The introduction is a very important part of your extended essay. It has the important role of framing the argument for your paper. It tells the reader what the paper is about and what the position of the paper will be. It also makes important clarifications in order to set limits on what will be discussed. Finally, the introduction should catch the reader’s attention.
A Sample Introduction
Please read the following introduction. Please note that the citations here are not actual sources. This is done or illustrative purposes only.
The concept of “road rage” is relatively new. It was only in the 1990's that the media began to focus on road rage incidents, leading some commentators to argue that road rage is a media invention and not a real phenomenon. Other researchers dispute this, however, arguing that the term “road rage” is simply a new label for criminal, aggressive or anti‐social behaviour on the road that is a widely recognised problem and the cause of many accidents.
Road rage at its most serious can lead to physical attacks, but it is more often manifested in aggressive driving or verbal abuse. Surveys suggest that most drivers have experienced some form of road rage, as victim or as perpetrator. For example, the British Crime Survey based on a random sample in 2007 found that over half of all drivers questioned said they had been the victim of some form of road rage ranging from verbal abuse or gestures to being forced off the road or threatened with violence (Marshall and Thomas, 2010). According to one researcher, aggressive driving and road rage worldwide cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year and damage worth billions of dollars (McDonald, 2002, p.1). Moreover, the problem is set to increase as more people use vehicles to travel and roads become more congested.
Many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and China, have acknowledged the problem of road rage and some have taken measures to help prevent dangerous driving and road rage incidents. Ten years ago the head of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declared that road rage had become the number one traffic problem (James, 1997a).
This essay will examine the question: Can psychological explanations of road rage help in designing measures to reduce the problem? Research by James & Taylor (1999), Mark et al (2001) and Close et al (1995) argues that road rage is the result of learned reactions to environmental stressors and can therefore be changed. On the other side of the argument, Frankel (2006), Bieber & Foster (2001) and Crane et al (2006) argue that road rage is the result of specific personality traits that may be difficult to change. This essay concludes that policies that aim to change or affect driver psychology can be useful, but policies to reduce external causes of stress are also needed.
Question: What makes this a strong introduction?
A. The introduction catches the reader’s attention.
It is well written with an interesting first paragraph that immediately opens the discussion of road rage and its implications.
B. The problem to be investigated is outlined.
This is accomplished by using statistics and explaining the implications - both current and future - of this behaviour. This can also be done by looking at the history of the problem, but that was not so appropriate to this topic.
C. Important terms are defined.
Road rage is defined. It is important that if the topic is broad - like “academic performance” or “therapy” - that a clear definition or example is given that will limit what is in the paper. So, if the paper is on the effect of stress on academic performance, you may want to say that you are only going to write about high school academics. If you are going to write about the effectiveness of therapy in the treatment of depression, you might say that you will only be looking at drug therapy and CBT.
D. The research question is clearly stated. And it is stated as a question.
This may be accomplished by writing “This paper will examine….” or “The research question for this paper is:”. You may also want to boldface the question so that there are no doubt about your research question. Please do not write other questions in your introduction.
D. How the argument will be made and which studies will be used is clearly stated.
This is a requirement of the introduction. The key studies and theories to be discussed must be identified in the introduction. In other words, the scope of the argument must be clear in the introduction - and this must be followed in the body of the essay.
F. The introduction ends with a clear statement of the thesis of the paper.
Clearly state the position that your paper will take. You can even write “The position of this paper is ….” You may also indicate how you are going to develop your argument, but do not go into too much detail. Save that for the body of your paper.