Though it is not always required, a research paper outline is an important way to make writing your research paper much easier for you. This is why teachers recommend this process and why some teachers ask for one to ensure their students know what they are doing.
If you plan on making an outline, or if you have been asked to create one, then read on to learn more.
- Read a lot
After picking your topic and before outlining, you need to read a lot. The outline is supposed to contain the facts and crucial arguments and theories for your paper. But if you have not read anything yet, you will not be able to include them.
- Keep things brief
Some students make the mistake of writing a very detailed outline, which makes it look like they are already writing the paper itself. The outline should mention brief reminders for you about what you want to include.
- Ensure you follow it
The outline is helpful if you use it as you write. It becomes a guide to ensure you do not lose your way. So this tool is useless if you make it but choose not to look at it.
The following are the different parts of the outline.
- Background: The first part of the introduction is supposed to give the reader the context of your topic, assuming that the reader may not be aware. For the outline, it is good to list the details you want to share about your topic, such as how common people view the issue, what happened before, and what is currently happening.
- Hook: This is a very striking detail, statement, or story that is meant to entice your reader to keep reading.
- Audience: The introduction should mention who the paper is for. It is good to include those who may benefit from reading your final work.
- Thesis statement: The research paper revolves around what you have chosen as your thesis. So it is good to have this written where you can always see it. A good thesis statement is clear and specific.
- Your arguments: You should list the main arguments for your paper so that you do not forget. Include the supporting facts and the connected references. Doing this in the outline will save you much time, as you will not need to look through your notes just to remember.
- The counterarguments: A good paper presents all the angles. So you must also write down the theories or studies that contradict your view. Again, placing the details and references will save time when you write.
Call to action: Similar to how the “hook” in the introduction entices the reader, the “call to action” in the conclusion encourages the reader to do something (or at least makes them feel like something must be done).
The research paper outline is a helpful way to organize your paper, allowing you to follow it as you write. If you want your paper to be completed on time, it is wise to create and use one.