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Student Guide: Writing a Research Paper Outline

Writing a good research paper outline

❶Check Out the Official Book Learn how to construct, style and format an Academic paper and take your skills to the next level. Note that you would not usually use this outline for a research paper, as it is not very specific or detailed.

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Introduction

Although the title is the shortest page of your report, it is often the most difficult to write. It is important to make clear to a researcher everything that needs saying but without the title being overlong and unwieldy. It does not have to be the first section written because, in many cases, the final title will not occur to you until you have finished writing the report.

Nowadays, most research establishments have a database to search titles by keyword so try to make sure that your title contains these. This is doubly important if your research is likely to be published on the internet. The authors section should include your name, as the main writer of the report, alongside the name of your supervisor. In the case of working as part of a team, you should usually include the other members of your group here.

The abstract is the most crucial part of the report because anybody searching for your research on a database or in a journal will usually read only the abstract. Therefore, it must summarize your research, results and conclusions in less than words. Sometimes it is good to think of it as a sample of your research rather than a review ; it should inform the researcher that your article contains the information they need.

There are a few ideas on how to write your abstract but the best advice is that you look at some journals relevant to your research and try to format your abstract in a similar way.

This section and is merely a breakdown of sections and subsections by page number. For a short and straightforward paper it may not be necessary to include a contents page. This is not mandatory for a research paper. This section of your report is where you will document all the painstaking research into the background of your experiment.

The main thing to bear in mind, when writing the introduction , is that a scientist who is unfamiliar with your exact subject matter may be reading the article.

It is important, therefore, to try and give a quick and condensed history of the research leading to your experiment, with correct citations. You should also give a little background on why you chose to do this particular experiment and what you expect to find. For this portion of your report you must describe the methods used when performing the experiment. This should include, if relevant, the location and times of sample collection, what equipment was utilized, and the techniques used.

The idea behind the methodology section is that another researcher can exactly replicate your experiments without having to guess what equipment and what techniques should be used.

Scientific articles are peer reviewed and this includes the possibility that other researchers may try to replicate your results. There have been many high profile scientific breakthroughs over the years whose results were unable to be repeated; these experiments were disregarded. For field studies you should give an exact map reference and time as well as including a map in the appendix.

If you used complex machinery or computer programs in the course of your experiment, to avoid breaking the flow of your report, you should give only the main information and refer to the exact technical specifications in the appendix.

These should be a quick synopsis of the facts, figures and statistical tests used to arrive at your final results. You should try to avoid cluttering up your report and insert most of your raw data into the appendix. It is far better to stick with including only tables and graphs that show clearly the results. Do not be tempted to insert large numbers of graphs and figures just for the sake of it; each figure and graph should be mentioned, referred to and discussed in the text.

Try to avoid putting in tables and graphs showing the same information; select the type that shows your results most clearly. It is usually preferable to use graphs and relegate the tables to the appendix because it is easier to show trends in graphical format. Figures and graphs should be clear and occupy at least half a page; you are not a magazine editor trying to fit a small graph into an article.

All such information must be numbered, as diagrams for graphs and illustrations, and figures for tables; they should be referred to by this number in the body of the report. You do not need to put the full breakdown of the calculations used for your statistical tests; most scientists hate statistics and are only interested in whether your results were significant or not. Each statement you give has to be backed up with the proof. Do not forget about valid references and proper citation according to the required paper format.

You can mention counterarguments to your ideas and provide evidence why they are not correct. Opposing facts prove your deep knowledge on the topic and that you have really conducted a thorough research.

This will show your commitment to the challenging tasks and create quite an impressive academic reputation. Do not forget about the style and the tone of your research paper, which you have stated in the introduction. The paper should be consistent from the beginning to the very end. The manner, pattern, and techniques should be the same throughout the paper.

However, remember to be creative and use various language techniques to make your paper interesting to read. Take into consideration that there is a high chance that your professor knows everything about the subject. Nonetheless, your paper needs to be addressed to the reader unfamiliar with the topic and the thesis statement of your choice.

This again will show your deep knowledge on the matter. Be sure to explain everything clearly without sounding too dull in the process. The conclusive part of the research paper has to summarize the arguments so the readers digest the main idea and remember it for a long time. Remember that the main purpose of the research paper is to show your abilities to work by yourself and demonstrate the range of your knowledge on various topics. Creating a good outline is essential in a further composing of your research paper.

Make sure to take notes when conducting a research, do not be afraid to ask for assistance and read additional resources. The Best Articles from Edusson The Edusson email digest is a weekly summary of the most popular and inspiring essay-related content. We curate the best so you can stay continually informed. By clicking "Subscribe" you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

We'll occasionally send you promo and account related emails. I'm already have account in Edusson. Essay Editing Service Essay Revision. Before writing an research paper outline: Select an appropriate topic. Selecting a topic is a crucial factor for a successful research paper. Whether you select a topic yourself or not, it should work to your strengths and not weaknesses.

An appropriate topic should be interesting to you and appeal to or provoke readers. After selecting a topic, take some time to figure out what kind of argument you want to support. You need to understand why it is important to you and why it might be important to others.

Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e.

This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline. Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e.

Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e. Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e. Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again. Delete the symbol once editing is completed.

Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind. Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly. Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline?

Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence? Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed.

Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed. Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples?

Any run-on or unfinished sentences? Any unnecessary or repetitious words? Varying lengths of sentences? Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next? Any spelling or grammatical errors? Quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation? Are all my citations accurate and in correct format? Did I avoid using contractions? Did I use third person as much as possible? Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective? Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader s at the end of the paper?

For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more. The Elements of Style was first published in There is also a particular formatting style you must follow.

There are several formatting styles typically used.

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This is why you should establish early on the scope and limitations of your paper which will provide the foundation for your research paper outline. Basically, your outline will constitute three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion.

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The Basic Outline of a Paper The following outline shows a basic format for most academic papers. No matter what length the paper If a research paper, use strong evidence from sources—paraphrases, summaries, and quotations that support the main points III. Conclusion.

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The research paper outline is essential for any article or term paper. The outline may make a great difference on how your work is interpreted. An outline is a basement of your research paper from which you build up the whole paper. Each outline consists of three main parts the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion. For a successful and high-quality research paper, however, the more detailed outline you use the better.

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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. A research paper outline is a generalized, organized overview of a research topic. Outlines are useful as they help the writer think about a topic in more detail, revealing areas that may require more research. Like most outlines written for academic papers, there are at least three sections: the introduction, body.