Introducing the Conclusion

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"At the very least, you ought to rewrite your title and introduction to match your conclusion"  (Short Research Papers).

I know that personally, when I'm writing a research paper -- short or long -- my introduction and conclusion are the hardest parts for me to write.  When I was in high school, when we wrote our gigantic junior research paper, my teacher told us not to freak out about the introduction and to skip it, then write it last, after you've finished the rest of the paper, including the conclusion.  As long as you know what your thesis is, the rest of your paper should be a easy(ish) to write.  And the benefit when you've written the introduction last, you already know for sure what the rest of the paper is about, so it's easy to make the introduction match the body of the paper.  And I always try to make my title something creative instead of just "Stem-Cell Research" or whatever the topic is, so by writing the entire paper first, I might be able to pull something from my writing to be a creative title.

Research papers, for me, aren't that hard.  I just first have to figure out what the heck I'm going to write about...  Oy.

4 Comments

Maddie Gillespie said:

Your high school teacher really gave you a good piece of advice! The best part about it is though, that it can apply to virtually any written work. Typically, research papers and longer essays are the bane of students existence, but if you simply figure out what it is that you're going to write about and save your introduction and conclusion until you've covered the main points...you've got it made! You're in the home-stretch by then! I'd probably have to say that for me, the hardest part about writing a research paper is the narrowing of topics. There are numerous subjects out there to be written about, but you've still gotta make sure that the important bits mesh. I, too strive to produce creative titles for my works; just take a look at some of my blog titles! However, when it's all said and done...creativity is nice, but don't make something so creative that it doesn't match the rest of your work. Great job on the blog!

If I could bottle and sell the insight contained in Ally's post and Maddie's comment, I'd be the envy of college teachers everywhere.

I, and most other college English teachers, really don't care whether you plan to write about Bevel's bus ride in "The River" as a heroic quest, or the clash of masculine logic and feminine intuition in "Trifles," or the contrast between visual imagery and oral rhetoric in "The Defense of Fort McHenry." If you start out with one idea and end up in a completely different place, that's fine with me -- just write the introduction as if you intended to get there all along, and I'll be thrilled.

Maddie, it's good that you recognize the importance of the topic-selection stage. It's much easier to reject a topic as soon as you realize someone else has checked all the library books on it, than if you commit to it and only the night before it's due (when you try to "find quotations" to make your opinion paper look like a research paper) to realize that you can't find credible sources on that topic.

See what scholarly sources you can find right now, and make a thesis out of that.

Jessie Farine said:

This is a good bit of advice. However, I feel that I'd go all over the place in my paper without an introduction to focus me, acting like an anchor. I use the introduction like a target at which I aim my research and arguments.

Kaitlin Monier said:

I had a writing teacher in high school who gave me the same advice. He said that you cant introduce somebody you don't know, so how are you going to introduce a paper you haven't written? It is still, of course, important to have a thesis before writing to keep the focus.

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