Writing a Research Paper


An outline is like a blueprint for building a house. You would not start to build a house without a plan. Neither should you begin to write a research paper without an outline. The outline gives the paper a focus and a structure.

Your outline will be very vague at the beginning, but, as you continue to read and gather information, the outline will take shape and expand.

At stages along the way the outline may suggest to you that more or less information is needed for certain headings. Also, your readings may suggest changes to your outline.

By the time you have gathered sufficient information to write your paper, your outline will be complete.

Your outline can be in point format or sentence format, so you can decide which to use. The point format, illustrated below, seems to be the most common.

This is a sample outline to illustrate the structure.

Retention of Seal Fishery

  • Introduction
  • Reasons
  • Cod fishery
  • Products
  • Employment
  • Thesis statement
  • Cod fishery
  • Depletion of stock
  • Seal consumption
  • Seal excrement
  • Loss of employment
  • Weakened economy
  • Products
  • Oil
  • Meat
  • Furs
  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Ornaments
  • Employment
  • Seal fishing
  • Land
  • Gulf
  • Manufacturing
  • Canning
  • Conclusion
  • Summary
  • Thesis statement

Note the format for the main headings and the subheadings. There shouldn't be an A without a B or a 1 without a 2. In other words, there must be a minimum of two subheadings.

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