Research Paper Outline

Research Paper Outline

Aug 30, 2012
A quality research paper demands the writer's meticulous prevision. An outline plays a major role in the development of a remarkable essay as it facilitates the writer with a sturdy framework for the paper, thus helping the writer to stay focused on the actual subject. Moreover, it also helps with a clear idea on what to write and what not to write in the essay. More often than not, course instructors ask for the research paper outline to be submitted some time before the actual research paper so that they can check if the student is actually on the right track. After going through the research paper outline, your course instructor might actually offer some suggestions and tips on how you can further improve the quality of the research paper by adding or cutting back some intended material.

What is a Research Paper Outline?

A working research paper outline can be simply defined as a list of topics and subtopics that you intend to include in your research paper. The outline need not necessary reflect all the research material that you intend to include in your final paper. However, it must reflect that you have the necessary insight into subject in hand and that you know enough about the topics and sub topics that you plan to integrate in your final research paper.

What Should a Research Paper Outline Include?

An effective research paper outline will almost always include the following:
  • Title of the research paper
  • The purpose of the research paper
  • Introduction of the research paper
  • Methodology
  • Evidence, analysis and discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

The most effective way to develop an effective research paper outline is to develop a good structure or framework for the paper. You can start with developing major headings for the paper such as Introduction, Methodology, Evidence, Conclusion, etc. You can further divide these headings into functional sub-headings, thus bestowing your research paper with the requisite direction. Needless to mention, you might simply not require sub-headings for a research paper that is shorter in length. Moreover, your first outline is your working outline, and hence you should be prepared to change it as work along the way. The first or initial outline is just a tool to help you structure and establish your thoughts as you plan to lay your final paper. For instance, the initial outline should help you with a clear idea on whether you want to lay the literature in chronological order or lay points according to relevancy.
Nowadays, most word processing programs have features that help writers with outlining. These programs can also help you with formatting and revising outlines, thus making your job much easier than it actually is.
As mentioned earlier, you will have to modify and adjust your research paper outline as you work along. However, if you are not happy with the final direction of your modified research paper outline, you can always resort to an earlier version of your outline. For this, you will have to save your research paper outline at various stages of completion.

Why is a Research Paper Outline Necessary?

It is a must to mention here that, irrespective of the quality of your ideas and arguments, a lack of proper flow and structure can take a heavy toll on your grades. A research paper outline is necessary as it helps you come up with an essay or academic paper of superior quality. It facilitates your essay with the necessary framework or structure, which in turn helps the coherence and rationality of your paper.
The general structure of research paper outlines of most academic styles, including APA as well as MLA, are very similar; and a thorough understanding of the structure of any one academic style will help you considerably, provided you work hard to understand the general research paper outline overview of the specific academic style on which you are working at the moment. It helps to understand that the above mentioned points are just a general overview of a research paper outline, and might vary depending on the specific instructions of your instructor, college or University.
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