How to Write an Introduction of a Research Paper?

After doing all the procedures in data gathering and analyzing the collected data, a research write-up or a research paper must be written. A research paper is composed of five chapters, namely, Introduction, Review of Related Literature, Methodology, Results and Discussion, and Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendations.

The first part of a research paper is called the Introduction or Chapter 1. It consists of the following parts: (I) background of the study, (II) statement of the problem, (III) hypotheses, (IV) theoretical and conceptual framework, (V) significance of the study, (VI) scope and limitations, and (VII) definition of terms.

Background of the Study

The background of the study gives the readers important information about the research being conducted. The following are its features:

  1. It cites the reason why the researcher chooses to study a particular topic. The researcher writes about his/her personal observations, difficulties, issues, and other relevant experiences that led him/her to conduct a study about the topic at hand. He/She may cite relevant studies that might have caught his/her interest to pursue such study.
  2. It describes the setting or the place where the research will take place. Different localities have different needs to be addressed. Thus, it is important to note where the study will be conducted. This gives special consideration to the needs of that particular locality.
  3. It presents bases that may support or negate the claims of the researcher. A researcher may present relevant literatures related to the study he/she is conducting.
  4. It gives justification for the need for the research study. The researcher may cite benefits and other advantages that the research study might present after it has been done. The researcher must establish the importance to conduct the research study. Once this has been established, he/she may push to start working on the problem.

In summary, the background of the study provides a brief explanation on how the study was conceived, how will it be conducted, and the possible contribution it may give to the society.

Statement of the Problem

The statement of the problem, also called the heart of a research study, is where the general and specific problems or objectives are presented. The introductory statement in this section is usually the general problem or goal-based from the research title. This is followed by specific problems or objectives that will be thoroughly studied in the course of the research. More often, specific problems are stated in interrogative form, while research objectives are stated in declarative form. Specific problems need to be answered by statements of hypotheses, while research objectives may not be followed by a hypothesis.


Research Title: The Impact of the El Nino to the Way of Life of the Filipino Farmers

General Problem: This study attempts to document the effects of El Nino on the way of life of the Filipinos farmers.

Specific Problems:

      1. What are the effects of El Nino on the production of agricultural products of the Filipino farmers?
      2. What are the effects of the said environmental phenomenon to the social and economic interactions of the Filipino farmers?
      3. What practices are adopted by the said farmers to limit the effects of El Nino to their way of life?

Types of Research Questions

There are four types of research questions based on their purpose.

  1. Factor-isolating questions. The purpose of these questions is to categorize or name factors and situations.
    • Example: What are the possible reasons for the low grades of students in English?
  2. Factor-relating questions. These questions aim to establish relationships between the factors that have been identified.
    • Example: What relationship exists between variable A and variable B?
  3. Situation-relating questions. These questions aim to see the changes that might happen to one variable when the other variable changes. These questions usually need experimentation in order to get results.
    • Example: What is the effect of the changes in climate to the behavior of animals living in the grass fields?
  4. Situation producing questions. These questions lead to promote explicit course of action or conditions under which a goal could be accomplished. These are commonly used in action research.
    • Example: What appropriate classroom management technique could be devised to maintain classroom cleanliness?

Some qualitative researches may not need to have hypotheses. Sometimes, the objectives are just to observe a certain behavior or phenomenon, thus not requiring formulation of research hypothesis. However, in these cases, research objectives are needed. These will guide the researcher to achieve what he/ she wants to find out at the end of his study.


In the context of research, hypothesis is defined as a temporary answer to a research problem. It serves as guide as to what processes are needed in answering the research questions and what research design is to be undertaken in the study.

In qualitative research, hypotheses may not be needed or may emerge as the study progresses, depending on the purpose of the study. For instance, in doing descriptive research, you may not need hypotheses for you to be able to describe what is going on or to describe a certain phenomenon or idea.

Types of Hypothesis

Hypotheses are of two types:

  1. Scientific hypothesis provides an answer to a research question based on the review of related literature. If conflicting results exist in the related literature, the researcher may consider those results from researches conducted in similar context as that of the present study. Scientific hypothesis is written in the research write-up, may it be in quantitative or qualitative research.
  2. Statistical hypothesis presents the standard hypothesis for the statistical procedure to be employed in the study. Below are its types:
      • Null hypothesis suggests a negative relation between variables. It negates the existence of a characteristic or a difference in effect of the variables.
      • Alternative hypothesis suggests a positive relation between variables, the existence of a characteristic, or a difference in the effect of the variables.

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

Framework is described as the abstract, logical structure of meaning that guides the development of the study. All frameworks are based on the identification of and relationships among key concepts.

The theoretical and conceptual framework discusses the different principles from where the study is anchored on. A theoretical framework is adopted when a particular theory is enough to provide theoretical basis for the conduct of the study. On the other hand, a conceptual framework is used when the concepts from different theories are borrowed to provide bases for an investigation, because one theory does not cover all the concerns of the study. Despite their differences, either one can be developed from readings and/or experiences that are part of the related literature. From the ideas that the researcher have gathered, he/she needs to give the readers an overview of what the current situation is and how the present study would be able to bridge the gap from ‘what is current’ to ‘what should it be Here, a number of concepts or ideas are presented from where the study was based. A theory that suggests the importance and the need for the conduct of the present study should also be developed and written. The researcher also need to include a graphical representation of these concepts, the research paradigm, which will encapsulate the entire research idea.

An example of a research paradigm about student bullying
An example of a research paradigm about student bullying

Significance of the Study

The significance of the study explains how the study will be beneficial to the different stakeholders of the society. It identifies the target beneficiaries or target users of the current study. It should be clear to the beneficiaries the advantages and significance of the research results.

The researcher must establish that the current study is beneficial in relation to solving a particular problem or addressing a particular need, contributing additional knowledge to what already exists; bridging the gap of knowledge or ideas; improving social, economic, cultural, socio-political conditions and research methods; and supporting government’s thrusts. The significance of the study can be written deductively—from general to specific benefits of the study, or inductively —from specific to general benefits.

Scope and Limitations

The scope and limitations presents the variables or subjects of the study, the extent to which the research will cover, the possible factors or nuances that will be given focus on the course of the study, the possible challenges that the researcher might encounter, and other things that might be related to the topic but are beyond the control of the researcher. This section is divided into two: the scope, which covers the explanation as to up to what extent the researcher would want to explore or interpret in his/her research, and the limitations or delimitations, which is a justification as to the `limits’ or boundaries of the research.

Limitations and delimitations, two different terms and Ahou not be used interchangeably in a research study.

Limitations are conditions beyond the control of the researcher that may cause restrictions and make the conclusions to be generalizable only to the conditions set by the researcher. Due to these factors, the research conclusions might not hold true for other situations or context.

Delimitations, on the other hand, are the conditions that the researcher purposely controlled. These are the limits beyond the concern of the study.

In qualitative research, it is important to have a basis for data analysis. This is the role of assumptions. Assumptions are accepted cause-and-effect relationships, or estimates of the existence of a fact from the known existence of other facts. They are useful in providing bases for action and in creating “what if” scenarios to simulate different realities or possible situations. For instance, a researcher needs to assume that all situations are ideal for him/her to see whether in these situations, the observations still hold true or not (if the situation is different from the ideal one). In other words, the researcher needs to assume an ideal situation so that he/she can differentiate it from the non-ideal one.

The scope and limitations section will be of help for the researcher in keeping things and situations under his/her control. This will also support the researcher to be economical since he/ she will be guided on the things that is of concern of the research or not.

Definition of Terms

The definition of terms presents the key terms used in the study. There are two possible ways on how a key term can be defined—conceptually or operationally.

Conceptual definition explains the meaning of a particular term using the dictionary. These are based on established concepts and ideas that has been already defined and is commonly used and understood by readers. On the other hand, operational definition describes a term by how the researcher used it in his/her study. The use of both types of definition is encouraged to make the meaning clear to the readers. Usually, technical terms are. defined using operational definition to help the laymen understand the terms easily.

In constructing this section, it is recommended to start with a simple introductory paragraph followed by the alphabetical list of terms and their corresponding definitions.

Concepts in Summary

  1. Research starts with one’s interest. This is the first step in going through a research endeavor.
  2. A good research problem must be novel, interesting, practical, innovative, and cost-effective.
  3. A research title and the research problems should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART).
  4. A research title should contain the following elements: aim or purpose, topic or subject matter, place or locale, period, and population or respondents.
  5. The first chapter of the research paper is called the introduction.
  6. The background of the study states the rationale, setting, bases, need for the study, and the overall benefits that can be derived from the study.
  7. The statement of the problem and objectives have two types—general and specific.
  8. Research questions may be factor-isolating, factor-relating, situation-relating, and situation-producing.
  9. Hypothesis is a tentative answer to a research problem. In qualitative research, hypotheses may not be needed or may emerge as the study progresses.
  10. The significance of the study explains the benefits and advantages people may derive from the research. It can be developed in deductive or inductive manner.
  11. The scope and limitations presents the coverage and restrictions of the research study.
  12. Conceptual definitions are based on the dictionary while operational definitions are based on how the researcher used the term in his study.