Introductory Paragraph Techniques

This exercise is to help you to identify four basic techniques for composing the opening statement of your introductory paragraph: the general statement, the rhetorical question, the impact statement, and the anecdote.

  • A general statement states why something is important (suitable for academic essays).
  • A rhetorical question is a question that you ask and then answer yourself  (NOT suitable for academic essays).
  • An impact statement states something surprising or shocking to encourage the reader to pay attention (maybe suitable for academic essays if it is not too assertive).
  • An anecdote is a short story  (NOT generally suitable for academic essays, unless quoting qualitative research).

Read the paragraphs and then identify the technique used.

  1. Can education reduce crime?
    German police are embarrassed after a 27 year old man whom they had just booked for burglary walked out of the police station and stole an unmarked police vehicle. "It's not just unusual, it's embarrassing," said a spokesman for police in the town of Eschwege.
    It is thought that the man stole the key from an officer at the station. When he was booked and released, he was observed by officers getting into the unmarked police car. The officers gave chase resulting in the man's re-arrest. Three vehicles (including the stolen police car) were damaged during the pursuit. The stolen vehicle was recovered upon arrest of its unlawful driver.
    This criminal seems unable to prevent himself from taking actions with bad consequences, and if this trait is common among criminals, perhaps education in this area would reduce crime. (Source: Adapted from Wikinews).



    It's a short story

  2. The globalisation of pollution
    A message in a bottle thrown into the sea by a four-year-old girl in England has been found 9,000 miles away in Western Australia.
    Alesha Johnson threw the bottle into the water at Morecambe Bay, Lancashire last July, enclosing her Heysham address, and a picture of herself.
    The note read: "If you get this message, please write back."
    This week, she received a letter from a 10-year-old from Perth, who said he had found the bottle in a local boatyard.
    This illustrates that water pollution is not limited to the area around where it starts, but is a global problem.

      (Source and more details: Wikinews)


    Impact statement.

    9,000 miles is a very long way.

  3. Authoring principles and practices: Navigation in Educational Web Sites
    As more and more students go online and spend more time on the Internet (Pastore, 2001), web site navigation has become more important in helping students find information for their studies. This essay details navigational design techniques that help web site designers make their navigation more user-friendly, especially for educational users, such as university students and researchers.   (Source: Example Academic Essay).


    General statement

    Funnels the reader's focus from students going online to web site navigation.

  4. Children's satisfaction with their names
    A Swedish Lebanese couple, Walid Elias and Carol Kai, has chosen to name their first born son Google, after the well-known search engine.
    The Swedish tax authority, which normally frowns on unusual names, apparently had no objections.
    The father, Walid Elias Kai, says he's a "great fan" of the search engine and wanted to honour the service by naming his son after it. But Mr. Kai says he and his wife also chose the name because of the similar word googol. "[Googol] means 1 followed by 100 zeroes," stated Mr. Kai, "and I want my son to have lots of friends – I want him to be social, so the name also symbolises this."
    Upon hearing the news, authors of the Google weblog wrote, "We wish him long life and good health, and hope his schoolmates aren't too hard on him."
    This essay describes research into how satisfied children are with the names given to them by their parents, and how they react when given the opportunity to name themselves.
       (Source: Wikinews).


    Impact statement.

    It's a very unusual name for a child.

  5. Administrative system design
    Russian businessman Xiao Li Bei has received permission to keep his deceased friend in an industrial freezer.
    Police in the town of Novosibirsk discovered the body during a routine health and safety inspection of Xiao's warehouse. Xiao, of Chinese ancestry, told police that his friend died of natural causes two years prior.
    Challenged in court on the issue, prosecutors allowed Xiao to continue on as he has, unless evidence contrary to the natural death claim arises. There is no Russian law against personally storing human remains.
    Xiao commented "I just thought it would be easier to store the body myself. There's so much bureaucracy here I knew the paperwork would be endless otherwise. And I have a large industrial freezer in my warehouse."
    This illustrates people's  tendency to take extreme measures to avoid paperwork, and the need for managers to minimise paperwork in administrative systems.
       (Source: Adapted from Wikinews).


    Impact statement.

    It's a very unusual thing to do.

  6. What is art? Discuss.
    If you saw a giant pink rabbit on a hill, would you think you were going mad? Gelitin, a group of artists from Vienna, has erected a pink bunny measuring 200 feet in length (about 60 metres) on the side of a northern Italian mountain. The artwork, titled "Hase" (which translates simply as "Hare"), is located at a height of 1600m on the mountain Colletto Fava, close to Bar La Baita, above the Village of Artesina, Piemonte, Italy. The soft rabbit is constructed out of pink wool, and is expected to remain on the mountain until 2025. But is it art?    (Source: adapted from Wikinews).


    Rhetorical question.

    The story starts with a question.

  7. The state of the environment
    Scientists in Hamburg, Germany are baffled by what appears to be a widespread case of "Exploding toads". In a local pond, more than 1,000 toads have expanded and then exploded. In addition, it has been reported that thousands more are exploding in central Denmark, in a town called LĂ„sby located in Mid-Jutland.
    The water in the pond has been checked, but does not indicate anything out of the ordinary. Neither do the toad's corpses. They have been checked for bacteria and viruses, but none have been found. Our ecosystem is becoming stressed, as can be seen from such symptoms.   (Source: Adapted from Wikinews).


    Impact statement.

    Exploding things cause impacts.

  8. How can anti-social behaviour be prevented? Discuss.
    A 46-year-old motorist from South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, England was hit by a frozen sausage on his way home. The projectile flew through his open car window and broke his nose. When the Essex Ambulance Service arrived he had lost a large amount of blood, but he appears to now be recovering.
    An ambulance service official says the 46-year-old man suffered a broken nose and lost a lot of blood.
    The spokesman say it must have been an incredibly lucky, or unlucky, shot - to get the sausage through a moving car window. Police are now investigating the case of the flying sausage. But what causes people to shoot sausages at passing cars?   (Source: Wikinews).


    Rhetorical question.

    The question is at the end of the paragraph.

  9. Recent Advances in Robotics
    Would you like a robot classmate? Qrio, a humanoid robot developed by Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories, has been "attending" a nursery school in California since March. Qrio is taken to the school in San Diego every day, and spends time playing with ten children under the age of two. A researcher is on-hand to observe and document the interactions that take place.
    The children were apprehensive about the robot at first, but have grown to accept it, and will help it up when it falls. "The children think of Qrio as a feeble younger brother", according to researcher Fumihide Tanaka.   (Source: Adapted from Wikinews).


    Rhetorical question.

    The question is on the first line.

  10. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of keeping exotic pets
    Police organized a search in the Sydenham Park area of south-east London after a local, Anthony Holder, was attacked by a 6ft long black animal while looking for his kitten in his back yard that borders a woodland.
    Holder said the animal pounced, knocked him to the ground, and then he was "in its claws for about 30 seconds. Its teeth were out and I tried to defend myself and eventually I got the thing off my body." Holder was scratched all over his body and suffered swelling and bruising to his hand and the back of his head. He called the police at about 2:15 am while the animal sat in the garden next door.
    While Holder was being treated by paramedics, the Metropolitan Police conducted a search of the area. A citizen and a police officer saw the creature, believed by some to be a panther.
    Sightings of big cats have increased in recent years. The notion of a large predator in London was initially dismissed by scientists, but evidence from footprints and droppings has led to other conclusions. The British Big Cat Society estimates 50 to 100 are currently loose across England.
    One danger  of keeping exotic animals is that owners of exotic pets may choose to set their animals free if they grow  too big to keep.
       (Source and further details: Wikinews).



    It's a short story.

  11. Your total score is:


Last updated on: Friday, March 23, 2012