Nova A.
Nova A.

Research Paper Outline - An Easy Guide With Examples

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Published on: May 7, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

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Writing a research paper can be really overwhelming. It is because of the fact that it is based on extensive research and includes a lengthy writing process.

Professionals believe to write a research paper effectively, without any mistakes, learn how a research paper outline is drafted. Once you know how to outline your writing and organize your data, you are done with the most difficult part of the research paper.

This blog is written to share how a perfect outline can be created for your research paper. Continue reading to get all the answers to your “research paper outline” questions.

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What is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is a form of a plan for the research you are going to be conducting. A good outline is essential for every type of research paper. It helps to organize your thoughts and the entire work before actually writing a research paper. The research outline is like an academic assignment that is evaluated just like your other final paper.

In simpler terms, a research paper outline acts as a blueprint for the complete subject. It basically provides a map for the readers to follow through the entire process of writing without missing out on any important information.

Being a plan to take action, a research paper outline makes the readers understand and overcome the complexity of the paper.

How to write a Research Paper Outline?

In order to make your paper useful and understandable for the audience, the research paper outline is written. For writing a research paper successfully, it is important to know the process and have a complete understanding of the pattern.

The purpose of writing a research paper outline is to demonstrate and provide your understanding of the topic.

The research paper outline will do a lot for you and your readers. It will help you avoid making mistakes and errors and give shape to the topic into formal work.

While you write an outline, there are certain rules that are to be followed. The rules are:

  • Choose a topic that is engaging and interesting
  • Find sources that explore the topic and cite them
  • Understand which outline format to use for your research paper
  • The elements of the research paper should be noted down in a list and properly placed into categories.

Let’s discuss in detail how research papers are formatted and outlined.

  1. 1. Select a Topic

    The first thing to do while starting a paper outline is to come up with an engaging topic. Choosing an interesting topic for your research paper is essential. This is to make sure that readers are engaged and curious to read your work.

    An interesting topic will do wonders in the writing process of a research paper. An interesting and strong topic can be selected by meeting the following criteria:

    • You should be passionate about your topic.
    • The information and sources available on the topic should be great and reliable
    • The topic can be addressed from a different perspective.
  2. 2. Find Reliable Sources

    Does your selected topic have credible information available that can be a part of your paper? Selecting a topic is one thing, and finding a source that is credible for it is another. At this time, the internet has taken over our lives, making us completely dependent on it.

    All the information you find on the internet is not credible and authentic. For serious work like writing a research paper, it is important that the information gathered is through credible sources.

    Whether your source is a book, journal, research paper, or internet, make sure it is reliable. It is recommended to get instructors to help in finding the sources.

  3. 3. Choose a Format

    If you are writing a research paper for your academics, the chances are that you will be provided with instructions and guidelines from your instructor. In those instructions, the format that the writer must choose for his paper will be specified.

    If it is not specified, there are two basic format outlines that you can use for your research paper; APA and MLA style format. Both of these formats have their own style and design. Select either of the style formats for your research paper.

  4. 4. Standard Outline

    The research paper can also follow the basic outline that all academic writings follow. This outline has three parts:

    • Introduction
    • Body Paragraphs
    • Conclusion

    Arrange all the gathered information into this outline style to give a proper structure to your paper.

  5. 5. Elements of Research Paper Outline

    The outline of a research paper has some basic elements that are essential parts of almost every format style.

    The elements of a research paper outline are discussed below.

    • Title or Cover Page

      The cover or title page is the basic thing in the research paper. It is the very first page in your paper that a reader sees and has some general information about the author and his work.

      The cover page of a research paper has a title or the topic of your research. This title doesn’t exceed 60 characters. Including a title, a cover page contains the name of the researcher, instructor and the date on which the assignment is to be submitted.

    • Abstract

      After the title page, an abstract of the research paper is given. An abstract is a brief summary of your research that focuses on the key points, ideas, and methods that a researcher used in the paper for his research and to obtain results.

      The length of an abstract should be short and direct. The ideal length is 200 words or one-third of a page.

    • Table of Content

      After the abstract, in the research paper outline, a researcher provides a table of content for the paper. It is the part in which the sections of your paper are summarized in the form of headings and subheadings.

      These points can be written with roman numerals as well as Arabic numerals depending on the preference with a combination of upper and lowercase letters.

    • Introduction

      This is the most critical part of your research paper. The introduction presents the main argument of the researcher. This argument of the researcher is the statement of a problem on which the entire paper is based.

      The introduction of the research paper also contains the description and definition of the core terms and ideas used in the paper. The stronger the introduction, the more impact the paper will have on the audience.

      An introduction opens up with a hook related to a topic, followed by some background information such as why a certain topic was selected and how you will conduct the research.

      Make sure not to give unnecessary information and details in this section. Briefly provide the description of the background of a research question, literature review, and findings, and the reasons behind the purpose of research.

    • Thesis Statement

      After giving the introduction, form a thesis statement for your research paper. The thesis statement will be the main argument and stance in the article, for which shreds of evidence and supporting material will be provided in the body paragraphs.

      Forming a strong thesis statement is very important. You have to collect relevant information and arguments to support your thesis statement.

    • Literature Review

      When writing a research proposal, a literature review is essential to submit. A literature review is a previous study on your topic. It is basically a research and analysis of the topic that will be related to your topic and will form a base for it.

    • Methods

      There is a method through which every research is done. It is up to the writer and the demand for the topic or field to choose which research method to choose. There are different types of research that are used to gather data and conduct research. Usually, there are two methodologies that you can choose according to your research type.

      Quantitative and qualitative are two primary methodologies used while conducting research. For research related to science, a quantitative methodology is used. While for humanities and social sciences subjects, qualitative research is done.

    • Analysis

      This section in the research paper outline mentions and explains the most solid and robust arguments in the research along with their findings. It is to be kept in mind that in this section, a researcher should not provide every information he has.

      Come up and decide a sequence and order in which the information will be presented. It is up to the writer to use a pyramid or inverted pyramid format to present the information. Usually, in this sequence, an argument is given:

      • An argument
      • Its background information
      • Researcher’s claim and argument
      • Supporting evidence
      • A closure
    • Discussion

      After analyzing the findings or results, a discussion on the achieved results is done. The discussion is done to see whether the obtained facts and figures from the research are similar to the predicted results or not.

      Usually, the panel of similar field specialists discusses results but writing your paper for academics works differently. The researcher conducts the discussion in light of the given studies.

    • Conclusion

      After the discussion, a researcher forms a conclusion. In the conclusion of a research paper, the writer presents any limitation that was faced while conducting research or gathering data. In addition to this, the major points are summarized in this section, along with the restated thesis statement.

      A researcher sums his arguments up in concluding paragraphs, suggesting further research on the topic if needed. Also, the conclusion of a research paper includes a ‘call to action’ or indicates the course of actions for the audience.

    • Bibliography

      You cannot come up with all the information for your research paper. You will have to rely on other sources for the information. The information you take from other sources has to be cited and presented in the bibliography.

      This is to avoid plagiarism, which is a severe crime in the writing world. All the references for your sources of information are written in the form of a list that is given at the end of your research paper. According to the paper format, write a bibliography for your research.

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Research Paper Outline Example

For our student’s better understanding, we have gathered some examples that will surely help them draft their research papers professionally.

If you are wondering how APA and MLA style research papers are outlined, look at the examples below:

Crafting a perfect outline for your paper can be difficult if you are not aware of the necessary steps. Moreover, if you are writing a paper for the first time, it is advised to get help from professionals. has professionals and experts who provide all kinds of academic writing services. These professionals are specialists in all fields and provide high-quality writing assignments to our clients.

Be it a type of college essay or a complicated research paper; a qualified writer can assist you in writing quality content.

Place your order to get your assignments written at exciting prices.

Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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