Cathy A.
Cathy A.

How to Draft a Research Paper Outline into Simple Steps

10 min read

Published on: Feb 14, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 23, 2022

Research Paper Outline

On This Page On This Page

Have you been asked to provide an outline for your research paper, and you have no clue and time to write one?

Well, we have an easy guide for you to write your research paper outline professionally in no time.

Writing a research paper is essential to academic writing. College and university students are asked to write a research paper by their instructors to assess their ability to analyze, evaluate, and structure information in a meaningful manner.

Outlining your research paper is not a tough thing to do if you know the drill. This blog will spill the beans about writing a research paper outline in the simplest way possible.

What is a Research Paper Outline?

No matter what type of research paper you are writing, an outline is essential for all. It is used to organize your thoughts and ideas before you actually start writing your paper.

Generally, all academic assignments, including essay writing, involve research. For such assignments, the research conducted is relatively easier. But the writing and assignment that is specifically restricted to research, facts, and evaluation requires extensive and high-level research and writing skills.

Research is not everything you have to do while writing an essay or paper. Conducting research and then arranging and organizing the researched information and material are two things.

The post research steps you take while writing a paper need strong writing and organizing skills. If you lack these skills, chances are you will face a lot of trouble creating an outline for your perfect research paper.

Choosing the right topic for your research is also important. While selecting a topic for your research paper, make sure that your topic is broad, engaging, and interesting. Once you have an accurate topic, you can start your research.

Order Essay

Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job

Sample Research Paper Outline - Polio and Vaccination Debate

I. Introduction

  • A. Introduce the topic of the paper- in this case, the polio and vaccination debate
  • B. Provide a brief history of the disease and how it has been controlled in the past
  • C. Present both sides of the argument- those for and against vaccinations
  • D. Outline your own position on the issue
  • E. Provide a preview of the points you will be making in the paper

II. The Polio Vaccine- A History

  • A. When was the polio vaccine developed?
  • B. How effective has the polio vaccine been?
  • C. What are the possible side effects of the polio vaccine?
  • D. Is the polio vaccine mandatory in the United States?

III. The Argument For Polio Vaccinations

  • A. Immunizations protect not only the person being vaccinated, but also the community
  • B. Vaccines have been proven to be effective in eliminating or reducing the spread of disease
  • C. The risks posed by polio are much greater than the risks posed by the vaccine
  • D. Polio vaccinations are required for travel to some countries

IV. The Argument Against Polio Vaccinations

  • A. Some people believe that vaccines are unnatural and can cause harmful side effects
  • B. There is a fear that mandatory vaccination programs infringe on personal freedoms
  • C. Some argue that polio is no longer a threat and that the risks posed by the vaccine are not worth it
  • D. There is a lack of trust in government and pharmaceutical companies when it comes to vaccines

V. Conclusion

  • A. Summarize the main points of the paper
  • B. Restate your position on the issue
  • C. Call for further research or action on the issue

How to Write a Research Paper Outline

A structured and detailed outline is the basis of an effective and winning research paper. The outline provides a track for the writing process and helps you stay put on your paper’s main idea and argument.

The question here is how to create a perfect outline for a research paper? Being close to the students, we know what problems our students face while writing a research paper.

For our student’s ease, we have divided the process of writing a research outline into steps.

Follow the below-given steps to write a good research paper outline and make sure that you use roman numerals for sub-sections.

Here is a detailed description of each element necessary to write a research paper.

Cover or Title Page

The first page of your research paper includes your name, your institute’s and instructor’s name, the topic of your research, and the date. Commonly, all this is written in New Roman format.

Usually, the APA format is followed, but the MLA can be used in some cases. Follow the instructions and guidelines given by your instructor.


It is a brief summary of your research paper. Its purpose is to present the basic and general information on the research topic in a few sentences.

It acts as a guide for the reader about the research and what topics, methods, and outcomes of this research are in minimal words. It comes right after the title page.

Table of Content

The table of content is a great way to organize your research paper. It helps you break up all the headings and subheadings, which gives it more professionalism than if they were just thrown together in no particular order.

Make sure that when writing each section or heading with Roman numerals (i.e., 1., II), etc.

Research Paper Introduction

Being the most important part, an introduction of a research paper introduces the topic by grabbing the reader’s concentration towards the writing.

An introduction includes an opening sentence, which is a hook, a thesis statement, and an explanation of the topic and major terms related to your research.

A thesis statement is the main argument you make in your research, and all of the information and data you collect act as reasons and evidence to support this argument.

Research Paper Body

This is the broadest part as it contains multiple paragraphs and headings. Taking half of your paper’s length, the body of the paper includes key ideas, main arguments, background information, and the research and its findings.

All this information serves as pieces of evidence and reasons. For better understanding, the body of a research paper contains:

Literature Overview

It mentions the literature work you used in your research by backing up the hypothesis and theories you made in your paper.

In the literature review, you basically state the already existing terms and theories that can be used to defend your thesis statement.

The main theme of your paper and the literature work chosen should go hand in hand.

Research Methods

Every research uses a method to collect its data. The body of your paper presents the methodology type that you preferred to choose for that particular research paper.

Different field-related research uses different types of methods. For instance, for scientific research, the method used to collect data is quantitative; in contrast to this, the social sciences and humanities use qualitative research methodology.

According to your field and the topic, discuss the research methodology chosen in the body paragraphs of your paper outline.

Research Analysis

The research analysis contains all the strong arguments of the research and your related findings of the research. However, it is important to note that all of the researched information shouldn’t be bombarded at once on the readers.

Allocate each paragraph to a specific idea and talk about that idea only in that paragraph. State its background information, your claims on that idea, supporting information, and closure.

Research Results

The result is the outcome of the survey and the methodology used. Here, you can use tables or graphs to make your point precise and structured.

Research Perspectives

State here whether your outcomes will make a difference to the whole topic to the readers. Putting forward your perspectives, present the drawbacks and advantages of the research conducted.

Research Paper Conclusion

The final part of a research paper outline is the conclusion. In this part, no new information or idea is presented to the audience.

The conclusion paragraphs give a cursory glance at the whole research by summarizing all the major points of the writing. Finally, the rephrased thesis statement is mentioned again and the course of action that your audience should follow.


This is a very significant part of the research paper outline. In this step, referencing is done. This step is important as you mention here all the references and sources of your information.

Here, you mention the source of information you took the data out. If you have taken information from other people’s work or have quoted them, just give the original work’s reference along with its author’s name and date of publication.

This step saves you from plagiarism, and that’s the main importance of this step.

Bibliography and Appendix

A bibliography in the research paper outline holds the information of every book and study you took help from to do your research. If you haven’t cited it in your research, it is not a big deal. All will be mentioned here in this bibliography.

Research Paper Outline Format

When writing a research paper, include the following elements. An outline is crucial to making the formatting process easier. It’ll save you time by giving you a framework for organizing your thoughts before writing.

When writing a research paper, you must determine the format of your citations. The most common way is to use APA or MLA styles for this purpose. Both styles have advantages and disadvantages depending on what works better with each individual's preferences.

There are many different ways to organize your paper, but one of the most common is using Roman numerals. This makes it easy to know where each section begins and ends, so there's no need for guesswork or misplaced strokes.

The following descriptions and examples provide a detailed overview of two commonly used outline formats, with insights from experts in the field.

Order Essay

Tough Essay Due? Hire Tough Writers!

MLA Format Outline

The research paper outline of MLA includes the following elements.

  • The student and professor's names should be included on the first page with class and date.
  • Every title must be written in italics.
  • The page numbers are written in the upper right corner of each header.
  • A comprehensive list with endnotes before cited works.
  • Subheadings use lowercase letters and Arabic numerals.

The following template will help you understand the layout of an MLA research paper.

APA Format Outline

The APA research paper outline template below can be used as a guide while writing a research paper. Here are some of the most important features of APA format:

  • Add a separate cover/title page.
  • The title, author's name, university, and running head are all added on the cover page.
  • The header includes page numbers and the research paper's title.
  • An abstract is usually needed in APA format.
  • A list of cited sources entitled "References."

Go ahead and download the APA research paper outline PDF template. It will help you to understand this format quickly.

When you have to write a research paper, using an example of a research paper outline really helps. You can find example outlines in APA and MLA formats by reviewing our samples.

Standard Research Paper Outline Format

The research paper outline can be formatted in different styructures: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimat structures. Below, we have explained all three structures;


The most popular type of outline is an alphanumeric one. It utilizes Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to arrange the flow of information. Rather than sentences, short notes are used in this text.


I. 1st Body Paragraph

A. 1st Point

1. Sub-point

a. Sub-point of sub-point 1

It's similar to the alphanumeric outline, but with complete sentences rather than brief points.


I. First Body Paragraph of the Paper

A. First point or evidence of the main argument

1. Sub-point explaining the first evidence

a. Supporting sub-point of the first evidence discussed in point A

The decimal outline is a variant of the alphanumeric outline that uses a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, and so on. Rather than whole sentences, succinct notes are used instead of full paragraphs.


Body Paragraph 1

1.1 First Point

1.1.1 Sub-point number 1

1.1.2 Sub-point number 2

1.2 Second Point

Below is an outline for a standard research paper. It’s important to follow this format when writing. It will help you stay organized and decrease the chances that information gets lost.

Research Paper Outline Examples

To make you understand better and clear, we have provided some sample examples of the research paper outline format.

When you write a research paper, the outline is essential. Therefore, give yourself plenty of time to develop an outline that will lead you to a quality paper.

If you don’t know how to start, end, or format your paper, ask your teacher for help. Also, check out writing services like EssayWriter.college that provide expert guidance for students.

So, place your order today and receive high-quality work from our paper writing service.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Marketing, Literature)

Cathy has been one of our most reliable authors for more than five years. With extensive knowledge in mass communication gained from her Master's degree, she always produces high-quality work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about her craft.

Cathy has been one of our most reliable authors for more than five years. With extensive knowledge in mass communication gained from her Master's degree, she always produces high-quality work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about her craft.

Keep reading

Your first order with us is FREE!

Can’t Write It?

Learn More