Research Paper Outline Examples & Writing Guide

Writing an academic paper often proves a challenging task for students. besides the vast amount of information to cater to, students are required to organize their ideas into chapters, to present an argument that is easy to follow. 

Unfortunately, planning your paper can prove a trigger for a series of headaches. The research paper outline greatly simplifies your academic writing experience by organizing your thoughts, thus, ensuring that you exhaust your research. 

This article will highlight the steps to writing a research paper outline and showcase an outline for a research paper template to guide your efforts in outlining your paper. 

What is a research paper outline?

A research paper outline is a visual framework highlighting the key points in an academic paper. the research outline helps the writer to fit their arguments into a coherent paper, helping the reader to easily make out the main points. 

How to do a research paper outline

  1. Determine the essay type

Before you rush to complete your paper, check the essay prompt to determine the type of essay you are required to deliver. Different essay types have varying formats with larger research papers chunked into chapters including the methodology, results, abstract, discussion, and conclusion. 

It is thus vital to identify the essay type to avoid errors in the structure of your paper. 

  1. Select your topic

Having identified your essay type, research a suitable topic that allows you to make original arguments. Ideally, your topic should be interesting to give you the impetus to manage the tedious research necessary for a complete argument. 

  1. Conduct extensive research

After narrowing your focus to a specific topic, interact with various sources to identify the existing research gaps. Besides informing you on the gaps you ought to tackle, research widens your perspective on the topic, helping you make an insightful analysis of the existing knowledge. 

  1. Create an outline

Finally, sort your gathered facts into sections to ensure a smooth development of your arguments. When doing this, gauge the gaps in your argument and conduct further research to overcome possible criticism of your paper. 

  1. Tackle essential chapters

If you are dealing with a large research paper, chunk your arguments into the relevant sections for an easier time when you are handling each chapter. We also recommend that you handle each chapter independently to avoid the confusion that comes with tackling your paper as a whole. 

Outline template for research paper

An outline for research papers with five paragraphs is given in the example below:

  1. Introduction

Sentence to begin

Sentence, reference, or quote in support

Sentence, reference, or quotation to support

Thesis – often bearing three points

  1. Body Paragraph I 

Sentence topic about the thesis’s main argument

First, support the line or quote with a justification

Second supporting line or quote with a justification

Third sentence providing evidence for or a quote in support of the topic sentence

  1. Body Section II 

Sentence topic on the thesis’s main argument

 First, support the line or quote with a justification

 Second supporting line or quote with a justification

 Third sentence providing evidence for or a quote in support of the topic sentence

  1. Body Paragraph III

Sentence topic about the thesis’s main argument

 First supporting line or quote with a justification

 Second supporting line or quote with a justification

 Third sentence providing evidence for or a quote in support of the topic sentence

  1. Summary 

Rephrase the thesis in new words

Contextualizing sentence 1

Supporting phrase 2

Final views, including suggestions for additional research or questions

Research paper outline example

The effect of infusing technology into teaching-learning 

  1. Introduction

1.1. Traditional study is largely based on dictation and note-taking which is unideal for visual and kinaesthetic learners.

1.2. Thesis: Integration of tech in teaching-learning can greatly improve student performance.

  1. Body

2.1. Paragraph 1

2.1.1. Traditional study approaches do not engage the learner fully, resulting in easy distraction during class.

2.1.2. Support: Henry’s study (1987) indicated that less than half the class would recall at least a third of the points of a dictated class. The huge load of concepts tackled may give a learner a hard time selecting key ideas.

2.1.3. Conclusion: tech can minimize the content into bits that are easy for the learner to comprehend.

2.2. Paragraph 2

 2.2.1. Notes make it hard to highlight the connection between concepts.

 2.2.2. Support: connecting concepts makes for easy recall of related concepts (Hendricks, 2011).

 2.2.3. Conclusion: tech enables learners to make mind maps and condense ideas into models that are easier to recall.

2.3. Paragraph 3

2.3.1. Instructional games are more engaging and build a positively competitive classroom environment.

2.3.2. Support: games are more interactive and thus ensure maximum focus and attention on teaching-learning activities.

2.3.3. Conclusion: games yield better classroom participation and also diversify the styles of learning, helping learning make cues that are easier to recall.

III. Conclusion

3.1. Restatement of the thesis: technology is a great addition to teaching-learning.

3.2. Emphasize the main point: tech brings about better interaction and also addresses various learning styles of your learners.

3.3. The condensed notes on mind maps and interaction with processes and concepts make for stronger cues that a learner can recall easily.

3.4. Teachers should aim to develop digital literacy among learners and adopt study methods that embrace tech tools and software.

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