A Sample Outline for a Research Paper

 

Writing a research paper is easier than it looks once you know the secret formula that makes it as easy as plugging in names and dates. What is this great secret to writing the perfect research paper easily? The answer is: developing a clear, concise outline.

            Creating an outline allows you to organize your ideas and information before you start writing. This, in turn, gives you the ability to decide what to write and how to write it before you start, saving you time and effort. Better still, once you have the hard part (plugging in the names, dates, and facts) in your outline, essay writing is as easy as turning your work into complete sentences.

            So, how does the magic of outlining work?

            Well, first the bad news: You still need to do research and think about what you’re writing. This means doing the legwork of going to libraries and databases to gather information and work on developing a thesis. After that, though, outlining helps speed things up.

            An outline begins by ordering the information to present in an essay. You start with the introduction and thesis statement and then move on to presenting your evidence to support your thesis. These are your major topics and the supporting details that provide evidence proving they are true. You do this by arranging your information in order of importance, from main ideas to supporting details.

            Most research papers follow a standard template, which you will find below. Short essays make a paragraph out of each of the Roman numerals in the sample below. Longer essays would make a section out of each Roman numeral and a paragraph out of each capital letter. Thesis-length manuscripts might make a chapter out of each Roman numeral. In other words, you can scale the sample outline for a research paper up or down for an essay of any length.

 

I. Introduction

A. Opening Thought

B. Thesis

 

II. First Major Topic

A. Supporting Detail

B. Supporting Detail

C. Supporting Detail

 

III. Second Major Topic

A. Supporting Detail

B. Supporting Detail

C. Supporting Detail

 

IV. Third Major Topic

A. Supporting Detail

B. Supporting Detail

C. Supporting Detail

 

V. Conclusion

A. Restate Thesis

B. Closing Thought