A Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting a Research Paper Outline

A Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting a Research Paper Outline

Before you start the writing process, you need to learn how to draw up a research paper outline. Yes, this activity may seem complicated, but if you delve deeper into the process, you can surprise any teacher with your writing skills. An outline helps make a document more successful, logical, and structured. Therefore, we have put together a detailed guide to writing a plan.

Prepare Information For The Plan

You won’t be able to draw up a good plan right away. You need to follow the preliminary steps:

  1. Pick a topic for your research paper. The topic is a guarantee of success and influences the structure of the article. It doesn’t matter if you chose the topic yourself or the teacher gave ideas. You must show your mental abilities here. The topic should intrigue people and beckon them to read. We advise you to brainstorm ideas for research. You can also make a colorful card in which to place the word and associations.
  2. Write a thesis. Once you’ve decided on your topic, think about the thesis you want to support in your research. It would help if you found out why this is important in the first place for you and society. You can ask yourself questions: What is the main idea of ​​the article? Can the thesis cause controversial points? Can I develop the thesis, and are there enough arguments in favor of the idea? Once you answer all the questions, you will already have two components you need to build on when outlining.
  3. Find out who your audience is. Perhaps most of the text will be read by your professor. However, if you will speak to large audiences, it is necessary to consider their interests. For example, will the audience support you, or will they have a counterargument? Knowing who you are writing for can help you find the style and tone of your writing. You will be able to figure out if it is appropriate to use jokes or if it is better to stick to formal language. The paper format depends a lot on the audience.
  4. Conduct a source analysis. To write a compelling study, you need to analyze the sources. The opinions of authoritative people will be excellent evidence in support of the thesis. You should find out in advance if there is any refuting information on the topic. This will help you prepare in advance for criticism.
  5. Compose links. These elements also affect the circuit. Please place them in the order in which you would like to present them in the article. Links are best placed in order of importance.

Essential Parts of a Good Research Paper Outline

Without the preparatory stage, you will not be able to start drawing the contour. Therefore, do not ignore the preceding steps – they will help you gather enough ideas. The outline is the foundation of your future article. The plan can include three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. If you want to make your work more extensive, you can use additional subclauses. Let’s see what other parts each element can include.

The introduction may contain the following data:

  1. An acquaintance of the reader with the topic.
  2. A hook is an interesting statistic for attracting attention.
  3. Determination of who the article is intended for.
  4. The thesis presentation is the main idea of ​​the paper.

The body can contain the following data:

  1. Three arguments to support the thesis.
  2. Examples from personal life.
  3. Discussion of the obtained research results.

The conclusion may contain the following data:

  1. Summarizing all the information written earlier.
  2. You’re calling the reader to action.
  3. A rhetorical question.

Instructions for Drawing Up Each Part of the Outline

As we have already noted, your research can consist of three essential parts and sub-points. Let’s take a look at what to include in each section.


The introduction is the first part of your research. The introduction will help the reader understand whether to study the paper or postpone. The first part should be interesting, intriguing, informational, engaging, but without details. As you write your introduction, you need to pay attention to these four points:

  1. An acquaintance of the reader with the topic. You must define your topic so the reader knows if there is important information here.
  2. Crochet hook. The introduction should occupy 10% of the total volume of the article. Of this 10%, 5% is taken by the hook. Come up with five sentences that will grab the reader’s attention. For example, you can give statistics, and these figures will convince the reader that your article contains a lot of unique information. You can also come up with provocative information – very often, controversial points arouse interest.
  3. Determination of who the article is intended for. When you start writing the first lines, you should clearly understand who you are writing for. This approach allows you to find out if this article will be of interest to anyone. It is also here that you must determine why the article is suitable for this particular audience. For example, if you write for doctors, then write that there is no information for programmers.
  4. Thesis presentation. This is where you write the main idea of ​​the article. You should also explain to the readers why the topic is important to you and worth society’s attention. The thesis should be 1-2 sentences. That is, briefly, but to the point. Moreover, the idea should be bright, explosive since your task is to make people want to read the text. It is not for nothing that you worked so hard.


The body is the essential part of the research work. There is no specific indication of how many words or pages a body should contain. The teacher can give recommendations on the volume, but if there are none, write as much as your topic requires. The body can contain from three to ten sections – it all depends on the idea if you have many arguments to support the thesis. You can split them into several parts – your article will look great.

Here you must provide all the evidence that you could find in the course of the study. It would help if you started each section with a topical sentence that you can support with evidence. Do not write that you have no evidence for this assumption! Readers will accept your article as an innovative idea with no confirmation. Your assumptions should be supported by quotes from authoritative people or examples from life, statistical data. Don’t forget to style your quotes according to the same style: APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.

To avoid criticism, you can give counter arguments to show the topic from two sides. However, counter arguments also need to be supported by evidence. The opposite facts will show the reader that you have delved into the topic and conducted a qualitative analysis of the data. Also, the teacher will see that you are skillful in approaching complex problems, and such an opinion will increase your academic reputation.

The body should match the style and tone you showed in the introduction. The writing style, format, technique, and font should be the same throughout the writing. The same styles will help you with this: APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard. We are not encouraging you not to get creative. You can use artistic tricks, provided it is appropriate, and the topic is not about nuclear war. Perhaps your teacher is already familiar with the topic. However, this does not mean that you should relax. Write as if your reader is unfamiliar with the topic – in simple and understandable language.


The final part of your research will contain a paraphrase of the main idea and important information so that readers will remember what they read for a long time. The conclusion, like the introduction, should take 10% of the total volume. The conclusion should not contain new information since this is a reason for new ideas, and the article will look unfinished. When composing an introduction, you can pay attention to the following points:

  1. You are summarizing all previously written information. In the final part, you again report whether you managed to achieve your goals and prove the assumption. You don’t need to write down every piece of evidence in detail – show that your idea is worth the attention, and authority figures can back it up.
  2. Encourage your reader to take action. A call to action is a kind of final instruction for the reader. Suppose you wrote about why it is worth separating garbage. Therefore, in conclusion, you can write the following phrases: “Proper disposal and sorting of waste can solve many environmental and financial problems on store shelves. Fight for a clean environment!”
  3. Ask a rhetorical question. Rhetorical questions do not require an answer. They serve to affirm or deny something emotionally. They carry specific information, make you think about the problem, emphasize its importance, and awaken imagination and feelings. The use of rhetorical questions enhances the emotionality of speech and attracts the reader’s attention. Therefore, people will think about your topic for a long time.

Conclusion. Why Is The Research Paper Outline So Important?

Drafting the outline simplifies the writing stage since you don’t have to keep all the thoughts in mind at the same time. If you have to do research and write the results of it, you will have tons of data. In case of not missing the important facts, it is better to create an outline first.

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