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Research Paper Outline - Basic Format & Sample

Research Paper Outline - Basic Format & Sample

Stuck with your research paper outline?

Looking for some help?

Here, you will find all the information that you need to make a great and strong research paper outline.

1. What is a Research Paper Outline?

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

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

Researching is only half of the work done, the other half is about how you present those facts and material. Therefore, if your writing skills are poor, you need help.

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 the base 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.

2. How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

The bigger question is how to create a strong research paper outline. But don't worry, we know what bothers you 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 about how to create an outline, we will also add a sample research paper template at the end. So stay with us.

2.1 Title Page

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, in case your teacher has specified some other formatting style, follow it.

2.2 Abstract

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 that you do not give away too much of the information.

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

2.3 Introduction

The introduction presents the statement of the problem, definition of the core terms and the main ideas of the research. A strong introduction is 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 will you conduct your research.

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

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

2.4 Thesis Statement

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.

2.5 Body Paragraphs

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, your research and its findings.

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

2.5.1 Literature Review

The literature review is submitted with the research proposal. Your research question and the main ideas that 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 compare it 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 a number of studies and it depends on your topic. But on a general note, the more the better.

2.5.2 Significance of the Study

Mention and discuss the significance of your research. Why your research is significance? Why your research was 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.

2.5.3 Research Methodology

Every research follows a method. In scientific studies, students usually use quantitative type of research while the students studying humanities use qualitative research techniques. Based on your field of study, select and explain the methodology that you are going to use for your research.

2.5.4 Research Findings and Analysis

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 it. Generally, the following structure is followed.

  1. First main Idea of the paper
    • Background information
    • Your main claims and arguments
    • Supporting major points
    • A closure
  2. Second main idea of the paper
    • Background information
    • Your main claims and arguments
    • Supporting major points
    • A closure
  3. 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.

2.5.5 Limitations of the Research

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 the ethical concerns, lack of financial and research resources and time constraints.

2.6 Conclusion

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 here 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.

2.7 References

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.

2.8 Bibliography

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

3. Formatting Your Research Paper Outline

There are different kinds of research paper outline 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. 1. Point 1
    1. 1. Sub-point
      1. 1. Sub-point of sub-point

In Decimal:

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:

1.0 Body Paragraph 1

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

3.1 Research Paper Writing Tips

To come up with an A worthy research paper, have a look at the following tips from experts.

  • A good approach is to determine the scope of a research paper i.e., what are the maximum or minimum number of pages a research paper should have? Is a research paper outline is different from term paper outline? When you know the answers to these questions it would be easier for you to narrow down the subject and reveal the best work in your research paper.
  • While writing your research paper, remember your work is not just read by scientists but by ordinary people as well. For that, you should use simple words and short sentences so that they can be read and understood by readers of any kind.
  • Keep in mind that the research paper is not about coming up with a clear statement of already existing facts. It is important to add your ideas, findings, and compare them with the already existing work to explain the contradictions.

4. Research Paper Outline Template

To help you understand further, we have added two samples of the research paper outline template. One is for a simple literary research paper and the other is for a scientific research paper.

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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)

If you need help to create a good research paper outline then we are here for you. 5StarEssays is a professional essay writing service that specializes in offering quality research paper and academic writing help for you.

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