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How to Write a Research Paper

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Like most outlines written for academic papers, there are at least three sections: A research paper outline, however, will also have a hypothesis or thesis as part of the introduction. Whether the main idea is called a thesis or hypothesis depends on the discipline. For scientific research papers the term hypothesis is often used. For non-scientific papers, like liberal arts research papers, the main idea of the paper is often called the thesis.

The introduction of the research paper outline needs to have a thesis or hypothesis that illustrates the claim the paper is trying to prove. Following the introduction the points needed to prove the thesis are provided. These ideas may be given in sentence or phrase format, depending on what the professor requires. The more formal method is to use a sentence format, which, according to the Purdue University Writing Lab, is often used for essays.

When using the alphanumeric outline format, the introduction will start with a Roman numeral one: Next, capital letters A,B,C and so on are written below the thesis. These letters are subheadings that provide more detail about the ideas presented in the thesis. For a research paper, several paragraphs are most likely required to thoroughly discuss the topic and help prove the thesis.

Using the alphanumeric format mentioned above requires that a Roman numeral be used for the general title of the first body paragraph. Capital letters are required for the subheadings under the title. Then Arabic numerals are used for subheadings revealing more detailed information on the topic. Subheadings under this are illustrated by lower case letters. The following section illustrates how a body paragraph may look.

Note that in this example, each level of the outline should be indented. The Roman numeral "II" would be on the left margin, and "A" and "B" would both be indented one tab, for example. Overview of the Works of Classical Composers A. For topics that require even more subheadings, the Arabic numerals are placed in parentheses and the subheading under these require the lower case letters be placed in parentheses.

If more subheadings are needed, than you may want to consider combining some of your topics so that there are not too many subheadings. The following illustrates the subheadings don't forget the indentions of each level:. The conclusion to the research paper follows the same alphanumeric format.

The topics outlined in this section does not extensively cite new research or expert opinion, but rather sums up the main ideas discussed in the paper to further prove the point the paper sought to make. It also ends with a statement or quote that gives the reader information for further consideration. Regardless of the section, there are certain qualities that each part of the research paper outline should have.

These include parallelism, equal relevance and multiple headings. Parallelism means that if a title starts with a verb, all the other titles in the outline should start with a verb.

Thus, in an outline about buying a car, the first title or topic of the body paragraph might be:. In other words, you should have at least two subheadings for every major heading. There is no limit on subheadings, but once you start forming a dozen or so subheadings under a single heading, you might find your outline looking cluttered and messy. Identify the research problem. As you prepare to write your outline, you need to specifically identify the research problem you are trying to address.

This will guide the entire formation of your outline and your paper. From this research problem, you will derive your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a single sentence that sums up the entire purpose or argument of your research paper. This thesis statement will usually be written above the outline itself or within the first "Introduction" heading of the outline. Your research problem can also help you figure out a title.

Identify your main categories. You also need to figure out what main points you plan on covering. All of these main points will be listed in your introduction and listed as part or all of you major headings for the body part of your paper.

The main points are details that support or address your research paper. They should be very general in nature. Take a look at your research topic and determine the best possible order to deliver information. You might end up using a chronological arrangement or a spatial arrangement, but as a general rule, you will go from general ideas to specific ones. Chronological arrangements generally only work if you have a topic that has some chronological history to it.

For example, if you were researching the history of modern medicine, it would make sense that your paper and outline follow a chronological order. If your research topic does not have a history, though, you will probably end up using a spatial structure.

For instance, if you are researching the effects of television and video games on the adolescent brain, you probably would not follow the chronology of the research. Instead, you might describe the different contemporary schools of thought on the issue or otherwise follow some other spatial arrangement of ideas.

Establish your major headings. Your first and last headings will be your "Introduction" and "Conclusions" sections, respectively. The other major headings will be represented by the main or major categories of your paper. In these instances, you can usually skip these two sections altogether, but you will need to write your thesis statement separately and above the outline. Know what to include in your Introduction. Your "Introduction" heading will need to include your thesis, at minimum.

You might also want to briefly list your main points and your hook. Note that these elements will usually be listed as subpoints, not as major headings.

The major heading for the section will be "Introduction. Understand what the body of your outline will consist of. Each main heading within the body portion of your outline will be labeled by a short phrase or sentence addressing a main category of your research paper.

As with the actual paper itself, this portion of your outline will hold all the significant content. Arrange the Conclusions section. This section will not contain much information, but you still need to provide at least two subpoints under the main heading.

Restate and rephrase your thesis. If you drew any additional conclusions based on your research, list them here. This will usually be your final point within the outline. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips Understanding the value of a good outline can help motivate you into perfecting yours.

A good outline shows you what to address next in your paper, thereby limiting writer's block. Outlines help maintain a coherent, orderly flow of ideas. You can use an outline to check yourself as you write if you suspect that you are straying from the main topic.

Having a visual outline can help encourage you as you write your paper since you can tell how much you have left. Outlines help you organize different ideas about the same topic and gain an understanding of how those ideas connect.

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Research Paper Outline Examples. Once you've already decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion. The broader your topic is, the more difficult it is to discuss your topic in full details.

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A research paper outline is a generalized, organized overview of a research topic. Outlines are useful as they help the writer think about a topic in more detail, revealing areas that may require more research.

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The research paper outline is essential for any article or term paper. The outline may make a great difference on how your work is interpreted. This article is a part of the guide. How To: Outlining a Research Paper Using the above outline as a guide, create a one level outline for your paper by making the topic headings more detailed. For example, instead of “Literature review”, a more detailed heading could be “Literature with many of the common elements in a research paper is shown below: 2 I Introduction.

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