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Research Paper Outline - A Complete Writing Guide

Research Paper Outline - A Complete Writing Guide

So you have to write a research paper? Maybe you don't want it, but it is a compulsory task of academic writing both in high school as well as in college.

At least once during your school year, you face the necessity to create a research paper but the fact it cannot be done without creating a research paper outline.

A research paper is composed by keeping in mind an in-depth approach to the relevant literature. We can also say, this piece of work lets you write your own evaluation or interpretation of a particular topic. It is more than just a review on a literature piece of work.

Writing an outline for a research paper is an important part of every student’s life and quite a challenging one. It is important to spend some quality time to create a well-structured outline for writing an effective research paper.

1. What Is Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is basically a blueprint for a complete subject. It provides help to draw a map that the students have to follow throughout the process of writing without skipping any important point.

In other words, the research paper outline serves as a plan to take action. It helps you to stay at the top of things without having to worry about the length of project or its complexity.

This serves as a roadmap and without crafting it especially for a lengthy piece of information can complicate things for you in the future. It not only complicates things but can also result in poor quality work that eventually results in low grades.

This is obviously you don't want to happen. So below you can find a step by step guide to craft a winning research paper outline.

2. How To Write a Research Paper Outline

Writing an outline for the research paper is not an easy task. When it comes to the point of writing a research paper outline. There are some rules that need to be kept in mind.

These rules will help students to organize and go through the tasks without any disappointment.

The basic rules include:

  • Choose an interesting topic
  • Find cite sources to explore
  • Choose an outline format
  • Create a list of elements for your paper and properly section them into categories. (you can even label each part in Roman numerals for easy understanding).
  • Research Paper Outline Samples and Templates

Now let's talk about these major points in detail.

2.1 Choose an Interesting Topic

It is very important to select an interesting top. Not only it will help you to that will engage your audience to sit and listen to you but it will also help you succeed in the writing process as well.

Below you can find various criteria to help you choose a topic.

  • Passion
  • Availability of sources
  • Different perspective on the subject

Here is a list of research paper topics to help you choose one for your paper. After deciding the topic, it is time to start the research.

2.2 Find Credible Sources

In this era of time, the internet would be the first thought. Without any doubt, it is the first and the simplest solution one can find.

But you need to keep in mind a number of things:

Firstly, the Internet is not always the source of reliable information. So it is important to check for the credibility of the information.

Secondly, not all tutors consider this to be the best option. So, in that case, we recommend you to go to them and ask for suggestions.

2.3 Choose an Outline Format

It is most likely that every college uses a specific format to structure the paper. So it makes sense that the APA format paper will be different from the format of MLA no matter what format you choose, but make sure it must contain the detailed outline for the paper.

Therefore, it is important for you to carefully choose the format. You can also explore our complete guide on APA format.

MLA Format Outline

  1. The student and professor’s name, class, and date appear on the first page.
  2. The header contains the page numbers at the upper right corner.
  3. All titles to be written in italics.
  4. A complete list with endnotes before cited works.
  5. Subheadings with Arabic numbers.

APA Format Outline

  1. It must include a separate cover page.
  2. The cover page features the title, name of the author, university, and running head.
  3. The header contains page numbers and title of the paper.
  4. APA format usually requires to include Abstract.
  5. A list of cited sources entitled "References."

2.4 Research Paper Outline Samples and Templates

Of course, it is of great help to follow an example. So it is important for you to check a variety of websites for helpful samples and compelling templates.

You can consider:

  • University websites
  • Our Blog
  • The Internet.

Now you know the basic rules for writing a research paper outline. It's time to look into its components.

2.5 Standard Outline Format

After you are done with the prewriting activities, you are all set to write an effective research paper outline. It is the basis for creating a successful, more detailed and high-quality research paper.

The simplest outline format for a research paper looks like this:


  • Hook statement.
  • Define the audience.
  • A strong Thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs

  1. Arguments to support the thesis.


  1. Summary of arguments.
  2. Call to action.

3. Components of Effective Research Paper Outline

The next step is to decide the components your paper should have and what exactly you are going to talk about in them.

There are some important elements a research paper outline should have.

3.1 Cover or Title page

It should contain the title of the paper written within 60 characters.

Your full name, Name of the tutor, and Submission date.

3.2 Abstract

Here you will have to briefly summarize your paper by focusing on the main points and the methods that you have used to get the specific results.

Make sure the abstract should not exceed the ⅓ of the page (it should be around 200 words)

3.3 Table of contents

This section will summarize the chapters and the section in an organized manner.

3.4 Introduction

The introduction part should answer the question and explain why this piece is important for the reader. Your objective is to catch the reader's attention with the help of the strongest argument to support your thesis statement.

An introduction should contain the following things:

  1. A hook (an engaging start)
  2. Background information
  3. A thesis statement

3.5 Methods

It depends on the subject you are writing the paper for. Keep in mind that method can vary. Therefore, you have to explain how you have conducted the research.

You are required to mention the technologies, types of equipment and the technologies that you have used.

3.6 Results

A good research paper is the one that has facts and figures to justify the argument. In this section you will have to focus on the findings on your research paper by using a strong supportive argument.

Make sure to add as many facts, statistics and numbers as possible.

3.7 Discussion

It is unfortunate to see that students still get confused between Results and Discussion.

There is a simple line that separates both. Results focus on facts and figures while discussion makes sure whether the expected results are achieved or not.

3.8 Conclusion

In this section, restate your research thesis, goals and methods that you have used to achieve the expected results.

The conclusion should not be longer than the abstract.

3.9 Bibliography and Appendix

Lastly, mention all the sources that you have used in your text. Do not forget any references in the bibliography section.

If there are any facts, tables, images, and charts in your paper. Add them in the section of the Appendix.

Keep in mind that it depends on the format as well. In some formats, there might be cases where the appendix is not required at all.

These are some components that a good outline should have. If it is not enough, you can find a sample of a research paper outline for better understanding.

4. Sample Outline For Research Papers

Below you can find a sample Research paper outline to help you clearly understand and create an outline for your own research paper.

To clarify your concept further, review these research paper examples.

Get Professional Help

If you are still confused about how to write a research paper outline. Then you are at the right place and you don't need to give up.

You can fully trust us we are here to help you write your perfect research paper outline or even a complete research paper from scratch.

So don't waste time and contact MyPerfectWords and get your winning research paper outline according to your selected format.

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