Skip Nav

Research Paper Outline

Introduction

❶Your subheadings should elaborate on the points addressed in your major headings. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper.

How to Start Research Outline

Recommended E-Book
Essay Topic Generator
Using Sources on Essays

For non-scientific papers, like liberal arts research papers, the main idea of the paper is often called the thesis. The introduction of the research paper outline needs to have a thesis or hypothesis that illustrates the claim the paper is trying to prove.

Following the introduction the points needed to prove the thesis are provided. These ideas may be given in sentence or phrase format, depending on what the professor requires. The more formal method is to use a sentence format, which, according to the Purdue University Writing Lab, is often used for essays.

When using the alphanumeric outline format, the introduction will start with a Roman numeral one: Next, capital letters A,B,C and so on are written below the thesis. These letters are subheadings that provide more detail about the ideas presented in the thesis.

For a research paper, several paragraphs are most likely required to thoroughly discuss the topic and help prove the thesis. Using the alphanumeric format mentioned above requires that a Roman numeral be used for the general title of the first body paragraph. Capital letters are required for the subheadings under the title.

Then Arabic numerals are used for subheadings revealing more detailed information on the topic. Subheadings under this are illustrated by lower case letters. The following section illustrates how a body paragraph may look. Note that in this example, each level of the outline should be indented. The Roman numeral "II" would be on the left margin, and "A" and "B" would both be indented one tab, for example.

Overview of the Works of Classical Composers A. For topics that require even more subheadings, the Arabic numerals are placed in parentheses and the subheading under these require the lower case letters be placed in parentheses.

If more subheadings are needed, than you may want to consider combining some of your topics so that there are not too many subheadings. The following illustrates the subheadings don't forget the indentions of each level:.

In other words, you should have at least two subheadings for every major heading. There is no limit on subheadings, but once you start forming a dozen or so subheadings under a single heading, you might find your outline looking cluttered and messy. Identify the research problem. As you prepare to write your outline, you need to specifically identify the research problem you are trying to address. This will guide the entire formation of your outline and your paper. From this research problem, you will derive your thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a single sentence that sums up the entire purpose or argument of your research paper. This thesis statement will usually be written above the outline itself or within the first "Introduction" heading of the outline. Your research problem can also help you figure out a title.

Identify your main categories. You also need to figure out what main points you plan on covering. All of these main points will be listed in your introduction and listed as part or all of you major headings for the body part of your paper. The main points are details that support or address your research paper.

They should be very general in nature. Take a look at your research topic and determine the best possible order to deliver information. You might end up using a chronological arrangement or a spatial arrangement, but as a general rule, you will go from general ideas to specific ones. Chronological arrangements generally only work if you have a topic that has some chronological history to it. For example, if you were researching the history of modern medicine, it would make sense that your paper and outline follow a chronological order.

If your research topic does not have a history, though, you will probably end up using a spatial structure. For instance, if you are researching the effects of television and video games on the adolescent brain, you probably would not follow the chronology of the research.

Instead, you might describe the different contemporary schools of thought on the issue or otherwise follow some other spatial arrangement of ideas. Establish your major headings. Your first and last headings will be your "Introduction" and "Conclusions" sections, respectively. The other major headings will be represented by the main or major categories of your paper. In these instances, you can usually skip these two sections altogether, but you will need to write your thesis statement separately and above the outline.

Know what to include in your Introduction. Your "Introduction" heading will need to include your thesis, at minimum. You might also want to briefly list your main points and your hook. Note that these elements will usually be listed as subpoints, not as major headings.

The major heading for the section will be "Introduction. Understand what the body of your outline will consist of. Each main heading within the body portion of your outline will be labeled by a short phrase or sentence addressing a main category of your research paper. As with the actual paper itself, this portion of your outline will hold all the significant content.

Arrange the Conclusions section. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page. Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline.

Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e.

Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e.

Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again.

Delete the symbol once editing is completed. Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind.

Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly. Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence? Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments?

Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed.

Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed.

Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples? Any run-on or unfinished sentences? Any unnecessary or repetitious words? Varying lengths of sentences? Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next? Any spelling or grammatical errors? Quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation? Are all my citations accurate and in correct format?

Did I avoid using contractions? Did I use third person as much as possible? Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective? Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader s at the end of the paper? For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more.

The Elements of Style was first published in There is also a particular formatting style you must follow.

This article is a part of the guide:

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

This is why you should establish early on the scope and limitations of your paper which will provide the foundation for your research paper outline. Basically, your outline will constitute three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion.

Privacy FAQs

The research paper outline is essential for any article or term paper. The outline may make a great difference on how your work is interpreted.

About Our Ads

The outline structure is approximately the same whether you write a research outline on dreams or some topic distant from this one, like a research outline for PhD application. The structure is identical to the structure of the research paper itself. Research Paper Outline and Format It is impossible to write a such a task without creating drafts and outlines. That is why you need to pay careful attention to the research paper outline, as it will greatly simplify your future work and make the process of creating an assignment much simpler.

Cookie Info

A research paper outline is a helpful point-by-point plan, which makes your research paper writing easier. However, before proceeding to an outline you will have to take some pre-writing steps. They will be helpful in composing the best quality outline and, as a result, a great academic work. A research paper outline is a helpful tool when writing your research paper. Basically, it helps you organize your ideas, and appropriately place your researched information in the right section. Aside from this, it also helps you to identify what data is valid and irrelevant.