The first part - and for some people it's the hardest part - of your research paper is done. You've either chosen a topic, or you've been assigned to one. Writing your introductory paragraph might seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. In my experience, writing the introductory and conclusion paragraphs are the easiest parts of the paper. How do you get started, you ask? I'm going to tell you.
Your introductory paragraph has to grip the reader. It has to make them want to read more, and it has to give a clear understanding of your research topic. It will prepare the reader for what your research paper is about and what can be expected from it.
The first paragraph should include information that supports your topic. You will want to address the major points that your paper discusses. Most times there will be an order to your paper, and this should also be stated in the first paragraph. Your objective, information, and results should be stated in the order that they will appear. You can use quotes or news stories if you're stuck on the first sentence. Whenever I couldn't decide how to start my paragraph, I used quotes. It will grab your reader's attention and help you with the flow of your next sentence. Another interesting way to begin is to use contrasting opinions or information about your topic.
Decide what questions you're trying to answer. If you feel it does the trick, you can use the answer to these questions as part of your introduction. You can write these questions, answer them yourself and then word them in a way that best suits your paper.
Use an outline. Because your first paragraph is a general overview of your entire paper, sometimes you can use an outline if you have one - to structure your introductory paragraph. An outline is a clear plan of your paper, all necessary points, data and other information. Sometimes summarizing your outline can give you your first paragraph. As long as you have an attention-grabbing first sentence, mention your major points and state your thesis, you will be golden.
Reevaluate your writing. When your paper is finished, it's a good idea to read your introductory paragraph and your conclusion again. They typically sound similar, but there should be a good transition in the middle of the two, from start to finish. Your paper should include everything mentioned in your introductory paragraph. Make sure you didn't leave anything out!