How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper and Ace It


There are two anxiety-provoking words in nearly all students - research paper. Penning down research papers can be an uphill task as they require a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, they make up for a large percentage of a student’s term grade. 

To that end, this article will explore the essentials of how to write an outline for a research paper from scratch and achieve excellent grades. Read on!

What is a research paper outline

An outline is a plan of action or roadmap that students use to avoid getting lost when writing their research papers. It comprises key points of the text and is strikingly similar to a generic table of contents. Its main objective is for authors to keep track of their thought process and flow of ideas while writing their papers.

By preliminarily dividing research papers into different sections, you become more organized and able to keep your creative juices flowing throughout the writing process. Furthermore, it has an uncanny ability to keep you calm by taking a seemingly gigantic task and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable bits. With an outline, writers can tackle each section on different days and make consecutive preparations that will aid in meeting tight deadlines.

Sections of a research paper outline

Ready to take a leap and blow your professor away? This guide will help you do just that. Every outline comprises four major sections: 

1. Abstract

This is the first section of your paper. It provides a brief overview of what’s coming. It unveils the fundamentals of your research in about five to six sentences. An abstract provides insight into the project by anticipating a reader’s queries about the subject matter of the task at hand. It outlines all data collection methods used, participants, and findings. As a general rule of thumb, abstracts should be no more than 200 words. Moreover, it comes at the beginning, immediately after the title page of a research paper. 

2. Introduction 

This section of the outline is the ‘make or break’. It determines whether or not readers will continue reading your research paper, or dump it in the bin along with all the other trash. Therefore, introductions should be captivating and grab readers’ interest without unveiling too much too soon. 

There are 3 essential factors for creating an introduction outline that you need to consider. These help to keep you focused when you start adding the meat:

  • Hook - You need to come up with a catchy sentence or phrase to capture your professor’s attention. A good one will even spark a smile on their face. 
  • Define your audience - Think about who’ll be reading your research paper. In this case, it’s your professor. To that end, you need to ask yourself, “Do I have sufficient information to support my premise?”
  • Thesis statement - This is where you’ll state your argument and outline the scope. You need to think about how to make it clear and relevant to your readers. A thesis statement should be precise while being an attention-grabber.

3. Body 

It’s the largest section of an outline. Here’s where you present every valid premise in support of the given thesis statement. An ideal approach to take would be to find at least three supporting arguments to express your stance. It should also provide a detailed background of the thesis statement. 

Students can also include counter-arguments to their ideas with evidence of their inaccuracy. Opposing facts show readers that you have deep knowledge on the subject, and took the time to conduct due diligence. It also reflects your dedication to challenging topics. What better way is there to establish a remarkable academic reputation?

4. Conclusion

It’s the last section of a research paper outline. It summarizes the key points described to arrive at your given stance on the subject. Expound on your thoughts regarding the thesis statement for one last time and link each key point accordingly. Outline any suggestions you might have and bring up the possibility of future studies on the subject. 

Ace your grades

While writing research paper outlines is no walk in the park, they require a considerable investment of time and effort. Nonetheless, the results make it worthwhile. A great outline is guaranteed to make the entire process a breeze.

If you’re still uncertain about how to write a research paper outline, we’re here to help. Our expert authors will generate tip-top outlines for you that your professor will enjoy reading.