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Research Paper Outline – Types, Example, Template

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Research Paper Outline

By creating a well-structured research paper outline, writers can easily organize their thoughts and ideas and ensure that their final paper is clear, concise, and effective. In this article, we will explore the essential components of a research paper outline and provide some tips and tricks for creating a successful one.

Research Paper Outline

Research paper outline is a plan or a structural framework that organizes the main ideas , arguments, and supporting evidence in a logical sequence. It serves as a blueprint or a roadmap for the writer to follow while drafting the actual research paper .

Typically, an outline consists of the following elements:

  • Introduction : This section presents the topic, research question , and thesis statement of the paper. It also provides a brief overview of the literature review and the methodology used.
  • Literature Review: This section provides a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, theories, and concepts related to the research topic. It analyzes the existing research and identifies the research gaps and research questions.
  • Methodology: This section explains the research design, data collection methods, data analysis, and ethical considerations of the study.
  • Results: This section presents the findings of the study, using tables, graphs, and statistics to illustrate the data.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results of the study, and discusses their implications, significance, and limitations. It also suggests future research directions.
  • Conclusion : This section summarizes the main findings of the study and restates the thesis statement.
  • References: This section lists all the sources cited in the paper using the appropriate citation style.

Research Paper Outline Types

There are several types of outlines that can be used for research papers, including:

Alphanumeric Outline

This is a traditional outline format that uses Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is commonly used for longer, more complex research papers.

I. Introduction

  • A. Background information
  • B. Thesis statement
  • 1 1. Supporting detail
  • 1 2. Supporting detail 2
  • 2 1. Supporting detail

III. Conclusion

  • A. Restate thesis
  • B. Summarize main points

Decimal Outline

This outline format uses numbers to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is similar to the alphanumeric outline, but it uses only numbers and decimals to indicate the hierarchy of the ideas.

  • 1.1 Background information
  • 1.2 Thesis statement
  • 1 2.1.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.1.2 Supporting detail
  • 2 2.2.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.2.2 Supporting detail
  • 3.1 Restate thesis
  • 3.2 Summarize main points

Full Sentence Outline

This type of outline uses complete sentences to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see the entire paper outlined in complete sentences.

  • Provide background information on the topic
  • State the thesis statement
  • Explain main idea 1 and provide supporting details
  • Discuss main idea 2 and provide supporting details
  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the main points of the paper

Topic Outline

This type of outline uses short phrases or words to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see a more concise overview of the paper.

  • Background information
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting detail 1
  • Supporting detail 2
  • Restate thesis
  • Summarize main points

Reverse Outline

This is an outline that is created after the paper has been written. It involves going back through the paper and summarizing each paragraph or section in one sentence. This can be useful for identifying gaps in the paper or areas that need further development.

  • Introduction : Provides background information and states the thesis statement.
  • Paragraph 1: Discusses main idea 1 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 2: Discusses main idea 2 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 3: Addresses potential counterarguments.
  • Conclusion : Restates thesis and summarizes main points.

Mind Map Outline

This type of outline involves creating a visual representation of the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It can be useful for those who prefer a more creative and visual approach to outlining.

  • Supporting detail 1: Lack of funding for public schools.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in government support for education.
  • Supporting detail 1: Increase in income inequality.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in social mobility.

Research Paper Outline Example

Research Paper Outline Example on Cyber Security:

A. Overview of Cybersecurity

  • B. Importance of Cybersecurity
  • C. Purpose of the paper

II. Cyber Threats

A. Definition of Cyber Threats

  • B. Types of Cyber Threats
  • C. Examples of Cyber Threats

III. Cybersecurity Measures

A. Prevention measures

  • Anti-virus software
  • Encryption B. Detection measures
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) C. Response measures
  • Incident Response Plan
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Plan

IV. Cybersecurity in the Business World

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in the Business World

B. Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Business

V. Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

VI. Cybersecurity Ethics

A. Definition of Cybersecurity Ethics

B. Importance of Cybersecurity Ethics

C. Examples of Cybersecurity Ethics

VII. Future of Cybersecurity

A. Overview of the Future of Cybersecurity

B. Emerging Cybersecurity Threats

C. Advancements in Cybersecurity Technology

VIII. Conclusion

A. Summary of the paper

B. Recommendations for Cybersecurity

  • C. Conclusion.

IX. References

A. List of sources cited in the paper

B. Bibliography of additional resources


Cybersecurity refers to the protection of computer systems, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, damage, or any other form of cyber attack. B. Importance of Cybersecurity The increasing reliance on technology and the growing number of cyber threats make cybersecurity an essential aspect of modern society. Cybersecurity breaches can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. C. Purpose of the paper This paper aims to provide an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

A cyber threat is any malicious act or event that attempts to compromise or disrupt computer systems, networks, or sensitive data. B. Types of Cyber Threats Common types of cyber threats include malware, phishing, social engineering, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APTs). C. Examples of Cyber Threats Recent cyber threats include the SolarWinds supply chain attack, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, and the Microsoft Exchange Server hack.

Prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of cyber attacks by implementing security controls, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption.

  • Firewalls Firewalls act as a barrier between a computer network and the internet, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Anti-virus software Anti-virus software detects, prevents, and removes malware from computer systems.
  • Encryption Encryption involves the use of mathematical algorithms to transform sensitive data into a code that can only be accessed by authorized individuals. B. Detection measures Detection measures aim to identify and respond to cyber attacks as quickly as possible, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM), and security operations centers (SOCs).
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) IDS monitors network traffic for signs of unauthorized access, such as unusual patterns or anomalies.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) SIEM combines security information management and security event management to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of security alerts.
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) SOC is a dedicated team responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and responding to cyber threats. C. Response measures Response measures aim to mitigate the impact of a cyber attack and restore normal operations, such as incident response plans (IRPs), business continuity plans (BCPs), and disaster recovery plans (DRPs).
  • Incident Response Plan IRPs outline the procedures and protocols to follow in the event of a cyber attack, including communication protocols, roles and responsibilities, and recovery processes.
  • Business Continuity Plan BCPs ensure that critical business functions can continue in the event of a cyber attack or other disruption.
  • Disaster Recovery Plan DRPs outline the procedures to recover from a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster or cyber attack.

Cybersecurity is crucial for businesses of all sizes and industries, as they handle sensitive data, financial transactions, and intellectual property that are attractive targets for cyber criminals.

Risk assessment is a critical step in developing a cybersecurity strategy, which involves identifying potential threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences to determine the level of risk and prioritize security measures.

Best practices for cybersecurity in business include implementing strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, regularly updating software and hardware, training employees on cybersecurity awareness, and regularly backing up data.

Government organizations face unique cybersecurity challenges, as they handle sensitive information related to national security, defense, and critical infrastructure.

Risk assessment in government organizations involves identifying and assessing potential threats and vulnerabilities, conducting regular audits, and complying with relevant regulations and standards.

Best practices for cybersecurity in government organizations include implementing secure communication protocols, regularly updating and patching software, and conducting regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs for employees.

Cybersecurity ethics refers to the ethical considerations involved in cybersecurity, such as privacy, data protection, and the responsible use of technology.

Cybersecurity ethics are crucial for maintaining trust in technology, protecting privacy and data, and promoting responsible behavior in the digital world.

Examples of cybersecurity ethics include protecting the privacy of user data, ensuring data accuracy and integrity, and implementing fair and unbiased algorithms.

The future of cybersecurity will involve a shift towards more advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and quantum computing.

Emerging cybersecurity threats include AI-powered cyber attacks, the use of deepfakes and synthetic media, and the potential for quantum computing to break current encryption methods.

Advancements in cybersecurity technology include the development of AI and machine learning-based security tools, the use of blockchain for secure data storage and sharing, and the development of post-quantum encryption methods.

This paper has provided an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

To enhance cybersecurity, organizations should prioritize risk assessment and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes prevention, detection, and response measures. Additionally, organizations should prioritize cybersecurity ethics to promote responsible behavior in the digital world.

C. Conclusion

Cybersecurity is an essential aspect of modern society, and organizations must prioritize cybersecurity to protect sensitive data and maintain trust in technology.

for further reading

X. Appendices

A. Glossary of key terms

B. Cybersecurity checklist for organizations

C. Sample cybersecurity policy for businesses

D. Sample cybersecurity incident response plan

E. Cybersecurity training and awareness resources

Note : The content and organization of the paper may vary depending on the specific requirements of the assignment or target audience. This outline serves as a general guide for writing a research paper on cybersecurity. Do not use this in your assingmets.

Research Paper Outline Template

  • Background information and context of the research topic
  • Research problem and questions
  • Purpose and objectives of the research
  • Scope and limitations

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing research on the topic
  • Key concepts and theories related to the research problem
  • Identification of gaps in the literature
  • Summary of relevant studies and their findings

III. Methodology

  • Research design and approach
  • Data collection methods and procedures
  • Data analysis techniques
  • Validity and reliability considerations
  • Ethical considerations

IV. Results

  • Presentation of research findings
  • Analysis and interpretation of data
  • Explanation of significant results
  • Discussion of unexpected results

V. Discussion

  • Comparison of research findings with existing literature
  • Implications of results for theory and practice
  • Limitations and future directions for research
  • Conclusion and recommendations

VI. Conclusion

  • Summary of research problem, purpose, and objectives
  • Discussion of significant findings
  • Contribution to the field of study
  • Implications for practice
  • Suggestions for future research

VII. References

  • List of sources cited in the research paper using appropriate citation style.

Note : This is just an template, and depending on the requirements of your assignment or the specific research topic, you may need to modify or adjust the sections or headings accordingly.

Research Paper Outline Writing Guide

Here’s a guide to help you create an effective research paper outline:

  • Choose a topic : Select a topic that is interesting, relevant, and meaningful to you.
  • Conduct research: Gather information on the topic from a variety of sources, such as books, articles, journals, and websites.
  • Organize your ideas: Organize your ideas and information into logical groups and subgroups. This will help you to create a clear and concise outline.
  • Create an outline: Begin your outline with an introduction that includes your thesis statement. Then, organize your ideas into main points and subpoints. Each main point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Introduction: The introduction of your research paper should include the thesis statement, background information, and the purpose of the research paper.
  • Body : The body of your research paper should include the main points and subpoints. Each point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion of your research paper should summarize the main points and restate the thesis statement.
  • Reference List: Include a reference list at the end of your research paper. Make sure to properly cite all sources used in the paper.
  • Proofreading : Proofread your research paper to ensure that it is free of errors and grammatical mistakes.
  • Finalizing : Finalize your research paper by reviewing the outline and making any necessary changes.

When to Write Research Paper Outline

It’s a good idea to write a research paper outline before you begin drafting your paper. The outline will help you organize your thoughts and ideas, and it can serve as a roadmap for your writing process.

Here are a few situations when you might want to consider writing an outline:

  • When you’re starting a new research project: If you’re beginning a new research project, an outline can help you get organized from the very beginning. You can use your outline to brainstorm ideas, map out your research goals, and identify potential sources of information.
  • When you’re struggling to organize your thoughts: If you find yourself struggling to organize your thoughts or make sense of your research, an outline can be a helpful tool. It can help you see the big picture of your project and break it down into manageable parts.
  • When you’re working with a tight deadline : If you have a deadline for your research paper, an outline can help you stay on track and ensure that you cover all the necessary points. By mapping out your paper in advance, you can work more efficiently and avoid getting stuck or overwhelmed.

Purpose of Research Paper Outline

The purpose of a research paper outline is to provide a structured and organized plan for the writer to follow while conducting research and writing the paper. An outline is essentially a roadmap that guides the writer through the entire research process, from the initial research and analysis of the topic to the final writing and editing of the paper.

A well-constructed outline can help the writer to:

  • Organize their thoughts and ideas on the topic, and ensure that all relevant information is included.
  • Identify any gaps in their research or argument, and address them before starting to write the paper.
  • Ensure that the paper follows a logical and coherent structure, with clear transitions between different sections.
  • Save time and effort by providing a clear plan for the writer to follow, rather than starting from scratch and having to revise the paper multiple times.

Advantages of Research Paper Outline

Some of the key advantages of a research paper outline include:

  • Helps to organize thoughts and ideas : An outline helps to organize all the different ideas and information that you want to include in your paper. By creating an outline, you can ensure that all the points you want to make are covered and in a logical order.
  • Saves time and effort : An outline saves time and effort because it helps you to focus on the key points of your paper. It also helps you to identify any gaps or areas where more research may be needed.
  • Makes the writing process easier : With an outline, you have a clear roadmap of what you want to write, and this makes the writing process much easier. You can simply follow your outline and fill in the details as you go.
  • Improves the quality of your paper : By having a clear outline, you can ensure that all the important points are covered and in a logical order. This makes your paper more coherent and easier to read, which ultimately improves its overall quality.
  • Facilitates collaboration: If you are working on a research paper with others, an outline can help to facilitate collaboration. By sharing your outline, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

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Getting started with your research paper outline

outline examples for research paper

Levels of organization for a research paper outline

First level of organization, second level of organization, third level of organization, fourth level of organization, tips for writing a research paper outline, research paper outline template, my research paper outline is complete: what are the next steps, frequently asked questions about a research paper outline, related articles.

The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline.

A research paper outline typically contains between two and four layers of organization. The first two layers are the most generalized. Each layer thereafter will contain the research you complete and presents more and more detailed information.

The levels are typically represented by a combination of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, uppercase letters, lowercase letters but may include other symbols. Refer to the guidelines provided by your institution, as formatting is not universal and differs between universities, fields, and subjects. If you are writing the outline for yourself, you may choose any combination you prefer.

This is the most generalized level of information. Begin by numbering the introduction, each idea you will present, and the conclusion. The main ideas contain the bulk of your research paper 's information. Depending on your research, it may be chapters of a book for a literature review , a series of dates for a historical research paper, or the methods and results of a scientific paper.

I. Introduction

II. Main idea

III. Main idea

IV. Main idea

V. Conclusion

The second level consists of topics which support the introduction, main ideas, and the conclusion. Each main idea should have at least two supporting topics listed in the outline.

If your main idea does not have enough support, you should consider presenting another main idea in its place. This is where you should stop outlining if this is your first draft. Continue your research before adding to the next levels of organization.

  • A. Background information
  • B. Hypothesis or thesis
  • A. Supporting topic
  • B. Supporting topic

The third level of organization contains supporting information for the topics previously listed. By now, you should have completed enough research to add support for your ideas.

The Introduction and Main Ideas may contain information you discovered about the author, timeframe, or contents of a book for a literature review; the historical events leading up to the research topic for a historical research paper, or an explanation of the problem a scientific research paper intends to address.

  • 1. Relevant history
  • 2. Relevant history
  • 1. The hypothesis or thesis clearly stated
  • 1. A brief description of supporting information
  • 2. A brief description of supporting information

The fourth level of organization contains the most detailed information such as quotes, references, observations, or specific data needed to support the main idea. It is not typical to have further levels of organization because the information contained here is the most specific.

  • a) Quotes or references to another piece of literature
  • b) Quotes or references to another piece of literature

Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity.

  • Be Consistent : ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organize Information : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Build Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

By now, you should know the basic requirements to create an outline for your paper. With a content framework in place, you can now start writing your paper . To help you start right away, you can use one of our templates and adjust it to suit your needs.

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After completing your outline, you should:

  • Title your research paper . This is an iterative process and may change when you delve deeper into the topic.
  • Begin writing your research paper draft . Continue researching to further build your outline and provide more information to support your hypothesis or thesis.
  • Format your draft appropriately . MLA 8 and APA 7 formats have differences between their bibliography page, in-text citations, line spacing, and title.
  • Finalize your citations and bibliography . Use a reference manager like Paperpile to organize and cite your research.
  • Write the abstract, if required . An abstract will briefly state the information contained within the paper, results of the research, and the conclusion.

An outline is used to organize written ideas about a topic into a logical order. Outlines help us organize major topics, subtopics, and supporting details. Researchers benefit greatly from outlines while writing by addressing which topic to cover in what order.

The most basic outline format consists of: an introduction, a minimum of three topic paragraphs, and a conclusion.

You should make an outline before starting to write your research paper. This will help you organize the main ideas and arguments you want to present in your topic.

  • Consistency: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organization : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

outline examples for research paper

How to create a helpful research paper outline

Last updated

21 December 2023

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You need to structure your research paper in an orderly way that makes it easy for readers to follow your reasoning and supporting data. That's where a research paper outline can help.

Writing a research paper outline will help you arrange your ideas logically and allow your final paper to flow. It will make the entire process more manageable and help you work out which details to include and which are better left out.

  • What is a research paper outline?

Write your research paper outline before starting your first draft. The outline provides a map of how you will structure your ideas throughout the paper. A research paper outline will help you to be more efficient when ordering the sections of your thesis, rather than trying to make structural changes after finishing an entire first draft.

An outline consists of the main topics and subtopics of your paper, listed in a logical order. The main topics will become the sections of your research paper, and the subtopics reveal the content you want to include or discuss under the main topics.

Under each subtopic, you can also jot down items you don't want to forget to include in your research paper, such as:

Topic ideas

Paragraph ideas

Direct quotes

Once you start listing these under your main topics, you can focus your thoughts as you plan and write the research paper using the evidence and data you collected and any additional information.

  • Why use an outline?

If your research paper does not have a clear, logical order, readers may not understand the ideas you're trying to share, or they may lose interest and not bother to read the whole paper. An outline helps you structure your research paper so readers can easily connect the content, ideas, and theories you're trying to prove or maintain.

  • Are there different kinds of research paper outlines?

Different kinds of research paper outlines might seem similar but have different purposes. You can select an outline type that provides a clear road map and thoroughly explores each point. 

Other types will help structure content logically or with a segmented flow and progression of ideas that align closely with the theme of your research.

  • The 3 types of outlines

The three outline formats available to research paper writers are:

Alphanumeric or topic outlines

Sentence or full-sentence outlines

Decimal outlines

Let’s look at the differences between each type and see how one may be more beneficial than another, depending on the nature of your research.

This type of research paper outline allows you to segment main headings and subheadings with an alphanumeric arrangement.

The alphanumeric characters of Roman numerals, capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters define the hierarchy of main topic headings, subtopic headings, and third- and fourth-tier subtopic headings. (e.g., I, A, 1, a)

This method uses minimal words to describe the main and subtopic headings. You'll mostly use this type of research paper outline to focus on the organization of the content while allowing you to review it for unrelated or irrelevant information.

Full-sentence outlines

You will format this type of research paper outline as an alphanumeric outline, using the same alphanumeric characters. However, it contains complete sentences rather than a few words for each main and subtopic heading.

This formatting method allows the writer to focus on looking for inaccuracies and inconsistencies in each point before starting the first draft.

Instead of using alphanumeric characters to define main headings, subheadings, and third- and fourth-tier subheadings, the decimal outline uses a decimal numbering system.

This system shows a logical progression of the content by using 1.0 for the main section heading (and 2.0, 3.0, etc., for subsequent sections), 1.1 for the subheading, 1.1.1 for a third-tier subheading, and for the fourth-tier subheading.

The headings and subheadings will be just a few words, as in the alphanumerical research paper outline. Decimal outlines allow the writer to focus on the content's overall coherence, increasing your writing efficiency and reducing the time it takes to write your research paper.

  • How to write a research paper outline

Before you begin your research paper outline, you need to determine your topic and gather your information. Let’s look at these steps first, then dive into how to write your outline.

1. Determine your topic

You'll need to establish a topic or the main point you intend to write about.

For example, you may want to research and write about whether influencers are the most beneficial way to promote products in your industry. This topic is the main point around which your essay will revolve.

2. Gather information

You'll need evidence, data, statistics, and facts to prove or disprove that influencers are the best method of promoting products in your industry.

You'll insert any of these things you collect to substantiate your findings into the outline to support your topic.

3. Determine the type of essay you'll be writing

There are many types of essays or research papers you can write. The kinds of essays include:

Argumentative: Builds logic and support for an argument

Cause and effect: Explains relationships between specific conditions and their results

Analytical: Presents a claim on what is being analyzed

Interpretive: Informative and persuasive explanations on how something is perceived

Experimental: Reports on experimental results and the reasoning behind the results

Review: Offers an understanding and analysis of primary sources on a given topic

Definition: Defines what a term or concept means

Persuasive: Uses logic and reason to show that one idea is more justified than another

Narrative: Tells a story of personal experience from the author’s point of view

Expository: Shows an objective view of a subject by exploring various angles

Descriptive: Describes objects, people, places, experiences, emotions, situations, etc.

Once you understand the essay format you are writing, you'll know how to structure your outline. 

4. Include basic sections

You'll begin to structure your outline using basic sections. Your main topic headings for these sections may include an introduction, multiple body paragraph sections, and a conclusion.

Once you establish the sections, you can insert the subtopics under each main topic heading.

5. Organize your outline

For example, if you're writing an argumentative essay taking the position that brand influencers (e.g., social media stars on Instagram or TikTok) are the best way to promote products in your industry, you will argue for that particular position.

You'll organize your argumentative essay outline with a main topic section supporting the position. The subtopics will include the reasoning behind your arguments, and the third-tier subtopics will contain the supporting evidence and data you gathered during your research.

You'll add another main topic section to counter and respond to any opposing arguments. Once you've organized and included all the information in this way, this will provide the structure to start your argumentative essay draft.

6. Consider compare-and-contrast essays

A compare-and-contrast essay is a form of essay that analyzes the differences between two opposing theories or subjects. If you have multiple subjects that are the same or different in just one aspect, you can write a point-by-point outline exploring each subject in terms of this characteristic.

The main topic headings will list that one characteristic, and the subtopic headings will list the subjects or items that are the same or different in relation to this characteristic.

Conversely, if you have multiple items to compare, but they have many characteristics that are similar or different, you can write a block method outline. The main topic headings will contain the items to be compared, while the subtopic headings will contain the aspects in which they are similar or different.

7. Consider advanced organizers for longer essays

An advanced organizer is a sentence that introduces new topics by connecting already-known information to new information. It can also prepare the reader for what they may expect to learn from the entire essay, or each section or paragraph.

Incorporating advanced organizers makes it easier for the reader to process and understand the information you are trying to convey. If you choose to use advanced organizers, depending on how often you want to use them throughout your paper, you can add them to your outline at the end of the introduction, the beginning of a section, or the beginning of each paragraph. 

  • Do outlines need periods (full stops)?

If you're constructing alphanumerical or decimal topic outlines, they do not need periods because the entries are usually not complete sentences. However, outlines containing full sentences will need to be punctuated as any sentence is, including using periods.

  • An example research paper outline

Here is an example of an alphanumerical outline that argues brand influencers are the best method of promoting products in a particular industry:

I.  Introduction

    A.  Background information about the issue and the position being argued.

    B.  Thesis statement: Influencers are the best way to promote products in this industry.

II.  Reasons that support the thesis statement

    A.  Reason or argument #1

           1.  Supporting evidence

           2.  Supporting evidence

    B.  Reason or argument #2

    C.  Reason or argument #3

          1.  Supporting evidence

          2.  Supporting evidence

III. Counterarguments and responses

       A.  Arguments from the other point of view

       B.  Rebuttals against those arguments

IV.  Conclusion

  • How long is a thesis outline?

There is no set length for a research paper outline or thesis outline. Your outline can be as long as it needs to be to organize your thoughts constructively.

You can start with a short outline containing an introduction , background, methodology, data and analysis, and conclusion. Or you can break these sections into more specific segments according to the content you want to share.

Why make writing a research paper more complicated than it needs to be? Knowing the elements of an outline and how to insert them into a cohesive structure will make your final paper understandable and interesting to the reader.

Understanding how to outline a research paper will make the writing process more efficient and less time-consuming.

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How Can You Create a Well Planned Research Paper Outline

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You are staring at the blank document, meaning to start writing your research paper . After months of experiments and procuring results, your PI asked you to write the paper to publish it in a reputed journal. You spoke to your peers and a few seniors and received a few tips on writing a research paper, but you still can’t plan on how to begin!

Writing a research paper is a very common issue among researchers and is often looked upon as a time consuming hurdle. Researchers usually look up to this task as an impending threat, avoiding and procrastinating until they cannot delay it anymore. Seeking advice from internet and seniors they manage to write a paper which goes in for quite a few revisions. Making researchers lose their sense of understanding with respect to their research work and findings. In this article, we would like to discuss how to create a structured research paper outline which will assist a researcher in writing their research paper effectively!

Publication is an important component of research studies in a university for academic promotion and in obtaining funding to support research. However, the primary reason is to provide the data and hypotheses to scientific community to advance the understanding in a specific domain. A scientific paper is a formal record of a research process. It documents research protocols, methods, results, conclusion, and discussion from a research hypothesis .

Table of Contents

What Is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is a basic format for writing an academic research paper. It follows the IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion). However, this format varies depending on the type of research manuscript. A research paper outline consists of following sections to simplify the paper for readers. These sections help researchers build an effective paper outline.

1. Title Page

The title page provides important information which helps the editors, reviewers, and readers identify the manuscript and the authors at a glance. It also provides an overview of the field of research the research paper belongs to. The title should strike a balance between precise and detailed. Other generic details include author’s given name, affiliation, keywords that will provide indexing, details of the corresponding author etc. are added to the title page.

2. Abstract

Abstract is the most important section of the manuscript and will help the researcher create a detailed research paper outline . To be more precise, an abstract is like an advertisement to the researcher’s work and it influences the editor in deciding whether to submit the manuscript to reviewers or not. Writing an abstract is a challenging task. Researchers can write an exemplary abstract by selecting the content carefully and being concise.

3. Introduction

An introduction is a background statement that provides the context and approach of the research. It describes the problem statement with the assistance of the literature study and elaborates the requirement to update the knowledge gap. It sets the research hypothesis and informs the readers about the big research question.

This section is usually named as “Materials and Methods”, “Experiments” or “Patients and Methods” depending upon the type of journal. This purpose provides complete information on methods used for the research. Researchers should mention clear description of materials and their use in the research work. If the methods used in research are already published, give a brief account and refer to the original publication. However, if the method used is modified from the original method, then researcher should mention the modifications done to the original protocol and validate its accuracy, precision, and repeatability.

It is best to report results as tables and figures wherever possible. Also, avoid duplication of text and ensure that the text summarizes the findings. Report the results with appropriate descriptive statistics. Furthermore, report any unexpected events that could affect the research results, and mention complete account of observations and explanations for missing data (if any).

6. Discussion

The discussion should set the research in context, strengthen its importance and support the research hypothesis. Summarize the main results of the study in one or two paragraphs and show how they logically fit in an overall scheme of studies. Compare the results with other investigations in the field of research and explain the differences.

7. Acknowledgments

Acknowledgements identify and thank the contributors to the study, who are not under the criteria of co-authors. It also includes the recognition of funding agency and universities that award scholarships or fellowships to researchers.

8. Declaration of Competing Interests

Finally, declaring the competing interests is essential to abide by ethical norms of unique research publishing. Competing interests arise when the author has more than one role that may lead to a situation where there is a conflict of interest.

Steps to Write a Research Paper Outline

  • Write down all important ideas that occur to you concerning the research paper .
  • Answer questions such as – what is the topic of my paper? Why is the topic important? How to formulate the hypothesis? What are the major findings?
  • Add context and structure. Group all your ideas into sections – Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion.
  • Add relevant questions to each section. It is important to note down the questions. This will help you align your thoughts.
  • Expand the ideas based on the questions created in the paper outline.
  • After creating a detailed outline, discuss it with your mentors and peers.
  • Get enough feedback and decide on the journal you will submit to.
  • The process of real writing begins.

Benefits of Creating a Research Paper Outline

As discussed, the research paper subheadings create an outline of what different aspects of research needs elaboration. This provides subtopics on which the researchers brainstorm and reach a conclusion to write. A research paper outline organizes the researcher’s thoughts and gives a clear picture of how to formulate the research protocols and results. It not only helps the researcher to understand the flow of information but also provides relation between the ideas.

A research paper outline helps researcher achieve a smooth transition between topics and ensures that no research point is forgotten. Furthermore, it allows the reader to easily navigate through the research paper and provides a better understanding of the research. The paper outline allows the readers to find relevant information and quotes from different part of the paper.

Research Paper Outline Template

A research paper outline template can help you understand the concept of creating a well planned research paper before beginning to write and walk through your journey of research publishing.

1. Research Title

A. Background i. Support with evidence ii. Support with existing literature studies

B. Thesis Statement i. Link literature with hypothesis ii. Support with evidence iii. Explain the knowledge gap and how this research will help build the gap 4. Body

A. Methods i. Mention materials and protocols used in research ii. Support with evidence

B. Results i. Support with tables and figures ii. Mention appropriate descriptive statistics

C. Discussion i. Support the research with context ii. Support the research hypothesis iii. Compare the results with other investigations in field of research

D. Conclusion i. Support the discussion and research investigation ii. Support with literature studies

E. Acknowledgements i. Identify and thank the contributors ii. Include the funding agency, if any

F. Declaration of Competing Interests

5. References

Download the Research Paper Outline Template!

Have you tried writing a research paper outline ? How did it work for you? Did it help you achieve your research paper writing goal? Do let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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  • Step 2: Plan and organize

Sample Detailed Outline

outline examples for research paper

"Organize. Organize. Organize." —U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Al Gore

Below is an example of a detailed outline. (It is for a research paper, but the principles and structure apply to any paper.) Notice the hierarchical use of the roman numeral system . Such a hierarchy is key to organizing your thinking and your argument and keeping track of the relationships between your ideas.


quote from movie like Independence Day to get readers’ attention SOURCE: IMDB.com

world preparing to welcome with festivities and open arms the aliens coming to Earth from Andromeda galaxy

Thesis (complete sentence!): Although the aliens seem friendly and say they come in peace, Earth’s number one priority should be to build a defense shield before they arrive.

On March 15, 2016, we discovered not alone in universe: irregular but repeating signal discovered from nearby Andromeda. SOURCE: NYTimes , 3/16/16

Different scientists have decoded the message differently

Commonly accepted interpretation friendly:

“Greetings, people of Earth. We have detected and watched your reports (e.g., The Big Bang Theory ) documenting typical life on Earth. We are currently on our way to Earth to begin our friendship and will arrive in Earth year 2020. Prepare yourselves for a glorious future [unclear signals].” (SOURCE: Michaels, “Aliens Are Our Friends,” People )

still parts of the message undecoded (SOURCE?

all scientists agree: Aliens arriving in 2020 (Source: Fredericks, Wall Street Journal )

Argument: there are signs that message is a warning and that aliens are planning to attack

Prof. Alan Guthman, Harvard Center for Astrophysics, makes case (SOURCE: Guthman, “We Do Not Come in Peace”)

With only one message to work with, we have little clue of tone of message

If we interpret three different patterns in signal differently, tone much different: “Attention, Earthlings. We have observed your unusual lives. We are coming to Earth to…[unclear]. Prepare yourselves for life under our control.”

With all the videos we broadcast into space, an alien race would assume that we are hostile and act accordingly

Logic: Even if these aliens are friendly, it is better to be safe than sorry and protect ourselves

FIND: Estimates of the number of intelligent races in the nearby universe and the probability that at least one of them is hostile and technologically advanced

Argument: Estimates show that workable shield surrounding Earth can be constructed by 2020

If nations of Earth collaborate, we can build shield that will block incoming ships and weapons fire (SOURCE. Teller, “Shielding the Earth,” Physics Rev. Letters )

Will cost huge amounts of $$, but:

if spread out among many countries, affordable FIND. Estimates of costs

We can’t afford NOT to build it

Argument: Building shield will both stimulate global economy and result in very useful new technologies

FIND! Evidence on how previous projects—moon landing, the International Space Station, emergency stimulus packages—created

jobs –find stats!

new products & companies

FIND! I don’t have concrete evidence for this, but I remember hearing how the moon landing and international space station resulted in the creation of new, useful technologies

Counterargument: If we build shield and they detect it, it could signal that we are hostile and provoke the aliens to attack

Missile defense shields on Earth have often provoked international tensions. SOURCE: M. Pritchard, “If You Build It, They Will Attack.” ( Boston Globe )

FIND source that shows that

such tensions do not necessarily lead to attack and

any intelligent race will understand need for others to be prepared to defend themselves.

Counterargument: We are probably not able to build shield that would work against such a technologically advanced race

non-sequitor. fact that it may not work does not mean that it won’t and that we should not try to protect ourselves.


We have no way of knowing the intensions of a group we have never met on the basis of one message.

The only sensible approach is to try to defend ourselves, especially when there will be benefits for trying such as jobs and new technologies.

  • As I learned in Las Vegas, “Never risk what you cannot afford to lose.” Can we afford to risk our children’s lives?

Click here to create a detailed outline from your freewrite/brainstorm using GoogleDocs.

Research Paper Outline Examples

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An outline is an ordered list of the topics covered in a research paper. It is useful to both writer and reader. The writer who writes from an outline is less likely to stray from the point or to commit a structural error—overdeveloping one topic while skimping on another, for example. The reader, in turn, benefits from the outline in the form of a complete and detailed table of contents.

Conventional Research Paper Outline Format

The conventions of formal outlining require that main ideas be designated by Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, and so on). Sub-ideas branching off from the main ideas are designated by capital letters (A, B, C, D, and so on). Subdivisions of these sub-ideas are designated by Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on). And minor ideas are designated by lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, and so on). Here is an example of the proper form of an outline:

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I. Main idea

A. Sub-idea

B. Sub-idea

1. Division of a sub-idea

2. Division of a sub-idea

a. Minor idea

b. Minor idea

II. Main idea

The presumption behind this arrangement is obvious: You do not merely generalize; you support your contentions and propositions with examples and details. Indeed, that is exactly what you are expected to do—to make assertions that are supported by concrete examples and specific details. If you have not been diligent in gathering specific facts about your topic, this deficiency will now be painfully obvious. Notice that every subdivided category must have at least two sections because it is impossible to divide anything into fewer than two parts. An outline that divides the subject into three or four levels—that is, down to examples or details—generally is adequate for most college research papers. If further subdivisions are necessary, the format is as follows:

The basic principle remains the same: Larger ideas or elements are stacked to the left, with smaller ideas or elements to the right.

Equal Ranking in the Outline

The logic of an outline requires that each entry be based on the same organizing principle as another entry of equal rank. All capital-letter entries consequently must be equivalent in importance and derived from the same organizing principle. Notice the absence of equal ranking in the following example:

I. Rousseau gave the people a new government to work toward.

A. It would be a government based on the general will.

B. The new government would serve the people instead of the people serving the government.

C. The people tore down the Bastille.

Entry C is out of place because it is not of equal rank with entries A and B. A and B are sub-ideas that characterize the new government proposed by Rousseau; C is a statement that describes the revolt of the French people against the old government.

Parallel Ranking in the Outline

The clarity and readability of an outline are improved if its entries are worded in similar grammatical form. Notice the lack of parallelism in the following outline:

I. The uses of the laser in the military

A. For range finding

B. For surveillance

C. To illuminate the enemy’s position

Entries A and B consist of the preposition “for” followed by a noun, whereas entry C is worded as an infinitive phrase. C should be reworded to make it grammatically like entries A and B:

C. For illuminating the enemy’s position

The outline now is easier to read because its entries are parallel.

Types of Research Paper Outlines

The three main types of outlines are the topic outline, the sentence outline, and the paragraph outline. Never mix or combine the different formats in a research paper: use one type of outline exclusively.

The Topic Outline Template

The topic outline words each entry as a phrase, breaking down the subject into major subheadings. Topic outlines are particularly useful for outlining relatively simple subjects. Here is a topic outline of the paper on Grigori Rasputin:

Grigori Rasputin’s Other Side

Thesis : After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

I. The ambiguity of the real Rasputin

A. His birth

B. Popular historical view

1. His supporters

2. His detractors

II. Rasputin’s religious feelings

A. His vitality and exuberance

B. His simple peasant faith

III. Rasputin’s desire for peace in Russia

A. His concern for the Russian underdog

1. His loyalty to the peasantry

2. His opposition to anti-Semitism

B. His opposition to all wars

IV. Rasputin’s gentle, compassionate side

A. His kindness to the Romanovs

B. His love for family

Notice that the thesis of the research paper is a separate entry immediately after the title. It is also customary to omit introduction and conclusion entries.

The Sentence Outline Template

The sentence outline uses a complete sentence for each entry. Some instructors allow the entries to be worded as questions, but most prefer declarative sentences. Sentence outlines are especially well suited for complex subjects. Here is a sentence outline of the research paper on Grigori Rasputin:

I. The real Rasputin is difficult to discover.

A. The birth of Rasputin coincided with a shooting star.

B. The popular historical view of Rasputin portrays him as primarily evil.

1. Supporters called him a spiritual leader.

2. Detractors called him a satyr and charged that his depraved faithful were merely in awe of his sexual endowments.

II. Rasputin had intense religious feelings.

A. He was both vital and exuberant.

B. He had a simple peasant faith in God.

III. Rasputin’s passionate desire for peace in Russia revealed itself in several ways.

A. He was concerned for the Russian underdog.

1. He wanted a tsar who would stand up for the peasantry.

2. He spoke out boldly against anti-Semitism.

B. Because of his humanitarian spirit, he was opposed to all wars.

IV. Rasputin had a gentle, compassionate side.

A. He showed great kindness to the Romanovs.

B. Maria Rasputin tells of her father’s love for his family.

The Paragraph Outline Template

The paragraph outline records each entry as a complete paragraph, in effect producing a condensed version of the research paper. This form is useful mainly for long papers whose individual sections can be summarized in whole paragraphs; it is seldom recommended by instructors for ordinary college papers. Here is the Rasputin paper in the form of a paragraph outline:

I. Rasputin himself always attached great significance to the fact that at the time of his birth, a shooting star was seen streaking across the horizon. He considered the phenomenon to be an omen that he was fated to have influence and special powers. The popular historical view of Rasputin paints him primarily as evil. In his day, however, he attracted numerous supporters, who thought of him as their spiritual leader. But he also had many detractors who called him a satyr and accused his followers of sexual depravity.

II. Rasputin had intense religious feelings. He was so filled with vitality and exuberance that he could stay awake until the early hours of the morning, dancing and drinking in frenzied religious fervor. He did not have the theology of a sophisticated church cleric; instead he expressed his religion in the simple terms of a Russian peasant.

III. Rasputin’s passionate desire for peace in Russia revealed itself in several ways. For instance, he was concerned for the Russian underdogs, for the peasants and the Jews, always encouraging the tsar to protect these unfortunate groups. And, his humanitarian and pacifist nature made him a determined opponent of all wars.

IV. Rasputin had a gentle, compassionate side. He was completely devoted to the tsar’s family and was known to have had a calming influence on the hemophiliac son of the tsar. Maria Rasputin gives a glowing report of her father’s kindness and love.

The Decimal Outline Template

Other outline forms use various methods of indenting, labeling, and spacing. One form that has been gaining favor in business and science is the decimal outline. Based on the decimal accounting system, this outline form permits an unlimited number of subdivisions through the simple addition of another decimal place. Here is the body of the Rasputin research paper notated in the decimal outline form:

Thesis: After six decades of being judged a demoniacal libertine, Rasputin now deserves to be viewed from another point of view–as a man who was intensely religious, who passionately desired peace, and who was deeply devoted to his family and friends.

1. The ambiguity of the real Rasputin

1.1. His birth

1.2. Popular historical view

1.2.1. His supporters

1.2.2. His detractors

2. Rasputin’s religious feelings

2.1. His vitality and exuberance

2.2. His simple peasant faith

3. Rasputin’s desire for peace in Russia

3.1. His concern for the Russian underdog

3.1.1. His loyalty to the peasantry

3.1.2. His opposition to anti-Semitism

3.2. His opposition to all wars

4. Rasputin’s gentle, compassionate side

4.1. His kindness to the Romanovs

4.2. His love for family

Notice that the decimal outline form uses the same indentation pattern as other outlines, with larger ideas stacked to the left and smaller ideas to the right.

How to Choose a Research Paper Outline Format

Which kind of outline should you use? If you are a beginning writer, and if your research has uncovered much detail on your subject, don’t hesitate: Use a detailed sentence outline. Develop it at least down to the third level—the level of Arabic numerals. In doing so, you actually erect a kind of scaffolding for the paper. To write the rough draft, you simply transcribe from the outline, fill in the blanks, insert transitions and connectives—and you have a research paper. The main entries of a sentence outline should be the topic sentences of various paragraphs. Its details should be exactly the kind you intend to use to support the topic sentence.

Not all instructors require a formal outline for a research paper. Indeed, not all writers would benefit from making one. Some writers compose organically and do not like to be hemmed in by a predefined plan. Others like to have a visible scaffolding for their papers. The point is, if your instructor does not require an outline and you do not feel you would benefit from making one, then simply sit down and begin writing the paper. On the other hand, if an outline would help you write a paper but is not required, go ahead and outline to your heart’s content. If given a choice between outlining and not outlining, do what suits you. The idea is to write the best paper you can, not the best outline.

Finally, we don’t want to leave you with the impression that the movement from thesis to outline to final paper is always neat, predictable, and certain. It is anything but. Writing, as we’ve said before, is a messy business. It leaves behind a litter of scrawled-over papers and almost never proceeds in a straight, unbroken line. For example, you could begin by drafting an outline and find to your dismay that the actual paper you write turns out to be considerably different from what you outlined. If that should happen to you, simply change the outline while being comforted by the thought that it has happened at one time or another to every writer. In fact, it is a healthy sign: It shows that once inspired, you were smart enough to write freely, that you weren’t hog-tied by misplaced loyalty to an outline. When it comes to writing, almost nothing occurs in an ideal way, and every paper is accompanied by a good deal of fumbling, false starts, dead ends, and unexpected departures from plans. Expect complications, and your outlook as you tackle your paper will be healthily realistic.

Learn how to write an outline for a research paper .


outline examples for research paper

APA Research Paper Outline: Examples and Template


Table of contents

  • 1 Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?
  • 2.1 Purpose of research paper outline
  • 2.2 APA outline example
  • 3.1 APA paper outline example
  • 3.2 Introduction:
  • 3.4 Conclusion:
  • 4 The Basic APA Outline Format
  • 5 APA Style Outline Template Breakdown
  • 6.1 APA Research Paper Outline Example
  • 6.2 APA Paper Outline Format Example
  • 7.1 First Paragraph: Hook and Thesis
  • 7.2 Main Body
  • 7.3 Conclusion
  • 7.4 Decimal APA outline format example
  • 7.5 Decimal APA outline format layout
  • 8.1 A definite goal
  • 8.2 Division
  • 8.3 Parallelism
  • 8.4 Coordination
  • 8.5 Subordination
  • 8.6 Avoid Redundancy
  • 8.7 Wrap it up in a good way
  • 8.8 Conclusion

Formatting your paper in APA can be daunting if this is your first time. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers a guide or rules to follow when conducting projects in the social sciences or writing papers. The standard APA fromat a research paper outline includes a proper layout from the title page to the final reference pages. There are formatting samples to create outlines before writing a paper. Amongst other strategies, creating an outline is the easiest way to APA format outline template.

Why Is Research Paper Format Necessary?

Consistency in the sequence, structure, and format when writing a research paper encourages readers to concentrate on the substance of a paper rather than how it is presented. The requirements for paper format apply to student assignments and papers submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed publication. APA paper outline template style may be used to create a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation . If you plan to use the style for other types of work like a website, conference poster, or even PowerPoint presentation, you must format your work accordingly to adjust to requirements. For example, you may need different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the formatting rules provided by your institution or publication to ensure its formatting standards are followed as closely as possible. However, to logically structure your document, you need a research paper outline in APA format. You may ask: why is it necessary to create an outline for an APA research paper?

Concept & Purposes of Research Paper Outline

A path, direction, or action plan! Writing short essays without a layout may seem easy, but not for 10,000 or more words. Yet, confusing a table of contents with an outline is a major issue. The table of contents is an orderly list of all the chapters’ front matter, primary, and back matter. It includes sections and, often, figures in your work, labeled by page number. On the other hand, a research APA-style paper outline is a proper structure to follow.

Purpose of research paper outline

An outline is a formalized essay in which you give your own argument to support your point of view. And when you write your apa outline template, you expand on what you already know about the topic. Academic writing papers examine an area of expertise to get the latest and most accurate information to work on that topic. It serves various purposes, including:

  • APA paper outline discusses the study’s core concepts.
  • The research paper outlines to define the link between your ideas and the thesis.
  • It provides you with manageable portions that you can handle.
  • The research paper’s APA outline enables the detection of structural faults or gaps.
  • As shown in the example, it must clearly comprehend the subject at hand.

APA outline example


This research paper outline example will guide you in formatting the layout for a clear direction to work on. It eliminates the inconsistency along with lacking proper substance in the paper.

Understanding the APA Outline Format

It would not be wrong to say there is no standard outline format. The official publishing handbook does not give precise guidelines for preparing an outline. But, it requires certain basic guidelines to follow regarding typeface, font size, structure, margins, etc.

APA paper outline example

Moreover, the final shape of your work relies on your instructor’s specifications and your particular preferences for APA citation format. Though, it would be better to follow some standards for formatting your outline, for instance:

Times New Roman is a widely accessible standard typeface for an APA essay format in 12-point font. However, serif and sans serif fonts like Arial and Georgia are acceptable in font size 11pt.

The text of your paper format should be double-spaced.

The primary headlines use Roman and Arabic numerals to write an outline.

Headings & Subheadings

While writing an APA essay, there are particular standards for utilizing headings in your outline: I – Main headings are numbered by Roman numerals like I, II, III, IV A  – Subheadings are numbered with Capital letters (A, B, C, D) 1  – The APA outline uses Arabic numerals (1-9 type numbers) within those subheadings. a  – Below Arabic number subheadings, lower-case letters are used (a, b, a). [1] – Headings below those subheadings use Arabic numbers enclosed in parenthesis.

APA format offers a standard layout for each paper, such as

  • 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, left, and right.
  • The page number on the upper right corner.

The structure of writing an outline consists of three major sections:

  • Introduction


This section highlights crucial background information.

Explain the primary points that support your ideas.


  • Summarize your key arguments.
  • Explain how these concepts support your ultimate stance, as shown in APA outline example below.

An outline in APA has three common formats that vary in the numeric sequence of all. To make it easier for you, we have compiled all three templates. You can format your document using these examples for added coherence and structure.

The Basic APA Outline Format


APA Style Outline Template Breakdown

Numbering the APA style format follows five levels of headings that use different alphabets and numbers. For instance, I – Headings use Roman numerals like I, II, and III. A – CAPITAL ALPHABETS”, such as A, B, C, etc. 1 – Headings and subheadings use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3). a – If there are further headings (the fourth level), use lower-case alphabets. [1] – Headings below that (the fifth level) use Arabic numerals enclosed in parentheses, such as [1], [2], [3].

Full Sentence Outline Format

As the name specifies, the full-sentence style outline format requires every line to be a proper sentence. Full-sentence APA style outline is best recommended for essays and speeches. It gives your writing process an idea or a logical path to follow.

APA Research Paper Outline Example

If you are looking for how to write a research paper outline APA in Full Sentence Format, here is an example:

Full Sentence APA format heading utilizes Roman numerals I, II, and III. Every heading must be a full sentence. Here is an APA style paper outline template for the full-sentence format that will clear all your confusion on how to write an outline in full-sentence format.


APA Paper Outline Format Example

I. Introduction

III. Conclusion

Decimal Outline Format

The decimal outline format for APA research papers differs from other formats. The decimal APA style is simple and uses paragraphs for structure. It contains three main paragraphs, introduction, main body, and conclusion.

First Paragraph: Hook and Thesis

  • The first paragraph is a sentence or two that introduces the central concept of your article.
  • Introduce your topic or subject of study where your research is applicable as a context for further research.
  • Explain why the mentioned issue is essential or relevant to the audience.
  • A thesis statement is a claim that you make throughout your whole essay.
  • The topic phrase is the first point in any writing to support a thesis statement.
  • Give an explanation or provide evidence to support your point.
  • Provide verifiable facts, figures, and/or citations from credible sources in your writing. It helps in the substantiating assertion.
  • Include as many supporting statements and related evidence in your decimal outline.

Finally, when you write an outline, provide a concluding remark to support your claims.

Decimal APA outline format example

1.0 The main heading 1.1 Subheading under the main heading 1.2 Second digit is represented by subheadings under the main headings 1.2.1 Further division adds another digit in decimal format 1.2.2 You can number them as per the number of paragraphs or points, or lines An easy way to write in decimal APA outline format is to remember the structure, i.e.; 1.1.1 = Heading.Paragraph.Sentence/point under paragraph.”

Decimal APA outline format layout

1.0 Main heading 1.1 First paragraph for first heading. 1.2 Second paragraph for first heading. 1.2.1 First point or sentence for the second paragraph. 2.0 Second heading 2.1 Second heading, first paragraph. 2.2 Second heading, second paragraph. 2.2.1 Second, heading, second paragraph, first sentence, or point. 3.0 Decimal working 3.1 You must remember that each digit represents a segment. 3.2 It is easier to remember the placement of numbers. 3.2.1 First digit represents the heading 3.2.2 Second digit represents the paragraph under the main heading <3.2.3 The third digit represents any point or sentence under the paragraph.

Tips for Writing an Outline: Organize Your Ideas

You may feel it is easier to write without outlines, but once you start writing, organizing your ideas or thoughts becomes hard. Even if you have some fantastic ideas, producing an engaging story is practically hard. If you are not first creating an outline or conceptual guides while writing a research paper, you may lose track. A well-written outline is essential in completing your paper and maintaining quality. Establishing your point in paper writing is easy if you create an outline first. You can find an APA research paper outline template that best suits your requirement. Moreover, these tips can help you polish your writing. These tips and sample papers can help you write outstanding outlines without making any hassle.

A definite goal

For better expression, make a list of primary objectives on a title page in a single phrase or less. Your goal should be specific and measurable. If it is too broad or imprecise, you will not achieve anything. If you are working on a large paper format that covers a variety of themes or topics, you may have a more general purpose in mind. But, if you plan to write an essay, the aim should be as specific and clear as possible to be effective.

Breaking things up rather than allowing them to become verbose is known as the division rule. Make sure that each subsection in the document corresponds to its parent heading. If it doesn’t compare to the section, removing it or moving it to another location is better.


It is mainly related to the consistency and structure of the document. It keeps your paper’s layout tidy and also ensures relevancy. For instance, if you begin one heading with a verb, make sure all other headings and subheadings also start with a verb.


Having headings aligned is critical to creating a well-organized outline. This rule also applies to subheadings, which is a good thing. If one title is less important than another, consider changing your layout by incorporating it into a subsection instead.


Subordination deals with maintaining a connection between your paper’s headings and subheadings. It helps in the proper sequencing of headings and subheadings. Headings should be broad at the outset. At the same time, the subheadings become more particular as they go further into the document.

Avoid Redundancy

While writing a paper outline, look through it many times and cross out any items that aren’t necessary or have no significance. While outlining, make sure to be specific and concise. It will prevent you from adding information that does not supporting your final essay. Remove all the extra information and points while c that weighs you down while you write.

Wrap it up in a good way

Creating an outline does not only help in writing a coherent term paper, but it also helps in ending with precise understanding. Be considerate of your audience’s time and effort when you write an outline in APA, and ensure it serves its purpose. If you still have any doubts about formatting your paper outline, you can use this APA-style research paper outline template to write your document. We have provided Outline Format Example for every style.

People find it hard to write an outline in APA, but if you are aware of the requirements and structure, it’s no breeze. Sometimes, your instructor may alter your paper format by introducing or removing existing sections. As a result, if you come across any templates for an outline in APA, pay close attention to them. If you are looking for a quick answer to how to outline an APA paper, here’s a standard logical sequence of typical parts to include when writing an outline in APA:

  • Thesis statement
  • Techniques employed
  • Body of paper
  • Conclusions section
  • List of references

A well-written outline is an excellent tool for presenting an outstanding paper. Including the key components while writing an outline for a research paper is necessary.

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How to Write a Research Paper in APA Format


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outline examples for research paper

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Therapy Center
  • When To See a Therapist
  • Types of Therapy
  • Best Online Therapy
  • Best Couples Therapy
  • Best Family Therapy
  • Managing Stress
  • Sleep and Dreaming
  • Understanding Emotions
  • Self-Improvement
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Student Resources
  • Personality Types
  • Guided Meditations
  • Verywell Mind Insights
  • 2023 Verywell Mind 25
  • Mental Health in the Classroom
  • Editorial Process
  • Meet Our Review Board
  • Crisis Support

How to Write an Outline in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

outline examples for research paper

Amanda Tust is a fact-checker, researcher, and writer with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

outline examples for research paper

  • Before Starting Your Outline
  • How to Create an Outline

Writing a psychology paper can feel like an overwhelming task. From picking a topic to finding sources to cite, each step in the process comes with its own challenges. Luckily, there are strategies to make writing your paper easier—one of which is creating an outline using APA format .

Here we share what APA format entails and the basics of this writing style. Then we get into how to create a research paper outline using APA guidelines, giving you a strong foundation to start crafting your content.

At a Glance

APA format is the standard writing style used for psychology research papers. Creating an outline using APA format can help you develop and organize your paper's structure, also keeping you on task as you sit down to write the content.

APA Format Basics

Formatting dictates how papers are styled, which includes their organizational structure, page layout, and how information is presented. APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Learning the basics of APA format is necessary for writing effective psychology papers, whether for your school courses or if you're working in the field and want your research published in a professional journal. Here are some general APA rules to keep in mind when creating both your outline and the paper itself.

Font and Spacing

According to APA style, research papers are to be written in a legible and widely available font. Traditionally, Times New Roman is used with a 12-point font size. However, other serif and sans serif fonts like Arial or Georgia in 11-point font sizes are also acceptable.

APA format also dictates that the research paper be double-spaced. Each page has 1-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right), and the page number is to be placed in the upper right corner of each page.

Both your psychology research paper and outline should include three key sections:

  • Introduction : Highlights the main points and presents your hypothesis
  • Body : Details the ideas and research that support your hypothesis
  • Conclusion : Briefly reiterates your main points and clarifies support for your position

Headings and Subheadings

APA format provides specific guidelines for using headings and subheadings. They are:

  • Main headings : Use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV)
  • Subheadings: Use capital letters (A, B, C, D)

If you need further subheadings within the initial subheadings, start with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3), then lowercase letters (a, b, c), then Arabic numerals inside parentheses [(1), (2), (3)]

Before Starting Your APA Format Outline

While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance. Prior to drafting your psychology research paper outline using APA writing style, taking a few important steps can help set you up for greater success.

Review Your Instructor's Requirements

Look over the instructions for your research paper. Your instructor may have provided some type of guidance or stated what they want. They may have even provided specific requirements for what to include in your outline or how it needs to be structured and formatted.

Some instructors require research paper outlines to use decimal format. This structure uses Arabic decimals instead of Roman numerals or letters. In this case, the main headings in an outline would be 1.0, 1.2, and 1.3, while the subheadings would be 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, and so on.

Consider Your Preferences

After reviewing your instructor's requirements, consider your own preferences for organizing your outline. Think about what makes the most sense for you, as well as what type of outline would be most helpful when you begin writing your research paper.

For example, you could choose to format your headings and subheadings as full sentences, or you might decide that you prefer shorter headings that summarize the content. You can also use different approaches to organizing the lettering and numbering in your outline's subheadings.

Whether you are creating your outline according to your instructor's guidelines or following your own organizational preferences, the most important thing is that you are consistent.

Formatting Tips

When getting ready to start your research paper outline using APA format, it's also helpful to consider how you will format it. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Your outline should begin on a new page.
  • Before you start writing the outline, check that your word processor does not automatically insert unwanted text or notations (such as letters, numbers, or bullet points) as you type. If it does, turn off auto-formatting.
  • If your instructor requires you to specify your hypothesis in your outline, review your assignment instructions to find out where this should be placed. They may want it presented at the top of your outline, for example, or included as a subheading.

How to Create a Research Paper Outline Using APA

Understanding APA format basics can make writing psychology research papers much easier. While APA format does not provide specific rules for creating an outline, you can still develop a strong roadmap for your paper using general APA style guidance, your instructor's requirements, and your own personal organizational preferences.

Typically you won't need to turn your outline in with your final paper. But that doesn't mean you should skip creating one. A strong paper starts with a solid outline. Developing this outline can help you organize your writing and ensure that you effectively communicate your paper's main points and arguments. Here's how to create a research outline using APA format.

Start Your Research

While it may seem like you should create an outline before starting your research, the opposite is actually true. The information you find when researching your psychology research topic will start to reveal the information you'll want to include in your paper—and in your outline.

As you research, consider the main arguments you intend to make in your paper. Look for facts that support your hypothesis, keeping track of where you find these facts so you can cite them when writing your paper. The more organized you are when creating your outline, the easier it becomes to draft the paper itself.

If you are required to turn in your outline before you begin working on your paper, keep in mind that you may need to include a list of references that you plan to use.

Draft Your Outline Using APA Format

Once you have your initial research complete, you have enough information to create an outline. Start with the main headings (which are noted using Roman numerals I, II, III, etc.). Here's an example of the main headings you may use if you were writing an APA format outline for a research paper in support of using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety :

  • Introduction
  • What CBT Is
  • How CBT Helps Ease Anxiety
  • Research Supporting CBT for Anxiety
  • Potential Drawbacks of CBT for Anxiety and How to Overcome Them

Under each main heading, list your main points or key ideas using subheadings (as noted with A, B, C, etc.). Sticking with the same example, subheadings under "What CBT Is" may include:

  • Basic CBT Principles
  • How CBT Works
  • Conditions CBT Has Been Found to Help Treat

You may also decide to include additional subheadings under your initial subheadings to add more information or clarify important points relevant to your hypothesis. Examples of additional subheadings (which are noted with 1, 2, 3, etc.) that could be included under "Basic CBT Principles" include:

  • Is Goal-Oriented
  • Focuses on Problem-Solving
  • Includes Self-Monitoring

Begin Writing Your Research Paper

The reason this step is included when drafting your research paper outline using APA format is that you'll often find that your outline changes as you begin to dive deeper into your proposed topic. New ideas may emerge or you may decide to narrow your topic further, even sometimes changing your hypothesis altogether.

All of these factors can impact what you write about, ultimately changing your outline. When writing your paper, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Follow the structure that your instructor specifies.
  • Present your strongest points first.
  • Support your arguments with research and examples.
  • Organize your ideas logically and in order of strength.
  • Keep track of your sources.
  • Present and debate possible counterarguments, and provide evidence that counters opposing arguments.

Update Your Final Outline

The final version of your outline should reflect your completed draft. Not only does updating your outline at this point help ensure that you've covered the topics you want in your paper, but it also gives you another opportunity to verify that your paper follows a logical sequence.

When reading through your APA-formatted outline, consider whether it flows naturally from one topic to the next. You wouldn't talk about how CBT works before discussing what CBT is, for example. Taking this final step can give you a more solid outline, and a more solid research paper.

American Psychological Association. About APA Style .

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Types of outlines and samples .

Mississippi College. Writing Center: Outlines .

American Psychological Association. APA style: Style and Grammar Guidelines .

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

outline examples for research paper

How to Write a Research Paper Outline: Detailed Guide

outline examples for research paper

In the vast landscape of academia, where ideas are the currency and knowledge the battleground, crafting a research paper isn't just a scholarly exercise—it's a narrative expedition. As you embark on this intellectual journey, consider this intriguing fact: did you know that Sir Isaac Newton's groundbreaking work, 'Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica,' which revolutionized our understanding of physics, was outlined meticulously before the ink touched the parchment? Much like Newton's meticulous planning, the success of your piece hinges on the blueprint you create—the outline.

In this guide, our research paper help will explore not only the conventional methods but also the avant-garde tips and examples for crafting an outline for a research paper that transforms your ideas into a compelling narrative, paving the way for academic excellence.

What is Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is essentially a systematic framework that streamlines the structure of your academic document. It's more than just a preliminary step; it's a practical tool designed to enhance the coherence and organization of your ideas. This skeletal structure acts as a guide, ensuring your paper unfolds logically, and your arguments build upon each other. Besides providing clarity for the writer, a well-crafted outline of a research paper also serves as a roadmap for your readers, helping them navigate through the complexities of your study. In essence, when we explore what is a research paper , it's crucial to recognize the outline as the strategic plan—the blueprint—highlighting key elements like the introduction, thesis statement, supporting evidence, and conclusion.

what is research paper outline

It's important to integrate several critical elements essential for the paper's effectiveness and coherence. The role of these components is significant in shaping your research and demands thorough attention during the initial stages of your work. In the sections that follow, we'll delve into the crucial components of an outline for your research paper and share insights to elevate your outlining process for a more robust and effective piece.

Title/Cover Page

It is the opening section to introduce the major details. The length of the recommended title is 60 characters. On the whole, do not miss this information on the title page:

  • Your full name
  • Professor’s name
  • Peers who took part in the investigation (if any)
  • Submission date

A summary is an integral part of the research paper. In college, they call it an abstract. The length of such text should not exceed 250-300 words (1/3 of an A4 page), and a student should include the basic findings, their significance, and a brief conclusion.


Experts recommend painstaking the entire research into the investigation’s background. Try to explain why the chosen problem is necessary to analyze and discuss. Mention the results you expected to obtain during the working process and state a hypothesis that should enclose the introduction (it would be the thesis). Also, don’t forget to mention the thesis statement or the topic of your research.


List the tools, equipment, & techniques used to carry out a study. This section should make it possible to replicate the investigation step-by-step. The goal of the section is to allow other scientists interested in the same research question to continue the investigation.

Results & Discussion (R&D)

In most cases, master cheap research paper writers combine results and discussion in one huge section. They are interrelated. Start with sharing the findings of the study. Go on interpreting the meaning of the results for the society and provide a short synopsis of the main components: figures and statistical examinations. While adding any visual elements for understanding (graphs, images, etc.), place the numbers next to each of them to provide details in the last section — Appendix.

In the Conclusion part, it is necessary to include:

  • A summary of the results
  • Paraphrased thesis statement
  • Value of the research paper
  • Ways to implement the findings
  • Some forecasts

Explore our article on writing a conclusion for a research paper to master the art of effectively summarizing and concluding your work.

Based on the chosen paper format, develop a full list of references. Each time you cite something, write the source’s details on a separate piece of paper. It will speed up the process in the end.

Structure of a Research Paper Outline

Crafting an effective academic piece is not just about having great ideas; it's about presenting them in a clear and organized manner. The structure of your research paper outline plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal. In this section, we'll explore three popular formats, each offering a unique approach to organizing your thoughts and arguments.

Alphanumeric research paper outline

The alphanumeric outline follows a hierarchical structure, using a combination of numbers and letters to denote different levels of information. For example:

I. Introduction

  • A. Background
  • B. Thesis statement
  • A. Main point 1
  • Supporting detail
  • B. Main point 2
  • III. Conclusion

Full-sentence research paper outline

This format requires complete sentences for each section and subsection. It provides a detailed preview of the content within each part of the outline. Example:

  • A. Provide background information.
  • B. Clearly state the thesis.
  • A. Present the first main point with supporting details.
  • B. Explore the second main point.

Decimal research paper outline

The decimal outline employs a numerical system, using decimals to indicate the hierarchy of information. Each level is a subcategory of the preceding level. For instance:

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background
  • 1.2 Thesis statement
  • 2.1 Main point 1
  • 2.1.1 Supporting detail
  • 2.1.2 Supporting detail
  • 2.2 Main point 2

3.0 Conclusion


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Research Paper Outline Formats: MLA and APA

Mla research paper outline.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) research paper format provides a standardized approach to documenting and formatting academic writing. Creating an MLA research paper outline is an essential step in organizing your thoughts and ensuring a cohesive structure for your scholarly work. Here's an in-depth guide to crafting an MLA outline:

MLA Research Paper Outline by EssayPro

  • A. Background information
  • C. Purpose of the study
  • A. First Main Point
  • Supporting detail or evidence
  • a. Sub-detail
  • b. Sub-detail
  • B. Second Main Point
  • C. Third Main Point (if applicable)

III. Counterargument (if applicable)

  • A. Acknowledge opposing views
  • B. Refute or address counterarguments

IV. Conclusion

  • A. Summarize main points
  • B. Restate thesis
  • C. Implications for future research

V. Works Cited

  • A. List of sources cited in the paper
  • Book citations
  • Journal article citations
  • Other relevant sources

Formatting Tips:

  • Ensure your research paper outline is double-spaced.
  • Use a legible 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Apply consistent formatting throughout the document, including indents and headings.
  • Follow MLA guidelines for citing sources both in the outline and the final paper.

Key Considerations:

  • Tailor your research paper outline to the specific requirements of your work.
  • Be concise and clear in writing your outline sections.
  • Consider including any necessary background information to provide context when you write an outline for a research.
  • Ensure that each main point and supporting detail aligns with the central thesis.

Need more info? Check our full guide - HOW TO CITE A RESEARCH PAPER USING MLA FORMAT .

APA Research Paper Outline

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is widely used in the social sciences, and creating an APA format research paper outline is crucial for maintaining a standardized structure. Here's a comprehensive guide to crafting an APA outline template for research paper.

 Template for Building an Outline in APA, from EssayPro

I. Title Page

  • A. Title of the research paper
  • B. Author's name
  • C. Institutional affiliation
  • D. Running head and page number (top right corner)

II. Abstract

  • A. Brief summary of the research paper
  • B. Keywords (optional)

III. Introduction

IV. Literature Review

  • A. Overview of relevant literature
  • B. Identification of gaps in existing research
  • C. Theoretical framework (if applicable)

V. Methodology

  • A. Participants
  • B. Procedure
  • C. Materials
  • D. Data analysis

VI. Results

  • A. Presentation of research findings
  • B. Use of tables and figures (if applicable)

VII. Discussion

  • A. Interpretation of results
  • B. Implications of the findings
  • C. Limitations and suggestions for future research

VIII. Conclusion

  • C. Practical applications or recommendations

IX. References

  • Use a 12-point, Times New Roman font.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Double-space the entire document.
  • Create a running head in the header section.
  • Use transitions between sections for smooth reader navigation.
  • Integrate sources seamlessly, labeling each for reader guidance.
  • Seek feedback to refine the clarity and effectiveness of your APA outline for research paper.
  • Strategically employ APA heading levels for hierarchical organization.

By adhering to these guidelines, you'll master how to cite a research paper and ensure a standardized and professional presentation of your work in the social sciences. This meticulous approach not only enhances the clarity of your writing but also showcases your commitment to academic standards.

Goals and Benefits of a Research Paper Outline

Starting your paper without a roadmap is akin to setting sail without a compass—directionless and prone to drift. Crafting a well-structured research paper outline serves as a strategic tool with distinct goals and manifold benefits, transforming the daunting task of research writing into a purposeful journey.

research paper outline

Clarity in Purpose:

  • A well-crafted outline for a research paper establishes the groundwork for your study by clearly defining its purpose. It forces you to distill the essence of your research, ensuring that every section contributes meaningfully to the overarching goals of your paper.

Streamlined Organization:

  • One of the primary goals of an outline is to streamline the organization of your ideas. By delineating the key components—introduction, main points, evidence, and conclusion—it provides a systematic structure that prevents your paper from becoming a chaotic jumble of thoughts.

Enhanced Focus and Efficiency:

  • When you write an outline for a research paper, it acts as a focal point, directing your attention to the core objectives of your study. It serves as a roadmap, guiding you through each section with precision and efficiency, eliminating the risk of veering off course into tangential or irrelevant details.

Seamless Transitions:

  • Achieving a seamless flow from one section to another is a distinctive benefit of a well-crafted outline. It allows for the strategic placement of transitions, ensuring that your ideas connect coherently and enabling readers to follow your argument with ease.

Time Management and Planning:

  • Crafting an outline isn’t just a preparatory step; it's a time-management strategy. It compels you to allocate time effectively to each section, preventing procrastination and facilitating a more structured and manageable writing process.

Revision and Refinement:

  • The iterative nature of outlining allows for continuous revision and refinement. It enables you to assess the coherence of your research paper topics , identify gaps in logic, and refine your arguments before delving into the full paper, saving time and effort in the long run.

Thesis Alignment:

  • Perhaps most crucially, an outline ensures that every main point and supporting detail aligns harmoniously with the central thesis. This alignment not only strengthens the overall argument but also reinforces the thesis as the guiding force behind your research.

Research Paper Outline Example

Also, check the free research paper outline template example: Developing an Attention-Grabbing Resume! The example is written according to APA writing style guidelines - the rules of the game may be different for other formats.

Things to Remember

  • An outline is like an action plan which guides you through the writing process.
  • You need to write an outline if your research paper is more than 1000 words in length.
  • Basically, the outline contains three main sections: the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion.
  • The outline format depends on the type of academic assignment (MLA, APA), adapting to the specific guidelines relevant to all the ideas you'll present.
  • Before developing a research paper outline, read the latest version of the manual according to the chosen format of the research paper.

To gain a deeper understanding of the initial stages of academic writing, delve into our article exploring how to start a research paper , providing you with essential steps and methodologies.


For those moments when you're unsure how to outline a research paper, and it feels like an unsolved maze, let our paper writing service be your academic GPS!

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Research paper outline examples

A research paper outline also referred to as research paper structure, is an important writing tool that a student or a professional writer can apply in their writing process. It contains the blueprint or skeleton of the research paper, detailing the structure to follow when inserting information to make a research paper.

In essence, a well-crafted outline makes writing your research paper fast, efficient, and seamless. It does so by helping you organize the ideas and thoughts, organize the flow of information and related concepts, and ensure that every part of the research paper is addressed.

In some cases, teachers ask students to prepare research paper outlines to have a perspective of how the final product will be. It is common practice with almost all graduate-level supervisors, especially when you target to publish your research paper in an online journal.

What is a research paper outline?

A research paper outline is a skeleton or blueprint of a research paper, enlisting the potential contents of different parts of the research paper that you are to write. The outline serves to organize the written ideas about a given research topic in a logical order in a manner that helps you to visualize the final research paper.

Outlines help organize the main ideas based on a topic, headings, subheadings, and supporting details. They also help decide what points come first and which ones come last depending on their order of importance and impact on the writing process.

Writing an outline helps visualize your final research paper, which makes it easier to refer to the structure each time you face a challenge with a given part. Besides, with an outline, you can work on any part of the research paper independently without fearing that you will disturb the flow or confuse yourself.

The basic format of a research paper outline entails the introduction, body, and conclusion. You should write a research paper outline before starting to write your research paper. Some instructors can assign it as an independent assignment that culminates into the research paper.

A typical research paper has between two to four layers. The first two layers are the most basic and generalized, while the subsequent levels contain more specific and detailed information about the research topic, as would appear in the research paper.

Tips for Perfecting Your Research Paper Outline

For you to write an effective research paper outline, it is vital that you consider the factors we list below.

  • Ensure that you maintain consistency in formatting your outline . If you choose a specific format, ensure that you maintain it all through. For instance, you cannot mix approaches. Also, ensure that the outline levels are reflected in your outline.
  • Organize the information such that higher levels of your outline are general while the subsequent levels are detailed and well labeled.
  • Include the relevant citations (in-text) and reference list if your professor requires the outline.
  • Every main idea must have two or more supporting subtopics . If you notice there is none, do extra research to gather enough information to support the ideas.
  • Ensure that you properly coordinate the points so that there is a correlation between the subheadings with the subpoints
  • It is beneficial to write from general to specific when writing an outline. Separate the general and specific points. For instance, the subheadings should be general, while the sub-points become more specific as you descend the levels.
  • Ensure that you break down the information into subpoints . Although there is no limit to the number of subsections, you can ensure that there is a good flow of information that can structure a good paragraph once you begin writing.

How to Format a Research Paper Outline

Of course, the MLA, APA, Harvard, or Chicago formatting style exists. However, in terms of formatting an outline, there are three strategies that you might use: using full sentences, using decimals, and using alphanumeric.

When using the decimal for your outline, you will use a numbering system that entails the use of decimal points to note the level of the point. For instance, you will use 1.0, 1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, etc.

In this case, you will be writing your text in short rather than full notes.

Here is an illustration

  • The extent of the problem (statistic)/hook
  • Background of the problem
  • Organization of the research paper

Full-sentence or Three Level Outline format

If you opt to use the full-sentence format for your outline, you will be writing your text in full sentences, sometimes with citations rather than in short points.

  • PTSD is a mental health condition caused by terrifying life events.
  • The paper addresses the history of the issue, cause, extent of the problem, and possible solutions.

Alphanumeric or the Four-level outline format

In the alphanumeric outline format, which is by far the most commonly used outline format in colleges and universities, you will use Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to organize information depending on their levels for a good flow.

The test is written mainly in short notes instead of full sentences

Here is an illustration:

  • Types of pandemic disease
  • History of the pandemic disease since the 1900s
  • Thesis statement: Our nation’s response to the threat of pandemic disease creates a clear objective to support the two pillars of the National Security Strategy and defeat America’s enemies.
  • Subpoint of subpoint 1
  • Subpoint of subpoint 2
  • Federal Government
  • State and local government actions
  • Conclusion: Can the National Security Plan for pandemic disease support and protect the

citizens of the United States.

Research Paper Outline Examples

Now, to further break down what we have so far discussed, let us look at some examples of outlines for research papers. These can serve as templates for your next research paper outline. You can choose any format that you are comfortable with, depending on the topic and type of research paper you are writing.

Sample 1: Basic Research Paper Outline

Topic: Role of Valium in Opiate Replacement Treatment Approaches:

  • Statistics of the use of opiates and their impacts on society
  • Significance of valium as an opiate replacement treatment
  • Thesis statement
  • History of valium
  • Psychopharmacology of valium
  • Current trends and issues
  • Societal concerns or issues relating to diazepam
  • Significance of the topic to the counseling profession
  • Future implications
  • Recommendations

Sample 2: Scientific Research Paper Outline

  • Proper hook
  • Background statement
  • Statement of the problem
  • Statement of intent
  • Significance of the study
  • Statement of hypothesis or research question
  • Theoretical framework
  • Past research on the topic/ review of related literature
  • The identified gap in the literature
  • Sampling strategy/method
  • Participants
  • Data collection tools
  • Dependent and independent variables
  • Controlled variables
  • Graphs, figures, and tables
  • Numerical and non-numerical data
  • Restate the problem
  • Describe the findings
  • State if your findings support the hypothesis or not
  • Explanation of the research given past studies
  • Problems and sources of error
  • Significance of the findings
  • Analytical summary, including restating the research paper thesis .
  • Reworded thesis
  • limitations
  • Recommendations for future research

Sample 3: Typical Research Paper Outline

Topic: Labor Shortage in Healthcare Industry

  • The extent of labor shortage
  • A snapshot of labor shortage in the USA
  • Causes and consequences of labor shortage
  • How labor shortage should be addressed, and why it is a matter of concern
  • Voluntary turnover of healthcare workers
  • The limited capacity of educational programs
  • Poor working conditions and compensation
  • High burnout, dissatisfaction, and fatigue
  • Better alternatives
  • Brain drains
  • Increased demand for healthcare due to chronic diseases
  • Mortality and morbidity rates
  • Limited patient care
  • Reduced patient safety
  • Improper patient to healthcare workers ratio
  • High levels of dissatisfaction
  • Overcrowded healthcare settings
  • Increased wait times
  • Inefficient healthcare management
  • Better perks, compensation, and working environment
  • Funding and supporting students
  • Attract, recruit, and retain a young workforce
  • Creating gender-balanced workforce
  • Embracing diversity
  • Embracing technology
  • Developing new balanced care models
  • Summary of the causes, effects, and remedies for healthcare workforce shortage.
  • Summary of the implications of the proposed recommendations and who should implement what

Related Reading:

  • Essay outline example and template
  • Research paper topics and ideas

What next after writing a Research Paper Outline?

In most cases, when assigned to submit a research paper outline and then a research paper, you need to keep your references for use when writing your research paper upon approval of your research outline.

Upon approval of the outline, you need to conduct in-depth research, read widely, and begin writing the first draft of your research paper. As you conduct the research, build on the outline and provide evidence, examples, and explanations to bolster your thesis. Check out our research paper writing guide for more details.

Immediately you are done writing the first draft, ensure that you verify that you have tackled all the parts of a research paper. You then need to rest and only edit your research paper when you are sober enough.

When you resume to edit, check for the formatting (MLA, APA, Harvard, or Chicago), check and correct all the errors (grammar, language, and spelling), and ensure that the in-text citations are correct and that a corresponding reference list is provided at the end of your paper.

With everything polished, you now have yourself a final research paper. Ensure that it has an abstract and title page and then submit for grading. Then, you can pat yourself on the back for doing it wonderfully. However, you can buy custom research papers from our website. We will have it written from scratch with a guarantee of 100% originality, high quality, and timely delivery.

outline examples for research paper

Gradecrest is a professional writing service that provides original model papers. We offer personalized services along with research materials for assistance purposes only. All the materials from our website should be used with proper references. See our Terms of Use Page for proper details.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting a Winning Research Paper Outline

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Creating a research paper outline is an essential step for organizing your ideas and research before you start writing. It can help you structure your arguments, spot gaps in your research, and ensure you include all important information. Speaking of which, this step-by-step guide is your opportunity to learn creating a good research paper outline , just like a professional paper writing service provider would do. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Crafting a Comprehensive Research Paper Outline – A Step-by-Step Guide

Crafting a Comprehensive Research Paper Outline A Step by Step Guide

Putting together a research paper can be intimidating, but it can get easier if you make a good outline. Here are a few simple steps to help you outline a thorough research paper.

Step 1: Pick a Topic and Conduct Research

The first thing you should do is pick a relevant, interesting topic with plenty of research material available. Do your research, take down notes, and document your sources so you can cite them in your bibliography later. 

1.1 Brainstorming and Narrowing Down the Topic

Think about a field that you’re passionate about or interested in, and brainstorm some related ideas. Once you have a few ideas, narrow down the list to the most interesting and relevant ones. How about  social media research paper topics ? 

For Example: Thinking about social media and mental health could give you a few ideas for topics like “How does social media affect depression?” or “What does social media do to our body image and self-esteem?”. Do some research and decide which one sparks your interest more. 

1.2 Preliminary Research

Once you have a topic in mind, do some digging to ensure you can find enough evidence for backing up your research. Check out some articles, studies, and books related to your topic.

Example:  Start your research by searching academic databases like Google Scholar or PubMed for peer-reviewed articles about your topic. You can also look for books and reports from reliable sources like the World Health Organization.

1.3 Refining Your Research Question

Based on your preliminary research, make your research question more precise and on-point. Doing this will help you figure out the main ideas and arguments you need to include in your paper.

For Example: What effect does using social media have on body image and self-esteem in teenage girls in the US? 

1.4 Gathering and Evaluating Sources

Once you have a refined research question, you must find and assess sources related to your topic. Using reliable and trustworthy sources to back up your points is essential.

For Example:  Look for sources like articles, books, and reports that focus on social media use among teenage girls. Check that these sources are relevant, trustworthy, and reliable.

1.5 Taking Detailed Notes and Keeping Track of Sources

Organize your research by taking detailed notes on the points each source makes so you know what to include in your paper. Keeping track of your sources is important too. You can try out a citation management tool like Zotero or Mendeley.

For Example:  Write down the main points of each article or report, along with the author, title, year and publisher details. That way, you’ll have a record of the key ideas and where they came from.

Step 2: Identify Key Ideas and Create a Thesis Statement

Once you’ve gathered info on your topic, the next step is determining the main points and arguments you want to put forward in your research paper. From this, create a clear and concise  thesis statement  summarizing your paper’s main point.

For Example:  If you are researching the impact of social media on mental health, you might have found that social media has both positive and negative effects. Your thesis statement could be: “While social media can have positive effects on mental health, its negative impact on mental health is a growing concern that needs to be addressed.” This statement conveys your main argument and sets the tone for the rest of the paper.

Step 3: Organize Your Ideas

Think about your thesis statement, and then group similar ideas to create an argument. Structure your ideas in a way that flows logically, and create subtopics that back up your main point. Put everything together in an orderly way.

For Example : You could break down the impact of social media on mental health into two groups: the good and bad. For each one, provide evidence and reasons to back it up.

Step 4: Create an Outline Structure

With your ideas organized, create a structure for your outline. Start with an introduction  that provides background information and states your thesis statement. Then, create a separate section for each subtopic, including supporting evidence and arguments. Finally, conclude with a summary of your findings.

Step 5: Review and Revise Your Outline

Look over your outline and ensure it’s thorough, well-structured, and helps prove your thesis. Tweak anything that needs to be changed to strengthen your argument and ensure your paper is straightforward and powerful.

Example:  You can review your outline and ensure it flows logically, includes enough supporting evidence, and addresses potential counterarguments.

Example of a Research Paper Outline 

Suppose you want to write a research paper on the effects of social media on our mental health. Here’s what your outline must look like: 

I) Introduction

  • Background information on social media and its prevalence in society
  • Research question: What is the impact of social media on mental health?
  • Thesis statement: While social media can have positive effects on mental health, its negative impact on mental health is a growing concern that needs to be addressed.

II) Literature Review

  • Overview of previous research on social media and mental health
  • Discussion of key findings, such as social media’s negative impact on self-esteem and its correlation with depression and anxiety
  • Identifying gaps in the literature, such as the need for more research on the relationship between social media use and specific mental health disorders.

III) Methods

  • Description of research design, such as a survey or experiment
  • Explanation of data collection methods, such as online surveys or interviews
  • Discussion of data analysis techniques, such as statistical analysis or content analysis.

IV) Results

  • Presentation of key findings, such as the percentage of respondents who reported negative mental health outcomes related to social media use
  • Analysis of results, such as the correlation between social media use and negative mental health outcomes
  • Discussion of results in relation to the research question, such as how the findings support or refute the thesis statement.

V) Discussion

  • Interpretation of results, such as the significance of the findings for mental health and social media use
  • Comparison of findings to previous research, such as how the current study’s results align with or differ from previous studies
  • Discuss limitations and implications for future research, such as the need for longitudinal studies to examine the long-term effects of social media use on mental health.

VI) Conclusion

  • Recap of key findings and their implications, such as the need for further research and public education on the impact of social media on mental health
  • Significance of research, such as the contribution to the understanding of the relationship between social media use and mental health
  • Suggestions for future research, such as examining the role of social media use on specific mental health disorders.

VII) References

List of sources cited in the research paper, such as academic articles and books on social media and mental health.

Different Types of Research Paper Outlines

Outlines for research papers can be categorized into various levels of detail, from one to four. Level one outlines list the main section titles or topics, while level four outlines provide more detailed breakdowns of each paragraph and sentence.

There are three different ways to set up an outline for a research paper – alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal. We’ll detail each of these formats and give examples of how they look in an outline.

Alphanumeric outline 

This outline uses a mix of Roman numerals, letters and numbers to sort out ideas and data.

For example:


  • Background information
  • Thesis statement

Main idea 1

– Supporting detail 1

– Supporting detail 2

Main idea 2

III. Conclusion

  • Summary of main points
  • Restate thesis

Decimal outline 

This type of outline uses decimals to organize ideas and information. For example:

1.1 Background information

1.2 Thesis statement

1.1 Supporting detail

1.2 Supporting detail

2.1 Supporting detail

2.2 Supporting detail

3.1 Summary of main points

3.2 Restate thesis

Full-sentence outline

This outline uses full sentences to put across ideas and info. For example: 

  • Background information: social media is a prevalent aspect of modern society, with numerous implications for the mental health of its users.
  • Positive effects of social media on mental health: Social support and sense of community

Supporting detail:  Studies have shown that social media can provide a sense of belonging and support for individuals who may feel isolated.

  • Negative effects of social media on mental health: Anxiety and depression

Supporting detail:  Research has also shown that social media use can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression in some individuals.

  • Summary of main points: Social media has positive and negative effects on mental health.
  • Restate thesis: Addressing the negative impact of social media on mental health is crucial for promoting overall well-being.

These are just a few examples of the different types of research paper outlines. It’s important to choose the type that works best for you and your research project.

Advantages of Creating a Research Paper Outline

Helps in the organization of your research paper.

Creating an outline for your research paper is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas. It gives you a structure to follow and makes it easier to assemble a well-supported argument. Breaking down your paper into sections and subsections allows you to see how each piece of information fits into the bigger picture and contributes to your argument.

Improves Your Efficiency

An outline helps you avoid repeating yourself and keeps your paper on track. It also makes prioritizing the most important points easier and saves time by focusing on what matters most.

Saves Your Time

Outlining before you start writing your paper can save you much time. Planning out your paper in advance helps you stay focused and on track during the writing process, which means you’ll be able to write faster and more effectively. You’ll have a plan to follow and won’t be stuck or side-tracked.

Helps in Identifying Gaps

Outlining your research paper can help spot any potential weaknesses or gaps in your argument. This way, you can fill in any missing gaps before you start writing, which can make your paper much stronger. It’s a great way to ensure your research and arguments are as solid as possible.

Helps with Transitions

Having an outline can help you keep track of the different sections of your paper and ensure they all fit together nicely. It can help you create a logical flow between paragraphs and sections, making it easier for readers to understand how your points connect. Additionally, it can help you identify any areas that need extra transitions or explanations to help readers understand the links between your ideas.

Creating a great research paper outline is important to ensure that your paper is a success. With the right techniques and approach, you can make one that will help you stay focused and get your message across clearly and effectively. That’s what this article was all about, and we hope it was really helpful. Still, if you need help creating one, let  our writers  know, who are always available to handle your academic tasks.

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Research Paper Outline

outline examples for research paper

Apart from a report outline and a presentation outline , a research paper outline is one of the most common types of outlines you’re likely to encounter in any given field. This outline is incredibly useful in both business and education, as it serves as a guide for students and employees to further understand a certain topic. But before you begin creating the outline of your research paper, make sure you know how to structure it first. In this article, we shall discuss the basic elements of an outline with the help of a few examples.

Research outlines come with variety. To give you some visual representation of these tools, here are some examples of research paper outline in PDF file format you could rely on.

What is Research Paper?

Research Paper Format

Example of Research Paper

Basic Research Paper Outline

Basic Research Paper Outline

Size: 76 KB

Educational Research Paper Outline

Educational Research Paper Outline

Size: 52 KB

Simple Research Paper Outline

Simple Research Paper Outline

Size: 379 KB

Comprehensible Research Paper Outline

Comprehensible Research Paper Outline

Plain Research Paper Outline

Plain Research Paper Outline

Size: 27 KB

 What Is a Research Paper Outline

Outlines are tools that are used by authors to chronologically arrange their written ideas about a central topic or thesis. Details in an outline are deductively written which means that it starts by mentioning the major topics, followed by subtopics and supporting details. Outlines are utilized by writers to provide themselves a plan or blueprint on what to include in their papers. Moreover, outlines vary from very general to very specific as well as formal to informal.

Similarly, a research paper outline also does the same. It also functions as a guide for the researchers to identify what pieces of information do they need to involve in their research document.

Essential Parts of a Research Paper Outline

outline examples for research paper

The outline structure of a research paper is fairly similar to that of a book outline . The only difference is the actual content presented in the paper. For us to further understand the significant components of a research paper outline, let us discuss each part accordingly:


The introduction is considered to be the most important part of your outline, as it gives readers a general overview of what your topic is about. Here, your thesis statement along with the purpose of your study must be stated clearly. You also have the option to include your reason for studying such a topic and its significance. The methodology and the aims for the investigation must also be emphasized in your introduction. To put it simply, the introduction of your outline should stress out the major points addressed in the research paper.

The body of your outline is where you will need to present every valid argument to support your topic or thesis statement. The best approach to follow would be the “Rule of 3”, in which you must find three supporting arguments to express your point. The body is also composed of several paragraphs or subparts, which include the background of the problem and other supporting data. You may also see a  speech outline .

The final part of an outline paper is the conclusion. This consists of a summary of all the major points mentioned to arrive at your final stand on the issue or subject tackled. Be sure to expound your thoughts briefly and concisely in this section, as you don’t want to end up adding a different argument to the outline. Remember to mention the thesis statement again to connect each point accordingly. It’s also advisable to state recommendations or formulate the prospect for future studies in your conclusion. You may also see a  chapter outline .

Listed below are examples of a research paper outline:

Topic: Asbestos Poisoning

I. Introduction

  • Definition of the Topic
  • Significance of the Study
  • Definition of Terms
  • Symptoms of Asbestos Poisoning
  • Effects of Asbestos Poisoning
  • Possible Treatments

III. Conclusion

  • How to Deal with Asbestos Hazards

Thesis: Abortion: Main Causes and Effects

Introductory Clause

  • Brief introduction of the issue
  • Definition of terms
  • The theoretical basis for the paper
  • Methodology
  • Thesis statement
  • Review of related literature
  • Significance of the study

a. Background of the problem

  • The history of abortion and the primary causes that lead modern women to consider this method (possible causes such as religion, financial status, career issues, etc. must be expounded)
  • Explain the position or stand of the church and the state regarding this problem
  • General information about the possible consequences of abortion supported with valid facts, scientific articles and studies, examples, etc.

b. Available alternatives to abortion along with their pros and cons.

c. Advantages and disadvantages of abortion

  • Explain all advantages of abortion, with supporting facts and examples
  • Explain all disadvantages of abortion (both physical and mental), with supporting facts and examples

Final Clause/Conclusion

a. Conclusion

  • A short analysis of all the facts provided in the paper
  • Rephrased thesis statement

b. Recommendations for future studies

Based on the examples above, the structure of your outline must consist of a series of headings and subheadings of the said topic. Since an outline must only emphasize the primary points of your research, then you must keep it brief yet informative enough for readers to comprehend.

How to Create an Outline

outline examples for research paper

A well-made outline is essential in locating significant information and keeping track of large amounts of data from a research paper. But an outline must be created properly for it to be understood by a reader, which is why the information should be organized in a logical or hierarchical order for everyone’s convenience. You may also see biography outline .

1. Begin with your thesis statement.  It’s important to start your research paper outline with your thesis statement, or at least a  topic sentence that supports your thesis statement. So when a person reads your outline, they can immediately identify what your research paper is all about.

2. List down the major points of your research paper.  Create a list of strong arguments that must be highlighted in your outline. It would be best to organize them properly by sectioning them into particular categories. You may even label each part in Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV) to make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for in your outline. You may also see tentative outlines .

3. Note down supporting ideas or argument for each point listed.  For every major argument listed, there must be a series of supporting ideas to back up its claims. This usually consists of facts or examples that prove the credibility of such a claim. Similar to the central points of the paper, it is important to keep this section organized by labeling each idea in capital letters (A, B, C). You may also see a  resume outline .

4. Subdivide each supporting topic.  If necessary, you can continue to subdivide each point to fully expound the ideas presented. This will help make your outline even more informative for readers to grasp. You can then label them with numbers ( 1, 2, 3 ) and lowercase letters ( a, b, c ).

outline examples for research paper

Creating an outline for your research paper isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It’s a step-by-step process that requires proper analysis and comprehension to carry out. If you’re having trouble writing your research paper outline, then it might be better to start off with a rough outline first. After which, you can then make the necessary adjustments to complete your final outline. By studying various outline samples , you’re sure to come up with the perfect research paper outline in no time.

MLA Research Paper Outline

MLA Research Paper Outline

Size: 55 KB

Air Quality Research Paper Outline

Air Quality Research Paper Outline

Size: 14 KB

Academic Research Paper Outline

Academic Research Paper Outline

Size: 21 KB

Psychology Research Paper Outline

Psychology Research Paper Outline

Size: 90 KB

Students Research Paper Outline

Students Research Paper Outline

Career Research Paper Outline

Career Research Paper Outline

Size: 63 KB

Research Paper Outline Example

Research Paper Outline Example

Size: 24 KB

Printable Research Paper Outline

Printable Research Paper Outline

Size: 37 KB

Sample Research Paper Outline

Sample Research Paper Outline

Size: 70 KB

Research Paper Outline Format

Research Paper Outline Format

Size: 339 KB

Research Paper Outline Guide

Research Paper Outline Guide

Size: 498 KB

Research Paper Outline in PDF

Research Paper Outline in PDF

Simple Research Paper Outline Example

Simple Research Paper Outline Example

Junior Research Paper Outline

Junior Research Paper Outline

Size: 13 KB

Sample Research for Outline Paper

Sample Research for Outline Paper

A Step-by-Step Guide to Research Process

The research process is the act of identifying, locating, assessing and analyzing of different pieces of information that are needed to support your research question. Then, the collected data will help you derive a rational conclusion. The research process is systematic and is important for you to build your own paper. To help you construct your own research process, you may follow these steps:

1. Distinguish and select a research topic.

Choosing your research topic could be a very critical step to take. It is not just because it is the first move but also due to the fact that your whole research process revolves around this topic; thus, it should be done correctly. To explain further, here are some points you need to remember:

Stick with the parameters.  Whether you are making one for academic purposes in middle school or for your job, you need to be wary of the given criterion given by your instructor. Following these are really vital since it is the key to your next step. If you fail to obey the said parameter, it could disqualify or deem your paper proposal invalid. Most of the times, clear guidelines are given to help you take the first step; however, if there’s none, ask to clarify this issue.

Go for interesting topics.  Needless to say, composing your own research paper would more enjoyable if the topic is what you truly want to explore. Furthermore, doing your research will be easier since you are having fun on the process.

Go for topics with numerous possible information sources.  Assuming that there are numerous things that interest you then identify which of these has loads of various potential basis of information. To do this, you can conduct a preliminary searching of information in various sources such as books, journals, and the holy-grail internet. There’s no need on taking notes yet, simply ponder whether the available pieces of information are capable of meeting your needs and could support your study. If you find too many information, you may need to narrow your topic; if you find too few, you may need to widen your topic.

Never forget to be original.  The most probable reason for you to write your own research paper is for your academic completion. Hence, the most possible recipient of your work will be your instructor. Now, consider that your instructor already read thousands of research paper and the only way to stand out is to be rationally different. Think outside the mundane way of thinking, be creative and be innovative. In other words, be original.

Never hesitate to ask for help.  Though it may sound absurd, consulting your instructor about this issue would be a great help. Thinking that in most cases, your instructor would be one of the people that would give verdict on your paper, conducting research on ideas that came straight from him/her would be a great advantage.

If you already have a topic with you, it would also be helpful to turn it into a specific question. Doing this would surely make your research concepts and keywords identification a lot easier. For instance, if you are really into music then you can simply pinpoint a specific topic related to that such as:

  • What are the effects of pop music to the performance level of students?
  •  What makes us have different musical tastes?
  • What makes a piece of music good to hear?

2. Search for in-depth information.

Now that you have a specific central topic to talk about, it is time to look for deeper information. Utilize the best form of source or material that is appropriate for your study. For example, if you are in search of objective information, you can use books, magazines, journals, and internet. However, there are some details that need a different approach such as responses. In these cases, conduct a survey, observation or interview instead. Moreover, take note of your sources in doing this step.

3. Examine your sources.

In research, there are certain criteria to consider your information valid and reliable. Check on your sources’ date of publication of the information you have gathered. The common acceptable range is 5 years from the present. If you are using the internet as your source, check on the top-level domain if it is either “.edu,” “.gov,” “.org,” etc.

4. Take note.

Making a note of the different data and sources are very important in your research process. This will serve as your guide on which of those are useful for your paper. Moreover, don’t forget to include the author, title, publisher, URL and other details that will be used in citing them.

5. Begin writing your paper.

You may start by constructing a research paper outline which we discussed earlier and follow it by writing a rough draft. Remember, there is no need to be perfect right away. The main purpose of making a rough draft is to organize your information and help you in forming your final paper. Afterward, review and edit your draft as many times as necessary.

6. Cite your sources.

It is important to recall that not all information in your research paper is not yours; thus, it is just appropriate to cite them in your bibliography or reference list. By doing this, you are able to give a polite credit to the authors of the different information you have used and also to avoid plagiarism. Moreover, these would allow your reader to locate the sources of your information for verification and duplication purposes. Remember, there are different styles and formats in citing your sources. MLA, APA, and Chicago are some of the most used citation formats.

7. Proofread your work

The last step before publishing your work is to proofread your work. Simply read over your research paper and see whether there are any grammatical, spelling or any other unnoticed technical and textual errors. Proofreading is also important to check if your paper is speaking of what you really want to imply and inspect if you are following the proper citing process. Before doing this step, it is recommendable to take a break or consult the help of a proficient friend.


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outline examples for research paper

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Research Paper Outline Examples

Below are examples of research paper outlines. Creating an outline is the first thing you should do before starting on your research paper.

This article is a part of the guide:

  • Example of a Paper
  • Write a Hypothesis
  • Introduction
  • Example of a Paper 2

Browse Full Outline

  • 1 Write a Research Paper
  • 2 Writing a Paper
  • 3.1 Write an Outline
  • 3.2 Outline Examples
  • 4.1 Thesis Statement
  • 4.2 Write a Hypothesis
  • 5.2 Abstract
  • 5.3 Introduction
  • 5.4 Methods
  • 5.5 Results
  • 5.6 Discussion
  • 5.7 Conclusion
  • 5.8 Bibliography
  • 6.1 Table of Contents
  • 6.2 Acknowledgements
  • 6.3 Appendix
  • 7.1 In Text Citations
  • 7.2 Footnotes
  • 7.3.1 Floating Blocks
  • 7.4 Example of a Paper
  • 7.5 Example of a Paper 2
  • 7.6.1 Citations
  • 7.7.1 Writing Style
  • 7.7.2 Citations
  • 8.1.1 Sham Peer Review
  • 8.1.2 Advantages
  • 8.1.3 Disadvantages
  • 8.2 Publication Bias
  • 8.3.1 Journal Rejection
  • 9.1 Article Writing
  • 9.2 Ideas for Topics

Research Paper Outline Examples

Once you've decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion . The broader your topic is, the more difficult it is to discuss the full details. 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. But to make sure your paper is complete, consult your instructor for specific parts they wants to be included in your research paper . Sample outlines for research papers will follow. But first, let’s discuss the main sections of your paper and what information each should cover.

outline examples for research paper

The introduction should contain your thesis statement or the topic of your research as well as the purpose of your study. You may include here the reason why you chose that particular topic or simply the significance of your research paper's topic. You may also state what type of approach it is that you'll be using in your paper for the entire discussion of your topic. Generally, your Introduction should orient your readers to the major points the rest of the paper will be covering, and how.

outline examples for research paper

The body of your paper is where you will be presenting all your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the “Rule of 3” which states that you should find 3 supporting arguments for each position you take. Start with a strong argument, followed by a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument as your final point.

The conclusion is where you form a summary of all your arguments so you can arrive at your final position. Explain and reiterate why you've ended up with the said conclusion.

As mentioned earlier, here are some sample outlines for research papers:

Thesis Topic: A Study on Factors Affecting the Infant Feeding Practices of Mothers in Las Pinas City

  • Statement of the Problem
  • Definition of Terms
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Type of Research
  • Respondents
  • Questionnaire
  • Review of Related Literature
  • Scope and Limitations
  • Significance of the Study
  • Benefits of Breastfeeding
  • WHO Recommendations
  • The International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
  • The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
  • The Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding
  • National Situationer
  • The Milk Code
  • BFHI in the Philippines
  • Milk Code Violations
  • Formula Feeding
  • Factors Influencing the Decision Regarding Infant Feeding Method
  • Area Situationer
  • Socio-economic Demographic Profile of Mothers
  • Information Regarding Current (Youngest) Infant
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding
  • Mixed Feeding
  • Previous Infant Feeding Practices
  • Maternal Knowledge
  • Correlation Tests
  • Analytical Summary
  • Thesis Reworded
  • Recommendations

Topic: Asbestos Poisoning

  • Definition of Asbestos Poisoning
  • Symptoms of Asbestos Poisoning
  • Effects of Asbestos Poisoning
  • How to Deal with Asbestos Hazards

Topic: Shakespeare Adapted from AResearchGuide.com .

  • Life of Anne Hathaway
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Research Paper Outline Examples

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Research Paper Outline Strategies for Effective Academic Writing

research paper outline

Mark Bradford

A vital companion to the research paper, an outline is a comprehensive document that enumerates the topics to be incorporated in a paper, arranged in the intended sequence, and often sectioned into paragraphs. Beyond just listing topics, a standard paper outline encompasses additional details such as subtopics and credible sources, facilitating organizational clarity for the writer. In some cases, it may even include individual sentence topics and initial ideas for phrasing.

Curious about how to write a research paper outline? This guide provides a systematic breakdown, detailing what elements to include and offering a step-by-step approach to creating one yourself, complete with illustrative paper outline examples. To strengthen your subject knowledge, we recommend checking out our research paper writing service after reading this article. 

What Is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline serves as a foundational roadmap for the comprehensive structure of an academic document. It acts as a guide, systematically organizing the main topics, subtopics, and supporting details in the intended order of presentation. Typically, this organizational tool plays a crucial role in ensuring a logical flow and coherence throughout the paper.

The conventional research paper outline comprises essential components such as an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, and conclusion. Each section is further broken down into subsections, offering a clear hierarchy of information. This detailed layout not only aids the writer in maintaining a well-organized and coherent narrative but also assists readers in following the logical progression of the research.

Moreover, an outline often includes evidential sources, supporting data, and initial ideas for phrasing, providing a comprehensive overview of the paper's content. This preparatory document proves valuable in streamlining the writing process, allowing researchers to focus on developing each section with clarity and depth, ultimately contributing to the overall quality of the paper.

research paper purpose

Research Paper Outline Formats

Organizing your research paper outline involves selecting from three distinct formats: alphanumeric, full-sentence, and decimal outlines. These variations primarily pertain to the formatting and writing style employed.

Alphanumeric Outline

The alphanumeric outline is the most commonly used format. It utilizes Roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to structure the information flow. Instead of complete sentences, the text is composed of concise notes. Here's an example:


A. First point

1. Sub-point

a. Sub-point of sub-point

Full-Sentence Outline

Full-sentence research paper outlines follow the same organizational structure as alphanumeric outlines. Main topics are designated with Roman numerals, subtopics with capital letters, subtopic points with Arabic numerals, and details for each point with lowercase letters. The distinctive feature is the use of complete sentences rather than brief notes, offering specificity and facilitating collaboration, albeit requiring a longer writing time. An illustration:

I. First body paragraph of the research paper

A. First point of evidence to support the main argument

1. Sub-point discussing evidence outlined in point A

a. Additional sub-point to conclude the discussion of evidence introduced in point 

Decimal Outline

Decimal research paper outlines abandon the alphanumeric system and adopt a numerical hierarchy with increasing decimal points. Main topics are whole numbers (1 or 1.0), subtopics have one decimal point (1.1), points under a subtopic include two decimal points (1.1.1), and further details involve three decimal points ( Each subsequent number (1.1.1, 1.1.2, etc.) indicates the progression in the outline. This format is meticulous but can become intricate, making it suitable for writers who prioritize technical precision or handle extensive outlines with numerous topics and subtopics. An example:

1. Body paragraph one

1.1 First point

1.1.1 Sub-point of the first point

1.1.2 Sub-point of the first point

1.2 Second point

outline examples for research paper

How to Structure Your Research Paper Outlines?

Structuring your outline of a research paper is crucial for clarity and coherence in presenting your ideas. Employing principles such as parallelism, coordination, and division enhances the organization and readability of your outline. By incorporating these principles, you not only create a visually appealing structure but also enhance the overall cohesiveness and accessibility of your written work. If this is too difficult at the moment, opt for research papers where our professional writers will successfully implement all these structural patterns. 


Parallelism, characterized by consistent grammatical structures, ensures a balanced and rhythmic flow in your outline. By using similar language patterns for related ideas, you create a sense of harmony, making it easier for readers to follow your thought process. In the context of a research paper outline, parallelism might involve maintaining the same verb tense, sentence structure, or phrasing across comparable sections.

I. Introduction

A. Presenting the thesis statement

B. To summarize the main points

B. Summarizing the main points


Coordination, emphasizing equality among ideas, enhances the overall coherence of your outline. When concepts share the same hierarchical level, they suggest comparable significance in the overall structure. In a paper outline, coordination might involve placing equally essential components – such as research methods or key findings – at the same level, ensuring each aspect receives due attention.

I. Key Findings

A. Statistical analysis

i. Graphs and charts

B. Interview results

i. Significant quotes

i. Quotations from participants

Division, focused on breaking down main ideas into subcategories, promotes a more detailed and organized framework. Clear and distinct divisions help in categorizing information effectively, making it easier for readers to grasp the nuanced aspects of your subject matter exploration. In the research outline, division could involve categorizing different methodologies or sources under broader sections, ensuring a comprehensive coverage of the topic. 

I. Literature Review

A. Previous studies

i. Methodologies

B. Recent research

i. Surveys and questionnaires

ii. Case studies

i. Scholarly articles

ii. Conference proceedings

research paper outline structure

Research Paper Outline Example

There are several approaches to creating research paper outlines, with the following one being the most efficient for those students who deal with this type of document for the first time.

How to Do an Outline for a Research Paper?

Brainstorm your thesis and collect sources.

Initiate your paper by selecting a compelling thesis and gathering primary and secondary sources to support it. While some assignments provide a predetermined thesis, independent research often demands the development of your own. Once your thesis is established, gather relevant sources and data early on, revealing new facets of your topic and dispelling potential misinterpretations. Remember, your research paper outline is just one step in the overall writing process, so you should adopt a can-do attitude if you want to do a really good job.

Write Down Topics, Subtopics, and Key Points

Review your research findings and systematically note each topic, subtopic, and supporting point. Keep related information grouped together, ensuring that everything discussed aligns with your thesis. If specific passages or quotes from your sources stand out, consider incorporating them; though not obligatory, they can save time during your initial draft.

Select an Outline That Fits Your Goal the Most

Tailor your outline to match your topic, assignment length, and complexity. Simple scholarly documents benefit from straightforward outlines, while intricate subjects with extensive research may require more detailed structures. Consider whether you're collaborating with a team or working independently, and factor in the work's length and the number of topics. While the decimal format is ideal for organizing longer papers, sticking to alphanumeric is perfectly acceptable if it suits your comfort level.

Think Through the Structure and Sequence

Ponder the logical sequence in which to present your topics before drafting. Consider the structure that effectively communicates to readers unfamiliar with the subject matter. Some topics may require a specific order for clarity, and contextual information might precede new findings. In most cases, a chronological sequence proves to be the most logical structure.

Construct the Framework for Your Outline

Rather than attempting to complete your outline for a research paper in one go, start by establishing the framework. Arrange the main topics in order, initially excluding subtopics and supporting points. This initial framework provides a clear view of your research paper's backbone, allowing for adjustments to the order or adding new topics as needed. 

Add More Detailed Information

Once content with the framework, incorporate more details into your research paper outline. Many outlines benefit from paragraph structures, including topic sentences, development/support sentences, and conclusions for each section. While including some notes on sentence structure is useful, avoid becoming overly detailed to maintain the outline's purpose.

Revise to Have a Better Structure

Before commencing your first draft, carefully review your completed outline for potential enhancements. Ensure that all topics are presented in the most reader-friendly order, and revisit your notes to guarantee nothing essential has been overlooked. Once satisfied with the outline, you're ready to embark on the process of writing your research paper. If you want to learn more, consult another of our blog posts, and your overall awareness regarding this topic will be complete. 

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The creation of an outline is an invaluable tool in the process of writing a research paper. It will give structure to the fledgling paper and allow you to better imagine what you will need to write. Breaking the paper down into small sections also makes the process of writing far less overwhelming.

After choosing an appropriate topic and writing a thesis statement, you will need to brainstorm to get ideas on how to best support your thesis. The length of your paper will determine the level of detail you should pursue in your supporting content. When you have honed the results of your brainstorming down to a suitable number of subtopics, you can arrange them in the order you feel would be most effective in arguing your thesis statement.

1. Introduction

      A. Introductory Statement

      B. Thesis Statement

      A. First Subtopic

        a. supporting evidence

      B. Second Subtopic

      C. Third Subtopic

3.  Conclusion

      A Restatement of Thesis

      B. Compelling Conclusion

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How to Write a Research Methodology for a Research Paper

Crafting a comprehensive research paper can be daunting. Understanding diverse citation styles and various subject areas presents a challenge for many.

Without clear examples, students often feel lost and overwhelmed, unsure of how to start or which style fits their subject.

Explore our collection of expertly written research paper examples. We’ve covered various citation styles and a diverse range of subjects.

So, read on!

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  • 1. Research Paper Example for Different Formats
  • 2. Examples for Different Research Paper Parts
  • 3. Research Paper Examples for Different Fields
  • 4. Research Paper Example Outline

Research Paper Example for Different Formats

Following a specific formatting style is essential while writing a research paper . Knowing the conventions and guidelines for each format can help you in creating a perfect paper. Here we have gathered examples of research paper for most commonly applied citation styles :

Social Media and Social Media Marketing: A Literature Review

APA Research Paper Example

APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used in social sciences, psychology, and education. This format is recognized for its clear and concise writing, emphasis on proper citations, and orderly presentation of ideas.

Here are some research paper examples in APA style:

Research Paper Example APA 7th Edition

Research Paper Example MLA

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is frequently employed in humanities disciplines, including literature, languages, and cultural studies. An MLA research paper might explore literature analysis, linguistic studies, or historical research within the humanities. 

Here is an example:

Found Voices: Carl Sagan

Research Paper Example Chicago

Chicago style is utilized in various fields like history, arts, and social sciences. Research papers in Chicago style could delve into historical events, artistic analyses, or social science inquiries. 

Here is a research paper formatted in Chicago style:

Chicago Research Paper Sample

Research Paper Example Harvard

Harvard style is widely used in business, management, and some social sciences. Research papers in Harvard style might address business strategies, case studies, or social policies.

View this sample Harvard style paper here:

Harvard Research Paper Sample

Examples for Different Research Paper Parts

A research paper has different parts. Each part is important for the overall success of the paper. Chapters in a research paper must be written correctly, using a certain format and structure.

The following are examples of how different sections of the research paper can be written.

Research Proposal

The research proposal acts as a detailed plan or roadmap for your study, outlining the focus of your research and its significance. It's essential as it not only guides your research but also persuades others about the value of your study.

Example of Research Proposal

An abstract serves as a concise overview of your entire research paper. It provides a quick insight into the main elements of your study. It summarizes your research's purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions in a brief format.

Research Paper Example Abstract

Literature Review 

A literature review summarizes the existing research on your study's topic, showcasing what has already been explored. This section adds credibility to your own research by analyzing and summarizing prior studies related to your topic.

Literature Review Research Paper Example


The methodology section functions as a detailed explanation of how you conducted your research. This part covers the tools, techniques, and steps used to collect and analyze data for your study.

Methods Section of Research Paper Example

How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

The conclusion summarizes your findings, their significance and the impact of your research. This section outlines the key takeaways and the broader implications of your study's results.

Research Paper Conclusion Example

Research Paper Examples for Different Fields

Research papers can be about any subject that needs a detailed study. The following examples show research papers for different subjects.

History Research Paper Sample

Preparing a history research paper involves investigating and presenting information about past events. This may include exploring perspectives, analyzing sources, and constructing a narrative that explains the significance of historical events.

View this history research paper sample:

Many Faces of Generalissimo Fransisco Franco

Sociology Research Paper Sample

In sociology research, statistics and data are harnessed to explore societal issues within a particular region or group. These findings are thoroughly analyzed to gain an understanding of the structure and dynamics present within these communities. 

Here is a sample:

A Descriptive Statistical Analysis within the State of Virginia

Science Fair Research Paper Sample

A science research paper involves explaining a scientific experiment or project. It includes outlining the purpose, procedures, observations, and results of the experiment in a clear, logical manner.

Here are some examples:

Science Fair Paper Format

What Do I Need To Do For The Science Fair?

Psychology Research Paper Sample

Writing a psychology research paper involves studying human behavior and mental processes. This process includes conducting experiments, gathering data, and analyzing results to understand the human mind, emotions, and behavior.

Here is an example psychology paper:

The Effects of Food Deprivation on Concentration and Perseverance

Art History Research Paper Sample

Studying art history includes examining artworks, understanding their historical context, and learning about the artists. This helps analyze and interpret how art has evolved over various periods and regions.

Check out this sample paper analyzing European art and impacts:

European Art History: A Primer

Research Paper Example Outline

Before you plan on writing a well-researched paper, make a rough draft. An outline can be a great help when it comes to organizing vast amounts of research material for your paper.

Here is an outline of a research paper example:

Here is a downloadable sample of a standard research paper outline:

Research Paper Outline

Want to create the perfect outline for your paper? Check out this in-depth guide on creating a research paper outline for a structured paper!

Good Research Paper Examples for Students

Here are some more samples of research paper for students to learn from:

Fiscal Research Center - Action Plan

Qualitative Research Paper Example

Research Paper Example Introduction

How to Write a Research Paper Example

Research Paper Example for High School

Now that you have explored the research paper examples, you can start working on your research project. Hopefully, these examples will help you understand the writing process for a research paper.

If you're facing challenges with your writing requirements, you can hire our essay writing service .

Our team is experienced in delivering perfectly formatted, 100% original research papers. So, whether you need help with a part of research or an entire paper, our experts are here to deliver.

So, why miss out? Place your ‘ write my research paper ’ request today and get a top-quality research paper!

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  1. Printable Research Paper Outline Template

    outline examples for research paper

  2. Outline Examples

    outline examples for research paper

  3. How to Write a Research Paper Outline With Examples?

    outline examples for research paper

  4. Research Paper Outline Format Blank Sample

    outline examples for research paper

  5. FREE 8+ Sample Research Paper Outline Templates in PDF

    outline examples for research paper

  6. Example Of Apa Research Paper Outline

    outline examples for research paper


  1. 30 August 2023

  2. How to structure Research Paper Outline

  3. How to Use Reverse Outlining for Literature Reviews: An AI-Based Tool

  4. How to write an outline for an essay or a literature review




  1. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    Example: BODY PARAGRAPH 1. First point. Sub-point. Sub-point of sub-point 1. Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points. Example: First body paragraph of the research paper. First point of evidence to support the main argument.

  2. Research Paper Outline

    This outline format uses numbers to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is similar to the alphanumeric outline, but it uses only numbers and decimals to indicate the hierarchy of the ideas. Example: 1.0 Introduction. 1.1 Background information.

  3. How to write a research paper outline

    Tips for writing a research paper outline. Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity. Be Consistent: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.

  4. How to Create a Research Paper Outline: Tips and Examples

    1. Determine your topic. You'll need to establish a topic or the main point you intend to write about. For example, you may want to research and write about whether influencers are the most beneficial way to promote products in your industry. This topic is the main point around which your essay will revolve. 2.

  5. How to Create a Research Paper Outline (With Template & Examples)

    This will help you align your thoughts. Expand the ideas based on the questions created in the paper outline. After creating a detailed outline, discuss it with your mentors and peers. Get enough feedback and decide on the journal you will submit to. The process of real writing begins.

  6. How to Write a Research Paper Outline with Examples

    3. Results Section: Use the same timeline or topics you introduced in the method section. Make sure you answer all the questions you raised in the introduction. Use tables, graphs, and other visualizations to guide the reader. Don't present results of tests/analyses that you did not mention in the methods. 4.

  7. Sample Detailed Outline

    Sample Detailed Outline. "Organize. Organize. Organize." —U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Al Gore. Below is an example of a detailed outline. (It is for a research paper, but the principles and structure apply to any paper.) Notice the hierarchical use of the roman numeral system. Such a hierarchy is key to organizing your ...

  8. How to Create a Research Paper Outline (With Examples)

    An alphanumeric outline is a hierarchical structure used to outline a research paper, combining numbers and letters to signify the different levels of information. Main sections are designated with capital letters (A, B, C), which include major points, while subpoints are indicated by numbers and lowercase letters (1, 2, a, b).

  9. Research Paper Outline: Templates & Examples

    Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when writing a research paper outline: 1. Pick a topic of your interest. Make sure the scope of the topic is not too broad or too narrow. 2. Formulate a thesis statement. 3. Gather all relevant ideas that give support to your thesis statement. 4.

  10. Research Paper Outline Examples

    An outline is an ordered list of the topics covered in a research paper. It is useful to both writer and reader. The writer who writes from an outline is less likely to stray from the point or to commit a structural error—overdeveloping one topic while skimping on another, for example. The reader, in turn, benefits from the outline in the ...

  11. APA Research Paper Outline [Examples + Template]

    If you are looking for how to write a research paper outline APA in Full Sentence Format, here is an example: A. For subheadings, you use capital alphabets A, B, C. B. Subheadings must complement, lead, or link to the paper's main idea. 1. Arabic numerals are used for headings under subheadings like 1, 2, and 3. 2.

  12. How to Write an Outline in APA Format

    Both your psychology research paper and outline should include three key sections: Introduction: Highlights the main points and presents your hypothesis. Body: Details the ideas and research that support your hypothesis. Conclusion: Briefly reiterates your main points and clarifies support for your position.

  13. How to Write a Research Paper Outline: Detailed Guide

    Research Paper Outline Example. Also, check the free research paper outline template example: Developing an Attention-Grabbing Resume! The example is written according to APA writing style guidelines - the rules of the game may be different for other formats. Research Paper Outline Template.

  14. Research Paper Outline

    The basic format of a research paper outline entails the introduction, body, and conclusion. You should write a research paper outline before starting to write your research paper. Some instructors can assign it as an independent assignment that culminates into the research paper. A typical research paper has between two to four layers.

  15. The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Research Paper Outline

    Step 4: Create an Outline Structure. With your ideas organized, create a structure for your outline. Start with an introduction that provides background information and states your thesis statement. Then, create a separate section for each subtopic, including supporting evidence and arguments.

  16. Research Paper Outline

    5. Begin writing your paper. You may start by constructing a research paper outline which we discussed earlier and follow it by writing a rough draft. Remember, there is no need to be perfect right away. The main purpose of making a rough draft is to organize your information and help you in forming your final paper.

  17. Research Paper Outline Examples

    Below are examples of research paper outlines. Creating an outline is the first thing you should do before starting on your research paper. Once you've decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion.

  18. Research Paper Outline Format, Structure, Tips, & Example

    A research paper outline serves as a foundational roadmap for the comprehensive structure of an academic document. It acts as a guide, systematically organizing the main topics, subtopics, and supporting details in the intended order of presentation. Typically, this organizational tool plays a crucial role in ensuring a logical flow and ...

  19. PDF The Basic Outline of a Paper

    Briefly outline the main points in the paper II. Body Clearly present the main points of the paper as listed in the thesis Give strong examples, details, and explanations to support each main points If an argumentative paper, address any counterarguments and refute those arguments If a research paper, use strong evidence from sources ...

  20. Arrendale Library: Writing a Research Paper: Creating an Outline

    The creation of an outline is an invaluable tool in the process of writing a research paper. It will give structure to the fledgling paper and allow you to better imagine what you will need to write. Breaking the paper down into small sections also makes the process of writing far less overwhelming. After choosing an appropriate topic and ...

  21. 20+ Research Paper Example

    Research Paper Example Outline. Before you plan on writing a well-researched paper, make a rough draft. An outline can be a great help when it comes to organizing vast amounts of research material for your paper. Here is an outline of a research paper example: I. Title Page. A. Title of the Research Paper.