Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. However, it is important to write a good introduction and conclusion because they act as a frame for the argument. The introduction and conclusion are also what the reader is most likely to remember.
Just as your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their own lives into the "place" of your analysis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down. 1
Strategies for Writing an Effective Introduction
- Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn't always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument. Therefore, an introduction written at the beginning of that discovery process will not necessarily reflect what you want to say in the final draft. You will need to revise your paper to make sure that the introduction, all of the evidence, and the conclusion reflect the argument you intend. Sometimes it helps to write the body first and then write the introduction -- that way you can be sure that the introduction matches.
- Don't be afraid to write a tentative introduction first, and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. Make sure to review the introduction afterward writing the entire paper and rewrite if necessary.
- Open with something that gains the reader's attention. If the topic of your paper is somewhat dry or technical, an effective opening is especially helpful. An effective opening might be a surprising scenario or shocking statistic. For some papers, a personal story might also be appropriate.
- Pay special attention to your first sentence. Because the first sentence is often the most memorable, it must be completely free of errors and vagueness.
- Be straightforward and confident in your writing. Avoid statements like "In this paper, I will argue that Frederick Douglass valued education." While this sentence points toward your main argument, it isn't especially interesting. It might be more effective to say what you mean in a declarative sentence, such as "Frederick Douglass value education." It is much more convincing to discuss the ways that Frederick Douglass valued education, rather than just saying it.
Assert your main argument confidently. After all, you can't expect your reader to believe it if it doesn't sound like you believe it. 2
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Strategies for Writing an Effective Conclusion
A conclusion can function effectively in several ways. Any one of these may be an appropriate ending to your paper; however, your conclusion will more often combine several of these functions. Here are some of the ways in which the conclusion may work within a paper.
- A conclusion can sum up the main points of the paper. But if the conclusion does nothing more than repeat what you have already said, it will not be effective. Sometimes, however, summary can be effective. If your essay describes a process, such as the development of a character or the course of a historical event, you may want to retrace the steps of that process in the conclusion. If the structure of your argument is complex, you may also want to extract the main points from the argument and restate them.
Here is an example of an effective conclusion:
It has been shown, therefore, that stereotypes have always existed in society, and probably will always do so. The mass media is a relatively recent phenomenon, which is one reason for the widely differing views on its role in creating and fostering stereotypical images. The actual causes of stereotyping in the mass media have been shown to be surprisingly diverse, although there can be no argument that any form of it which leads, albeit indirectly, to suffering in any form must not be allowed to take place. It is society itself which must stop this from happening, as laws and regulations are often ineffective. Things are changing, though, and in some areas very quickly; some commonplace stereotypes of only twenty years ago and today virtually taboo. It is society which must indirectly control the mass media, not vice versa. However, in an increasingly 'global' world, controlled by fewer and fewer corporations and individuals eager to please the governments of the major world powers, and, in the mass media, who are more than willing to use stereotyping as a tool in the control of society, we must be more and more vigilent to avoid this cynical manipulation. 3
- Broader context.
- The conclusion can suggest a broader context for your paper by posing further questions, mentioning the issues you couldn't discuss, and stimulating the reader's thoughts about them.
- The conclusion can suggest a broader context into which your paper fits by showing how it falls within some larger area of concern: if you compare two modes of narration, you are talking about the issue of the narrative voice in literature; if you analyze the causes of the battle of Lexington, you are talking about the Revolutionary War; and if you trace the discovery of DNA you raise the scientific and ethical issues of genetic research. It's often effective to make these larger issues explicit in your conclusion.
- The conclusion can point out the justification for writing on the topic. If you prove the existence of author-figures within the text of Don Quixote, you still have to explain why they're important. Again, this won't automatically make the paper effective, but it may more fully explain the paper's focus. 4
- Example Conclusions
- Conclusions: Online Handout
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Stereotyping basically involves establishing a general opinion regarding traits or particular groups as a whole. Within the context of stereotyping, there is relatively no room for individuality, only the assumptions and notions based on general or group characteristics. I have held a stereotype that blonde women are generally not very bright. I believe this notion of the blonde stereotype was basically inculcated into me via the media. Electronic media depicts blonde women as being relatively intellectually challenged and are only passionate about materiality and their physical appearance. I have come to carry this stereotype rather unconsciously and generalize every blonde female as naïve and without depth in terms of cognitive apt.
In critically evaluating the notion of stereotyping, especially the one in my case, I have essentially not exhibited to a certain degree, higher level thinking. Stereotyping basically eliminates the notion of keeping an open mind about the stereotyped group. Stereotypes are, and involve, not just mere generalizations, but false or misleading generalizations. For me to come to the conclusion that all member of the stereotyped group are basically the same regardless of their beliefs, experiences, achievements or without even getting to know them is narrow minded and biased. Another reason stereotyping isn’t practicing higher level thinking is that when faced or presented with contrary numerous instances of beliefs about a given group, for example, I meet a very intelligent blonde woman who is deep and versatile in a particular field of study in which I relatively know nothing about, there is that tendency to resist to review my stereotype notion about blonde women, thus leaving myself in self-denial. I have basically come up with excuses such as “she wasn’t born blonde, she must have dyed her hair” This act of resisting counterevidence shows an inadequacy in higher level thinking where one refuses to accept the obvious facts presented in plain sight.
Again, my stereotyping of blonde women as being incapable of high level intelligence may have been initiated from media portrayal. TV shows, magazines even to this present day portray blonde women as dull and un-street savvy.
Successful blonde women within society are most often depicted to have achieved the success through means of the physical appearance and their sexual appeal rather than via hard work and intelligence. Coincidentally, some of the blonde women I have met often do exhibit the characteristics attributed to them in the media. They are beautiful, materialistic and are the center of attraction based on their naivety.
I have on some occasions practically laughed at, or faulted the ideas of certain blonde females in some of my academic group gatherings. Though their ideas were not so impressive, but I must equally say, they were not that bad, I did not even present them with a chance to expatiate on the ideas or further reveal the motive behind such a concept, due to the stereotype I carried for blonde females I couldn’t care less.
It is in my opinion, that though with a certain level of discipline, stereotypes can be altered. This process may require a great deal of time, consistency and focused attention, but can be changed in the long run. One of the ways I believe this sort of stereotype could be altered is via the use of the bookkeeping model. By constantly and consistently stating or writing down that this stereotype is incorrect, one may naturally adapt to the correct information and thus embrace concurrent change, in my case, not all blondes are unintelligent. This method may seem relatively straight forward however, it does take a significant amount of repetition and does take time.
Another methodology I would employ in eliminating this stereotype and any other would be through the conversion model. This model is implemented in a situation where the old stereotype is completely done away with and the individual in question with the stereotype initiates a fresh opinion. This most often occurs once a stereotype has been proven to be untrue over and over again within different contexts, it becomes evidently noticeable that the involved party begins though gradually to rid himself/herself of this stereotyped opinion.
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There are a large number of stereotypes that society and its individual’s do fall accustomed to without even the slightest realization that such opinions are being formed. These opinions are formed without much thought and eventually become the basis through which an individual perceives a group of people. I have come to realize through critical evaluation, that a majority of the stereotypes, opinions or beliefs regarding a particular group of individuals are false generalizations and are in no way to a relatively high degree exclusive to simply those individuals. One constant question I continually ask myself in a bid to rid my mind of the blonde biased stereotype is “Are all brunets smart?”
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