Can you imagine cooking your favorite meal for the first time without having step-by-step instructions? It is easy to get lost! Just like a wanderer who cannot find a way out of the woods, a writer needs to know how to write an outline for a research paper. It will prevent one from facing writer’s block. In this article, we are going to discuss how to write a detailed outline for a research paper thanks to the vivid examples and suitable essay structure.
- Defining the Concept & Goals of a Research Paper Outline
- MLA Research Paper Outline Basics
- Mastering APA Outline Format
- Writing An Outline
Defining the Concept & Goals of a Research Paper Outline
What is an outline and why does it matter? A research paper outline is a plan written by the author to avoid being stuck in the middle of the process. Call it an action plan. This part reveals the primary ideas of the study. Once a writer is done with the list of research paper topics to explore, it is necessary to dedicate some time to the outline development.
What is the difference between learning how to write an outline for a research paper and how to develop a table of contents? Well, an outline is not that detailed, and there is no need to put numbers of pages next to each section. An outline allows the amalgamation and review of the study. A writer will not repeat their words; he will stick to the logical flow with the help of an outline.
The assignment’s prompt may not say to write an outline. However, if a project is more than 1000 words in length, a professor utilizes a research paper outline by default. It will not be possible to develop 10,000-word coursework or dissertation without having a plan. An outline structure depends on the type of academic assignment and format. For example, a 5-paragraph essay requires an outline.
MLA Research Paper Outline Basics
MLA is the easiest and most frequently met research paper format, so we should start explaining how to write an outline for a research paper on this example. The Modern Language Association proposed this guide a long time ago. It is used to cite works by the students and professionals from the following fields:
- Comparative literary analysis
- Cultural studies
- History & Anthropology
- English Composition
- Foreign language & literature
- Literary criticism
Use MLA outline when working on the papers from these fields. Start with the primary headings (“Intro” and “Method”) using the upper-case Roman numerals. If the paper is long, with many different subsections, the student should use letters and numbers for the various levels of subheadings.
In a draft, arrange the things in the proper order. Do not go into details until starting the final version of the research paper outline. This part defines how the writer will come up with other integral parts (example: Literature Review).
Use a couple of tips from college professors.
- Depending on the tool a writer uses to create documents, he/she should make sure if the different levels of the outline (II, B, 3, c, j) correspond to the headings in the Microsoft Word as most professors accept only DOC & DOCS format.
- MLA changes its writing guide. Before developing an outline for a research paper, read a recently released version of the manual to see if there are any changes to this resaerch paper format.
Need more info? Check our full guide - how to cite a research paper using MLA format
Mastering APA Outline Format
An APA is more complicated than MLA. The American Psychological Association has established it. Students and professionals use APA format in these fields:
- Social sciences
- Healthcare & nursing
The representatives of other fields apply this format from time to time too. We have prepared a tasty infographic with a good APA outline example!
Writing a Detailed Outline for a Research Paper: Critical Elements to Consider
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 in 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).
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 such section is to allow other scientists interested in the same research question to continue the investigation.
Results & Discussion (R&D)
In most cases, 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.
One may wonder what the difference between a Discussion and Conclusion sections is. 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
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 at the end.
The Solution Is Close - 3 Steps to Your Perfect Paper!
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