Research Outline Examples

As Ken Follett stated about doing a research outline: “Research is the easiest, the outline the most fun. Drafting is the hardest, because every word should be fleshed out. The rewrite is the most satisfying part.” This quote often runs its own course when it comes to students learning how to do a research outline for their research paper. Students, academic scholars, business men and women, teachers or whomever they may be known for doing a research paper you must also know or learn how to construct your own research outline. Even if it may not be about research, if you ever need to know how to rearrange your ideas, an outline is the best tool to help out. Apart from knowing how to construct a research outline, you must also at least have the knowledge of its format, its uses, types and its sections. With that said, let’s take a look at what a research outline really is, the format of a research outline, the types of a research outline and how it helps students, scholars and anyone who uses it for their research.


Research Outline Definition

A research outline is defined as the basis, the backbone, the aid, the structure, the tool that helps organize in either alphanumeric, decimal or full sentence format the research details that you use in order to write your research paper or your research in general.


What Is a Research Outline?

As defined above, a research outline is a basis, a backbone, an aid and a structure. It is also defined as a tool. It is used by a variety of people in different fields or studies. As Science would explain that a backbone helps the body, and to compare this to a research paper outline, it works the same way. It helps support.  The outline helps by organizing your thoughts, details and information taken out from your research. In addition to that, a research paper outline aids by giving your research some structure. This means that outlines help by rearranging major or main topics and dividing them from your subtopics and supporting ideas. A research outline is an important tool when you are writing for your research. It is also for summarizing something, and even for any other kind of written output. A research outline also gives structure and arranges your ideas from your research in order of importance. Research outlines help out by giving your entire research a backbone or at least to help give you a clearer output on how your research should look like. 


Main Purpose Of a Research Outline

A lot of us would ask ourselves the same question, what is the main purpose of a research outline? Why do we need to know the purpose of a research outline? To simply put, the main purpose of a research outline is to help give structure to your research. The research outline is the backbone of your research paper. The structure in which helps your research paper to be more clear and concise. We all know that without any structure, our research paper may as well be a pile of information that may not even make any sense. In addition it makes drafting your entire research paper less difficult and less stressful. Another purpose of a research outline is to be able to arrange the information you have done for your research and to break it down into manageable chunks of information, enough for you to be able to check if the information is important enough or not. Lastly, the other main purpose of a research outline is to help navigate and help organize your ideas, details and information about the topic you choose for your research paper. The outline helps by dividing the main or the major topics from your subtopics and supporting details.


Types of Research Outline

  • Alphanumeric Research Outline

This type of research outline is the frequently used type of research outline. The alphanumeric research outline is often used by students who are told to draft out their research paper. The alphanumeric research outline consists of alphabets and numbers. Roman Numerals are the basis for this type as well as the English Alphabet. The main or major topic uses the Roman Numerals while the subtopics use the alphabet and the supporting details are a mixture of both. The alphanumeric research outline follows the format wherein the main idea is listed on the left side of the paper and is then followed by a period. 


  • Decimal Research Outline

A decimal research outline is a type of research outline that uses decimals instead of a mixture of alphabets and Roman Numerals. The decimal research outline shows how the minor topics or the subtopics can relate to the main topic of your research. In addition to that, the decimal research outline can still be used if you prefer to write your information in full or complete sentences. However, the decimal research outline is not as common or the type of outline used by a lot of people, especially by students. In addition to that, when you plan to add supporting details below your subtopics, the decimal research outline uses Arabic numerals rather than Roman Numerals. This is the only thing that separates the decimal research outline to the alphanumeric research outline.


  • Full Sentence Research Outline

A full sentence research outline is another type of research outline where you can write a full sentence for the main topic, the subtopics and the added details. Full sentence research outlines are more specific than that of an alphanumeric research outline, since you are not only going to be writing the main article in a sentence, it can also give you a better understanding than that of a shorter sentence or a simple word for context. Basically, a full sentence research outline gives out more information in full context since you are not breaking or cutting out any detail. Of course the full sentence research outline can also be compared to the alphanumeric research outline since the alphanumeric research outline can also use full sentences. When you use a full sentence research outline for your research paper, it may take a while for this outline to develop its whole structure but, a full sentence research outline gives out specific details without having to sacrifice the important information. 


  • APA Research Outline

We all know that APA is an acronym for American Psychological Association. So an APA research outline is a kind of outline that uses the APA format. Unlike the other types of a research outline, the APA Research Outline only has three parts to make it complete. The first part would be the introduction, the next is the body and of course the conclusion. How you would be making your APA research outline would also be following the standard format of APA. However, it is better to write out your entire details if you use the APA research outline in short words than full length sentences to save you the time and to save you from having to go through all the details. When you are using the APA research outline as your outline format, you can only use this when you are writing an academic paper or when your research paper falls under the APA standards or if your professor states that you should be using the APA research outline.


  • MLA Research Outline

MLA research outline is just another type of research outline, just like the APA. The only difference for this type of research outline is that, this type of outline is often used to structure your research paper. This would mean that it helps you write out the specifics of your research and to help you with formulating your entire paper through the means of the outline. This outline differs from the APA outline in a way that the MLA research outline is done only if you plan to use the MLA format for your research outline as well. When using the MLA research outline follow the MLA format.


  • Action Research Outline

An action research outline consists of the same general format of any type of outline. However, the only difference this type of outline has is that its information caters more to its use. An action research outline often used by teachers helps them see through their progress and to be able to reflect on their work. Of course, anyone can use an action research outline for their selected purpose, but it is mostly commonly used by teachers to reflect and check the progress of their academic paper and that of their work. An action research outline is also used to examine problems or issues by outlining the information taken from your research that would be perfect for your research topic. 


  • Academic Research Outline

An academic research outline from the term in itself would give you the idea that this type of outline is used for academic research purposes. An academic research outline consists of the same general outline that you may be making. It consists of the same format any type of outline may have but the details may differ. Academic research outlines are made to help structure, or give structure to your academic research. This outline helps by breaking down the specifics of your research and helping you by arranging your main topic and breaking it down to a more suitable and helpful way of writing your academic research paper. However, the only difference it has is the fact that in an academic research outline, you would be using the APA format when doing so.


  • Research Paper Thesis Outline

A research paper thesis outline or better known as a dissertation outline helps by giving a structure to your research thesis paper. This outline is used by students, teachers, and academic scholars. The outline consists of very detailed information that goes together with the general or the entire idea of your topic outline. In addition to that, a research paper thesis outline’s format consists of the front page, the introduction, the methodology of your research paper, the findings, the results, the conclusion, and references. All the information in your outline coexist with one another, in order to create your dissertation outline for your research work.


  • Topic Research Outline

A topic research outline gives out a general, lengthier and faster type of overview of the topics you may want to add to your research paper. The topic research outline caters mostly to how you may want to address the topic of your research paper. It also shows you the full list of how you may want to approach the topic and how you may want to write it down. Topic research outline’s format is simpler than most other types of outlines. Topic research outline is mostly used when you are in a hurry or when you simply want to draft it out. Students are often advised to use a topic research outline especially if they are still a beginner or they are new to the subject of outlining.


  • College Research Outline

A college research outline is a kind of outline that is often used by college students in order to complete or comply with their college research paper. A college research outline may vary on how the college student may be using the format. But overall the format of a college research outline follows this: it consists of the introduction, the description of the topic, the body of your research, the experiment or collection of data, and the conclusion. For some students, they may add more to their college research outline, depending on the topic they have chosen for their research paper. 


  • Market Research Outline

Market research outlines are the type of outlines that companies, marketing employees use in order to outline their marketing strategies. The marketing strategies outline format can be a mix of alphanumeric or decimal. In addition to that, a market research outline’s main focus is to give structure to specific details and information that is key to the entire research for marketing. Basically the outline that would be made would ensure that the entire marketing strategies are in line with what they perceive their market to be.  So when they make their outline, they would also be aware of how they want their market research to look like.


  • Engineering Research Outline

When it comes to an engineering research outline, the basis for this type of outline focuses mainly on the technological writings, the APA format of writing, and the overall general topic that focuses on the course or on the subject. It does not always mean that an engineering research outline focuses on the engineering research paper. An engineering research outline caters to engineering research papers that students and engineers often write. This outline is made solely for the purpose of technological research and for the field of the course or the subject in itself for students. The outline can be a mixture of the alphanumeric and APA outline.


  • Internship Research Outline

Internship outlines are used by interns to write out the research or their report about their internship. This kind of outline may follow either an APA format or an MLA format, it may also use the alphanumeric format of the outline, depending on the kind of report outline the intern is assigned to write. The outline consists of the information that is necessary for them to write down in order to pass the necessary paperwork.


  • Research Proposal Outline

A research proposal outline is a kind of outline used mainly for making a clear and concise research proposal. This outline is mainly used to help outline your final research proposal before you pass it. The research proposal outline consists of the following: the introduction, the scope, the body and the conclusion. Of course there are other things that could be included in the outline, but may depend on the proposal as well. 


  • Research Report Outline

A research report outline as the term in itself is a type of report outline that is made in order to rearrange the information of your research report. Just like any other kind of outline, research report outlines cater to writing out the entire report. Of course depending on the type of report you are told to write, but its purpose is the same. To give you a good summary of the entire report and to be able to divide it into simpler and clearer sections.


  • Business Plan Outline

A business plan outline is a type of business outline that many people in the field of business use in order to draft out their business plan. This outline holds the key information such as the executive summary, the nature of the business, the pros and cons of your business plan just to name a few. Business plan outlines help by giving your business plan the structure or the shape. To simply mold your business plan draft in the form of a simple outline


  • Program Outline

A program outline consists of the basics that are often found in a general format of an outline. The program outline is made in order for students or planners to create a sequence of detailed programs for an event. The program outline helps by creating a simple yet easy to do or easy to understand steps that contain the details that would ensure a successful program that organizers or students are tasked with.


  • Speech Outline

A speech outline is the type of outline that helps construct a clearer and more concise way of writing your speech. The outline helps by formulating the right topic and breaking it down into miniature details in order to rearrange your thoughts better. In addition to that, a speech outline helps out by giving you a point of view of how you should address your speech to your audience. 


  • Seminar Outline

A seminar outline consists of a specific type of information that would need the outline to be very well structured. A seminar outline helps by giving the right flow of details in order for those conducting the seminar to know how the flow of the event. Seminar outlines are often used in events like meetings in businesses or school lectures.


Research Outline Writing

Judging from the types above, we would know that there are a lot of types of outlines. Apart from the ones we learned in school, like the basic alphanumeric outline, we can already tell that there are more than just the three basic outlines. As well as the fact that each outline has its own purpose or role to play. From the types above, it would be understandable to know that many people may find using the right outline for research a problem or a challenge. Since using the right outline should also be something everyone should know about. If we are to base our outlines on the most basic of types, we may not fully comprehend the other kinds and their purposes, as well as we may not be able to see how each outline can be used. It is a challenge to check as to whether this outline should be of use, but there is also a way for you to know. There are some things that everyone has to know why it is necessary to know what kind of research outline should be used. 


How to Write a Research Outline

When you plan to write out either your research, a program or a speech, you would always know that you can depend on your outline for some clearer and helpful ways to rearrange the information you have gathered. With that being said, having the knowledge of writing an outline for what purpose it may serve you is necessary. Here are some tips to get you started on writing your research outline.

1. Decide on the type of outline that suits your research topic or research paper.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of types of research outlines. Choose which kind of outline may suit the research paper you are going to be writing about. However, if you are not sure about the type of research outline you should be using, you can always use the most general or most basic outline.

2. Add your statement or your topic first.

The first thing you do when you make your research outline is to add the title and the statement or the topic at the very top portion. You use outlines in order to arrange your topic or your research.

3. Write down your major points and your sub points.

Write down the information and label them as major points or sub points. This way it would be easier for you to know which one is which. As well as it would be easier for you to formulate your outline.

4. Use Roman Numerals for your major points and letters or numbers for sub points.

Using Roman Numerals is almost always for major points regardless of the type of thesis you may want to be using. The same goes for letters or numbers for sub points. Except of course for the decimal outline. The Decimal outline uses Arabic numerals or Decimals rather than the general format. So if you plan to use the decimal outline, make sure to use the correct format for it as well. 

5. Label each of your major points and sub points.

Basically, for each of the major points you have for your outline, you must always label them. The whole outline should be labeled according to its major points and sub points. However, if you think that you should also add some supporting details to your outline, you may place them below your sub points and label them as well. When you are using letters for your sub points, you should as well use alphanumeric for your supporting details so you would not have to mix them up. 

Research Outline Format

Outline Structure: The structure of your research outline format would depend on the kind of outline you may be using. We know that the majority of outlines follow the same format, but they may also differ in some aspects when writing them. The structure remains the same. Your outline could be lengthy or short, but its structure would always follow the same format.

Introduction and Statement: The introduction and statement of your outline is always found on the top. This is the beginning or the first thing that should be found, written or stated when making your outline. The introduction and statement may depend on what type of outline you would be using. Introductions do not have to be too long or too short, the same goes for the statement.

Body of Outline: For the body of your outline, you would see the three parts. The main heading, the sub heading and the supporting details. These three parts make up the most of your outline.

Main Heading: Your main heading would be more about your main topics. All main topics that are related to your research should be placed on the top. This is where your Roman Numeral number would begin. If you opt for the Alphanumeric, you may also use the capital letter A to signify that this is the first of your main headings or main topics.

Sub Headings: Sub headings or sub topics are found below your main headings or main topics. The sub heading’s roles are a short description or explanation as to what the main topic or main heading is about.

Supporting Details: Supporting details are optional. However, if you wish to add more ideas or details to your outline, supporting details can also be added. They are found below your sub headings and can be written as a.1 or a.2, b.1 or b.2 to show where or what category they fall into.

Conclusion: The conclusion would be the short summary of the entire outline and that of your topic. The conclusion is also necessary as this is what closes or ends your outline. The label for your conclusion whether it is may alphanumeric, letters, or decimals may depend on how long the outline would be.

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