Crafting a Perfect Research Paper Outline

A research paper requires doing scientific research and aims to prove that a student can solve a core issue and use scientific methods and approaches, to present their ideas. Working on such a paper should start with writing an outline. A detailed yet clear-cut outline is the first step to completing a great research paper of any type. This plan organizes your ideas and thoughts and leads you throughout working the piece. Let’s find out why and how you should write an outline for your research paper.

What you should know for starters is that creating an outline brings certain advantages. Firstly, once you split your future paper into a few parts, it becomes more organized, and you don’t run the risk missing out something important. Secondly, an outline gives you a clear idea of all aspects that are to be covered in your paper. Thus, you can plan your work for each day and make sure you meet your deadline.

The Structure of an Outline

An outline for a research paper works as its plan. Being an academic assignment, it’s evaluated by your teacher just like a paper itself. An outline demonstrates a student’s vision and understanding of a topic, prevents scholars from making mistakes and helps shape a chosen theme into a credible work.

An approximate outline for a research essay includes these parts:

  1. Title
  2. Statement of a thesis.
  3. Major arguments.
  4. Points to support each
  5. Conclusion

The structure of a research paper outline basically is very similar to that of a research essay, no matter the topic of the piece or its complicacy. Writing an outline and following it to create a tenable paper may often seem like a challenge, and our writers here at are ready to help you with it. But if you are going to do it yourself, the concise information in this guide will be definitely useful for you.

Here’s a template for an outline of a research paper:

  1. Abstract
  2. An introduction
  3. Main body
    • A general literature overview
    • Methods of research
    • Analysis
    • Results
    • Further perspectives
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

This plan may not seem to be too hard, but you should remember that all points contain a range of details not to be missed out. Let’s take a brief look at each point’s features.


An abstract is what briefly summarizes your research paper. In six-seven sentences, it should reveal the essence of your research. Being an insight into your investigation, an abstract should answer questions about the topic and subject of your paper, scientific methods used in it, and the final outcome. An abstract should only be as long as one paragraph (around 200 words) and come right after the title page of your paper.


An introduction is an important part of your research because it presents the topic you’ve chosen to a reader. It is “a hook” meant to catch a reader’s attention. The introduction should include such components as the statement of your thesis, the topic explanation (given in a few general points) and the explanation of all core terms that correlate to your research.


The body is the biggest part of your paper and its outline. It consists of a number of subparts or paragraphs. In the body part, you should support the main statement by bringing up the arguments. Here, the section of introduction is being followed by methodology. To explain in what way you carried out your research, it should include the type of your investigation and the questionnaire that you’ve fulfilled. The introduction should also state the aims of your research.

The literature overview, as a section in the body part, should list all literature sources that back up the hypothesis and all theories in your paper. It shows your level of operating the theory, terms, and evidence. Remember that the literature you choose should conform to the main point of your paper. In this part, you should also show how your research distends and develops the already existing scientific works.

The analyses and data come next. In these parts, you should present the result and conclusion of your research. Graphics and tables may make the analyses part more structured. You also should tell the reader whether the outcome of your paper brings a considerable difference to the topic as such. Mention the advantages and drawbacks of your research.


The conclusion summarizes the main points and statements of your paper. Here you should provide your thesis once again. Also, you can form the prospects for your future researches.

Formatting an Outline According to the MLA Requirements

The formatting style eases the familiarization of a reader with each new piece of writing. It helps focus on reading the paper instead of adjusting to its style. Here are things to consider when formatting your work.

  • The student’s and the professor’s name, as well as class and the date, should appear on the front page.
  • A title page also contains a page number put in the upper right corners.
  • All important emphases, as well as titles, come in italics.
  • The conclusion comes before the cited books and papers.
  • Use Arabic numbers to mark any subheadings.
  • Requirements to the cited sources depend on their type and differ for articles, journals, books, etc.

The Final Tip

Generally, an outline for a research paper looks like a bullet list and consists of headings and subheadings. Despite being brief, it should be informative and contain all the necessary parts. While working on the paper, you can cross the covered sections out – this will help you stay organized and see your own progress.

We are certain that a good outline is essential for writing a valid research paper, and hope that our recommendations will help you with it.