In the previous part of this two-part series, I went over the basics of introduction and conclusion writing for research papers. In this part I will use an unusual example of this structure in the wild: The World’s Wildest Police Videos.
Hosted by John Bunnell from 1998 to 2012, the TV series aired on Fox and Spike TV and is still commonly shown in reruns. It is practically background noise when I visit my parents. There are also many full episodes on the official site and on Youtube. I will use one episode chosen pseudo-randomly (Stojanovich, 2012) to discuss here as an example of the research paper format. Follow along by playing this video (Police and Predator Channel, 2014) and continuing on reading:
Bunnell’s commentary at the start of the episode grabs the viewer’s attention with the general topic of this show: “There is a reason it’s called ‘the war on crime.’” The next line gives a preview of the episode: “For the next 60 minutes, we’ll put you on the frontlines. You’ll see the scariest pursuits, wildest shootouts, and most outrageous outlaws from around the world.” For each of the three bullet points, an appropriate clip plays, though it could have been more effective if they were actual clips from the episode. The three subjects that Bunnell mentions: pursuits, shootouts, and outlaws, are analogous to the main points of a research paper.
After some more narration on where these clips come from, there is the episode’s thesis statement, or what it trying to prove with the three subjects: “We’ve gathered these videos… to show you the stark reality that criminals have declared you the enemy, and knowing the opponent is the only way that this war will be won.” At this point the introduction is over and the title music plays to mark the end of the introduction (research papers unfortunately have no title music).
When the music stops at 1:15 in the video, Bunnell is back to introduce the first subject: pursuits. Notice that in this episode, the order of the subjects is not strictly adhered to. After the first pursuit, the clips get disorganized with a scene of a man threatening suicide. In a research paper, the order of topics should be followed throughout the paper. For example, if the topics are mentioned in the order of A, B, and C in the introduction, the body paragraphs should also start with the paragraph on A, followed by B and C. Tangents should be avoided as well. Consistency among the sections of the paper adds polish, pulls in the reader (who may also the grader!), and elevates the writing from just being functional to being a craft.
You can watch the whole episode or skip to the beginning of the conclusion at 40:07. I’ll wait!
After the last clip, of the police stopping a stolen school bus, Bunnell launches into the conclusion. As in the introduction, abbreviated clips from the episode are shown to remind the viewer what they had just seen. The narration provides a concluding thought that ties the videos into a single theme: “In police work, there is one thing you can always count on with law breakers. From China, to Pelican Bay. From Istanbul to the nearest intersection. Whether it’s mind-altering mischief or mind-bending stupidity, criminals are their own worst enemy.” Bunnell’s conclusion gets extra points for directly relating to the clips that he just showed as well. Also, the summary eases the viewer out of the show instead of ending abruptly on the image of a school bus getting knocked into the highway median by a police car.
To summarize, adding structure to the introduction and conclusion of a research paper will raise its readability, allowing the message to get across. The experience of entering and exiting a hot tub approximates what the paper should do for its reader in the beginning and ending. A good way to structure the introduction is to move from the general topic to the specific points to be discussed. Likewise, the conclusion can state the main points, followed by the greater overall message. While examples of good research paper introductions and conclusions are rare outside of academia, the television show World’s Wildest Police Videos has a similar structure that can be used as a model. I hope that sharing my advice will help students struggling with the research paper format to turn in A-level work.
Police and Predator Channel. (2014, February 5). World’s Wildest Police Videos – (New Episode #11 – 2012) [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQQxsBZDSOY8
Stojanovich, P., Piligian C., Bunnell, J., Ballantyne, R., and Popjes, S. (Executive Producers) (2012, July 16). Soft Targets, Hard Lessons [Television series episode]. In C. Stojanovich (Executive Producer), World’s Wildest Police Videos. Pursuit Productions. Retrieved from: http://www.spike.com/episodes/ivc7zj/worlds-wildest-police-videos-soft-targets-hard-lessons-season-1-ep-109