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How to write a research paper outline, examples, & template

by tutlance
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Tips When Writing a Research Paper Outline

The research paper outline is simply a plan for your future research. You will need it to demonstrate your vision and understanding of the topic. In this article, we will aim at explaining how to write a research outline paper like a pro. But before that, let’s define these basics terms.

An outline is a list of things you intend to include in an essay; it helps in the organization of ideas and thoughts that you plan to discuss in your paper.

A research paper is an essay where you explain what you have studied after exploring your topic in depth.

How To Write a Research Paper Outline

Before drafting your outline, take the time to think through the purpose of your essay and the message you intend to drive home. Remember, the paper will help to prove whether or not you are a student that has the scientific knowledge to solve core issues and is ready to convey your ideas using scientific methods and approaches. You cannot afford to make mistakes.

An outline will guide you through the whole writing process, acting as a reminder on what to include in the essay. The steps written below will help you write an outstanding research paper outline:

  • Choose the subject of the essay
  • Write down the ideas you would love to include
  • Arrange the ideas in an orderly manner (hierarchy), starting what the reader should learn first going down in that order.
  • Come up with effective sub-titles
  • Choose an outline format. It can be either decimal, alphanumeric, or full-sentence format. Are you wondering what we just mentioned? Worry not, it is our next discussion!

Different Ways to Format a Research Paper Outline

As mentioned earlier, there are three kinds of research paper outlines. They are different in formatting and writing styles.

However, the most common format is alphanumeric. It uses capitalized letters, Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to organize the flow of ideas. The text is in short notes form.

The Main Parts of a Research Paper Outline

Your outline should include the following pain parts:

  • The title
  • A thesis statement
  • Main arguments
  • Supporting points for each argument
  • A conclusion.

Does that sound complicated? Read on and have a better understanding. So what if you are writing a research paper template? Well, it should consist of:

    • An abstract– This is a summary of your essay. It is a short text revealing the necessary information about the research. It should answer the reader’s question about the subject, method, participants, and outcomes in brief sentences. An abstract will determine whether or not the reader will go through the remaining part of your essay, so be very keen.
    • Introduction– this is the section that presents the reader with the topic you intend to discuss. It should be captivating enough to attract the reader’s attention. Mention the thesis statement and explain the core terms related to the case study.
    • Body– in this section include literature overview, methods of literature, analysis, results, and perspectives.
    • Conclusion– never introduce new ideas; in conclusion, give the final thought about everything discussed in the central body part. Remember to mention the thesis statement again without rephrasing it and finally formulate a prospect for future research.
  • Bibliography

Language in an Excellent Research Paper Outline

There is a section you cannot afford to ignore, mainly if you are writing a paper for assessment purposes. Always consider parallelism, coordination, subordination, and division.

  1. Coordination– be aware of the weight of each idea.
  2. Parallelism– be consistent with grammatical form; for instance, if your first point is an adjective, the sub-point should also be an adjective.
  3. Subordination– start with a general statement to specific information as you want your readers to get the main points. Your sub-points should also be precise.
  4. Division– Break your ideas into sub-points.

APA Research Paper Outline

APA is a writing style guide used in the US academic setting. An outline in this style should appear as stated below.

  1. Essays should always include a separate cover page
  2. The cover page should include the title, author’s name, school’s name, and a running head.
  3. Always include abstract followed by keywords
  4. Include a list of the cited sources under the title “references.”
  5. Headers on every page contain number and title except on the cover page

MLA Research Paper Outline

In this style guideline, an outline should appear as stated.

  1. The first page should include the student’s name, professor’s name, class, and date.
  2. The header should contain page numbers at the upper right corner.
  3. All titles and emphasis are in italics
  4. Include a complete list with endnotes and place it before cited works.
  5. Mark All subheadings with Arabic numbers.

Final Remarks

Drafting a good research paper outline plays a significant role in producing a well-structured essay. It helps catch any errors, helping you write what you intend without confusing the reader. An overview will help you maintain balance, remain focused, have a great flow, and ensure completeness.

Have you learned how to write a research paper outline? I believe, yes. It is time to take your pen and paper and practice what you learned. Remember, practice makes perfect.

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