The Grabber

The Grabber

In connection to Tim’s visit and his academic writing workshop, we will have a discussion on one of the key elements of a paper, namely the introductory paragraph or “the grabber” as Tim calls it. We will look at the paper from Mattias and Markus titled ”The grabber: Making a first impression the Wilsonian way” published in IJMPB. As a complement to this paper (or rather the main attraction), Tim will of course also provide his insights.

As stated in the paper, “the grabber, or hook, is the initial twist that, executed successfully, captures the reader’s attention and indicates why a paper is interesting, relevant, and/or important”. With this as the basis, we can among other things discuss  examples of our current research grabbers, the search for them, and share our experiences with constructing them. The paper can be found here.


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of what a good grabber is and how to construct one. This is done by drawing on the insights provided by Professor Timothy L. Wilson, for whom this paper is written as an “honorary piece.”

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a small sample of papers from the 48 journals that have received contributions from Professor Wilson throughout the years. A total of 12 papers have been selected, using a mix of convenience and haphazard sampling. The grabber of each paper has then been analyzed based on its nature and style.

Findings – Based on the review and analysis, five different types of grabbers were identified; the quote, the anecdote, the provocative question, the surprise, and the metaphor, each type representing a unique way (and strategy) of creating initial interest.

Research limitations/implications – As this paper was intentionally based on a convenience sample, further investigation is needed to establish whether the presented categories have clear validity and/or whether there are additional categories/strategies for how to create good grabbers.

Originality/value – Creation of interest is an increasingly important part of everyday academic practice. As the grabber is a rarely addressed phenomenon in academic literature, the presented categories should be of both interest and practical use to academics in most fields.