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Research Paper Outline - Basic Format & Sample

Research Paper Outline - Basic Format & Sample

Anyone who's ever had to write a research paper knows that it can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. But, don't worry! We're here to help you out with some valuable information on how to create the perfect outline for your next paper.

Making an outline is a part of research paper writing and must not be ignored at any cost.

Many students think that making a paper outline is a waste of time. In this post, we will explain the importance of making and having a detailed and perfect outline.

Here, you will find all the information you need to make a great and strong research paper outline and avoid writer’s block.

What is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is created to structure the main ideas and add them to the paper in a cohesive manner. It is essential for a good research paper.

Essays and other assignments also involve writing and research. An assignment entirely dedicated to facts, research, and evaluation is somewhat different and needs a high level of research and writing skills.

Researching is only half of the work done; the other half is about presenting those facts and material. A good outline will help you know about the details and things you need to add to your paper.

Besides outline, your research topic is also vital for a strong research paper. A good research topic is wide, impressive, and engaging, and once you choose from this list of good research topics, you are good to start the work.

Coming back to the research paper outline, a good and detailed outline is important for a great research paper. It aids the process of writing and helps you stay focused and in line with the main topic. So, for an impressive and good research paper, you need to have a good outline.

Significance of a Good Research Paper Outline

Is it important to make an outline before writing the paper?’ Unlike what many students think, a good and functional research paper outline helps you in several ways. Many students could not submit their research papers on time only because they could not keep with the writing flow.

As a result, they lose pace and submit their paper at the deadline. A good and carefully created outline helps in avoiding any such situation and submitting the paper on time. Here are some key benefits of having a good research paper outline.

  • You will be able to avoid writer’s block and keep working at the same pace. The outline will help you know the path you are going and complete each section on time.
  • A proper outline will help you stay focused and ensure proper coherence throughout the paper. However, the outline must be used and followed as a guide only. As you work on your paper, the outline could change many times.
  • It keeps you motivated about the project. Having a detailed outline in hand makes the writing process easy and better than if you start writing a lengthy paper without knowing where you are headed.
  • An outline helps you organize your thoughts about a topic. It is important because some problems are quite diverse, and you can work on them in a number of ways. An outline helps you in knowing which approaches are better.
  • It helps you in making and following a schedule for every task or section. Sometimes, the teacher gives the deadline for each section himself, but if not, set the deadline yourself and follow it.

Due to all of these elements, making a good and detailed outline is important and quite helpful also.

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How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

‘How to create a strong research paper outline?’

‘How to write an outline for a research paper?’

We know that you are looking for answers, and we are here to help you. Being a top writing assistance company, we know what problems students face, and this is why we know what you want.

Below, we have discussed some core sections to add when writing an outline for a research paper. Make sure that you do not miss any of them when working on your paper’s outline. And use roman numerals for sub-sections.

To help you understand better how to create an outline, we will also add a sample research paper template at the end. So stay with us.

  1. 1. Title Page
  2. The title page is the first part of a research paper. It includes the student’s name, the name of the institute, and the topic of the research. All the information should be centralized and in 12 pt. Times New Roman format.

    Usually, the paper format is APA but if your teacher has specified some other formatting style, follow it.

  3. 2. Abstract
  4. An abstract is a short form of summary. It is brief and revolves around the main idea and research question of the paper. However, when writing a research paper abstract, be careful not to give away too much information.

    Explain the main idea and inform the reader about the findings and research results. Adding background information and connecting it with the main research topic is a good idea to create a solid abstract.

  5. 3. Introduction
  6. The introduction presents the statement of the problem, the definition of the core terms, and the main ideas of the research. A strong introduction is a key to a strong and impressive research paper. Start the introduction with a hook sentence and engage the reader.

    Moving forward, mention the reasons why you chose the topic and how you will conduct your research.

    An introductory paragraph will introduce your main question and the concepts you will discuss in the main body paragraphs. Still, just like with the abstract, you have to be careful not to add all the main details here.

    Just elaborate on the background of the research question, your literature review, findings, and the main reasons that make this research significant.

  7. 4. Thesis Statement
  8. It is written after the introduction and is the essence of the entire research paper. Write your thesis statement to give a clear idea about your research question. A thesis statement is brief, usually a few lines, and tells the readers about the main research findings.

    Here are a few thesis statement examples for research papers.

    However, keep it brief and, in the case of scientific research, present your hypothesis here.

  9. 5. Body Paragraphs
  10. The main body is the largest of your research paper. It occupies more than half of your paper’s length and includes all the main ideas, arguments, background, research, and findings.

    To present relevant and structured information, the main body section follows a set pattern:

  11. 6. Literature Review
  12. The literature review is submitted with the research proposal. Your research question and the main ideas you will discuss in your research are the main parts of your research. You can start your research after your proposal is accepted.

    The literature review presents the previous relevant studies regarding the research topic and main question. It discusses notable and prominent studies and research and compares them with the topic of the paper.

    Research credible sources for relevant information. Discuss your point of view and the study that is relevant to it. Usually, it includes many studies, and it depends on your topic. But on a general note, the more, the better.

  13. 7. Significance of the Study
  14. Mention and discuss the significance of your research. Why is your research significant? Why was your research necessary? What were the shortcomings of the previous research? And other questions like these. Discuss them and talk about the reasons that make your research important and necessary.

  15. 8. Research Methodology
  16. Every research follows a method. In scientific studies, students usually use quantitative research, while the students studying humanities use qualitative research techniques. Based on your field of study, select and explain the methodology you will use for your research.

  17. 9. Research Findings and Analysis
  18. The analysis section will mention and explain the strongest arguments of the research and their findings. However, do not try to explain and add everything together. Decide the order in which you will present your ideas and stick to them. Generally, the following structure is followed.

    1. The first main idea of the paper
      • Background information
      • Your main claims and arguments
      • Supporting major points
      • A closure
    2. The second main idea of the paper
      • Background information
      • Your main claims and arguments
      • Supporting major points
      • A closure
    3. The third main idea of the paper
      • Background information
      • Your main claims and arguments
      • Supporting major points
      • A closure

    You can add as many ideas as necessary but keep everything relevant and structured.

  19. 10. Limitations of the Research
  20. Add and discuss the limitations of your research. In the case of humanities, the limitations could be the lack of relevant data and research. For scientific research, the limitations include ethical concerns, lack of financial and research resources, and time constraints.

  21. 11. Conclusion
  22. The conclusion is the final part of your research. It concludes the entire research and presents your research findings. Some students think that they can add a new idea and discuss it briefly, which is wrong. A conclusion is your paper’s closure, not a place to open discussion on new ideas.

    For a strong impact, support your thesis statement and mention whether your research findings were according to your hypothesis.

  23. 12. References
  24. The references list includes all the works and studies that you have used in your research paper. Make sure that it has every work that you have cited and included in your paper. Follow the given formatting style and indentation guidelines.

  25. 13. Bibliography
  26. A bibliography will include every study and book that you have consulted for your research. No matter if you have cited it in your research or not, it will be added here.

    Have a look at the following research paper outline template to get a better idea of writing one.

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Research Paper Outline Template

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Formatting Your Research Paper Outline

There are different kinds of research paper outlines, such as alphanumeric, decimal, and full sentences. The difference between these lies in the formatting and writing style. Have a look at the different research paper outline examples:

In Alphanumeric:

  • Body Paragraph 1
    1. Point 1
      1. Sub-point
        1. Sub-point of sub-point

In Decimal:

  1. 1.0 Body paragraph 1
    1. 1.1 Point 1
      1. 1.1.2 Sub-point of point 1
    2. 1.2 Point 2

In Full-Sentence:

  1. First body paragraph
    1. A. The first point of evidence
    2. 1. Sub-point discussing evidence outlined in point A
      1. Additional sub-point to conclude the discussion

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Sample Research Paper Outline

To help you understand further, we have added some college research paper outline examples below.

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Sample Research Paper Outline (PDF)
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Scientific Research Paper Outline (PDF)
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APA Research Paper Example (PDF)
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MLA Research Paper Outline (PDF)
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Sociology Research Paper Outline (PDF)

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