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College Research Paper Outline

Academic writing

Research paper writing


After getting acquainted with essays and term papers, freshmen think that they know everything about academic writing and perceive the received marks as the step into independent adult life. So it is, but you should not hurry, because there is a crucial period ahead, during which you will encounter more complex tasks, such as a research paper. Exactly at its defense, it is possible to demonstrate the deep knowledge of a future specialty, as well as become the pride of a scientific supervisor and, of course, your parents.

Why is it important to have a good research paper outline?

All this is true, but only if you will approach the assignment responsibly and not think that the grade A is already in your pocket. We know many examples when excellent students, having relaxed at defense, received satisfactory marks not corresponding to their ambitious plans. In addition, the behavior of teachers is unpredictable, so it is worth being fully prepared. That's why you should carefully read this article!

So, we decided: you want to get a good grade for an academic project. To achieve such an impeccable result, first of all, compile an outline for a research paper. When a student receives an assignment and begins to comprehend the topic, at first, the thoughts are usually confused. This is quite normal, since a huge amount of knowledge gained in the class and from textbooks was accumulated in the head, and it is difficult to systematize it.

This is where the plan comes to rescue. It is a kind of “schedule”, a sequence of work to be done, thanks to which you can easily structure your thoughts, bring them to the professor’s attention and the entire attestation commission in a concise manner.

The scientific research paper outline is a very important thing because, as the extensive teaching practice shows, its competent preparation significantly influences the final result. That is why, having compiled the plan, it is advisable to immediately show it to the supervisor, and only after this, to start implementing your ideas.

It is not excluded that a competent teacher will make adjustments and somewhat change your vision of future work. It is certainly not worth arguing in such a situation. Better listen to the practical advice of your mentor.

The main objectives of writing a research outline are as follows:

  • To fully disclose the theme of the project.
  • To prove its expediency and relevance.
  • To accurately choose the methodological base.
  • To substantiate the scientific novelty of the study.
  • To consistently set out the course of your thoughts.
  • To formulate the objective conclusions that will "crown" the work.
  • To schedule tasks for theoretical analysis and practical experiments.

If certain difficulties arise in one of the points, or you do not fully understand what to write, contact the supervisor in advance. All the nuances should be clarified in a timely manner, so that later, the general impression of the work will not be spoiled. If your teacher is busy or simply irresponsible (alas, such cases are also quite common), ask the experts of the company Pro-Papers for the professional research paper outline help.

In any case, we want to convey the important information to you, student: the plan is the “foundation” on which the theoretical and practical material, as well as the tremendous experience gained at the college and during internships, rests. It is the first detail you should take care of in order to get a high mark.

How to write an outline for a research paper?

Whichever project you want to prepare, there are standard norms and rules, common research paper outline format that should be followed. The plan must include the following points:

  1. Title page.
  2. Table of contents.
  3. Introduction.
  4. Main part with several chapters.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.
  7. Appendices.

Each part is mandatory and should be logically completed. That is why the detailed outline for research paper should include not only sections but also sub-sections, which, according to numbering, must also be inserted into the table of contents.


The introduction indicates the relevance, purpose, subject, object, research methods, and other initial data. In fact, it contains all the necessary information that allows to assess the content, structure, and methods of analysis, shows the need for the study of the selected topic and demonstrates the positive aspects of the practical implementation of the obtained results. It should be noted that the points of the introduction are prescribed in the methodological recommendations, which are different for various colleges and, thus, should be reviewed in advance.

Main part

Traditionally, the first chapter of the main part is theoretical, presents information about the object or phenomenon under study. Therefore, it can be called “Theoretical aspects...” or “Theoretical and methodological foundations...”, etc.

  • The first sub-section sets out the basic concepts of the topic, so you can call it "The concept and essence...". It provides important definitions and a description of the phenomenon, analyzes its features. The goals, objectives, functions, and principles of the object can be considered too.
  • Or this can be made in the second sub-section of the first chapter, which will have the appropriate name. Also, the species may be described here. In this case, the sub-section should be called “Types...” or “Classification ...”.
  • The third and often the last point is the analysis of the research methodology, less often - of the regulatory framework (in this case, the sub-section may be called "Regulatory base...").

In the second chapter, research is performed in the framework of a particular enterprise or organization, industry (metallurgy, farming, textile production), sometimes, on the example of a particular country (“Analysis of the US taxation system”). The essence of the study is reflected in the title of the chapter, which should contain, in addition to this, the name of the enterprise, industry or country.

  • In the case of analysis of the enterprise, in the first sub-section, a brief analysis of the main aspects of its activities is carried out under the header "Characteristics of the activity of the company..." or "Organizational characteristics of the firm…", "General characteristics of the organization...".
  • The following sub-sections contain the analysis of the available data (indicators of economic efficiency, sales dynamics, results of polls among consumers and the like), the research itself (selected methods are applied to process these data).

The third chapter has the advisory nature, so it is often called in this way: "Ways to improve the efficiency...", "Measures for...", "Recommendations for...".

  • The first sub-section analyzes the identified problems (“Problems of the organization...”, “Disadvantages of the existing system...”).
  • The following sub-sections set out optimization projects and analyze their effectiveness. Sometimes, students study world experience in solving the identified problems and improving the operation of an object (“World experience in reforming / renovation / increasing efficiency...”).


Your reasoning must be logically completed. This section is needed for this. It describes the results of research, that is, summarizes the findings that need to be logically structured, consists of:

  • conclusions made by the author in the course of research based on practice and theory;
  • description of the difficulties and problems identified at the enterprise / in the industry;
  • proposals for the introduction of new strategies;
  • prospects for further research on the topic;
  • answers to the questions: “What tasks were set in the beginning?”, “What goals were achieved?”.

Write briefly only about the main things, do not retell the content of the main part or introduction. Emphasize that you fulfilled all that was planned, and thus show yourself as a successful researcher.

Having decided on the composition and names of all sections, having built the “skeleton” of the work, having formed a clear idea of ​how it will begin and end, you can proceed to the selection of information from reliable sources, rewriting it in order to make the work unique, formatting the text.

When the paper is ready, be sure to re-read it several times, preferably after a break. When the brain is tired from many hours of work, it is rather difficult to notice minor flaws. But your teacher will check the project for the first time, so they will be obvious. It would not be superfluous to use the services of an editor who may bring the study to an ideal form.

Common mistakes when writing an outline for a research paper

Very often, students compile their own plan and immediately begin to write the text of the main part, making a number of mistakes that can reduce the final mark at the defense. Here are the most widespread problems:

  • The lack of consistency. It is important to understand that the teacher is not a fool. If in order to cheat, you deliberately missed one of the chapters or sub-sections, this will be immediately noticed by the professional eye. Accordingly, additional questions on the weakest nuances are guaranteed. It is not worth demonstrating your gaps in knowledge in this way.
  • The discrepancy between the plan and content. Some people think that writing an outline for a paper is needed, so to say, for averting eyes. They hope that the commission will get acquainted with the table of contents, listen to the oral presentation and put a satisfactory mark. When professors study the content, it becomes obvious that it does not correspond to the numbering and title of chapters. The teacher begins to scribble an explanatory note right at defense, and the student realizes that he has very low chances to pass on his project. Do not use such experiments at defense. Otherwise, they can spoil your academic reputation.
  • Punctuation and spelling errors in the academic research paper outline. Such defects as points and commas in wrong places are also striking. Moreover, after many years of work, teachers know all standards by heart. So every line of your explanatory note must be carefully checked. Otherwise, you will have to blush for such trifles.
  • Lack of bibliography. It is very important not to forget about the list of literature that was used in the process of research. All publications and authors should be numbered and referred to in the chapters. This is very important, because the student takes most of the information and materials from textbooks and cannot pass them off as his own deep knowledge.


People can endlessly explain something to us, but it is much more effective to see the discussed thing. Why guess if you can look at the result which teachers expect from you? To make the life of readers easier, we have prepared several samples.

The outline for a research paper on the topic "Psychological features of children from large families":

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  1. Psychological atmosphere in large families
  1. Concept, typology and theoretical analysis of large families
  2. Emotions and experiences of children from large families
  1. Practical study of a large family
  1. The main stages of scientific research
  2. Problems of large families
  3. Analysis and explanation of the results of scientific research
  1. Recommendations for psychologists on work with large families
  1. Summary of the research
  2. Ways to eliminate the problems in large families
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

Sample plan for research paper on the theme "Accounting and cost analysis for the production and sale of goods at the company "Golden Rose"":

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction

1. Theoretical research of the enterprise: accounting and cost analysis

  1. Costs dynamics and classification
  2. The role of the analysis in accounting

2. Organization of the accounting and cost analysis in the company “Golden Rose”

  1. Technical and economic characteristics of the company “Golden Rose”
  2. Synthetic and analytical accounting of the cost of production in the company “Golden Rose”

3. Optimization of the cost of production and sales of the company

  1. Recommendations for cost and sales analysis in the company “Golden Rose”
  2. Results of cost and sales management at the enterprise
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

Try to find the free outlines for research papers on your topic or, at least, discipline and use them as basic guidelines. It is also worth asking the teacher to show you the works of students from the previous courses.

Now you know how to compile a plan for an academic project and what nuances must be taken into account. If you do everything right, as advised by the experts of Pro-Papers, there should be no problems in this matter. Although, of course, no one is immune from force majeure and unforeseen difficulties. Fortunately, a team of professional authors is always ready to cover your back and to solve all academic problems


Academic writing

Research paper writing

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