Research Paper Outline – A Complete Writing Guide

A research paper is a complicated task, and you should not leave it until later. This assignment is compulsory therefore you should know how to write it properly in order to get good marks. Before you move to the writing process, you should prepare a research paper outline.

Outline for a research paper is necessary as it helps to put together your thoughts and ideas. But sometimes, it can be challenging to prepare an outline for a research paper. For this reason, we have prepared this complete writing guide where information on how to prepare research essay outlines is included.

What is a Research Paper Outline?

Your research essay outline is a blueprint for the entire subject. It is used as a plan of action that learners should follow throughout the writing process. If you decide to prepare a college research paper outline, you will get the following benefits:

  • You can organize your thoughts and ideas properly.
  • Your outline of a research paper is a detailed structure of your future paper.
  • It helps to show your understanding of a concrete theme.
  • A paper outline can assist in avoiding mistakes by shaping a theme.
  • With its help, you will not forget to mention important points.

We may conclude that preparing an outline of a research paper is as important as the writing process itself.

How to Write a Research Paper Outline?

Now let’s sort out the steps of preparing an outline for your paper. Remember to include the following items: title page, abstract, table of contents, introductory part, research paper body, method, results, discussion, bibliography, and appendix.

Title page

A research paper should possess the title. It should explain what the research paper is about and the way it assists in proving the arguments. Remember to include such elements as the learner’s full name, teacher’s name, the course title, and submission date.


The abstract refers to a brief summary of your research paper. It should consist of five to six sentences. Moreover, it should involve the main information. The abstract follows after the title page and concentrates on the following things. They are the main arguments, subject matter, research methods, partakers, and consequences. The abstract should be 150 to 200 words.

Table of Contents

The table of contents is where the chapters and sections are summarized. It likewise involves the title and descriptions of headlines and subheadings. This section assists in presenting your readers with the entire overview of the contents of your research paper. Your readers can see what is included in your paper and go directly to a concrete section.


The introductory part is the most significant section of any research paper. It helps to present the theme and respond to the research question. Also, it should explain the significance of the subject matter for the readers. Its main goal is to attract the attention of the audience with the help of strong arguments. Therefore, your introduction should be engaging and interesting for readers. The introductory part should consist of the following elements:   

  • Prepare a hook. This is usually 1 to 2 sentences long. It serves as an engaging start to convince your audience to continue reading.
  • Include background information. It provides the historical background of the theme together with the general information for better comprehension.
  • Create a strong thesis statement as it explains the main points of your research paper. Your thesis statement should be clear and to the point.

With the help of these elements, you will for sure write a compelling introductory part.


The research paper body is the main section of a paper. Usually, it consists of several paragraphs. You should involve the relevant information, evidence, and examples in order to maintain your argument. It is a good idea to add counterarguments. They help to give an idea to the readers with your understanding of the theme.


In this section, you should mention the methods and types of equipment you have used to perform your research work. The methods and techniques can alter according to the subject matter. You should provide a detailed explanation of how you have carried out the research.

If you have difficulties with preparing any of the sections, you can use a research paper example but do not copy the example of the research paper completely. Use research essay examples in order to look at what elements should be included.


If you want to prepare a good research paper, it should involve facts and figures that confirm the argument. In this part, you should concentrate on the findings of the research paper. It will be a good idea to include as many statistics, numbers, and facts as possible. The utilization of tables and graphs can help you to become structured and precise. Also, tell your readers the way the outcome has influenced the field of research. 


Many learners confuse the results and discussion sections. Still, there is a line that separates these sections. Results are concentrated on numbers and facts. But in the discussion part, you should check if the expected results are reached or not.

Bibliography and Appendix

In the bibliography section, you should name all the sources that you have utilized in your paper. In the appendix section, you can add tables, charts, facts, images, etc. Still, the appendix section is not always necessary.

Research Paper Outline Format

When you are composing a paper, you should include definite elements in it. In order to simplify formatting, there is a need to create an outline. The format of your research paper can alter based on educational institution or preference. It is obvious that the APA research paper outline will be different from the MLA research paper outline. Below we have prepared a detailed description of both usually utilized outline formats.     

MLA Format

The research paper outline of MLA format should involve the following items.

  • Names of learner and teacher, class, and date. These items should be placed on the first page.
  • The headline involves the page numbers in the top right corner.
  • All titles should be written in italics.
  • You should add a complete list with endnotes that are placed before cited works. 

You can view the research paper outline template of MLA format for better understanding. This is as easy as finding various research outline examples.

APA Format

Below are the main characteristics of the research paper outline of APA format.

  • You should prepare a separate cover page.
  • The cover page includes information such as the title, author’s name, university, and supervisor.
  • The header involves the page numbers and the title of the research paper.
  • If you look at the research paper outline example of APA format, it contains Abstract.

Here again, you can view the APA research paper outline template on the Internet.

Standard Research Paper Outline Format

Remember that a standard research paper outline consists of an introductory part (with hook and strong thesis statement), body paragraphs (with arguments to maintain your thesis statement), and conclusion (summary of arguments and call to action). You can find detailed outline examples on the Internet and create your perfect outline.

Sample Outline for Research Papers

On the Internet, you can find sample outlines for research papers. Download a paper outline example in order to understand and write your own outline. Moreover, you can pick up examples of research papers if you do not have time on creating an outline.

We will help you with a Research Paper

If you can not allocate time to analyzing research paper examples or sample outlines for research papers, we have a solution for you. There is a possibility to ask professional writers to prepare the entire research paper instead of you. They can provide you with a college research paper example, a research paper outline example, and even write your research paper from scratch. For instance, send the “I need an example of a research paper and sample research paper outline” request, and writers will respond to this request as fast as possible. 

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