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Student Guide: Writing a Research Paper Outline

What is a Research Paper?

❶Did I miss anything? Familiarize yourself with a one-level outline.

This article is a part of the guide:

MLA Recommendations On How to Write an Outline
How to Write a Research Paper?
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But the fact is that each of the points encompasses a wide range of information for you to arrange in your research outline about animals, for example. The Introduction part is one of the most important ones. Because it presents the reader with the topic of your paper and it is like a hook that attracts the reader's interest. Here you are supposed to mention the top essential components like the thesis statement, the explanation of the topic some major points, general information , explanation of the core terms related to your study.

The Body part is the amplest one and consists of several paragraphs or subparts. Here you bring the arguments to support your statement. The methodology is what follows the introduction section. It gives the insight into the way you carried out the research and should include the investigation type and the questionnaire you have fulfilled. Never forget about the aims of the investigation that should be also stated in the introduction.

Make sure to include the literature overview. Here mention the literature you used as a backup to your hypothesis and theories. This part will show how you can operate the terms, theory and existing evidence.

Your main theme and the chosen literature should be adjacent. Demonstrate how your input develops and distends the existing works. Data and analysis usually go after methods and literature. Here present your results and other variables that you have got in the process of the survey. Use tables or graphs if necessary to be more precise and structured. An outline is a great way to organize ideas and information for a speech, an essay, a novel, or a study guide based on your class notes.

At first, writing an outline might seem complicated, but learning how to do it will give you an essential organizational skill! Start by planning your outline and choosing a structure for it. Then, you can organize your ideas into an easy to understand outline. The easiest way to write an outline is to gather all of your supporting materials, like quotes, statistics, or ideas, before getting started.

Next, go over your materials and take notes, grouping similar ideas together. Then, organize your ideas into subtopics and use your materials to provide at least two supporting points per subtopic. Decide if you will write your outline by hand or type it.

If you're preparing your outline just for your own use, choose what works best for you. If you're preparing your outline for an assignment, follow your instructor's directions.

Some people process their ideas better when they write them down. Additionally, you can easily draw diagrams or examples, which might help you conceptualize the subject. However, it might take longer to write out your outline, and it won't be as neat. Typing your outline might be easier if your notes are already typed on the computer, as you can just copy and paste them into your outline.

Copying and pasting also allows you to easily rearrange your sections, if necessary. Also, it will be easier to copy and paste information from your outline into your paper if you type your outline.

On the other hand, it's harder to jot down notes in the margins or draw out organizational diagrams. Narrow down your topic. Outlines help you organize your thoughts, ideas, or research regarding a topic. Without a main topic, your outline has no purpose. Your topic may be based on an assignment or could stem from a personal goal. Then, allow the outlining process to help you structure your work.

As you write your outline, you might narrow this down to the resistance fighters called maquisards. Identify the purpose of your outline, such as inform, entertain or reflect. Think about what you hope to accomplish with your outline. Will you complete an essay assignment?

This allows you to determine what that essay, book, or speech will do for the reader. Know your intended audience. However, many times you are preparing them for yourself, either to help you complete an assignment or to help you accomplish a goal. If the outline is for work, use an existing outline as a model for yours. If you are the only person who will see the outline, you can choose formatting that works for you.

For example, you might write your outline in shorthand. Assemble your notes, research or supporting materials, if applicable. You might incorporate some of the following: Brainstorm to identify your argument or main ideas. Jot down your ideas, important bits of research, and any questions you might want answered. For a creative project, you might write down scene ideas or plot points.

Write down everything you might include in your outline. You can always eliminate ideas later! Here are some ways to organize your thoughts: Create a mind map. Write your thoughts on index cards. Develop a thesis or controlling idea for your outline.

In most cases, this will be the thesis you use to complete the final product, such as an essay. For example, you may be writing a paper about policy change. Write an alphanumeric outline for the easy approach. Although you might not recognize the name, most outlines follow the alphanumeric format. Each level of your outline will be organized using a letter or number.

Make a decimal outline to highlight the relationship between ideas. A decimal outline looks very similar to an alphanumeric outline. However, a decimal outline only uses numbers, and each sublevel is set off with decimals.

This allows you to illustrate that each sublevel is a part of a larger argument. Decide if you want to write full sentences or short phrases. Most outlines include short phrases, which are also called topic outlines.

However, using full sentences can help you better understand your ideas. You might use full sentences to make it easier to write a final paper, to make a good study guide, or to fulfill the requirements of an assignment. Group your ideas together. Review your brainstorming, placing related ideas in the same group. You can always eliminate ideas you realize are unnecessary.

These groups will become main points, so narrow your groups down until you have your desired number of main points. For an essay or speech, that often means 3, but a creative piece may have more. Sort your index cards, if you used them to brainstorm. Put cards with related ideas together. For example, you can put them in stacks, or you can line your cards out in rows to make them easier to read. Put each group in order from broad ideas to specific details. Broad ideas are more likely to be your main points, while details are the bits of information you will use to support those ideas.

Depending on the purpose of your outline, you may have many subpoints and supporting details. However, aim to have at least subpoints and supporting details for each main idea. Your subpoints might be that Victor Frankenstein is restored by nature and that his scientific efforts create a monster. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read.

Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers. If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise.

Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author. More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form.

In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics. The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another. The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order. All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other.

Make the first outline tentative. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct.

Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place. You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question.

Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page. Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e.

This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline. Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e.

Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e.

Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e.

Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined.


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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.

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The outline structure is approximately the same whether you write a research outline on dreams or some topic distant from this one, like a research outline for PhD application. The structure is identical to the structure of the research paper itself.

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An outline is a great aid when you are trying to amalgamate and assess the research paper, because it allows you to see certain links between different areas, whilst making sure that you do not repeat yourself. Writing a Research Paper This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide.

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