How to Prepare a Professional Research Paper Outline?

Do you know how to prepare a professional research paper outline? Students usually perceive the process of writing a research essay as a time-consuming task. Most students usually avoid this task by procrastinating until the last minute.

While writing a professional research paper is complicated, it is not an impossible task. By knowing where to start, starting as early as possible, and using the most effective tips, you’ll not only have ample time to review your work but also submit a high-quality piece. Let’s discuss the process of crafting a good professional research paper outline.


Defining a research paper outline

One of the most important parts of a professional research paper is the outline. The purpose of creating an outline is to structure the main topics, essential information, and other inclusions such as quotes for you to stay organized during the writing process and avoid forgetting important points. In most cases, writers usually come up with outlines after formulating a thesis statement but before they start working on their first draft. 

It’s easy to make structural changes when outlining than after writing the first draft. You can eliminate certain topics or add them without wasting a lot of time and energy. A typical outline usually has sections and paragraphs. Its depth will depend on the paper guidelines and your preferred writing style. Creating a research paper outline is not as difficult as it seems. However, you need not struggle alone with this task. There are a lot of professional writers online who’ll help you complete this task.


What are the components of a research paper outline?

How To Prepare A Professional Research Paper Outline

While its format varies depending on the paper guidelines. It is usually made up of the following sections:

1. Title page

This section gives your readers, reviewers, and editors important information that will help them know what your paper is all about. It provides a summary of the field of research that your piece belongs to. The title page should be detailed and precise.

2. Abstract

This is the most important section of the outline. Think of the abstract as an advertisement of your work. It can determine whether an editor, reader, or reviewer will go through your work or not. Writing an abstract is not easy. You need to choose your content carefully and be concise.

3. Introduction

The introduction is a section that provides context for your research. With the help of the literature study, describes the problem statement and explains why it’s important to update the existing knowledge gap. It helps readers understand the research question clearly.

4. Methods

Depending on the type of paper that you are writing, this section has multiple names such as Experiments, or Materials and Methods. Its purpose is to highlight the methods that were used. You need to describe the materials that you used during the research process. If the research methods that you used have already been published, you should give a brief narration and refer to the original text.

5. Results

You should always report results as figures and tables whenever you can. You need to summarize the findings and avoid text duplications. Apart from reporting results with descriptive statistics, you also need to include unexpected events that can alter your results.

6. Discussion

The purpose of the discussion section is to support your research hypothesis. Summarize your study results in a paragraph or two and show how they fit in the scheme of studies logically. Comparing your results with other findings on the subject is also important.

7. Acknowledgments

Don’t forget to acknowledge and thank the individuals who contributed to the project. Recognizing your learning institution or funding agency is important.


Effective tips for outlining your research paper

1. Come up with a thesis statement

As we said earlier, the outline is not the first thing that you should focus on in the research paper writing process. You need to come up with a thesis statement and find both primary and secondary sources to support it. The thesis statement is the foundation of your research paper. Your tutor might develop it for you or you might be required to come up with one. After settling on a thesis, you’ll require evidence to support it. Collect data and relevant sources early to find out what you need to write about.

2. Create a list of the topics and points that you want to cover

As you conduct extensive research, you need to record the topics and important points. Ensure that you keep together related info. Everything that you decide to include in your paper should be linked to the thesis statement. If you have highlighted specific quotes or passages from a source, remember to include them.

3. Choose the ideal outline for your assignment

You should always choose an outline that goes together with your topic, the complexity of your paper, and the length of your assignment. If you are writing a simple paper, go for a simple outline. Using the appropriate format will go a long way in keeping your paper organized.

4. Consider the sequence of topics

Before writing your outline, you need to think of the order that you’ll use to present the topics. Always use a logical sequence that will communicate to your readers clearly about the topics that they are unfamiliar with. You should also add background information first before presenting new revelations or findings.

5. Revise

Go through your outline to find areas that you can improve on. Double-check your topics to ensure that you’ve presented them logically and optimally. Also, read your notes again to ensure that you haven’t missed anything.



A research paper outline is one of the most important documents in the research and writing process. It not only provides a structure for your paper but also boosts your productivity and performance.


Author Bio:

Cory Shilling is an experienced public speaker and academic writer. She enjoys conversing with learners and sharing insightful tips to help them achieve their goals. She is loves reading online articles and trying out new things in her free time. 

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