How to Write An Outline For A Research Paper?

If you're in college, you have probably had to write (or will have to write) a research paper. A research paper is, in its simplest form, a collection of information about a given topic, which will introduce one to and heighten one's knowledge of said topic.

When assigned the task of writing a research paper, it is tempting to jump right in and tackle the beast head on. However, a research paper must be so intricate that this action is ill advised. It is a far better plan to begin by writing an outline; this way, you can determine what should be included and where. Writing the outline to a research paper may also be a difficult task but don't panic, we're here to help you along.

The typical outline for any piece of writing is INTRODUCTION - BODY - CONCLUSION. Many outlines end here, for example the outline I wrote for this article; but I'm not writing a research paper. A research paper should break each of these titles into smaller subtitles.


  • The outline for an introduction should include, of course, what you are writing about. "I will be discussing..." will suffice.
  • You should also explain why your chosen topic is relevant and how you carried out your research - i.e. interviews, books etc.


  • The body of your research paper will contain the bulk of your information so when writing your outline you should decide on the information, which is most important. While all information about a topic could be included in a research paper, some may only warrant a few lines, especially if you're trying to meet a word count.
  • It is usually best to discuss your topic and its development chronologically. An outline would put this as ORIGINS - GROWTH - ROLE IN MODERN WORLD. You should include subtitles for each of these.


  • Your outline should contain the points DID I MAKE MY POINT? - MAIN POINTS - HAS MY OUTLOOK CHANGED?
  • The first point should bring you back to what you were instructed to do. The main points should, obviously, include the main points of your work (though not exactly act as a summary of the body. The final point will allow you to examine the affect this topic has had on your life.

And now you're finished! Finally! After hours of work, you've finished your research paper... outline. Now you can spend hours writing the research paper itself!