Home Blog Writing A Research Paper - A Step by Step Guide Research Paper Outline - A Complete Guide with Examples

Research Paper Outline - A Complete Guide with Examples

Research Paper Outline - A Complete Guide with Examples

A research paper is a compulsory academic writing task. It is an important activity to check the writing and research abilities of students. However, it takes time to write a good research paper, so you need to create a plan before you start writing.

It is a bit tricky and hard to write an outline. You need to write it carefully, or the ideas will get mixed up. But after you do, it will be worth the work.

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Research Paper Outline Example

A research paper outline could be created in several different ways. Here is a sample research paper outline for a quick review;

Research Paper Example: Typhoid and the Usefulness of Vaccination

  1. Introduction
    1. Definition of Typhoid
    2. Rise in the cases, especially in previously ‘clean’ places
    3. Data and Figures: Surge in the number of cases and number of patients
  2. Dangers of Typhoid
    1. The disease’s symptoms and time period
    2. Risk and chances of death, based on recent statistics
    3. How does Typhoid spread?
  3. Methods of Prevention and Widespread Doubts
    1. Vaccination methods in different places
    2. The usefulness of vaccination - arguments regarding why it is recommended and why some groups are against it.
      1. Arguments related to opposing beliefs of different regions and groups
      2. Arguments related to details supporting the vaccination
      3. Discussion of a Typhoid case and usefulness of the vaccination
  4. Special and Specific Cases of the Disease Outbreak
    1. Outbreaks in Canada, SIngapore, Australia, and UK
      1. The percentage of vaccinated people in the area
    2. The number of cases among the unvaccinated groups
  5. Typhoid and other Related Diseases
    1. Dangers of Typhoid as an initiator of other diseases
      1. Diseases that could occur as a result of Typhoid
      2. Rate of fatality after a person contracts Typhoid
  6. Conclusion
    1. Summary of the main arguments
    2. Summary of the data and figures in association with the vaccination
    3. Main concluding statement
      1. How useful is the Typhoid vaccination in preventing the disease?

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Research Paper Outline Template

You can format your research paper outline in three different ways. Here is how to use each type of outline template for formatting;

Alphanumeric Outline

An alphanumeric outline uses Roman numerals, capital letters, lowercase letters, and arabic numerals.

Example

  1. Paragraph 1
    1. First argument
      1. First sub-point
        1. First sub-point of the sub-point 1

Full-sentence Outline

Each point is detailed and the text is written in full sentences.

Example

  1. First paragraph of the research paper
    1. First claim to support the argument
      1. Sub-point to discuss point A
        1. Sub-point of subpoint1 to conclude the point A

Decimal Outline

The decimal outline uses numbers instead of letters.

Example

  1. First paragraph
    1. 1.1. First point
      1. 1.1.1. First sub-point
      2. 1.1.2. Second sub-point
  2. Second paragraph

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How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

steps for a research paper outline

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The following is a detailed explanation of the steps to write a college research paper outline.

Cover or Title page

A paper should have the title in it. It should discuss what the paper is about and how it will help in proving the arguments. This section includes the following elements.

  • Student’s full name
  • Name of the instructor
  • Course title and code
  • Submission date

Abstract

The abstract is a short summary of your paper. It should be five to six sentences long and includes the main information. It comes after the title page and mainly focuses on:

  • The main arguments
  • The research methods
  • The subject matter
  • Participants
  • Outcomes

Ensure the abstract should not exceed the ⅓ of the page, i.e., about 150 to 200 words.

Table of Contents

The table of contents will summarize the chapters and sections in an organized manner. It also includes the title and descriptions of the headings and subheadings.

This section provides readers with a complete overview of the document’s contents. It is good to have a table of contents. It helps you know what is in your research paper, and it allows the audience to go directly to a specific section.

Research Paper Introduction

The introduction is the most important part of any research paper. It should present the topic and answer the research question. Similarly, it must also explain the importance of the subject matter for the audience.

The central aim is to grab the reader’s attention with the help of strong arguments. Thus, this section must be engaging and interesting enough.

Below are the four main elements to write a compelling introduction:

  • A Hook - An engaging start to persuade the readers to read more. It is about 1 to 2 sentences in length.
  • Background Information - It presents the historical background of the topic along with the general information for better understanding.
  • Thesis Statement - It explains the major points of your paper that discuss why the topic is of great importance. Thus, it must be clear, specific, and to the point.
  • Define the Audience - Understand and define your target audience. Explain the reasons why they are interested in reading your content.

Research Paper Body

The body is the main section of your research paper. It consists of several paragraphs that include the relevant information, examples, and evidence to support your argument.

You can also provide counterarguments and opposing facts. Such factors help the reader to get an idea about your understanding of the topic.

Make sure the paper should remain consistent from the beginning to the end. The style, tone, and citation should be according to the required format.

Literature Review

This section will explain how the literature you used to support your theory has influenced and helped guide your research. It also identifies the research gaps in the existing data.

Method

Here, you will present the techniques and types of equipment that you have employed to carry out the research work. Keep in mind that the methods can vary according to the subject matter.

Thus, you need to give a detailed explanation of how you have conducted the research.

Results

A good research paper has facts and figures to justify the argument. In this section, you will focus on the findings of your paper. Make sure to add as many facts, statistics, and numbers as possible.

Use tables and graphs to be more precise and structured. Remember to tell the audience how the outcome has contributed to the field of study as a whole.

Discussion

Most students get confused between the results and discussion. There is a simple line that separates both.

Results focus on facts and figures. However, in the discussion section, a writer makes sure whether the expected results are achieved or not.

Research Paper Conclusion

The conclusion is the final part of your research work that summarizes the main arguments.

It also restates the thesis, goals, and methods used to achieve the results.

There is no need to provide a detailed explanation. Instead, just give a general overview. Also, formulate the prospect for future research and a call to action to provoke the readers.

Keep in mind; the conclusion should not be longer than the abstract.

Bibliography and Appendix

Mention all the sources that you have used in your text in the bibliography section. Similarly, add facts, tables, images, and charts in Appendix, but in some formats, the appendix is not required.

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Research Paper Outline Samples

Below you can find an example of an outline for a research paper to understand and create an outline for your own paper clearly.

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Why is a Research Paper Outline Important?

A research paper outline is basically a blueprint for a complete subject. It serves as a mindmap and a plan of action that most students follow throughout the writing process.

The following are the benefits of creating a well-structured outline.

  • It organizes all the thoughts and ideas in one place.
  • It provides a detailed structure for your future research work.
  • It demonstrates your understanding and vision of a particular topic.
  • The outline helps to avoid any possible mistakes by shaping a topic.
  • It helps not to skip any important points.
  • It gives an idea for the future headings of the paper.
  • It provides an understanding of the flow of information and how ideas are related.
  • It gives the audience a clear idea of what is included in the paper.

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