Research papers are instructors’ favorite assignments. These assignments get students looking deeply into topics while learning how to properly document sources. Students often dislike their research paper assignments because there are so many steps involved, like choosing a topic, researching the topic, organizing the outline, and writing the paper itself. Students usually have success with the researching, but they have struggles with the outlining.
When you write an outline, your goal is to set up a brief step-by-step plan of your research paper. You can organize it by using a traditional outline format with Roman numerals or you could organize it in your own way. In many cases, instructors will give their students a form to follow. No matter what type of outline form you use, be sure to write short phrases that you can move if necessary.
There are a few parts of the outline that should be written in complete sentences. They include the thesis and the topic sentences. The rest of the outline should be written as briefly as possible because so that the paper can be reorganized. When you write those short phrases, you will get to see how the research paper looks as a whole.
Some students like to write their outlines on the computer because they can move parts of the outline easier than they can when the outline is handwritten. There are outline templates that students can use for free so they can focus more on the subject that on the format of the outline.
The outline should include a few vital parts. It needs to have a spot for the introduction, especially for the hook and the thesis statement. Since the introduction tends to be longer in a research paper, you might need two or more paragraphs for it. The body paragraphs each need their own place so you can decide exactly what you want to put in each one. The concluding paragraph also needs to have a place where you can plan out how you want to end the research paper. You should also remember to include the abstract and the bibliography, too. It can be helpful to place the direct quotes and paraphrases in each of the body paragraphs while you plan the paper.
After writing and rewriting your content and polishing your final draft, your work is not quite finished just yet. This is where you add any final touches you had yet to complete that your paper may require. These elements may include a title page, works cited page, and setting margins and page spacing. Your content may need to follow a specific order and this is the best time to ensure your work displays it. For instance, your format may include an abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion in this order. Some students may find it easier to incorporate these requirements into their paper as they are writing it instead of waiting until the end.