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Monday Apr 09, 2018

A Guide on How to Write a Research Paper Outline

Wonder how to write a research paper outline? Don't worry because you are not the only one who can't figure it out. First of all, let's make sure you understand what a research paper outline is. Generally speaking, it is a logical organization of a text, including its parts, paragraphs, and subparagraphs. Here are some tips for writing a research paper outline which will surely help. It should have the titles of paragraphs and subparagraphs of the text, an introductory part and conclusion. It reflects the sections your research will have. You compose an outline to make sure that you don't miss some important thoughts and that everything is well-structured. As soon as your paper is ready, you should proofread and edit the outline. An outline for a research paper is as important as the paper itself. Many students miss this step, diminishing its overall impact. Use our research paper outline guide to learn how to outline a research paper.

The structure of a research paper outline

  • Writing an outline for a research paper, check the requirements of your professor. Include all subtopics you are going to discuss, and make sure each has arguments and counterarguments to reflect your main idea.
  • Your thesis statement should reflect the topic, the general idea of the paper and have the author's comment showing their opinion on the matter.
  • Prepare a draft variant of the outline.
  • If making outline is a part of your assignment, follow the instructions you were given. They can contain hints concerning the outline strategies and the type of the outline for particularly your paper.
  • In case the outline is written for your purposes only, make sure to organize it as you see fit. You can include as many details as you want. It is also logical to write a more detailed outline for yourself even if the requirements are different.
  • Having finished writing, proofread it and make sure it's logically structured.

Research paper outline format

When it comes to the outline format for a research paper, you can use many strategies, selection of which depends on the topic and your teacher's instructions. Some of the most common types is an outline with letters or (and) numbers. Outline covers main ideas, subtopics, subdivisions and its details. The more points you want to include, the more complex outline you'll have.

  • Use Roman letters to represent the heading with the main topics
  • Use uppercase letters for subtopics
  • Use Arabic numbers to represent details (part of a subtopic)
  • Use lowercase letters for points within subparts

You can use full sentences to make the title of each outline part. As a rule, it will be one of the first sentences in the paragraph or any corresponding section which reflects the main idea of the passage. You can also use shorter writing phrases which inform the reader about the content. It is very common for the APA style.

Working on academic assignments, you will meet several common styles, such as APA, MLA, Harvard Business Style, Chicago Turabian, etc. These styles are used in academic writing, and each of them has its peculiar features and rules to follow. Your teacher will check your paper's compliance with these rules, and in case you couldn't follow them or missed something, it will be reflected in your grade. Typically, APA and MLA academic styles are mostly used in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Both of them have a lot of differences starting from citation rules to the way you write the author's name. Sometimes it can influence the way you structure your papers.

How to create an APA research paper outline

If you have to write using the APA format, you should follow the general rules of creating the outline. It starts with a title which you are to write in uppercase letters. Next step is ordering your topics and sub-topics. Point out the main thesis you are covering and add other details into subheadings. As a variant, you can create a list of possible outline headings, and then, in the process of writing or even at the last stages, you could choose the most appropriate options. The outline has to show the logical flow of your ideas. Hence, each main heading and corresponding sub-headings should contain only essential information. In most of the cases, APA research paper outline is created using Roman numerals, capital and lowercase letters to add more sub-headings if it is needed.

Specific features of an MLA research paper outline

The way you create MLA research paper outline is a bit different. Here, you don't need a title page. You'll have a header with your name, name of your teacher or instructor, the course and the date. Write the word "Outline" in the center of the page. You should start with the thesis of the paper, so do not begin using subheadings. The outline for an MLA paper follows standard rules, so you start with Roman numerals, then uppercase letters, Arabic numerals and lowercase letters if needed. It is better to use full sentence outline structure, in case your paper should be formatted in MLA.

Research paper outline example

Regardless of the core idea, your outline should have an introduction, where you give some background information about your topic, relevance of your research and thesis statement. In the main body, you present your arguments and ideas, and in conclusion, you introduce general results of your research. Don't forget to add the references to the sources you used.

Example: Human trafficking research paper outline

If your topic is about human trafficking, you will need to create an outline. This is how an outline of a human trafficking research paper may look.

I. Introduction

A. What is human trafficking?

B. Main causes of human trafficking

II. The current global situation with human trafficking.

A. Demographics of human trafficking

B. Social conditions of the most vulnerable subgroups

III. Fighting human trafficking

A. Penalties for human traffickers

B. Ways of victim protection and rehabilitation

C. International cooperation

IV. Conclusion

Example: Gun control research paper outline

Depending on the aspect you are to research, the outline may vary, as these are just general guidelines.

I. Introduction

A. Background information. History and government laws.

B. The controversy over gun control nowadays

II. The US constitutional right to keep and bear firearms

A. Guns provide protection

B. The gun bans will cause more crimes

III. Gun control will reduce unjustified deaths

A. Mental health crisis and gun control issue

B. School and mass shootings - can we prevent them?

C. The importance of gun control in a modern society

IV. Conclusion

Need research paper outline help?

Now you know the main differences between the APA and MLA outlines. We hope this short article will help you structure your paper so that you won't miss any important ideas. However, creating an outline might seem a bit difficult, especially if you have never tried to do that before. In case you need help with research paper outline or some help with academic writing, feel free to use our services.

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