How to write a research paper: drafting an outline

When you are writing a research paper you need to draft the outline. This should happen after you have conducted thorough research but before you sit down to write your first draft. The purpose of the outline is to gather your thoughts and put them down on paper in a cohesive manner. Your outline will show you any flaws in your logic or arguments which lack proper support. It is a chance for you to lay out the structure of your paper and to verify that you have included all of the points and topics required of you and that you have supporting evidence from high quality sources for every argument you make.

With a proper outline you can ensure all of this is done before you start writing which will make the writing process significantly easier for you. The outline can be drafted in bullet point format. This is where you write out a heading for every major part or chapter of your essay such as:


Argument 1

Argument 2

Argument 3


Beneath those parts you might include a fragmented sentence or bullet point describing what you will write about in that section and what evidence you will include to support each argument. Some students prefer to use bullet points or fragmented yet connected thoughts while other students prefer to use full sentences beneath each subheading. The choice is up to you as the writer of course.

You can write on any number of topics but if you are struggling to find some topic ideas you can review the list below. Remember that this list should act as a guide in selecting your particular topic:

  • You can write about why people sleep
  • You can write about how global positioning systems work
  • You can write about the first person to access the North Pole
  • You can write about whether anyone escaped Alcatraz and how
  • You can write about life as a gladiator in history
  • You can write about the long term effects of steroids on the body
  • You can write about took place during the Salem witch trials
  • You can write about the most effective means of repelling bugs
  • You can write about the manner in which railroads and trains changed America
  • You can write about how bullet resistant glass and clothing are made

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