Research Paper Outline

Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline provides the road map to the ideas that you intend to discuss in a paper. Therefore, it is critical that you know how to create a good outline that can reflect an outstanding research paper. Read on for great insights on how to go about writing a unique and impeccable research paper outline for an assignment or examination.

An outline represents the actual points that will be used in building your argument for the paper from introduction to conclusion. However, this does not mean that you have to write the paper in the outline. The outline should only briefly list and highlight the ideas to be discussed in the paper.

A research paper outline should also clearly indicate the format that you will pursue in the discussion. This is the best way through which you can provide a proper ‘blueprint’ for the research paper as required.

Guidelines on how to write a research paper outline

One of the main things to bear in mind when planning to write a research paper outline is that the page should contain the following basic sections:

  • The title of the paper
  • Thesis statement or main claim
  • The main or key points of the study
  • Supporting statements or evidence to back up the chief points

The above listed sections will then be framed to make up the introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion of the research paper. Follow the tips outlined below to easily master the art of creating good outlines for research papers.

Understand the assignment

There is a reason why it is always advised that students should carefully read the questions of an assignment or term paper. You should always take some time to read the assignment in order to effectively understand the requirements or what is expected of you. It is only then that you can begin brainstorming on how to create an outline for a research paper or any other.

Choose the topic

Picking a topic for a research paper can sometimes appear challenging, however, it only requires you to simply construct a few words that can summarize the entire study. The topic should be catchy, interesting and easier to describe in the paper.

The topic should be focused on a specific aspect that you are able to explain well in the rest of the paper as per the requirements. In case you do not understand the assignment, it is advisable that you ask your tutor in advance.

Avoid subjects that are too complicated and vague since those might give you problems in handling when it comes to writing the outline and final paper.

Study the subject

In order for you to generate information for the paper, you have to do some research about the topic. Try to find information that can help you in understanding the topic of the paper better. This should include general ideas as well as specifics about the research.

Do your research from previously written papers on the topic and notes by experts. However, the information that you find useful should have a reliable source in order to be included in the points for the paper.

You can do the research online and also from libraries and colleagues. Although, all these ideas will have to undergo proper analysis before use in writing the outline.

Create a thesis

The thesis statement always acts as the main claim of the paper and should be clearly indicated in the outline and final work. Besides, it will guide you on the points to include in the outline to ensure that a proper argument is tabled.

In developing a thesis, choose the main points that portray the ideas you intend to sell or describe in the paper. However, you must be keen to ensure that you have sufficient supporting facts or evidence to prove the claim.

Steps on how to write a research paper outline

In writing a research paper outline, you should have a mind picture of how the actual paper will look and feel with regards to content and tone. Practice the following procedures for help on how to create an outline for a research paper.

Write the title of the paper

This should appear at the top of the outline just as it will be used in the final paper. It should be short, precise and to the point.


This is where you are required to give a highlight on how the subject of research will be introduced to readers. In order to influence readers, the intro should be attractive and informative enough to generate a reaction.

You can simply write a short sentence (s) showing how the discussion will be ignited. On the other hand, you can also simply list the main points that will be used in crafting the opening statements.

The opening sentences of the paper should provide a general view on the topic or subject of study.

Thesis statement

After framing the first statements, you should also write the thesis statement within the section of the introduction since that is where it will be inserted. It is always advisable that you write the entire thesis as it will appear in the final paper in the outline.

In some cases, you can choose to write the thesis statement right at the top of the outline page, just after the topic. However, you should always remember when writing the paper that a thesis statement comes at the end of the introduction.

You can also write down some of the linking phrases that will be used in connecting the introduction to the rest of the paper.

Body paragraphs

In the outline, you should clearly indicate the points that will be discussed in the body of the research. The main points should all be listed down but in the form of topic sentences. You can use numeric or bullets to highlight the main points.

Although the main points will depend on the subject of study, it is always advisable that you have at least three in order to deliver a compelling argument in the paper.

Under each topic sentence, write the supporting statement or evidence that will be used to explain it in the paper. It is also important that you list two or more supporting statements to prove the claim and help readers in understanding the context of the paper.


Since this is a research paper, you are required to list the results of the study in the final part of the paper. Besides, you should also touch on the thesis and close the discussion by giving a broader perspective of the study or telling readers how it can apply to them in real life. On the other hand, your conclusion can also point out to future studies on the subject.

After writing the outline, always take time to proofread and edit every part of it in order for you to create a good research paper.

Examples of research paper outline

For a more elaborate illustration of how a research paper outline should be written, you should also read a few samples. The following are some that will give you more inspiration in creating an outline for your research paper.

Example 1                     

Sample outline for a Research paper

Topic: Cellphones in the hands of drivers; A Risk or a Benefit?

Thesis: Unless the risks of cell phones are shown to outweigh the benefits, we should not restrict their use in moving vehicles; instead, we should educate the public about the dangers of driving while on the phone and prosecute irresponsible phone users under laws on negligent and reckless driving.

  1. Scientific studies have not proved a link between use of cell phones and traffic accidents.
  2. A study by Redelmeier and Tibshirani was inconclusive, since the researcher themselves have admitted…’’-

Example 2

Sample Outline

Title: The Federalist Paper’s Influence on the Ratification of the Constitution

Thesis: The Federalist Papers influenced the ratification of the Constitution by making some of their most important arguments, including the importance of being in a Union by having a Constitution, answering to the objections made by the Anti-federalists about separation of powers, and defending opposing arguments made against the characteristics of the executive and judicial branch as provided in the Constitution.

  1. Introduction
  2. Describe what The Federalist Papers are and when they began…

Example 3

Sample Outline

Title: Common Sense and its impact on American Political Thought

Thesis: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense articulated the anti-British sentiments of the Colonies in a way so unprecedented that it permanently changed the face of political thought in America.

  1. Intro
  2. Thesis statement (already indicated above)
  3. What did Common Sense say that was so different?
  4. It denounced both the Monarchy and English Constitution, which had previously been viewed as a brilliant political document…

In case you may need help on how to create a research paper outline, simply talk to us. Alternatively, you can also simply refer to our homepage to find out how to acquire professional custom writing services from us.