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Research Paper Outline – The Key to High-Quality Papers

UserThomas Taylor time20 February,2019

You can’t write a great research paper without preparing an outline. Professional writers treat the outline as the backbone of a research paper. If you want to score the best grade, you have to create a research paper outline beforehand.

According to USCLibraries, an outline is a system which is utilised to establish a structure which allows one to think about how the paper will be organised and what the content will be. The outline provides an organizational plan for your research paper.

Research Paper Outline

How to write a research paper outline?

These are the primary steps for writing a research paper outline.

  • Select an appropriate topic- Select a topic that is interesting and appealing and incites the readers to go through the topic content. Try to select a topic that you have enough insights to write on.
  • State your argument – Decide the kind of argument you are going to place and the supporting evidence for that.
  • Know your audience; Analyse whether your audience would be satisfied with the arguments given their expertise, previous knowledge and do on.
  • Organize a research- Conduct a thorough research of all the aspects of the arguments and the research results you want to put.
  • Referencing- Organize your references according to their priority. Give references in the correct format for every supporting evidence and so on.

The outline is somewhat like this –

Working Title of the paper


  • Hook
  • Thesis statement
  • Purpose of Research Paper


  • Argument 1
  • Argument 2
  • Argument 3


  • Summary of arguments or research
  • May include personal opinions/observation
  • Ending with a strong statement
  • Further action to be taken by the reader

Why Create a Research Paper Outline?

Most students skip the task of preparing a research paper outline, because they are unaware of the ways in which it can help to improve the quality of the papers.

The information given below will highlight the importance of creating a research paper outline:

  • Helps you to convey your ideas in an organised manner– The main goal of any write up should be to make it easier for the readers to understand the content. If your readers don’t get the idea or message you are trying to convey, you will never succeed at writing a stellar research paper. If you start writing your paper with a blank page, it can get overwhelming for you. But, if you have an outline at hand, it will be easier for you to put down your ideas in a logical order.
  • Adds clarity to your thoughts– By creating a research paper outline, you get the chance to brainstorm and develop new ideas. You will be clear about what you want to tell your readers. When you sit down to make a plan for writing your research paper, you can easily develop arguments from the specific topic or subject matter. Also, you may find out supporting details that you can add in the papers.
  • Adds substance to the research paper- An outline for a research paper can help you to think about the topic and find out enough materials or substance, which covers different aspects. Thus, you will be able to write a more informative research paper writing, which will contain valuable data rather than some general information.
  • Reduces stress level- Writing a research paper can become stressful if you don’t have an outline at hand. Without an outline, you have to memorise every detail and then start with the task of writing. It can be frustrating if you don’t get the right idea about how to present your arguments. An outline helps you to understand how each of your idea is connected to each other and how to present them properly.
  • Save your time- Imagine the time you will waste if you try to think about how you will present your ideas. Instead, you can make the writing process easy and quick by creating the outline first. Once the outline is created, you will get a roadmap for writing the research paper. When you know how many paragraphs you have to write in each paragraph, it will take less time to finish it. You can save a lot of time by creating a research paper outline.

Now that you know why it is crucial to prepare the outline beforehand, you should know how to write an outline for a research paper.

Research Paper Outline Example

In order to know how to make an outline, you can see the samples available online. You will find many research paper outline examples online. Go through the samples and gain insights from the same.


Smart tips to prepare the outline:

  1. Create your thesis statement
  2. Make a list of the main points to establish the thesis
  3. Create another list of ideas that support each part of your argument
  4. You can add more layers by dividing ideas
  5. Continue this until you have the outline at hand


Research Paper Outline Template; The Essentials

  • Title page– This is the cover page of your research paper which will contain details like your name, subject, code, project name, committee name, etc. You should create this page following the given referencing style.
  • Table of contents- This list or table will act as a roadmap for your readers. Your readers will use it to locate any specific section of your research paper.
  • Abstract- The abstract needs to be very eye-catchy, so that the readers feel intrigued to go through the whole research paper. This section can be a small paragraph or might take up a whole page. However, it should never be more than a page. An abstract helps the readers to get an idea about the contents of a research paper.

The abstract gives a brief overview of the research paper writing service, explains the main argument, presents the main research question, and highlights the importance of the research. You should never include citations or footnotes in it. Also, you need to be very cautious about writing this section of the research paper. Since the abstract creates the first impression on the readers, you should use powerful content to create the best impression on the readers.

  • Introduction- As the name suggests, this section of a research paper introduces the reader to the main topic. It consists of the research problem and the main argument. It gives specific information about what the research paper is about and why is it important to conduct research on it. The introduction part will also show your stand on the given topic and provide the readers with a small background on the subject matter. The introduction must be very brief and to the point. It should be written in an interesting manner so that the readers are engaged and they go through the rest of the paper.
  • Literature review- This section will show the readers your knowledge about the subject matter. Here, you will discuss the previous studies done on the topic. You can show the shortcomings of those studies and how you plan to overcome the same. By creating an effective literature review part, you can see what sources were used by the researchers of the past, what were the results, what worked, and what were the limitations to those studies. This way, you will be off to a better start with your research work.
  • Methodology- In this section, you will discuss the methods and the research design you have used in the work. You have to give in every detail of the methodology you have adopted. Along with this, you also need to mention why you chose the method. The methodology for any research based on apparatus is different from that of any research based on methods and observation. You must write this section in such a way that any reader can replicate the research.
  • Findings- This section will contain the results you acquired after conducting the research. Depending on the nature of the study, you have to decide the best way to present your findings. Present the results that are relevant to the main research problem. If there are many results, then you can use graphs or tables to present those. Remember, that this section is only for providing a general overview of the results. You must not get into the details. However, do not make the mistake of including your interpretations or discussion in this part.
  • Discussion- This is the section where you go into details about the findings. Here, you will try to establish your thesis or argument. You should give clear reasoning and rationally build your argument. You must ensure that every point of your discussion connects back to your thesis statement.
  • Conclusion- In the conclusion part, you should bring together all the points mentioned in the research paper. You should highlight all the major points. Your conclusion will be successful if it gives the readers all the information that they expected when they began reading the research paper. You can also add the limitations of your study, and give suggestions for future study. However, always keep in mind that you should not introduce any new information in the conclusion.
  • Reference list or bibliography- It is very important to create the reference list or bibliography. This way you can give proper credit to the works/sources you have used in the paper. Also, you can avoid the risk of plagiarism by properly citing all the works you have taken reference from.
  • Appendices- You can include appendices to help the readers understand your research work. It comes at the end of the paper and includes anything from charts, pictures, surveys, graphs, etc. You can include multiple numbers of appendices according to the requirement of the paper.

You must follow this basic structure if you want to write a research paper outline. However, you should always check the instructions given by your professor to see if there is any special requirement.

Good Research Paper Format and Great Research papers

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