What is research paper outline – and how to develop it step by step

November 19, 2014 - Posted to Research Paper Writing Guide What is research paper outline – and how to develop it step by step

Deciding on a research paper topic is already hard enough. You definitely need a topic that will attract your readers. The broader the topic that you choose the more the limitations you will face writing your paper. You should determine the scope and limitations of your research paper topic because this will help you to prepare your outline. You might be wondering “What is research paper outline?” It is basically the foundation of your paper. It constitutes three main parts which are the introduction, the body and the conclusion. You can also consult with your instructors for other specifics that they might want you to include in the research paper outline.  

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What Is a Research Paper Outline?

The research paper is a document that is written to provide broader information on a topic. It requires that you take your time to gather the resources that you need to write your papers. The information must be viable to the topic that you are writing about. It is also an added plus if the topic chosen is one that you are passionate about.

Research Paper Parts

We will discuss the major parts of your research paper outline, and the parts that they should cover in your paper. They include:

  • The Introduction- This is the paragraph that contains the thesis statement of your research paper. This statement will assist you to write the rest of your research paper outline in a structured and calm manner. When your readers read the paper, they are able to smoothly move from paragraph to paragraph.
  • The Body- This part represents the arguments that will support your thesis statement. You should find three supporting arguments for each position that you support. Start with the least strong argument, and end it with the strongest one as your final point.
  • Conclusion- This is the part that summarizes your research paper. It is the final stand that you take with regards to the argument that you are putting across to your readers. You should also explain why you have ended with the said conclusion for your research paper outline.

Research Paper Outline Steps

Don’t be anxious about “What is research paper outline?” once you follow the following steps to writing the research paper outline. This is vital for the research paper writing process. Most instructors prefer when you use the MLA format for your outline. It assists to keep your work organized, and lays out your headings in a proper manner. You can also show your instructors the outline which you are using so that they can inform you, if you are going in the right direction.

Here are some recommendations and steps to writing the outline using the MLA format. They include:

  • The major headings such as introduction, body and conclusion are arranged using upper-case roman numerals e.g. I, II, III etc.
  • The sub-sections are sub-divided using capital letters i.e. A, B, C in the second level, numbers i.e. 1, 2 are used in the third level. Small letters a, b, c etc and small roman numbers i, ii, iii make up the rest of the paper.
  • When you are using Microsoft Word, or OpenOffice ensure that the various outlines correspond with the Microsoft Word program e.g. Heading 1, Heading 2, etc this will assist you to create your table of contents based on your research paper outline later on
  • Modify and adjust your outline as you continue with the writing process. Keep copies of versions you have used previously. This can assist you to change directions for your outline when you aren’t pleased with the one you were taking before.

When you follow these instructions when you are writing your research paper outline, you won’t need to question yourself again on what is research paper outline. 

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