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What Does The Outline Of A Research Paper Look Like

An outline is important for all types of research papers. It serves to organize your thoughts and your whole work before writing a research paper. This type of paper is aimed at a scientific research that will prove you to be a student that has scientific aptitudes to solve core issues and is ready convey your ideas using scientific approaches and methods. An outline will be a reminder for you to include all the necessary subtleties in it. It is “a skeleton” of the real research paper that will guide you through the whole process. But how to write a research paper outline?

By preliminarily splitting your paper into all its constituent parts you will be far more organized and will not worry that you forgot something. In addition, looking at your outline, you will be calmer because after splitting your work into several parts. It will not seem so overwhelming and perplexing. You can approach each part during different days and plan your preparations consecutively which will help you to meet even tight deadlines!

Research Paper Outline Structure Tips

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. To be more versed in the details of the structure look through examples for elementary students. The outline for a Literary Essay will also help you.  Anyway, the main parts are as follows:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Body 
  3. Conclusion

Seems not that hard, right?! But the fact is that each of the points encompasses a wide range of information for you to arrange in your research outline about animals, for example.

The Introduction part is one of the most important ones. Because it presents the reader with the topic of your paper and it is like a hook that attracts the reader's interest. Here you are supposed to mention the top essential components like the thesis statement, the explanation of the topic (some major points, general information), explanation of the core terms related to your study.

The Body part is the amplest one and consists of several paragraphs or subparts. Here you bring the arguments to support your statement. The methodology is what follows the introduction section. It gives the insight into the way you carried out the research and should include the investigation type and the questionnaire you have fulfilled. Never forget about the aims of the investigation that should be also stated in the introduction.

Make sure to include the literature overview. Here mention the literature you used as a backup to your hypothesis and theories. This part will show how you can operate the terms, theory and existing evidence. Your main theme and the chosen literature should be adjacent. Demonstrate how your input develops and distends the existing works.

Data and analysis usually go after methods and literature. Here present your results and other variables that you have got in the process of the survey. Use tables or graphs if necessary to be more precise and structured. Interpret your results. Keep in mind to tell the audience whether your outcomes bring a difference to the whole topic. Outline the drawbacks of the research and its advantages. 

The final part is the Conclusion that usually does not present the audience with the new information but gives the cursory glance at the whole work by summarizing main points in it. Do not forget to mention the thesis statement again. Formulate the prospect for future research as well. 

Final Advice And Useful Info

Topics of the research paper are different. You can end up writing your paper about molecular physics or about bullying. Sometimes they give you to write on social issues like a research outline on homelessness. Everything depends on the college discipline.

All in all, your research outline should look like a bullet list of headings and subheadings; it should be very brief but informative consisting all the necessary elements. While completing your paper cross out those parts that you have already used and elaborated.

Here are a couple of examples:

Thesis: Does the Internet have a positive or negative impact on the children’s education and social skills that they obtain?

Introductory Clause

  1. Brief introduction of issue
  2. Used methodology
  3. Thesis statement
  4. review of used sources and related literature
  5. Explanation of the study’s relevance and significance

Main Body

a. Detailed information about the problem’s background

  1. The history of the Internet and its role in the lives of modern people
  2. The first mentioning of issues caused by the influence of the Web
  3. The general explanation of reasons and causes that can explain either negative or positive effect of the Internet on the children’s development and education

b. Positive influence of the Internet on the quality of education and obtained social skills

  1. Online books, materials and numerous sources that help students, providing them with an opportunity for quality self-education
  2. Developed social networking and wider opportunities for education that helps develop and improve child’s social skills
  3. Examples of positive influence (or scientifically proven facts)

c. Negative influence of the Internet on the quality education and obtained social skills

  1. Distractions, games, availability of violent materials and other things that cause negative influence
  2. Examples of negative influence (or scientifically proven facts)

Final Clause

a. Conclusion

  1. Short analysis of all facts provided in the paper
  2. Rephrased thesis statement

b. Final words regarding the problem (recommendations regarding how a particular paper and its ideas can be used in practice or in further studies).

Thesis: Abortion: main causes and effects

Introductory Clause

  1. Brief introduction of issue
  2. Main medical terms and their definitions
  3. The theoretical basis for the paper
  4. Used methodology
  5. Thesis statement
  6. The review of related literature
  7. Explanation of the study’s relevance and significance.

Main Body

a. Detailed information about the problem’s background

  1. The history of abortion and the main causes that force modern women take this step (explain different possible reasons like religion, financial situation, career issues, etc.)
  2. Explain the position of the religion and government regarding this problem
  3. General information about the possible consequences of abortion supported with valid facts, scientific articles and studies, examples, etc.

b. Possible alternatives to abortions, their pros and cons

c. Advantages and disadvantages of abortion

  1. Explain all advantages of abortion and support them with facts and examples
  2. Explain all disadvantages of abortion (both physical and mental) and support them with facts and examples

Final Clause

a. Conclusion

  1. Short analysis of all facts provided in the paper
  2. Rephrased thesis statement

b. Final words regarding the problem (recommendations regarding how a particular paper and its ideas can be used in practice or in further studies).

 

Wish you an academic success with our guide to the research paper writing!

I.   General Approaches

There are two general approaches you can take when writing an outline for your paper:

The topic outline consists of short phrases. This approach is useful when you are dealing with a number of different issues that could be arranged in a variety of different ways in your paper. Due to short phrases having more content than using simple sentences, they create better content from which to build your paper.

The sentence outline is done in full sentences. This approach is useful when your paper focuses on complex issues in detail. The sentence outline is also useful because sentences themselves have many of the details in them needed to build a paper and it allows you to include those details in the sentences instead of having to create an outline of short phrases that goes on page after page.


II.   Steps to Making the Outline

A strong outline details each topic and subtopic in your paper, organizing these points so that they build your argument toward an evidence-based conclusion. Writing an outline will also help you focus on the task at hand and avoid unnecessary tangents, logical fallacies, and underdeveloped paragraphs.

  1. Identify the research problem. The research problem is the focal point from which the rest of the outline flows. Try to sum up the point of your paper in one sentence or phrase. It also can be key to deciding what the title of your paper should be.
  2. Identify the main categories. What main points will you analyze? The introduction describes all of your main points; the rest of  your paper can be spent developing those points.
  3. Create the first category. What is the first point you want to cover? If the paper centers around a complicated term, a definition can be a good place to start. For a paper about a particular theory, giving the general background on the theory can be a good place to begin.
  4. Create subcategories. After you have followed these steps, create points under it that provide support for the main point. The number of categories that you use depends on the amount of information that you are trying to cover. There is no right or wrong number to use.

Once you have developed the basic outline of the paper, organize the contents to match the standard format of a research paper as described in this guide.


III.   Things to Consider When Writing an Outline

  • There is no rule dictating which approach is best. Choose either a topic outline or a sentence outline based on which one you believe will work best for you. However, once you begin developing an outline, it's helpful to stick to only one approach.
  • Both topic and sentence outlines use Roman and Arabic numerals along with capital and small letters of the alphabet arranged in a consistent and rigid sequence. A rigid format should be used especially if you are required to hand in your outline.
  • Although the format of an outline is rigid, it shouldn't make you inflexible about how to write your paper. Often when you start investigating a research problem [i.e., reviewing the research literature], especially if you are unfamiliar with the topic, you should anticipate the likelihood your analysis could go in different directions. If your paper changes focus, or you need to add new sections, then feel free to reorganize the outline.
  • If appropriate, organize the main points of your outline in chronological order. In papers where you need to trace the history or chronology of events or issues, it is important to arrange your outline in the same manner, knowing that it's easier to re-arrange things now than when you've almost finished your paper.
  • For a standard research paper of 15-20 pages, your outline should be no more than four pages in length. It may be helpful as you are developing your outline to also write down a tentative list of references.

Four Main Components for Effective Outlines. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; How to Make an Outline. Psychology Writing Center. University of Washington; Organization: Informal Outlines. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Organization: Standard Outline Form. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Outlining. Department of English Writing Guide. George Mason University; Plotnic, Jerry. Organizing an Essay. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Reverse Outline. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Reverse Outlines: A Writer's Technique for Examining Organization. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Using Outlines. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.