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Writing a Research Paper Outline Tips Examples

Writing a Research Paper Outline: Tips, Examples

As a rule, researchers and students have to create research papers from time to time. Writing this type of paper is not as easy as it looks. This assignment is time-consuming and authors face a lot of difficulties during research paper writing. When researchers and learners are assigned to compose this paper, they put aside the writing process until later.
However, such a decision can lead to bad consequences. Sooner or later you should proceed to write a research paper. The earlier you begin to write, the better results will be. But what if you look at a blank document and do not even know how to start the writing process?

There is no need to worry since you are not the only one who appeared in this situation. Even those students who obtained pieces of advice from professors concerning writing research papers can still have unclear representations of how to create a high-quality paper. Fortunately, this article will highlight the importance of the outline of a research paper. With its assistance, research paper writing will become much simpler and more effective.

What is a research paper outline?

Research paper writing differs from the creation of standard essays. This process is more challenging and takes more time for a student. To avoid unpleasant grades from professors and poor-quality content, there is a need to treat the writing process seriously.

When a deadline is near many students decide to order research papers from special online platforms. However, there are several things that can ease research paper creation. One of them is the outline for writing a research paper. Nevertheless, before we sort out how to do a research paper outline, there is a necessity to find out its definition.

A research paper outline stands for a basic format for creating an academic research paper. Usually, an outline adheres to the IMRAD format that consists of an introductory part, methods, results, and discussion. Still, this format can be different since everything will depend on the type of research document.

A proper research paper outline comprises such sections as the title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, acknowledgments, and declaration of competing interests. With the assistance of these sections, researchers and learners can create an effective paper outline. Moreover, these sections can simplify research papers for readers.

research paper outline example
research paper outline example

Why use a research paper outline?

Writing outlines for various types of academic papers play a significant role. Outlines can be regarded as a skeleton of academic papers. Although the process of creating an outline likewise requires time, however, all efforts will be paid off.

There is no doubt that the creation of an outline is an essential part of the whole research paper writing process. It can provide your future paper with a clear structure and enable you to have a better representation of what should be included in your paper. Also, after you break your paper down into a number of sections, the future writing process will become less tiresome.

Moreover, these are not the only reasons why research paper outlines should be utilized. Writing an outline for a research paper can be useful since it is a sort of visual aid and assists authors in the organization of their thoughts. The majority of them include key moments of every paragraph, the thesis, topic and supporting sentences, or quotations. Authors likewise utilize outlines to visualize research paper elements and look at how they fit together.

Before you start writing the research paper itself, the creation of an outline of your paper is a must-have. Another purpose of properly written outlines for research papers is to structure all the important information and data. This will assist you not only to be well-organized but also ensure you forget anything. That’s why you should not underestimate research paper outlines and their writing.

Are there different types of research paper outlines?

It is up to you what to involve in your research paper outline. However, there is a need to keep in mind that sometimes requirements of the task can influence what details should be included within your outline. This is the main reason why there can be various types of research paper outlines.

For instance, a basic outline for a college research paper for a one-page task can include just a list of four or five-paragraph topics. At the same time, a formal research paper for a scientific study can include a description of every sentence in all five parts of a paper: an introductory section, a review of literature, methods, results, and a discussion.

Also, outlines for research papers are distinguished from one-level, two-level, and more. Everything will depend on their complexity. For example, one-level outlines display the section headings or main topics only. At the same time, four-level outlines are more detailed and are broken paragraphs and sentences down.

Moreover, several research paper outline formats can be highlighted. The most popular formats are alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal.

Alphanumeric is the most widespread outline format. Main topics are indicated with Roman numerals, subtopics are indicated with capital letters, concrete points for every subtopic are indicated with Arabic numerals, and additional details for separate points are indicated with lowercase letters. Here you should write the information in not complete sentences but rather short notes (several words).

Full-sentence outline format possesses the same organization as the alphanumeric outline format. The main distinction is that you should write information in not short notes but rather incomplete sentences.

The decimal outline format utilizes a system of numbers with increasing decimal points. Main topics are indicated with whole numbers (1 or 1.0), subtopics are indicated with one decimal point (1.1), points under a subtopic are indicated with two decimal points (1.1.1), and additional details are indicated with three decimal points ( Here information should be written in short notes.

How to write a research paper outline? Steps for writing

After getting your academic assignment to write a research paper, you can proceed to create the outline of your future document at once. Do not you have a representation of how to make an outline for a research paper? There is no need to worry since we are ready to provide you with helpful writing tips. With our recommendations, you will craft a proper outline and as a result top-quality research paper.

  1. Determine the type of research paper. As a rule, research papers for early college and high school consist of five paragraphs and can be descriptive or argumentative.
  2. Select your theme. As a rule, a theme for your paper will be provided to you by your professor. The best themes are those that you are interested in, can grab the attention of readers, and cause controversy. You can write down interesting ideas you plan to discuss within your topic.
  3. Collect information. Your task within this stage is to collect notes, reliable resources, and references that will be useful in supporting your content. All important research should be likewise completed. Remember that every basic idea should possess two or more supporting topics.
  4. Format your outline. After significant ideas are written down, there is a need to organize them properly. For this, one of the above-discussed formats of the paper outline will be handy. It is up to you whether to utilize an alphanumeric, full sentence, or decimal format style. Moreover, it is recommended to utilize a parallel structure. Every section of the outline should start with the identical type of word (for instance, nouns or verbs). If you are going to utilize verbs, make sure you utilize the same tense.
  5. Add main sections. Let’s suppose your research paper will consist of five paragraphs. In this case introduction, body paragraphs related to the thesis, and conclusion are regarded as the main sections.
  6. Include more details. After adding information to the main sections of your outline, you are free to add details if you want. Still, you should be extremely careful adding details. The reason is that if you add too many details, your outline can become your first draft.
  7. Revise a ready outline. Do you think your outline is ready? Then, it is time to check it to make sure there is no need for improvements. It is your last possibility to make a high-quality outline before you proceed to write your first draft. Check your research notes are included within the outline and that you forget nothing.

Writing an outline for your paper is complicated but possible. To make this process simpler, you can take advantage of our above-discussed writing tips and create a brilliant outline.

Video Guide: How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

Benefits of creating a research paper outline

Some researchers and learners neglect writing outlines for their papers. They may think that outlines are not necessary and do not play a significant role. However, as practice shows those students who take time and create outlines, write research papers faster and of better quality.

There is no doubt that you will only benefit from creating an outline for your paper. Dividing your outline into sections can assist you to carry out research on every section and include relevant information.

With your research paper outline, you will have the possibility to organize your thoughts and obtain a clear representation of how to formulate the results of your research. Outlines assist the writer in not just comprehending the flow of information but likewise granting connection between the ideas.

What’s more, outlines of research papers assist authors to get a smooth transition between topics. There is a guarantee that no research point will be missed or forgotten. Moreover, outlines permit readers to orientate through papers simply and grant a better insight into the research. The paper outline enables readers to discover relevant information and quotations from various parts of the research paper.

Another advantage of creating an outline for a paper is that you will stay motivated. As you write your outline, you will be excited about how great your project can be and pleased that everything is going according to plan.

Making an outline may be troublesome and this process requires time. However, it will be more complicated to start writing a research paper from scratch without any representation of what information it should include and what ideas should be discussed. That’s why if you want to avoid unnecessary difficulties, it is advisable to dedicate time to outline writing.

How long should the research paper outline be?

Whether you are a researcher or student, you will have to write research papers sooner or later. You should not consider research paper writing like you are going to create a standard essay. As the title implies, a research paper implies conducting a comprehensive study in order to cover a topic entirely. This means writing this type of paper can be more challenging and time-consuming.

Fortunately, as has been mentioned, outlines for papers come to the rescue of authors. However, if you are going to create your outline for the first time, you may wonder how long this outline should be.

To tell the truth, there is no single answer to this question. The length of your outline will depend on the type of your research paper and its length.

At the same time, the length of your paper will depend on the complexity of the theme. Thus, for example, the length of a standard research paper takes approximately 4,000–6,000 words. Also, you may be assigned to write shorter research papers that take nearly 2,000 words. Or your professor may ask you to create a long paper that takes more than 10,000 words.

If you are going to write a standard research paper of approximately 15-20 pages, your outline should take several pages. However, the more detail you add to your outline, the better it will be. You should keep in mind that you construct the backbone of your future research paper.

Without a comprehensive outline, you can lose track of your paper’s purpose and miss significant things you plan to discuss. Thus, your outline should be long enough to cover the essential content. But you should not make it extremely long in order not to transform your outline into a draft of your paper.

Research paper topic outline

Topics of research paper outlines will depend on the themes of the papers themselves. Your outline serves as the backbone of your future paper. Thus, you should take a topic from your research paper, divide it into subtopics, and write down interesting ideas you want to cover within every subtopic.

For example, you are going to write a research paper on the “air pollution” topic. In your introduction and thesis, you can highlight the importance of decreasing air pollution. Your task is to grab readers’ attention. In the body of your outline, you can divide it into several subtopics.

Within the first subtopic, you can write about the influence of air pollution on humans, while the second subtopic can be dedicated to the influence of air pollution on flora and fauna. Within the third subtopic, you can offer effective methods to decrease air pollution. After that, you can finish your outline with a compelling and persuasive conclusion.

In case you still do not have a topic for your research paper, there is no need to worry. Let’s consider several exciting research paper themes below so it will be easier for you to decide what subtopics to light up within your outline.

  1. The role of fitness advertisements in exercise practices.
  2. Ways of avoiding animal testing.
  3. Effects of obesity on human health.
  4. Are vaccines for children useful or harmful?
  5. Correctness of advertising prescription drugs directly to clients.

It is up to you what topics to illuminate within your outline. Depending on the theme of your paper, you can allocate interesting ideas to readers and include them in your outline.

Examples of research paper outlines

Now, let’s have a look at an outline example for a research paper that can assist you to comprehend the concept of writing your own outline and as a result a high-quality research paper.

  1. Introduction
  2. Introductory Sentence
  3. Thesis Sentence
  4. Body
  5. First Subtheme
    1. supporting evidence
  6. Second Subtheme
    1. supporting evidence
  7. Third Subtheme
    1. supporting evidence
  8. Conclusion
  9. Restatement of Thesis
  10. Persuasive Conclusion

Another research paper outline example is offered below in case your paper is longer than a standard document.

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
    1. Background
      1. Support with evidence
      1. Support with existing literature studies
    1. Thesis Statement
      1. Link literature with a hypothesis
      1. Support with evidence
      1. Explain the knowledge gap and how this research will help build the gap
  4. Body
    1. Methods
      1. Mention materials utilized in research
        1. Support with evidence
    1. Results
      1. Support with tables and figures
      1. Mention appropriate descriptive statistics
    1. Discussion
      1. Support the research with context
      1. Support the research hypothesis
      1. Compare the results with other studies in the field of research
    1. Conclusion
      1. Support the discussion and research study
      1. Support with literature studies
    1. Acknowledgements
      1. Identify and thank the contributors
    1. Declaration of Competing Interests
  5. References

With the assistance of a research paper example outline, it will be simpler for you to have an idea of how your outline should look like. Aside from our proposed examples, you can likewise find a large number of useful templates and examples on the internet.

You can format your outline in any desired style such as alphanumeric, full sentence, or decimal. Remember not to go overboard with information, include only necessary ideas within your outline.

Can Not Create an Outline by Your Own Efforts?  – Order Its Writing Online

Sometimes students and researchers fail to write outlines for their papers. One reason is the lack of time. Authors tend to put off the writing process until later. As a result, the deadline is so near so there is no time for creating an outline for a research paper. Another reason is the uncertainty of how outlines should be written. Despite the above-discussed writing tips being useful, authors can still have doubts about how to set up a research paper outline correctly.

Do not hasten to write a research paper without an outline. You can request the creation of your outline from the Bidforwriting company. Here you can hire a real specialist who will be responsible for writing high-quality research paper outlines.

A large number of users have already taken advantage of the Bidforwriting service. There is the possibility to order not only an outline for your document but also a whole research paper. The team of Bidforwriting guarantees an individual approach to every client and quick results. For example, your essay can be written within just 3 hours.

Thus, if you understand you can not deal with creating an outline, do not waste your time. Instead, rely on expert writers of Bidforwriting who will create an effective research paper outline for you enabling you to avoid undesired stress.


1. How can the research paper outline be determined?

An outline stands for a supporting document that determines the structure of your research paper. The task of the author is to write the outline before the first draft.

2. What is the structure of the research paper outline?

It is possible to divide research paper outlines into sections, paragraphs, and individual points. The number of details within every outline can be different. Everything will depend on the author’s style, requirements for the task, and the difficulty of the theme.

3. What are the main outline formats for research papers?

The most popular research paper outline formats are alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal.

4. What outline research paper format is considered basic?

Alphanumeric is regarded as the basic format for research paper outlines.

5. When is it better to proceed with outline writing?

Our tip is to start making your outline as soon as you are assigned to write a research paper. Before the writing process of the research paper itself and creating the first draft of your future paper, an outline should be written.

6. What are the top recommendations for creating effective research paper outlines?

To write a good research paper outline, you should do everything in the right and logical order. First, determine the type of your paper and topic. After that, your task is to gather information and write down all the ideas you intend to discuss. Then, organize your outline by creating headings and subheadings. Next, you can add some details if necessary, and do not forget to check your completed outline.

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