research paper outline

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

The scientific study involves collecting the necessary materials, analyzing the literature, and conducting experiments. Their purpose is to draw conclusions important to science.

For the activity of a scientist or graduate student to give a positive result, it is necessary to devote time to planning. That is to make a correct research paper outline. Adhering to it, it is possible to effectively manage the time and not to miss the components that are crucial for the author’s text.

  1. A research paper outline will make it easier to gather the literature sources and conduct experiments. It will help to save time on writing a scholarly work.
  2. The research essay outline consists of several main parts. They depend on the topic of the thesis.
  3. The structure of the document for the master’s thesis is different from the candidate’s. In the latter case, the plan specifies the dates for writing the thesis abstract/scientific articles/approval results, etc.

The planning algorithm covers the following issues:

  1. Selection of topic.
  2. Study of materials devoted to a particular problem.
  3. Determination of the purpose and object of the project.
  4. Selection of methods, determining an effective way to achieve the result.

Also, before you start working, you need to understand that your activity will be divided into 2 main parts – theoretical and practical. That is why it is always necessary to go from less to more. First, you form an idea, then you select theoretical information on it. Then conduct experiments, process the results, and form conclusions.

Experts from the best research paper writing services know how to write an outline for a research paper. Based on their expertise, you can make a rough plan for the scholarly project.

Approximate structure of an outline for research paper

Working on the outline for a research paper, you should comply with certain requirements. Your plan should consist of the following items:


The introduction in the research paper outline justifies the relevance of the chosen topic, defines the object, subject, and main problems. It also formulates the purpose and content of the tasks, informs what is the novelty of the report (if any).

Also, the introduction defines the methods of investigation. It justifies the theoretical and practical significance of the project.

Introduction Structure:

Relevance of the project

Justifying the relevance of the study, you need to decide why this particular problem needs to be studied at the present time. And also why you chose this particular topic for your project. A clear and concise rationale for choosing the topic of the project and conducting the study itself is needed.

Study Problem

A problem is a specific task that the researcher must solve. The formulation of the problem defines the shape of the entire work.

Purpose of the Scholarly Work

This is the desired end result that the student plans to achieve within the chosen project topic. In the course of the research work, the actions aimed at achieving the set goal are described.

Object and Subject of Study 

The object of scholarly work is something that will be taken by the student for study. It doesn’t have to be an inanimate object or a living being. It can be a process or a phenomenon of reality.

The subject is a special problem, its individual aspects, properties, and features that you will explore in the project. Usually, the name of the subject of scientific study is contained in the answer to the question: what is being studied?

Research Objectives

Objectives are the particular tasks that must be accomplished in order for the study to achieve its purpose.

Research Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a speculative assumption. Simply put, it is the result to be achieved theoretically.

Study Methods

These are the ways to achieve the goal of the scientific work or project.

Theoretical Significance of the Paper

This is the disclosure of the theoretical meaning of the research work. Description of how the results obtained can be applied in human life and society.

The theoretical significance of the report means that it is necessary. Accordingly, a competent research project should have a high theoretical significance.

Practical Significance of the Work

This is the disclosure of the practical value (application) of the report, a description of how the results can be applied.

The research outline introduction should very clearly describe the topic of scientific work, justify its necessity and show how well the author understands the chosen topic. It is also important to have a competent introduction because the content will be built entirely on the prerequisites mentioned in it.

Historical background of the project problem

Historical information on the problem is usually taken from the Internet (Wikipedia or other resources). Or from the literature of libraries and archives.

The main part of research project

When planning and writing a scientific work the main part includes:

  1. Searching for the necessary information, knowledge to conduct the study.
  2. Selection of ideas and options, their justification, and analysis.
  3. Selection of material, methods to conduct research.
  4. Selection of equipment and organization of a workplace for research (if it is an experience).
  5. Description of the stages of the study.
  6. Safety measures in carrying out the project (if it is an experience).


It is brief conclusions on the results of the study, evaluation of the completeness of the solution of the tasks.

The conclusion describes the results obtained. It defines their relationship to the overall goal and formulated specific objectives. It gives a self-assessment of the work done. In some cases, you can specify ways to continue the investigation topic, as well as specific tasks to be solved while doing so.

Literature to be used

After the conclusion, it is customary to place a list of the literature used in the research work. Each source included should be reflected in the explanatory note. You should not include in this list works that were not actually used.

Requirements for the list may vary, but most often it is divided into several sub-items. For example, scientific literature, academic literature, normative-legal acts, artistic sources, other sources, Internet resources.

The list of literature is necessarily lined up in alphabetical order. The very structure of the item list is always the same.


The appendix contains the material that is necessary for the work as a proof or illustrative basis, but which is not appropriate to place in the main body. It can be:

  • illustrations;
  • graphs;
  • figures or graphs are contained in the appendix diagrams;
  • calculations;
  • survey questions;
  • drawings;
  • material for any tests;
  • leaflets, recommendations, etc.

The application goes strictly after the list of references. There can be several applications. The elements that are included in this section should be numbered, especially if they are referenced within the text.

Various forms of research paper

The research paper outline for a master’s student, graduate student, and a Ph.D. student has significant differences. A graduate student who wishes to devote himself to science and enroll in graduate school prepares a master’s thesis. For a postgraduate student, it is mandatory to write a monograph and two scientific articles. Established scientists devote a lot of time to practical research, publish abstracts, results of approbation, and implementation of discoveries made.

A scientific paper is one of the most complex and voluminous. It requires a detailed project plan. On its basis, they make a choice of a topic, collect literary sources, directly study, approbation, design of the text, its verification, and receiving a review.

Several authors can take part in the work on the monograph at once. In this case, planning also plays a crucial role. It helps to coordinate actions, jointly perform a practical part on one topic, formalize them, select a publication, and pass a review.

Final Thoughts

It is the scientific study that is the most complex and independent work. So the plan before its creation is worth forming as detailed as possible. If you do not have much experience, try to divide the project into the maximum number of adequate final tasks. After all, to perform each of them will not be so difficult, and then you can put it all together, do the final editing and be proud of your own work. This structured approach will allow you to save serious time and achieve excellent results.

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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