How To Write Research Paper Outline: Structure, Format, and Style

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Every student has to write a research paper at some point in their academic career. This is an important skill that will help you succeed in your future endeavors, so it’s worth the time and effort spent on learning how to do it properly. In this blog post, we’ll explore what makes for a good research paper outline, as well as things like structure, format, and style.

If you find yourself gazing at a blank page on your computer screen, unsure how to approach your difficult research paper? Research papers are difficult and time-consuming assignments that, more importantly, account for a significant portion of a student’s grade in all classes.

Academic writing is tough, but written communication skills are necessary for college, graduate school, and your future career. That is why you should put in a lot of effort to mastering the art of paper writing.

If you are doubtful where to begin, read on to learn about effective strategies for making this process as painless as possible.

Step 1. Choose a Topic

College students are sometimes given research paper topics to choose from but choose wisely if you are fortunate enough to have this option. First and foremost, consider selecting a challenging issue that you are interested in. Then, you will not get bored researching because you will almost certainly learn something new, and you will enjoy the writing process as a result.

Choose topics that are not too technical or too broad.

Your research paper will be unlikely to succeed if your topic is too broad because it will appear to be a general overview.

Make your topic specific and manageable by narrowing it down to a particular aspect, concept, or idea. If your topic is “Pollution,” for example, you should narrow it down to “Causes of pollution. “And it’s on Human Health,” or something similar.

Pick Such Topic That Is Researched

Sometimes students are given research article topics, but the best scenario is when you can pick your topic. You could use mind mapping or brainstorming methods to make a good topic relevant to the assignment guidelines you are interested in writing about in such a case.

The key to success is choosing as broad as possible.

Remember, your time is limited, and you can’t afford to spend much time researching to find enough material to write on an unusual or rare topic. It’s the best way to select a topic that has been studied many times before.

Make In-Depth Quick Notes of the Topic of Research

If you aren’t certain how to write a research paper effectively, remember that the fastest method is to do your research first and later develop your thesis statement. However, developing your thesis early is not a good idea because there is insufficient evidence to support it.

Start with Wikipedia for a broad overview of the topic. Google Scholar, online databases and encyclopedias, government reports and other publications, scholarly articles in scientific journals, newspapers, etc.

You need to review all sources you find, evaluate the information collected, and take quick notes of the key ideas you may want to quote or paraphrase in your research paper.

Do not forget to keep track of your sources to avoid plagiarism. Use your notes later when building your bibliography page.

Make Sure to Create an Outline of Your Essay in Advance

Now, when you finish your research and have a bunch of ideas, structuring them is vital. So before you start writing, organize your thoughts in an outline.

Planning and outlining are critical to your writing assignment’s success, as they save you a lot of time when you start writing. Without a sketch, your project will lack focus, and you may spend much more time trying to comprehend how to make sense of your unorganized thoughts.

Write the Abstract and Introduction First

Write an abstract summarizing your research paper’s main ideas and purpose. Then write your introduction. The introduction should contextualize your research paper topic. Start with a strong opening sentence capturing your readers’ attention.

Then give some background data relevant to the topic and briefly describe why this topic is important. It would help if you also clarified how to approach your topic. Finally, end your statement with your thesis.

Step 2. Write Down a Working Thesis Statement

Formulate a working thesis before beginning your research because it will guide your investigation and keep you focused on your subject. Your thesis statement must be short and to the point, and it should reflect the type of paper you are working on. All research papers can be classified into three groups:

  • contentious or persuasive if you are arguing the conclusion;
  • explanatory when you explain information;
  • Analytical when you present your analysis of certain data.

You must devote enough of your valuable time to developing a strong thesis statement for your project to have a clear purpose. Because your entitlements need to be braced by evidence, your thesis should be debatable and narrow. On the other hand, if your claim is wide-ranging, more evidence will be required to persuade your readers that you are correct. An example of a controversial thesis statement is as follows:

The most pressing issue confronting the world today is air pollution.

Step 3. Do Research on your Area of Research

You should gather a sufficient number of secondary and primary reliable sources on the theme of your research paper, read them all wisely, and find relevant evidence to back up your thesis. At this point, you should evaluate your sources, take notes, and begin documenting your sources using the citation style your instructor has specified (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.)

Make sure you are working with the most recent version of a style guide. When you are writing your paper and compiling your bibliography, you will refer to your reference notes. To avoid plagiarism, you may be pretty sure to cite all of the sources you used for quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Step 4. Make a Good Outline

You have come up with a lot of fantastic ideas as a result of your research. It would help if you now organized them in preparation for your remarkable presentation.

Don’t skip this crucial step; if you do not, your project will be disorganized, and you will need more time to revise your draft as you try to make sense of your chaotic thoughts. That is why you will require an outline.

You must complete your thesis and create a working outline of the topics you intend to cover, which will serve as a roadmap and help you stay on track.

Consider the main points you will need to develop to back up your thesis statement. They can be used as subheadings in your paper’s main body. Examine your notes and group the information under each subheading. Make certain that you only include relevant information that fits under your subheadings and directly supports your thesis.

No matter how interesting something is, you should resist the urge to include it if it does not fit into your outline.

When creating an outline, keep in mind the typical structure of a research paper, which includes:

  • title page
  • abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methodology section
  • Findings/results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

Step 5. Create the First Draft

This is where the procedure is in the middle. You know where you are going, so write the first draft, including a title, in-text citations, and a reference page.

Because it is the first thing that your readers see, the title is significant if you want to make a good impression. In addition, it shapes their perceptions of what they should expect from your paper. Therefore, you should make a list of keywords that describe the topic of your paper, the methods you used, and the outcomes you obtained.

Create a sentence that includes all of the keywords you have listed, and then delete the words that are not necessary. Then you must connect the remaining ones. Finally, remove any non-essential information and arrange the remaining words in a logical order. The subtitle can be included as well. Make sure your title is short and to the point.

Following that, you must compose an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. These are the most important parts of your paper, so let us show you how to do them correctly.

How to Write an Introduction for a Research Paper

Begin by composing an introduction. The first paragraph should start with attention-grabbing sentences, such as:

  • A provoking question.
  • An unusual fact.
  • A narrative story.

Even though you are writing an academic paper, that does not mean you have to be dull. Following that, you must provide background information, explain your objectives, and describe how you intend to approach your research paper topic.

Your thesis statement or research question should be the last sentence of your introduction. Because this section of your paper is not very long, you will be able to complete it quickly.

How to Write Body Paragraphs

This section of your paper will be easier to complete if you use your outline. You should not, however, believe that you must adhere to it to the letter. It is possible that it will change over time, and you are free to revise it and make changes.

The most important thing is to stay on track and concentrate on your thesis. You should state your points and back up your main point.

Make sure to begin each paragraph of the body with a topic sentence and then support it with arguments and related evidence. You must write as many body paragraphs as there are key points in your outline.

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

The thesis statements in most research papers are restarted at the end. You can do it as well, but do not repeat it verbatim. Instead, summarize the main points of your paper. You can also emphasize the importance of your findings. Finally, it is a good idea to make some recommendations or suggest some research topics based on the findings of your investigation.

Your first draught is complete. Now you are aware of what to do next? Continue reading to learn how to revise your research paper.

How to Make Your Paper Perfect

Nobody is capable of writing a perfect first draft. Therefore, if you want to make a good first impression on your professor and get a good grade, you should revise your draft to ensure that your project is on track. Be prepared to revise your project several times because it is well worth your time.

Step 6. Revise, Edit, and Proofread

You must make major changes, double-check the logic, flow, and transitions, and change the structure and order of your paragraphs. Ensure that all of your ideas are well developed and that all of your claims are backed up by solid evidence. Some section headings may be necessary.

Editing is the next stage. You must check for and remove filler words and phrases, improve word choice, and correct punctuation and grammar errors if any are discovered. Look for the following:

  • Incomplete sentences in the paragraph.
  • Correction of a spelling mistake.
  • Possessives and plurals mistakes.

You will have to go over your paper several times before you are satisfied with it. Reading your paper backward is a smart strategy. You will become slightly disoriented due to this, and you will be able to detect more errors. It would help if you began by reading the last sentence, then checking the second to last sentence, and so on until you reach your first sentence.

It would help if you asked your friends or family members to look over your research paper and provide feedback. They should look for inconsistencies in usage, grammar, or mechanics and evaluate your argument, transitions, and balance. Request feedback from your friends, and make suggested changes if you believe they are appropriate. Finally, print and proofread your paper to correct any minor errors or typos and ensure that your outstanding research paper is error-free.

Conclusion

After spending much time and energy introducing and arguing the paper’s main body points, the conclusion brings everything together and underlines its meaning. A stimulating, informative conclusion leaves the reader informed and satisfied.

A meaningful conclusion, when read individually from the rest of the research paper, will win appreciation. You can also suggest some fascinating ideas and points for further investigation and demonstrate why you think they are important.