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How To Compose An Effective Research Paper Outline


Before writing any research paper, students should always create an outline. An outline is a guide for the entire document, so it helps the student to lay out their argument. In addition to building an argument, an outline can help the student to save time by preventing writers' block. After the student has finished this step of the process, they will be ready to transition to the writing and editing portion of their assignment.

  • Start With the Introduction and Thesis Statement
  • The first part of any research paper is the thesis statement. This portion of the document is intended to summarize the argument in just one or two sentences. To be a good thesis statement, this sentence must make a point that is arguable. In addition to choosing a thesis statement, students need to create some type of hook that draws the reader into the essay. This hook could be a question, story or interesting fact. By including an interesting hook, the writer makes the reader immediately get interested in the topic.

  • Create Topic Sentences
  • In each paragraph of the research paper, students will need to have a topic sentence. This sentence is essentially a miniature thesis statement. Each topic sentence builds on the previous topic sentence as it demonstrates the student's argument. In the outline, students should write out the two or three pieces of evidence that support the topic sentence. By doing this, the student can make sure that they do not repeat the same data, and they ensure that they actually have the research available to support their argument.

  • Move Around the Pieces
  • Some of the top writers in the world create their outlines on sticky notes. This allows the writer to step back and look at their argument from a distance. If there is a problem with the order of the essay, the writer can easily move things around, combine sticky note topics or readjust the research.

  • Finish It Off
  • Once the entire outline is complete, the student should type it up in a basic word program. They should make sure that there are enough paragraphs and information to fill the required word count for their research paper. This is the last step before the student begins writing, so they should make sure that they have in order. All of the research materials should be carefully organized so that the student can instantly refer to them as they write.

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