Advice on how to write a good outline for a research paper

Ever wonder why you got a B minus on your sociology research paper? Was it poor facts, expression or just the way your paper was structured? Chances are it’s the latter one because we all know facts can never go wrong. What can go wrong is your lack of concentration and poor organization while structuring your paper.

What is an outline? Why do you need it?

An outline is a logical way of organizing contents of your research to present your ideas and provide the most effective connection among various parts of your essay. In the absence of a proper outline you will not only overlook certain critical points but also confuse the reader once you compile your final document. Drafting an outline may consume an extra 15-20 minutes but might save you from a lot of trouble in the longer run. Many academic instructors now demand their students to submit an outline as an essential course deliverable.

Components of an Outline!

Your outline should have the following three mandate components:

I. Introduction

II. Body

III. Conclusion

A good outline will help you start off from the intro and gradually move smoothly towards the conclusion.

How to create an outline?

Once you have identified the above mentioned components, you can now split them further into categories and subcategories to include minor details. Remember an outline is only there to help you give form to your ideas.

Writing a research paper is altogether a different task. You can also include thesis statements, research variables, hypothesis, pros and cons, historical comparisons and other such supporting headings to better shape your argument. All along, you need to make sure you’re following the flow. If your outline doesn’t lead to your desired conclusion, you need to draft another one.

Approaches of organizing your outline:

There are two general approaches for organizing your outline:

  1. Chronological
  2. Spatial

The choice of an approach really depends on the nature of your study however generally in chronological approach you progress from one incident to the next in a proper sequence depending on their occurrence in time. While in spatial approach you move from specific to general, giving utmost importance to the very first incident you mention.

Keeping in mind the above mentioned things, you can draft an effective and relevant outline for your research paper.

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