in right-hand sidebar), there are also helpful guidelines that will direct you while writing the introduction and conclusion.

Before continuing on, if you wish to revisit any of the previous Writing a Research Paper Related Lessons, now is your chance.


According to Amy M. Kleppner and Cynthia Skelton, in Research Paper Procedure: High School, an introductory paragraph in a research paper should include the following three elements:

  1. Focusing sentences:
    • direct the reader's attention to the topic of the paper.
    • are sometimes called "grabbers," because their purpose is to get the reader's attention.
    • should not be painfully obvious or a trite generalization. Starting with "Albert Einstein was a great scientist" or "Life has its ups and downs" will induce instant sleep in a reader. Dictionary definitions are also uninteresting.
    • should consist of several thought-provoking, original sentences that draw the reader into the discussion.
  2. A thesis statement:
    • is the carefully-worded statement of the main idea of the paper and it never begins, "In this paper I will... ."
    • almost always includes a judgement or evaluation and is never merely a statement of fact.
    • will come at the end of the paragraph.
  3. The method of development (MOD):
    • is a brief indication of the main topics that the author will use to support the thesis statement, like a blueprint.
    • is the writer's own work, containing nothing borrowed.
    • is usually followed by several additional sentences to bring the introductory paragraph to a satisfactory close.

A good introductory paragraph establishes a tone, making an effort to engage the reader's attention from the outset. Techniques for writing an attention-grabbing introduction:

  • an entertaining anecdote, story, conversation, or example
  • a strong, controversial opinion that opposes common assumptions or critical views
  • an unusual or startling fact; surprising statistics or data
  • a witty or humorous observation, if appropriate for the subject under discussion
  • a dramatic, fascinating quotation, adage, or proverb

Review this information by watching the BMS Library video, Writing an Introduction to a Research Paper:

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  • Have you ever been captivated by a book, but then disliked the ending so much you wrote off the whole book?

Maybe you have watched a movie that really wasn’t interesting you, but then an intriguing twist at the end changed your opinion of the whole movie. The same can be said about the conclusion to a research paper. For better or for worse, the conclusion will stick in the reader’s mind more so than any other part of your paper. Don’t get weary yet! Writing a research paper is a marathon. Muster up that last bit of energy to finish strong. You’ve put in too much time and effort at this point to settle for a “good enough” conclusion. To ensure a “Wow” ending to your paper, read over the following guidelines and tips for success:

Research Paper Procedure: High School identifies the four main elements of a conclusion:

  1. sentences to refocus attention and signal the end of the paper
  2. a reworded thesis statement — not a word-for-word repetition — as a reminder of the main idea of the paper; that is, a judgment, decision, argument, resolution, or the like
  3. a recapitulation — a concise summary of the major topics covered
  4. sentences that go beyond the conclusion of the thesis, often by doing one of the following:
    • providing a new insight or perspective
    • suggesting logical implications or practical consequences of the position stated
    • challenging the reader to take action or change behavior through specific proposals
    • showing how this view or discovery fits into the larger picture
    • raising additional questions about the topic or suggesting the direction that future investigation might take
    • mentioning a noteworthy incident, surprising statistic, apt quotation, or striking contrast that reinforces the main point of the essay
    • offering a personal reflection

A good conclusion:

  • leaves the reader with a strong impression, a definite attitude.
  • is the author’s own words and does not contain much, if any, borrowed material. A brief, highly appropriate quotation, a statistic, or an anecdote, can be included when it reflects and extends the ideas that have already been fully developed in the body of the paper.
  • reflects the introduction by alluding to the same idea, saying, anecdote, or incident mentioned earlier.

Read the tips provided in the article Conclusions, provided by the Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Be sure to take note of the ineffective strategies listed as well as traps to avoid.

Before writing the introduction and conclusion to your research paper, you will first do a little bit of practice in the Got It? section.

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