The introduction of a scientific paper is very important as it helps the readers understand the topic, context and significance of the work of the paper. The introduction to a scientific paper is an essential element for a good understanding of the rest of the paper, although the introduction does not include scientific elements.


Objectives of the introduction of a scientific paper

This may seem obvious, but introductions are always placed at the beginning of an article. They guide your reader from a general area to the narrow topic your article covers. They also explain your article:

  • Scope : the topic you are going to cover
  • Context : the background of your subject
  • Importance : why your research is important in context

Your introduction will cover a lot of ground. However, it will only be half a page to a few pages long. The length depends on the size of your paper as a whole. In many cases, the introduction will be shorter than all other sections of your document.

The introduction to your research paper is not only important. It's critical.

Your readers don't know what your research paper is about from the title. This is where your introduction comes in. A good introduction:

  • Help your reader understand the context of your topic
  • Explain why your research paper is worth reading
  • Offer a guide for navigating the rest of the room
  • Spark your reader’s interest

Without a clear introduction, your readers will struggle. They may feel confused when they start reading your article. They might even give up altogether. Your introduction will ground them and prepare them for the in-depth research to come.


Introductory paragraph:

  • Give a general introduction to the topic for a broad audience
  • Focus on your particular topic
  • State your research problem and objectives

Literature review (usually several paragraphs):

  • Summarize relevant literature on your topic
  • Describe the current state of the art
  • Note any gaps in the literature that your study will fill

Research objectives (usually one paragraph):

  • State your hypothesis or research question
  • Briefly describe how you will achieve your goals
  • Give an overview of your main results and indicate the contribution of the work (optional)

Presentation of the paper (optional; one paragraph):

  • Provide a section-by-section overview of document content

introduction résumé papier scientifique

Structure of the introduction

Research paper presentations are always unique. After all, research is original by definition. However, they often contain six essential elements. Each element will be written in a few separate paragraphs. Each paragraph contains the main idea, then its development.

An overview of the subject, the scientific context. Start with a general overview of your topic. Narrow down the big picture until you get to the specific topic of your article. Then mention the questions or concerns you had about the matter. Note that you will address these in the post. Often, the socio-economic-technical context is also mentioned mainly in applied research.

Previous research. Your introduction is the place to review further findings on your topic. Include both older scholars and modern scholars. This basic information shows that you are aware of previous research. It also presents past findings to those who might not have that expertise.

A justification for your article. Explain why your topic needs to be covered now. If applicable, connect it to current issues. Additionally, you can show a problem with old theories or reveal a gap in current research. No matter how you do it, a good rationale will interest your readers and demonstrate why they should read the rest of your article.

Describe it methodology that you used. Tell about your processes to make your article more credible. State your objective and the questions you will answer. Reveal how you conducted research and describe how you measured the results. Additionally, explain why you made key choices.

A thesis statement. Your main introduction should end with a thesis statement. This statement summarizes the ideas that will run through your entire research paper. It must be simple and clear.

The paper plan. Introductions often end with an overview. Your layout should quickly go over what you intend to cover in the following sections. Think of it as a road map, guiding your reader to the end of your article. Let's set this paragraph aside.

These five items are more or less highlighted depending on your field.

Some writing tips

We don't just want you to learn how to write an introduction for a research paper. We want you to learn how to make it shine.

There are three things you can do to make writing a great introduction easier.

Write your introduction last. An introduction summarizes everything you have learned from your research. Although it may be nice to write your preface quickly, you need to write the rest of your article first. Then it will be easy for you to create a clear overview.

Include a strong quote or story up front. You want your paper to be full of substance. But that doesn't mean it should look boring or flat. Add a relevant quote or surprising anecdote at the start of your introduction. This technique will pique your reader's interest and leave them wanting more.

Be concise. Research articles cover complex topics. To help your readers, try to write as clearly as possible. Use concise sentences. Check for confusing grammar or syntax. Read your introduction out loud to catch any awkward phrases. Before you finish your article, make sure to proofread it as well. Mistakes may appear unprofessional.

First step, the context

The first paragraph(s) of the introduction aims to introduce your research topic. Your research topic is the main character of your story. Just as a good story requires a compelling hero, a good scientific article relies on an interesting research topic. Therefore, your first introductory paragraphs should convince your readers of the importance of your topic. Let's take an example !

Imagine you conducted a study to test the effectiveness of a new treatment to cure a disease called Dragon Pox – Dragon Pox is an imaginary disease that affects wizards and witches, like chickenpox (see the Harry Potter series). When writing the article describing your research into this disease, you might begin your introduction by emphasizing the prevalence of Dragon Pox.

“Dragon pox is one of the most common infectious diseases problematic Today. It is the most common disease among children under the age of 12 and around 2 in 5 people contract it during their lifetime. Dragonpox causes green and purple rashes and sparks that come out of the nostrils when the patient sneezes. 

These symptoms can worsen, leading to serious complications (pneumonia, encephalitis, etc.) and significant after-effects (respiratory failure, mottled skin). Furthermore, in 8.4 % cases, the infection leads to the death of the patient. In 2021, the deadly consequences and high prevalence of dragonpox prompted the Wizzard Health Organization (WHO) to declare it the priority public health problem of the next decade. »

After reading these few sentences, your reader knows that the article is about Dragon Pox, that it is an important subject.

Your introduction should start as broadly as possible to appeal to a wide audience. That being said, the extent of your introduction should also depend on your readership. If your article is aimed at specialists, being too general risks boring them and making them disinterested in your research. So, when writing the first paragraph(s) of your introduction, it's important to keep in mind who your audience is and what they care about.

Second step, the scientific context

Once you have established your research topic and highlighted its importance, the next step is to narrow your paper to your research niche. Your niche defines the specialized area you are looking for; it is a more focused area than the general research topic. For example, in the case of dragon pox, your niche could be one of the following topics:

  • his diagnosis,
  • its treatment,
  • its contagion mechanism,
  • the increased vulnerability of certain people to this disease,
  • the genetic code of the virus,
  • the proteins that make up the membrane of the virus,
  • its evolutionary origins…

At level 2, you should provide general information about what has been done so far in this niche. For example, if your research focuses on the treatment of dragon pox, you can explain what drugs already exist to cure the disease.

“Dragon pox is primarily treated with anti-herpetic agents. Indeed, the disease results from a primary infection due to the monster varicella virus (VMV), which belongs to the human herpesvirus family. Recent studies suggest that oral aclocyvir is the method most effective against VMV. Aclocyvir is a nucleoside analogue that mimics guasonine…”

Third step, justify your work

Once you have defined your niche, you need to describe the problem your research will address. A good story needs a compelling character facing a daunting challenge. What challenge does your article address? Why is this challenge important to your readers? These are the two questions you need to answer at level 3.

Let's return to our example. If you've tried a new treatment for Dragon Pox, it's probably because the usual treatment has some problems that your new treatment aims to get around. So your next paragraphs could be something like:

“Research shows that treatment with oral aclocyvir reduces the risk of complications following VMV infection by 23 %. Unfortunately, aclocyvir has many side effects, such as nausea, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. These side effects cause a third of patients to discontinue treatment before completion and thus considerably reduce its effectiveness.“

At level 3, it is essential that you define your research question as a problem. Indeed, humans have a propensity to pay attention to negative information. In psychology, this phenomenon is called negativity bias. By highlighting the problems and risks associated with the current state of knowledge, you create tension among your readers. This tension motivates them to continue reading your article and makes them want to find a solution to the problem.

Third step again, define the scientific void to be filled

At level 3, you have created tension among your readers by highlighting a serious problem in your niche; At level 4, you begin to resolve this tension by explaining how you will resolve this problem.

In scientific writing, it is important to convince your reader that the solution you are proposing to solve this problem has a rational basis. You can do this in two ways:

1) by explaining the logic that led you to consider the solution tested in your article,

2) and providing arguments and citing already existing evidence to support your hypotheses and/or theory.

For example:

“Recent research suggests that the side effects of oral aclocyvir may be counteracted by adenoside. Adenoside appears to reduce nausea and loss of appetite. In recent years, doctors have begun using a combination of oral acyclovir and adenoside to treat severe forms of herpes.

The first clinical trials indicate fewer side effects and better acceptance of the treatment by patients. Thus, this approach appears to be successful in the treatment of herpes. However, it has never been tested in patients with MVD. The present study aims to fill this gap.

As you can see in this example, here again, I emphasize the gap that the research intends to fill. And, I'm sure you've guessed, again, I create tension in the reader.

Fourth step, your methodology

We are now at the end of the introduction. You have already prepared the ground for your study; Now is the time to state your hypotheses (if you have any) and/or introduce the methods you have chosen to test them. For example:

“In the study reported in this article, we investigated the effectiveness of a new treatment for curing Dragon Pox. We tested the hypothesis that adenoside administration reduces the side effects of aclocyvir and thus increases treatment effectiveness. To do this, we compared two groups of patients treated either with aclocyvir alone or with aclocyvir combined with adenoside…”

Presenting your methods has two purposes. First, it eases the transition to the materials and methods section by giving your readers an overview of your research. This should help them better understand the study you conducted. Second, it allows you to explain the reasons for the methodological approach you have decided to adopt.

This is especially important if you are relying on a new approach or writing for an audience who is unfamiliar with this type of methodology. You can use the final paragraphs of the introduction to present the rationale for your methods and their value in solving the problem your article addresses.

Fifth step, capital gains/contributions

Some journals require a “Highlights” description that summarizes the most exciting and interesting points of your manuscript. This is a great opportunity to highlight the impact and importance of your work. Contributions can be written by listing them by points.

Even if you are writing the highlights for experts in your field, use the simplest and clearest words possible to describe your findings. It may be tempting to choose more interesting terms, but complex language can discourage readers from reading the rest of your article. If you choose to use uncommon abbreviations in your highlights, be sure to define them the first time you use them. Write with your reader in mind and make it easy for them to learn what you have discovered.

Highlights are three to five bullet points that help increase your article's discoverability through search engines. These bullet points should capture new findings from your research as well as new methods that were used during the study (if applicable). Think of them as the “elevator pitch” of your article. Do not try to capture every idea, concept, or conclusion, as highlights are meant to be short.

Highlights have been proven to broaden the scope of your work and help bring your article to the attention of interested colleagues, both inside and outside of your usual research community . Having a paragraph dedicated to these contributions will help readers quickly understand the significance of your research.

Here is a very short example of the contributions of a research paper:

“The main contributions of our work can be summarized as follows:

  • A summary of tourist stays based on data shared via social networks.
  • TPM, a new measure to qualify the proximity between two tourist stays.
  • A method for determining tourist profiles.
  • A knowledge extraction of profiles. »

Last step, the outline, i.e. the plan of the paper

The last part of the introduction is often devoted to a brief overview of the rest of the article.

In an article structured according to the standard scientific format “introduction, methods, results, discussion”, this is not always necessary. But if your article is structured in a less predictable way, it's important to describe its form for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.