How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

To write a research paper effectively you need to organize your data into an outline that will create a logical flow of argument. One key aspect to success is starting with the knowledge of the proper form that is required. The form could be the MLA format or something more specific to the area you are writing in. The form will dictate how your citations are documented and that is the one aspect of a research paper that most writers lose points on. Knowing the form, it is time to assemble the outline.

Gather the data and assess the logic

The first step is to gather your data. As you take your notes and find your supporting material for your thesis premise, make sure to tie it to the appropriate citation information. Once you have the information gathered, you want to arrange it into groupings of logic and proof. This forms a kind of map that you will follow as you write the paper to get you from point A to point B to the conclusion. There are two different types of grouping orders, chronological or spatial.

Chronological or Spatial Order

Chronological order is often tied to research papers that are talking about historical sequences or developments of cause and consequence evidence. For example, if you are talking about the reasons for a global conflict, the order of events will be chronological. If you are discussing the findings of a behavioral study, they will follow the chronological order of the behavioral modification practice. Spatial order is used when the documentation spans simultaneous time frames. This is most useful when dealing with topics involving inter-relational systems such as medicine, biological science or economic topics.

The main elements

There are three main elements to the outline – introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction contains the premise and establishes the validity of the question. The body contains the grouping order of proof. The conclusion is where you state the outcome of your findings. One hint to making this easier is to start with broad, single statements and then break each statement down into finer parts. This will make sure that your outline follows a logical order, but that nothing is left out.

Once you have the outline, you can begin writing the first draft. Follow the outline and make sure to add to it if during the writing you notice loopholes in the logic or have to answer any new questions that appear as you write.

Thesis Writing Process

  • Thinking and brainstorming
  • Preparing a proposal
  • Doing a research
  • Writing a thesis paper
  • Proofreading the document
  • Revising the thesis

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