Research Paper Outline Guide Example and Tips

A research paper outline is a roadmap for writing your paper. It lists the topics you want to cover and how to organize them logically. If you don’t know where to start with your research paper, it can be helpful to look at a research essay outline guide.

We’ve laid out an outline example in this article that you can refer to. Aside from some examples, we’ll also be sharing some writing tips you can use to compose a stellar paper. If these sound like something you want to learn about, keep reading!

man writing on paper
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

What Is a Research Essay Outline?

A research essay outline lists the topics and ideas you intend to explore in your research paper. This can also be referred to as the blueprint for your research paper.

It’s comprised of the subject’s thesis statement, research questions, and the references you’ll utilize to further your research. The purpose of this essay outline is to help ensure that all the pertinent research is included in your paper.

Main Parts of a Research Essay Outline

Title/Cover Page

Your opening section includes the significant details of your research. The ideal length for your title is 60 characters. Some of the things it consists of are:

  • Title of the research or study
  • Your full name
  • Name of professor
  • Co-researchers
  • Date of submission


An integral element of a research paper is the abstract or the summary of a paper. In this paper section, you should include the primary findings, their significance, and a brief conclusion.

The ideal length for the abstract is around 150–250 words, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). But this can vary depending on the target journal’s guidelines.


The introduction of your paper needs to explain the chosen problem and its significance. It usually contains the thesis statement and explanation of the topic (some major points and general information). This should also have an explanation of the core terms that are relevant to your study.


In the methodology, list the tools, equipment, and techniques used to carry out your study. Investigators should be able to replicate the investigation step-by-step by referring to this section.

Results & Discussion (R&D)

Research papers most commonly combine results and discussion in one huge section. You can start this section by sharing the findings of your study. Provide a brief description of the main components of the data, like figures and statistical examinations, to interpret the significance of the results.


The conclusion of your paper needs to include the following:

  • Summary of the results
  • A paraphrased thesis statement
  • Significance of the research paper
  • Methods to implement the findings
  • References

Create a complete list of references using your research paper format. To speed things up, you can write the source’s details on a separate piece of paper each time you cite something.

Research Essay Outline Guide

1. Research Title.

2. Abstract

3. Introduction

A. Background Information i. Supportive evidence ii. Existing literature studies.

B. Thesis Statement i. Link literature with hypothesis ii. Supportive evidence iii. Explain the knowledge gap and how your research will help fill the gap 4. Body

A. Methods i. Mention materials used and protocols implemented in the research ii. Supportive evidence

B. Results i. Tables and figures that represent the results ii. Mention appropriate descriptive statistics.

C. Discussion i. Support the research with context ii. Support the research hypothesis iii. Compare the results of your research with other investigations in the same field.

D. Conclusion i. Support the discussion and research investigation ii. Support with literature studies.

E. Acknowledgements i. Identify and thank the contributors.

F. Declaration of Competing Interests.

5. References

Tips for Writing a Research Paper Outline

Be Consistent

It’s best to write every section of your paper using a similar tone. You can state the topic or write short sentences for each heading, but do not do both.

Organize Information

In a research paper, higher-level headings are more generalized, and the supporting levels become more specific. Make sure to organize your information and sections properly using headings.

Build Support

Each main idea should have two or more supporting ideas. If your research does not provide supporting information for the main idea, you’ll have to perform further research or revise the outline.

Difference Between MLA and APA Research Paper Format

Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) are some of the most commonly used research paper formats.

The main difference between the two is their referencing style and cover page. You may want to use a method specific to your research field. MLA formatting is usually required for areas in humanities, whereas APA formatting is used for scientific research.

Final Thoughts

Research paper outlines make creating a paper easier by providing an outline for you to follow or base your essay on. Ensure that your paper is written within the requirements set by your professor. You can also refer to this research essay outline guide to help you get started.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline

One of the most interesting assignments you could have is writing a synthesis essay. For a college or university student,…

November 14, 2022

Learning the Structure of an Informational Essay

Academic writing assignments, primarily essays, are required of all college and university students. That’s because they think it will aid…

November 14, 2022

The Correct Way to Structure an Article

Writing non-fiction has a set format that can be followed, which makes it not all that different from writing fiction.…

November 14, 2022

Exploring the Structure of a Response Essay

You will typically be expected to write in a formal and impersonal voice when you are given the assignment of…

November 14, 2022

Writing a Persuasive Essay? Use This Structure!

Writing essays is a requirement of your academic program as a college student. Whether you love them or loathe them,…

November 14, 2022

Writing a Proposal Essay? Read This!

Are you writing a proposal essay? To write it correctly, we have to know what a proposal essay actually is.…

November 14, 2022