Another lecture for this week is on Opening Paragraphs for Research papers. Doesn't that sound interesting. Well, the lesson might not, but your openings to your Research documented essays must, so this lesson is important to your writing, and the interest a reader is going to take in your research.
Here is an opening to a documented essay:
..One afternoon last October, New York City commuters heard a terrifying traffic report over their car radios. From an Enstrom F-28 helicopter circling over the banks of the Hudson River, WNBC reporter Jane Dornacker began as usual: "The outbound Lincoln Tunnel looks a lot better for you. In New Jersey..." She paused. Suddenly, listeners heard a frantic "Hit the water! Hit the water! Hit the water!" Within seconds the helicopter slammed into the Hudson, killing Dornacker and severely injuring the pilot. (Carey 42)
The cause of the accident was found to be the result of a faulty counterfeit clutch that had inferior pieces that did not meet government specifications. This clutch had been purchased as a replacement part for ordinary maintanence to the helicopter. It is evident that the counterfeit market is no longer limited to designer clothes and expensive personal accessories. The counterfeit market has expanded to include mechanical parts, medical goods, and children's toys, and is posing a serious threat to consumer safety.
The first part of this paragraph is a long quote, the motivator or "attention getter" to help the reader become curious and interested in the subject. This particularly opening paragraph utilizes a technique called an illustration paragraph--the illustration being a story selected from the research that will illustrate the problem as well as interest the reader. The rest of the paragraph expands on the illustration, with the end sentence drawing a blueprint thesis that is tied in to the story. This is a very effective technique often used by magazines to pique reader interest before entering in to facts and data.
Note: Also notice that the motivator is quoted, and since more than four typed lines, the MLA long quote form is used, and the quote is cited at the end.
Now look at another opening that has a motivator, a question (research question), and then a thesis drawn from the question:
As people look into the future of most industries, there are often many new developments to be seen on the horizon. Such is the case with automotive technology. Among improvements being planned for existing automobile engines, there also exist ideas and plans for entirely new types of engines altogether. One of these is the gas turbine engine. The gas turbine engine (and variations of it) has been in wide use for a number of years in aircraft. These aircraft engines, which make use of the gas-turbine principle, are know as turboprop and jet engines. Turbine engines make use of turbine rotors and temperature/pressure differences to produce movement rather than by using cylinders and pistons. This principle has revolutionized the aircraft industry, but WHY NOT THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY AS WELL? It seems that there are certain problems unique to current automotive turbine engines that has given the piston engine a distinct advantage over the turbine engine in automotive applications.
The first part of this opening narrows the paper down to a specific topic. Then a question is raised, followed by a thesis statement. Notice that this thesis is not blueprinted--it is left at "certain problems unique to current automotive turbine engines" because the problems could not be listed simply, and some paragraphs would deal with more than one problem. As papers get longer, sometimes the blueprint will not work. This is acceptable if the divisions that the writer is going to approach are clear. This thesis is a statement of the subject and the direction that the writer is going to take toward the subject.
A research essay may be started in many different ways --with a dramatic story, overwhelming facts that shock the reader, quotes from sources close to the subject, etc., but one thing remains clear. The opening MUST interest the reader, and MUST have a clear thesis statement. The research essays written in this class should also include your research question, which helps the reader understand the direction of your research.
Do not refer to yourself in the opening or within the body of the paper. The reader knows that you are the author. Example: I will talk about
Do not use first person "I" or the indefinite "we" in reference.
Do not refer to the reader as you write about your subject. Example: You will learn
Do not refer to the research paper. Example: This paper will examine .