How to write an outline for a research paper in three simple steps

Research papers can be intimidating to writers who are new to tertiary level academia. This is particularly true for perfectionists or those prone to anxiety who may easily assume that their work is subpar. This is unnecessary. A research paper can easily be completed successfully by starting out with a well prepared outline. Here’s how:

Decide how you want to approach your topic

Any topic that you intend to research can be approached in multiple ways. Do you intend to compare it to something else with which it shares many similarities? Will you instead contrast it with something that it differs from sharply? How about a combination of comparison and contrast that reveals subtle relationships between the two ideas with sturdy evidence to support the stated view? You can also stick to an analysis of the topic by itself. Once this choice has been made, you can move to the second step.

Compile the relevant points

Bearing in mind the way the topic is being handled, you can begin to come up with points that go in the direction you have decided upon. Look for stronger points. This is a clear case where quality matters far more than quantity. If you have a point that appeals to you personally but is not well supported by evidence, this is the stage when you would have to remove it. The research you do to complete your paper may eventually give you a reason to reintroduce that point later on but it is better to omit it than to include it while it is weak.

Separate and order them

Having decided on all the points you will use, you should begin to place them in the order in which they will appear in the final writing. This is to get a sense for how the research paper will flow to a reader when it is complete. This stage may lead to a few points being combined because of similarity or a single point being divided into several because it touches on various disparate sub-points. The introductions and conclusions can be addressed briefly at this point but the outline need not focus too heavily on them.

Once you have worked through those three simple steps, a clear outline should have emerged from which your research paper will be born. Now wasn’t that simple?