How to Write a Term Paper
Term papers, usually referred to as research or academic papers, are a type of assignment that causes many students struggles. Writing an A+ term paper takes much more than a couple of hours spent on research and several lines on a paper. Usually, there are occasions when you're not exactly sure where to begin. Therefore, we included the most crucial elements and standards for term papers, and their writing process in a broader context, to help you avoid feeling helpless and underprepared.
Before we dive deep into the term paper format, let's first define what it is and look into the objectives of writing term papers with our research paper service.
What Is a Term Paper
A term paper is a research paper required at the end of a school semester. It tracks and evaluates students' knowledge about the course. Usually, a scientific report or a discussion of an assigned topic, a term paper, requires a lot of research and technical writing expertise. Therefore, this academic writing assignment must be well-written, analytical, organized, and well-researched, reflecting your knowledge of a certain course.
Watch our video guide to get more information about this type of research paper, then get back to reading. Our next step in writing a term paper is choosing a topic.
Term Paper Topics
Instructors usually provide topics related to your course. However, sometimes you are free to choose your own topic. Try surfing the web, reading articles, news, magazines, and blogs to get ideas for your term paper. Make sure that the chosen topic will fulfill the objectives of your course and will interest you. If a certain topic interests you, researching and writing about it will be easier and more fun.
The following should be considered when choosing a topic:
- Length: Consider the length of the required assignment. Will it be 10 pages long or 5 pages short? How many words are required? Considering the length will help you choose a certain topic because you will be able to decide how broad or narrow your subject will be.
- Resources: Check out your school or community library for any available resources. You can also look for any available online resources. Make sure you have hands-on books and other materials to reference for your paper.
- Complexity: Make sure that you will be able to explain your topic—no matter how complex it may be. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask experts. Have your professor explain certain areas in your topic that you don’t feel you’ve fully grasped.
Eliminate overused topics
Avoid being swayed by concepts that are very trendy and overused. Mainstream subjects do not pique the interest of readers or teachers. Even if it was not your intention, you can find yourself creating identical material if you chose this topic.
Select a Doable Topic
Select a subject that you can convincingly discuss in the allotted time. Sometimes our passion leads us to choose a term paper topic that is challenging to handle with the resources at hand. To make it manageable, you need to scale down a topic that is both intriguing and motivating to you.
Leave a message 'write paper for me' to our term paper writing services and get help asap.
How to Start a Term Paper
Before starting, make sure to follow the instructions that were given to you. Clarifications should be made with your instructor before doing any research or writing work. Don't wait until the last minute before you start writing a research paper. If you want quality work and a high grade, plan and make time every day for writing your assignment. Allot time for proofreading your work before handing it to your professor.
A good way to start is by creating a compelling and creative title. Your title page is the first impression of your work, so make sure that it will capture your reader's attention.
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Term Paper Outline
The outline should be produced before and while researching and writing a term paper because it will serve as the basis around which you will build your work. There are a lot of templates to choose from, but most of the time your instructor will require you to follow a certain essay format. The main parts should include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
The structure should be organized and well-researched. Technical writing skills should be crucial in organizing your ideas. The following is a general term paper format or layout that you should follow in presenting your argument or topic:
- Cover page: Align the text that contains your name, course number, your teacher’s name, and the date of the deadline in the center of the page.
- Abstract: Usually less than a page long, the abstract describes your work. It lets readers know where the term paper is headed, the issue at hand, and why the subject was interesting or important enough that you decided to write about it.
- Introduction: The introduction should begin with a statement of the topic to be discussed. Explain the significance of the topic or problem at hand and write about how you plan to discuss or resolve the issue.
- Body: The body of your text should contain the main points from your research. Provide information about the topic so that the reader can further understand what is being discussed. Don’t forget certain positions pertaining to the issue and the analysis of the research you have done. Read more about critical analysis essay .
- Results: Explain why your research has led you to believe certain things about your subject. How has your view changed from when you began the project? Has it stayed the same, and why? Tie everything you’ve been explaining into what you had stated in your introduction.
- Discussion: End with a summary and a conclusion about the topic in question. Finish by stating an opening question or by prompting the reader to continue his or her own research on the subject through a discussion.
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How to Write a Term Paper Proposal
Before researching and writing, you should know what a term paper proposal is. Basically, you should be able to defend your topic to your instructor through this proposal. This proposal must be handed in and approved before writing the actual term paper.
Include recent studies or research on your topic. Don't forget to insert proper referencing. State the relevance of your topic to your course effectively by submitting a short article with a clear explanation. Provide your objectives and organize the flow of your ideas.
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If your professor didn’t provide a proposal template or sample, you can follow this format:
- Title: This is the draft title of what you want to research. Make it clear and comprehensible.
- Objectives: This part should define your outcomes after your research.
- Relevance and Importance: Include recent news, social events, articles, and blogs that convey the importance of the topic. Your topic should be up to date and capture the attention of the reader.
There are many examples of term paper proposals available online, including formats and templates. You can follow these formats, but make sure that you maintain your proposal’s organization and do not forget to highlight your main points and objectives. Take a look compare and contrast essay example .
Term Paper Format
For the format, first consider the length and the citation style you will use. When you have researched a certain topic, you are required to use a specific citation style. If you neglect to reference properly, you might be accused of plagiarism. Also, a term paper is an academic writing assignment, therefore APA or MLA citation styles are commonly used.
- Use APA (American Psychological Association) term paper format for social sciences. To reference a book in an APA style term paper, the author’s name, the book’s title, the year of publication, the publisher, and its location are needed. So make sure to not forget to include this information during your research.
- The MLA (Modern Language Association) format is most commonly used in liberal arts and humanities. The publication name, date, and location are needed in this format as well.
Term Paper Example
Click on the button to open our term paper example.
The timeline of events from 1776 to 1861, that, in the end, prompted the American Civil War, describes and relates to a number of subjects modern historians acknowledge as the origins and causes of the Civil War. In fact, pre-Civil War events had both long-term and short-term influences on the War—such as the election of Abraham Lincoln as the American president in 1860 that led to the Fall of Fort Sumter in April of the same year. In that period, contentions that surrounded states’ rights progressively exploded in Congress—since they were the initial events that formed after independence. Congress focused on resolving significant issues that affected the states, which led to further issues. In that order, the US’s history from 1776 to 1861 provides a rich history, as politicians brought forth dissimilarities, dissections, and tensions between the Southern US & the people of slave states, and the Northern states that were loyal to the Union. The events that unfolded from the period of 1776 to 1861 involved a series of issues because they promoted the great sectional crisis that led to political divisions and the build-up to the Civil War that made the North and the South seem like distinctive and timeless regions that predated the crisis itself.
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If you’re still asking yourself, “Who can help me with essay writing ", don’t hesitate to use EssayPro. Experienced writers will immediately write, proofread, or improve your academic paper. They can also help you choose a topic and edit your references into APA or MLA format. So, what are you waiting for?
How Can You Create a Well Planned Research Paper Outline
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: 4b. Outline the Paper
- Get Started
- 1a. Select a Topic
- 1b. Develop Research Questions
- 1c. Identify Keywords
- 1d. Find Background Information
- 1e. Refine a Topic
- 2a. Search Strategies
- 2d. Articles
- 2e. Videos & Images
- 2f. Databases
- 2g. Websites
- 2h. Grey Literature
- 2i. Open Access Materials
- 3a. Evaluate Sources
- 3b. Primary vs. Secondary
- 3c. Types of Periodicals
- 4a. Take Notes
- 4b. Outline the Paper
- 4c. Incorporate Source Material
- 5a. Avoid Plagiarism
- 5b. Zotero & MyBib
- 5c. MLA Formatting
- 5d. MLA Citation Examples
- 5e. APA Formatting
- 5f. APA Citation Examples
- 5g. Annotated Bibliographies
For research papers, a formal outline can help you keep track of large amounts of information.
Thesis: Federal regulations need to foster laws that will help protect wetlands, restore those that have been destroyed, and take measures to improve the damange from overdevelopment.
I. Nature's ecosystem
A. Loss of wetlands nationally
B. Loss of wetlands in Illinois
1. More flooding and poorer water quality
2. Lost ability to prevent floods, clean water and store water
II. Dramatic floods
A, Cost in dollars and lives
1. 13 deaths between 1988 and 1998
2. Cost of $39 million per year
B. Great Midwestern Flood of 1993
1. Lost wetlands in IL
2. Devastation in some states
C. Flood Prevention
1. Plants and Soils
2. Floodplain overflow
III. Wetland laws
A. Inadequately informed legislators
2. Interconnections in natural water systems
B. Water purification
IV. Need to save wetlands
A. New federal definition
B. Re-education about interconnectedness
1. Ecology at every grade level
2. Education for politicians and developers
3. Choices in schools and people's lives
Example taken from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (9th ed).
How to Create an Outline
To create an outline:
- Place your thesis statement at the beginning.
- List the major points that support your thesis. Label them in Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.).
- List supporting ideas or arguments for each major point. Label them in capital letters (A, B, C, etc.).
- If applicable, continue to sub-divide each supporting idea until your outline is fully developed. Label them 1, 2, 3, etc., and then a, b, c, etc.
NOTE: EasyBib has a function that will help you create a clear and effective outline.
How to Structure an Outline
- << Previous: 4a. Take Notes
- Next: 4c. Incorporate Source Material >>
- Last Updated: Sep 30, 2022 10:32 AM
- URL: https://libguides.elmira.edu/research
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How to Outline a Term Paper
Last Updated: February 10, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 248,023 times.
A term paper is usually, but not always, a research-based essay due at the end of a semester or term. In it, you are expected to demonstrate knowledge and mastery of the material covered over the previous term. Your teacher or professor may rely heavily on the quality of your term paper when determining your grade or mark in the course. Outlines are a way of organizing your thoughts and lending an overall structure to your paper, so that it contains a logical progression and smoothly transitions from one focus to another as you build up your case step-by-step.
Laying the Groundwork
- If you have any questions about your term paper, ask ahead of time. Instructors are usually happy to answer questions provided you’ve read the assignment or prompt first and give them enough time to answer.
- Do not wait until a day before the paper is due to email your instructor a question about the paper. S/he is likely very busy at that point and will probably not have time to respond. This delay also suggests to your instructor that you have not planned ahead or given the assignment the proper attention.
- You’ll also want to identify your purpose for the paper. Sometimes, this is given to you, such as “Write an analytical paper about ___” or “Discuss the history of ___”. If it isn’t, you may have some freedom to determine your own purpose. Is it to persuade, inform, argue, or analyze? It’s a good idea to check in with your instructor to make sure that your goal aligns with the assignment.
- If you have a library, consult with your librarian. Librarians are excellent resources who can guide you to credible and relevant research sources.
- Make sure your sources are reliable. It’s a good idea to look in published books, peer-reviewed journals, and government or university websites. Credible, mainstream journalism sources, like The New York Times or The Guardian, are also helpful, though make sure you do not rely on editorial or “opinion” pieces as sources of fact.
- Keep track of your sources. EndNote and RefWorks are very handy for keeping a record of sources you consult. You may have access to these through your school. You can also keep track by writing the bibliographic information (author’s name, title, publisher, place and date of publication) on an index card or in a word processing document. Make sure you record the page numbers and sources for any quotations you copy out.
- Try freewriting. Write for 5-10 minutes about whatever comes to mind about your topic. Don’t stop or edit yourself. Once you’ve written, review your material and highlight or underline things that seem useful starting points. You can repeat this exercise multiple times to generate ideas.  X Research source
- Try clustering. Clustering is a type of mind-mapping that can help you see connections between ideas. Start by writing your topic on the center of a piece of paper and draw a box around it. Then, draw a few lines extending from the box. At the end of each of these lines, write down an idea that corresponds to this topic and circle each. Continue drawing lines outward and connecting ideas until you feel like you’ve thoroughly explored the connections between facets of your topic.  X Research source
- Try questioning. The big questions, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?”, can help you determine what information you need in your paper. Write each question on a separate sheet of paper and respond to the question in as much detail as you can. When you hit places where you do not have answers to the question, make a note to yourself -- these are places where you’ll need to do some inquiry or research.
- It is common in high school to write 3-prong thesis statements, which include three main points, each of which will have its own body paragraph. This type of thesis rarely works for term papers, as they are longer and more complex essays. Go with a statement that states the main focus or claim for your paper.
- Work on your paper in stages, if you can. Give yourself at least a day between each stage to allow you to come to the paper with fresh eyes.
Outlining a Term Paper
- Don’t fully write the introduction yet. It’s generally best to wait to draft your introduction until you’ve written the essay. Your thesis and argument is likely to evolve as you write, so spending too much time on the introduction up front may be a waste of time.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- Write a placeholder outline for now. Introductions usually begin with a broad statement and narrow in until you present your thesis statement. Provide a few bullet points about where you will start and include your thesis statement.
- Your topic sentences should set the direction for the paragraph. Make sure they act as a “road map” to let the reader know what the main topic will be.
- Avoid using facts or statements that don’t give an idea of what the rest of your paragraph will argue. A good topic sentence will be informative, directional, and interesting.
- For example, “Salt water is not suitable for drinking” is not a great topic sentence for a paragraph on water rights, because it does not communicate the main idea of the paragraph. “It is a human right to have clean water” is a better topic sentence, because it asserts your main argument for the paragraph.
- I is your introduction. II is your first body paragraph, III is your second body paragraph, and so forth. Place each Roman numeral on a new line, followed by a topic sentence.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with the paragraph order. You may find that as you develop your paragraphs further, they fit better in other sections of the paper.
- Place the capital letter on a new line beneath the first level. Indent the second level about 0.5” past the first level. Many word processing programs will do this automatically.
- List your subtopics beneath your topic sentence. Each subtopic should be related to the main goal or idea of the paragraph.
- Use your research and the material you generated during prewriting to help you fill in this level.
- Use this level to provide evidence or further explanation for your subpoints.
- You do not have to write a full conclusion while outlining. You may not have a clear idea of how you want to conclude until you’ve written more of the essay.
- Common ways to conclude an essay including returning to the theme you introduced in the introduction, extending the relevance of your argument to a broader context or concern, proposing a course of action or solution to a problem, or ending with a provocative question.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- Begin a decimal outline with “1.0” and each subsequent section with the next number (“2.0”, “3.0”, etc.).
- Change the number after the decimal point to reflect new information. For example, “2.1” might be your first subpoint, and “2.2” would be your second subpoint.
- You can continue adding subsections by adding another decimal point and number, such as “2.1.1” etc.
Outlining During Revision
- Try to limit your summary to a sentence. You can also use a key phrase or a few keywords.
- If you’re having trouble summarizing the main idea, it could be a sign that your paragraph is wandering. Consider splitting your paragraph into two paragraphs so that you can devote one to each idea.
- You may need to consider moving paragraphs around. In some cases, you’ll even need to delete -- yes, delete! -- and rewrite sentences or even whole paragraphs.
- Physically swap the paragraphs around. Do they make better sense in another order?
- In a strong term paper, each paragraph will build upon the previous one, so that there is only one ideal way to structure them for your argument. If you can swap the paragraphs around easily, you may need to hone your focus.
- Consider adding clearer transitions and topic sentences to help make stronger connections between your paragraphs.
- After you’ve revised the term paper, double-check with the new outline to make sure that you have stuck with the structure you decided upon.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- Use an order that works for you. No guidelines can work 100% of the time. However, putting your ideas and evidence in an order where one topic provides the background necessary to understand the next, or explains the significance and context of the next idea, is important. Clarity is your goal. Having an overall vision or feeling for how the term paper should be, and writing down the key points as you work through your vision, is an excellent way of organizing your term paper. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Don't feel chained to your outline. When you actually write the term paper, you'll have a much more detailed view of how your essay is turning out. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/understanding-assignments/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
- ↑ http://www.butte.edu/services/library/documents/TermPaper.pdf
- ↑ http://writing.ku.edu/prewriting-strategies
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/introductions/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
- ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/paragraphs/topicsentences
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/how_to_outline.html
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conclusions/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/types_of_outlines.html
- ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/planning-and-organizing/organizing
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
About This Article
To outline a term paper, first outline your introduction by writing your thesis statement and adding a few bullet points of what you'll say to kick off your paper. Then, outline the body of your essay by writing a topic sentence for each paragraph you want to include. You should also add subpoints to each paragraph section that include what evidence you'll be presenting in the paragraph. Finally, outline your conclusion by writing the main points you'd like to use to wrap up your paper. For help researching and preparing for your term paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example
Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on November 29, 2022.
A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.
A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:
- Organize your thoughts
- Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
- Ensure nothing is forgotten
A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.
Table of contents
Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.
- Definition of measles
- Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
- Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
- Symptoms and timeframes of disease
- Risk of fatality, including statistics
- How measles is spread
- Immunization procedures in different regions
- Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
- Immunization figures in affected regions
- High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
- Illnesses that can result from measles virus
- Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
- Summary of arguments of different groups
- Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
- Which side of the argument appears to be correct?
Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:
- Decide on the subject of the paper
- Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
- Organize related ideas into sub-groups
- Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
- Create headings and subheadings that are effective
- Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format
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There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.
An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.
- 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.
- Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A
A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.
- 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
- 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
- 1.2 Second point
To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.
There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.
Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form
Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.
Example of parallelism:
- Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization
Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight
Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.
Example of coordination:
- Include immunization figures in affected regions
- Illnesses that can result from the measles virus
Subordination: Work from general to specific
Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.
Example of subordination:
Division: break information into sub-points.
Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.
Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .
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