The Complete Guide to Write a Research Paper Outline

After you have critically organized your thoughts for a research paper and penned it down while burning the night candles, you definitely have to outline it to make the writing easier. Outlining your essay is essential, and failure to do so may render your work disorganized. Before we go into how to plan your paper, let’s look at some preparations to make for your writing.

  • Choosing a topic

The topic you choose for your research paper determines its outcome. It is therefore important to select something relevant, you are interested in, and trending. You must also consider the time factor and your limitations before coming by a topic.

  • Your audience

Which audience is your research work intended for? You may argue that your professor is your audience since he/she may be the only person to read it but look at the bigger picture. You should imagine that you are addressing a broader audience; hence, the language you use and choice of the topic matter. You can use jargon and informal language when your target is the youth, but you can’t do that when addressing intellectuals.

  • State your argument

It is always best to make your stance clear from the start. Are you in support or against the subject? Making this clear allows you to stay focused rather than trying to be neutral and end up showing your biases. Also, your readers need you to know your stance to follow your argument keenly.

  • Research

Research is the engine of every academic paper. After selecting a topic, you need to do thorough research on it by reading books, journals, conference releases, publications, and online sources. It helps you support your claims with the needed facts and figures and ensures its credibility.

  • Referencing

Stating your references shows the level of research you’ve done and makes the work credible. It also saves you from being accused of plagiarism. So any source you use for your project, whether paraphrasing of direct quoting, reference it.

Outlining your research paper

After the prewriting activities, your next task is to outline your paper. The outline is the steps you take to structure your paper. It starts from the introduction, body and ends with a conclusion.

The introduction is where you present your topic to the audience. It contains the thesis statement and a hook stating the relevance of the project. It should be catchy enough to urge your audience to read further. A poorly written introduction can make interesting research work remain on the shelves.

The body

The body of your research paper contains the main ingredients of your work.  It is the most significant part of your paper, where you make your arguments and defend it with facts and statistics. It does not have a limited word count, except that you have to be in the range of the limit given by your tutor. Each point you state here should be backed with evidence and must the referenced accordingly.


This is where you summarize all your points and emphasize your main arguments. Your readers should be able to get all the ideas behind your research work after reading the conclusion. Remember that it should be brief and concise.

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