Research Paper Outline Examples and How to Write Them

Apart from a report outline and a presentation outline, a research paper outline is one of the most common types of outlines you’re likely to encounter in any given field. This outline is incredibly useful in both business and education, as it serves as a guide for students and employees to further understand a certain topic. But before you begin creating the outline of your research paper, make sure you know how to structure it first. In this article, we shall discuss the basic elements of an outline with the help of a few examples.

Essential Parts of a Research Paper Outline

The outline structure of a research paper is fairly similar to that of a book outline. The only difference is the actual content presented in the paper. For us to further understand the significant components of a research paper outline, let us discuss each part accordingly:


The introduction is considered to be the most important part of your outline, as it gives readers a general overview of what your topic is about. Here, your thesis statement along with the purpose of your study must be stated clearly. You also have the option to include your reason for studying such topic and its significance. The methodology and the aims for the investigation must also be emphasized in your introduction. To put it simply, the introduction of your outline should stress out the major points addressed in the research paper.


The body of your outline is where you will need to present every valid argument to support your topic or thesis statement. The best approach to follow would be the “Rule of 3”, in which you must find three supporting arguments to express your point. The body is also composed of several paragraphs or subparts, which include the background of the problem and other supporting data. You may also see speech outline.


The final part of an outline paper is the conclusion. This consists of a summary of all the major points mentioned to arrive at your final stand on the issue or subject tackled. Be sure to expound your thoughts briefly and concisely in this section, as you don’t want to end up adding a different argument to the outline. Remember to mention the thesis statement again to connect each point accordingly. It’s also advisable to state recommendations or formulate the prospect for future studies in your conclusion. You may also see chapter outline.

Listed below are examples of a research paper outline:

Sample 1 

Topic: Asbestos Poisoning

I. Introduction

  1. Definition of the Topic
  2. Significance of the Study
  3. Definition of Terms

II. Body

  1. Symptoms of Asbestos Poisoning
  2. Effects of Asbestos Poisoning
  3. Possible Treatments

III. Conclusion

  1. Conclusion
  2. Recommendations
    1. How to Deal with Asbestos Hazards

Sample 2 

Thesis: Abortion: Main Causes and Effects

Introductory Clause

  1. Brief introduction of issue
  2. Definition of terms
  3. The theoretical basis for the paper
  4. Methodology
  5. Thesis statement
  6. Review of related literature
  7. Significance of the study

Main Body

a. Background of the problem

  1. The history of abortion and the primary causes that lead modern women to consider this method (possible causes such as religion, financial status, career issues, etc. must be expounded)
  2. Explain the position or stand of the church and the state regarding this problem
  3. General information about the possible consequences of abortion supported with valid facts, scientific articles and studies, examples, etc.

b. Available alternatives to abortion along with their pros and cons.

c. Advantages and disadvantages of abortion

  1. Explain all advantages of abortion, with supporting facts and examples
  2. Explain all disadvantages of abortion (both physical and mental), with supporting facts and examples

Final Clause/Conclusion

a. Conclusion

  1. Short analysis of all facts provided in the paper
  2. Rephrased thesis statement

b. Recommendations for future studies

Based from the examples above, the structure of your outline must consist of a series of headings and subheadings of the said topic. Since an outline must only emphasize the primary points of your research, then you must keep it brief yet informative enough for readers to comprehend.

How to Create an Outline

A well-made outline is essential in locating significant information and keeping track of large amounts of data from a research paper. But an outline must be created properly for it to be understood by a reader, which is why information should be organized in a logical or hierarchical order for everyone’s convenience. You may also see biography outline.

1. Begin with your thesis statement. It’s important to start your research paper outline with your thesis statement, or at least a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement. So when a person reads your outline, they can immediately identify what your research paper is all about.

2. List down the major points of your research paper. Create a list of strong arguments that must be highlighted in your outline. It would be best to organize them properly by sectioning them into particular categories. You may even label each part in Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV) to make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for in your outline. You may also see tentative outlines.

3. Note down supporting ideas or argument for each point listed. For every major argument listed, there must be a series of supporting ideas to back up its claims. This usually consists of facts or examples that prove the credibility of such claim. Similar to the central points of the paper, it is important to keep this section organized by labeling each idea in capital letters (A, B, C). You may also see resume outline.

4. Subdivide each supporting topic. If necessary, you can continue to subdivide each point to fully expound the ideas presented. This will help make your outline even more informative for readers to grasp. You can then label them with numbers ( 1, 2, 3 ) and lowercase letters ( a, b, c ).

Creating an outline for your research paper isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It’s a step-by-step process that requires proper analysis and comprehension to carry out. If you’re having trouble writing your research paper outline, then it might be better to start off with a rough outline first. After which, you can then make the necessary adjustments to complete your final outline. By studying various outline samples, you’re sure to come up with the perfect research paper outline in no time.

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