How to write the perfect outline for a research paper

How to write the perfect outline for a research paper? Writing outlines for research papers can be exceedingly beneficial for organizing your thoughts regardless of the research paper’s length and complexity. For simplifying the writing process, making the research paper outline before beginning scholarship or contest papers can be of great help. The advantages of having such skills during higher education and some specific careers will make the time spend on learning it worthwhile.

The focus of this article is on the process of preparing a high-quality outline for your research paper in order to have high-quality research papers. You should determine the type of your essay after the identification of your research topic. We usually consider three frequently used formats for research papers: descriptive essays, argumentative essays, and comparative essays. Fortunately for you, all of these formats are structured similarly.                                                                                           

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What is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is a designed blueprint for actions that most students follow while writing. This design is a mind map that focuses on a specific subject. The advantages of having a good research paper outline are as follows:

  • A well-structured outline manifests your understanding and mastery of a specific topic.
  • It organizes all your ideas and approximations through and through.
  • It shapes the topic and prevents any errors on your side.
  • A good outline can give a schema of your future research material.
  • It provides the audience with a schema of your essay’s contents.
  • It helps the audience to understand the relation of ideas and the flow of provided data.
  • A good research outline prevents any major points from being neglected.
  • It is beneficial in the determination of the future headings of your essay.

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Why Create a Research Paper Outline?

Since most students neglect the benefits of a well-structured outline for raising the quality of their essays, they jump over the process of writing a good outline for their research paper. The following will highlight some of the major benefits of having an outline for research papers:

An outline helps you save time. 

Instead of wasting time thinking about how you will demonstrate your ideas, you can save a gross amount of time by designing an even-structured outline. Your outline can guide you through your writing process. When you have exactly decided how many lines and paragraphs, headings, and subheadings you’re going to have in your research paper, you can write your essay with ease and comfort while saving a lot of time.

It helps you in presenting your arguments with a firm structure. 

When writing a successful research paper, what matters the most in the first step is making it as comprehensible as possible for the target audience. Because if the readers do not understand what you’re trying to communicate, your research paper will never be a top-quality one, even if your content and arguments are of high standing. You might get frustrated if you start from scratch. However, if you have prepared an outline beforehand, you will comfortably organize your ideas logically.

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It helps in reducing stress.

When you have a carefully made outline, you don’t have to worry about forgetting the designs that you have in mind for your research structure. Instead of being frustrated for not knowing how to convey your arguments, you will know what to do next with an outline. An outline is a great help in mapping the relation of your arguments to each other so that you can present them with ease and total control.

A research paper outline: a step-by-step guide

How to write the perfect outline for a research paper
A research paper outline: a step-by-step guide


One of the most important parts of every academic work is indeed the Introduction. Your Introduction should be attractive, encouraging, and informative while avoiding giving too much detail. Because after reading your Introduction, readers will decide if they are going to continue reading your essay or leave it be. When it comes to writing a decent introduction, three major points can be considered:

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  • Having a hook section.
  • Your hook might be as long as somewhere between one to five sentences, which varies according to your essay’s general volume. In order to make the readers feel the need to continue reading your paper, you have to come up with an attractive and motivating hook.
  • Having a thesis statement.
  • In order to clarify your arguments and their significance, you have to have a thesis statement. In this section, you clearly state your arguments in a simple manner. You should be careful not to make it dull to prevent readers’ discouragement, especially after all the time and energy you have dedicated to your research.
  • Distinguishing your audience.
  • You should try to distinguish your target audience even before you start writing. This way, you will have an approximate measure to know from whom your paper will get the most attention. In this section, try to explain to your reader who is the target audience of your research paper and why.


The primary part of the outline that you write for your essay is the Body. As the biggest and the most prominent section of your paper, the Body has no boundaries in volume. The volume of this section changes accordingly with the overall volume of your essay. With more points to be made regarding your argument(s), you need more space for your Body section. 

In this section, you provide convincing evidence for your ideas after you have stated them clearly. All of the evidence concerning your research should be stated in the Body. You should take heed not to neglect providing citations and reliable references to raise the reliability of your statements. Use your citations and references in the format that is required.

You can take advantage of counterarguments and, by proving their falsehood, establish your own arguments’ correctness. This way, you can show your audience that you have done all-inclusive research on the topic. You will be able to add academic weight to your arguments.

You must keep your paper coherent from the start. In order to do so, try to keep the general tone and style of your essay consistent throughout this section as well. You should try to keep your paper interesting for the audience. For doing so, you may take advantage of creative means and techniques concerning language. Don’t forget that your supervising professor might be intimately familiar with the subject at hand. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that you have to clarify your position for readers who might not be familiar with your subject. You should make sure that every argument is explained as clearly as possible without boring the audience. This signals your authority on the matter you are discussing.


You should make sure that the conclusion section of your essay adequately summarizes your major arguments. This way, you will be providing your readers with the prospect of having in mind your points for a longer time. Try to mention all the important bits of your paper, in conclusion, to facilitate the synchronizing of your paper with your readers’ minds. 

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  •  Summarize the arguments you have provided.
  • You should specify a rather short section for summarizing your key arguments. Try to explain the key arguments you used in your paper without getting into details, such as in-depth explanations or evidence concerning each statement. 
  • Provoke your audience.
  • When concluding the final section of your essay, try to do it in a way that encourages your readers to discuss or take similar actions. Here you can convey your last message to your audience. 

Tips for writing a research paper outline

  • Distinguish your audience; you should try to analyze your target audience and their level of satisfaction with your paper beforehand. 
  • Choose the right topic; try to go for topics that are in your area of expertise and would be of grave interest to your readers.
  • Do the research; you should keep in mind all the various aspects of your arguments and the results you aim to prove.
  • Consider different levels of the organization; sections such as Introduction or Conclusion shall be included in your first level of organization. After stating these higher levels, focus on the lower supporting levels. 
  • Have at least two supporting topics for major arguments. If you cannot provide adequate information for your research, you should consider revising your outline or further research.
  • Keep your heading cohesive in tone; you should avoid writing long headings. Instead of that, try to go with brief sentences.
  • Choose your arguments; make a decision about your arguments and their position along with the evidence you provide as their support. 
  • Prioritize your references; try to give references for your argument supports according to the required format.   

In this article, you found out how to write the perfect outline for a research paper. Still need help with your research paper?

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