Can you picture cooking your favourite meal for initially without having detailed instructions? You can easily get lost! Just like a wanderer who can not find a way out from the woods, a writer has to know how to write an outline for a research paper. It will prevent one from facing writer’s block. In this essay, we are going to discuss what does an outline seem like, what's it concept and goals and view some vivid examples.

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Concept & Goals of a Research Paper Outline

What is an outline and why does it matter? A research paper outline is just a plan published by the author to prevent stucking in the exact middle of the process. Call it an action plan. This part reveals the main ideas of the study. Once a writer is done with the listing of research paper topics to explore, it's important to dedicate some time to the outline development.

What exactly is the big difference between learning how to write a research paper outline and making a dining table of contents? Well, a plan is not that step-by-step, and there's no necessity to put variety of pages alongside each section. An outline allows the amalgamation and report on the study. A writer wont repeat their words; he can stick to the logical flow with the help of a plan.

The assignment’s prompt may not tell write a plan. However , if your project is more than 1000 words in length, a professor utilizes a research paper outline automagically. For example , a 5-Paragraph Essay requires an outline. It won't be possible to develop a 10, 000-word coursework or dissertation with no a plan. An overview structure depends upon the type of academic assignment and its own format.

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MLA Research Paper Outline

MLA is the easiest and most usually met research paper format, so we have to start explaining how to write an outline for a research paper on this example. The Modern Language Association proposed this guide a long time ago. It really is used to cite functions by the students and professionals from the next fields:

  • Comparative literary analysis
  • Cultural studies
  • History & Anthropology
  • English Composition
  • Literature
  • Foreign language & literature
  • Literary criticism

Use MLA outline when working on the papers from these fields. Start with the principal headings (“Intro” and “Method”) using the upper-case Roman numerals. If the paper is long, with many different subsections, the student should use letters and numbers for the various degrees of subheadings.

In a draft, arrange what exactly in the appropriate order. Don't go into details until starting the final version of the investigation paper outline. This part defines how a writer can come up with other integrated parts (example: Literature Review).

Use a couple of tips from college professors.

  1. Depending on the tool a writer uses to generate documents, he or she should make certain if the various levels of the outline (II, B, 3, c, j) correspond to the headings in the Microsoft Word because so many professors accept only DOC & DOCS format.
  2. MLA changes its writing guide! Before developing an overview for a study paper, read a recently released version of the manual to see if there are any changes to the resaerch paper format.
MLA Research Paper Outline by EssayPro
Need more info? Check our full guide - how to cite a research paper using MLA format

Mastering APA Research Paper Outline

An APA is just a most frequently used format in terms of writing an investigation paper, and it's also more complicated than MLA. The American Psychological Association has built it. Students and professionals use APA essay format in these fields:

  • Psychology
  • Social sciences
  • Humanities
  • Healthcare & nursing

The representatives of other fields apply APA paper format from time to time too. We have prepared a tasty infographic with an APA outline example, which is on the basis of the 6th edition of the manual.

A broad Template for Building a plan in APA, from EssayPro

Let’s view that structure in details.

A Detailed Outline

There are numerous critical elements you should consider in your research paper:

Title/Cover Page

It's the opening section to introduce the major details. Along the recommended title is 60 characters. On the whole, usually do not miss these details in the title page:

  • Your full name
  • Professor’s name
  • Peers who took part in the investigation (if any)
  • Submission date

An overview is an built-in part of the research paper. In college, they call it an abstract. The length of such text should not exceed 250-300 words (1/3 of an A4 page), and students should include the essential findings, their significance, and a brief conclusion.


Experts recommend painstaking the entire research into the investigation’s background. Attempt to explain why the plumped for problem is important to analyze and discuss. Mention the results you expected to obtain during the working process, and state a hypothesis that will enclose the introduction (it would be the thesis). Also, don’t forget to say the thesis statement or the topic of pursuit.


List the tools, equipment, & techniques used to carry out research. This section should have the ability to replicate the investigation detailed. The goal of the section is always to allow other scientists enthusiastic about the same research question to carry on the investigation.

Results & Discussion (R& D)

Typically, master paper writers combine results and discussion in one single huge section. They are interrelated. Start with sharing the findings of the research. Go on interpreting the meaning of the results for the society and provide a quick synopsis of the main components: figures and statistical examinations. While adding any visual elements for understanding (graphs, images, and so forth ), place the numbers next to every one of them to provide details in the last section — Appendix.


In the Conclusion part, it is necessary to incorporate:

  • A summary of the results
  • Paraphrased thesis statement
  • Value of the research paper
  • Ways to implement the findings
  • Some forecasts
  • References

Based on the chosen paper format, create a full set of references. Every time you cite something, write the source’s information on a separate little bit of paper. It'll speed up the procedure at the end.

Things to Remember

  • An overview is like an action plan which guides you through the writing process.
  • You will need to write a plan if your assignment is more than 1000 words in lenght.
  • Ostensibly, the outline contains three main sections: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion.
  • The outline format depends on the sort of academic assignment (MLA, APA).
  • Before developing a research paper outline, read the latest version of the manual according to the opted for format of the research paper.

Research Paper Outline Example

Also, check free research paper outline template example: Developing an Attention-Grabbing Resume! The example is written in accordance with APA writing style directions - the guidelines of the overall game maybe vary for other formats.