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How to Write a Research Paper

3. Creating a Thesis Statement & Outline

❶Finish by writing one or more points about what parts of your subject require further research, and include subpoints about how that further research would intersect with your current paper.

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What is a Research Paper?
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An outline should briefly summarize the intended content of your essay and organize that content in a sensible, coherent manner. Knowing how to outline is an important skill for students, since some instructors require students to turn in outlines before submitting their papers. Keep reading to learn more about how to develop an effective outline for your paper.

To write an essay outline, start with a section about your introduction that includes an introductory sentence and your thesis statement. Then, make a section about the body of your essay that has subsections for each paragraph you'll be writing. Within each subsection, include the main point of the paragraph and any evidence you'll be presenting to support it.

Finally, create a section about your essay's conclusion that includes a final sentence. Read the assignment guidelines carefully. Highlight or underline important words and phrases in the instructions. Make sure that you fully understand what the instructor is asking you to do before you begin your outline.

Ask for clarification if anything seems vague or confusing. Although outlining a paper can help you to develop and organize your ideas, you may need to do some other prewriting exercises to get started. List all the ideas that come to mind good or bad and then look over the list you have made and group similar ideas together.

Expand those lists by adding onto the list or by using another prewriting activity. Write nonstop for about minutes. When you are done, review what you have written and highlight or underline the most useful information. Repeat the freewriting exercise using this information as a starting point.

You can repeat this exercise multiple times to continue to refine and develop your ideas. Write your subject down on the center of a piece of paper and circle it. Then draw three or more lines extending from the circle. At the end of each of the lines you have drawn, write down a new idea that corresponds to your main idea. Then draw three or more lines from each of those new ideas, and write ideas that corresponds to those ideas.

Continue developing your cluster until you feel that you have explored as many connections as you can. Respond to each questions in as much detail as you can. This exercise will help develop your ideas and identify areas of your topic that you need to learn more about. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your paper. Are you writing this paper in order to persuade, entertain, enlighten, or something else? Just make sure that your purpose is in line with what the assignment asks you to do.

Look for keywords in the assignment guidelines to help you figure out what your purpose should be. Think about who will read your paper. Identify the needs and expectations of your audience by considering what they do and do not know about your topic. Anticipate their reactions as well. How they might react to the information that you will be sharing with them? Will they be angry, sad, amused, or something else? Once you have developed your ideas and considered your purpose and audience, you should be ready to write a thesis statement.

A thesis should not be more than one sentence in length. Do not state facts or matters of taste. For example, something like "George Washington was the first president of the United States," would not be a good thesis because it states a fact. Likewise, "Die Hard is a great movie," would not work because it expresses a matter of taste.

In other words, avoid simply saying that something is "good" or "effective" and say what specifically makes it "good" or "effective. Choose a standard alphanumeric structure for an easy outline structure. An alphanumeric outline is the most common, easily recognized outline type, and each subdivision is identified by Roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters, in that order. You will typically have three for an essay outline: Choose a decimal outline structure to show how your ideas are related.

A decimal outline is similar in structure to an alphanumeric outline, but it only uses a series of numbers to identify each subsection. Some people prefer this structure because it shows how each section contributes to the essay as a whole. Therefore, the first section would read "1. For instance, under the "1. Further subsections can be added by adding another decimal, followed by a number that corresponds to the new information. For instance, under the first "1. Determine whether to use full sentences or brief phrases in your outline.

For most outline essays, full sentences will prove more useful because they allow you to provide more thorough information.

Use parallel structures for outline sections. For example, if one section of your outline begins with a verb that uses the present tense, then the next section should also begin with a verb that uses present tense. Coordinate section titles and subordinate subsections. Each section title should feature information that is equally important to other section titles and subsections should contain information that is less important than your main section titles.

These outline section titles feature information that is as important as the first section title. Divide each heading into two or more parts. In order to provide adequate information for each section, you will need to divide each section into two or more parts.

Provide your introduction in the first section of your outline. This section should include an attention getting opening and general information about your topic. The information you provide in your introduction outline should gradually become more specific as you progress through its subsections.

A shocking fact or anecdote is a great way to start. Keep this section brief, but include the information that your readers will need to know in order to understand your paper. State the idea or argument that you plan to discuss in your essay. Provide essay body information in the second section of your outline. The body of your essay should be the largest part of your essay, so you will want to devote at least three subsections to this portion of your outline.

It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you write a thesis statement, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper. It will naturally change while you develop your ideas. Stay away from generic and too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read.

Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers.

If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author. More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form.

In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics. The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another. The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order.

All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral. The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other. Make the first outline tentative.

What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct.

Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place. You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately.

As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page. Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e.

This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline. Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e.

Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e.

Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e. If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e. Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again. Delete the symbol once editing is completed.

Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind. Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly. Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence?

Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed. Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over.

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Such a paper, called a thesis, requires the student to conduct research in two ways. First, students always research what other researchers are saying about their subject. Second, students sometimes conduct their own primary research, especially at the graduate level.

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GUIDELINES. FOR WRITING A THESIS OR DISSERTATION. CONTENTS: Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation, Linda Childers Hon, Ph.D. Outline for Empirical Master’s Theses, Kurt Kent, Ph.D. How to Actually Complete A Thesis.

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Remember: This outline is based on the five–paragraph model. Expand or condense it according to your particular assignment or the size of your opinion/main idea. Again, use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like, until you reach a thesis statement and outline that works for you. The outline structure is approximately the same whether you write a research outline on dreams or some topic distant from this one, like a research outline for PhD application. The structure is identical to the structure of the research paper itself.

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We will explain, “What is a thesis statement?“, how to write an outline, format it, and more. This post explains how to write the heart of any academic paper - thesis statement. Guide; Contests; Internships; Samples; The goal of the thesis is to explain what the paper will cover. It is impossible to fulfill this mission with a question. Thesis outline to be put in the simplest form means framing your paper with a skeleton, to which more material will be added to make the paper look and sound complete. Which means a good outline should talk about everything in your paper; which is the title and the subject matter or contents of your paper. Writing a paper beginning with an outline .