No matter what the length of your research paper or what topics you will be covering, creating an outline before embarking on your first draft will make the writing process much easier. A good outline will organize your main topics and list out your bits of evidence in a way that you can consistently reference throughout your writing. Here are some tips and trick on how to create a good outline:
Your outline does not need to include every element of your research paper’s opening. But it’s a good idea to get at least these three components at this point to guide through the rest of your outline. You want to draft a thesis statement, an opening sentence (or hook), and a few phrases about why you have embarked on this particular subject. Remember you don’t have to be as precise in the outline. You simply want to organize your thoughts so that you have a point of reference when you write your first draft.
This section is where you will present all of your major arguments as well as your supporting evidence. You can include minor arguments, but your paper will be much more effective in getting your point across if you focus on just your best arguments. No matter how many body paragraphs you have try following this basic formula: topic sentence, two or three pieces of evidence, such as examples, data, or quotes, and a transition sentence that takes the reader onto the next body paragraph.
Your conclusion is the part of your research paper where you will summarize and synthesize all of major arguments, restate your thesis, and present your final position on the topic. Generally, writing this section of your outline shouldn’t be difficult because you are restating points you have already drafted in other parts of your outline. But you may find it helpful to rewrite each topic sentence, for instance, in different words. It’s never a good idea to just copy and paste your major arguments into the conclusion, but rather present them in a different way to create a more solid overall argument your reader will understand.
In the simplest terms, our research paper outline will constitute the three major points of a well-constructed paper: the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Some courses will require additional sections such as an abstract, research methods, and citation notes, so make sure you have talked with your professor to know for certain.