Research Paper Outline Examples
Below are two examples of research paper outlines. You’ll notice the first outline reflects a more traditional research focus:
Thesis statement: Advances in technology have been and will continue to be a great benefit to both teachers and students.
- In the classroom
- Document camera
- Allows instructors to present text to entire class
- Gives instructors chance to show objects without passing around
- This causes no wear and tear
- Instructor can manipulate objects in multiple ways
- Allows students to present objects
- Speech class
- Science presentation
- Connects class to internet
2. Online databases
- Interactive games
- Teacher’s aids
1. Text book
a. Save money
2. Easy to access
3. More features
- Instant information
II. Out of class
- Home computers
- Study resources
B. Logic enhancement
1. Word processors
c. Clean copy
C. Online degrees
1. Past results
2. Current offerings
The second outline reflects a literary analysis research paper. This is similar to what you will be doing for your final research paper. The outline below reflects a paper written on the short story “A Rose for Emily”. Although you probably haven’t read this story, you can easily see how the structure of the outline reflects the thesis.
Thesis statement: Emily’s deteriorating physical and mental state is partly caused by the constant judgment of the townspeople upon her, and that condition, coupled with her father’s treatment of her, leads her to kill Homer Barron and keep his corpse.
I. Emily Grierson
1. Becomes bloated, fat, and gray
2. Is embittered and reclusive
B. Refusal to acknowledge passing of time
1. Keeps father’s body
2. Refuses to pay taxes
3. Keeps Homer’s body
a. Shows her need for any companionship
b. Represents depths of her madness
1. Controls Emily’s life
2. Turns away suitors
2. Nosy and gossipy
a. Whisper about her relationship with Homer
b. Want to see inside of her house
Explanation of MLA Formal Outline Examples
- Thesis statement appears first, with the words “Thesis statement” underlined and followed by a colon and then your actual thesis. In other words, your own outline should look EXACTLY like the above examples at the top. An important thing to note for later: the thesis as phrased here should be EXACTLY as it appears at the end of the introduction paragraph in your paper’s body when you have your RP draft ready.
- Your research paper requires a topic outline, not a sentence outline. You may include complete sentences if you wish, but you must do all complete sentences if you choose to go that way. It’s easier to use clauses, phrases, and words as entries.
- You do NOT have to include actual quotes that you’ll be using from the story or critical sources in your outline, though you may. However, like any other entry on your outline, they must be grammatically parallel with other entries at the same level of generality, as explained below.
- All items which are at the same level of generality (that is, preceded by a similar marker (like all Roman numerals, all capital letters, all Arabic numerals, etc.) MUST be parallel (that is, they begin with the same part of speech). If under your first main division I you have reasons A, B, and C, those three items must all begin with the same part of speech (e.g. all begin with verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc.). See the entries on the two example outlines for instances of this.
- At each level of generality, there MUST BE at least TWO parts to warrant subdividing the previous item. In other words, you shouldn’t subdivide I into A unless you also have a B, or subdivide A into 1 unless you also have a 2, and so on. If you have just one thing you want to provide under a category (like a 1 you want to include under an A), then either don’t include it on the outline (remember, not every single thing you will discuss in the paper has to be itemized on the outline) or come up with a similar idea of equal weight to include under A also
Persuasive Research Paper
The time has come! Below you will find the requirements for your final research paper. Please read through the assignment carefully.
1. Choose any piece of literature (book, short story, comic, poem, play), a film, or a television show that you’d like to learn more about. However, the work MUST be a piece of FICTION. If you’d like, you can even use some of the short stories we discussed in this class.
2. Keep in mind, this is a persuasive paper. Meaning, this shouldn’t be a book or film report, rather this is an analysis with a clear thesis. In order to focus your topic, consider exploring some of the ideas below:
- How does the protagonist function as the classic idea of a quester?
- Explore symbolism in the work. How does the use of symbolism amplify the story’s themes, characters, etc.?
- Compare any two works. How do the themes coincide? How are they different?
- Investigate the work’s historical context.
- Research the author’s purpose and technique behind the work.
- Does the work function as an allegory? How so?
If you can think of a better idea that you’d like to explore, please feel free to do so. However, I would highly recommend running your idea by me before you dive too deep into research.
3. Develop a rough thesis and paper outline to guide the rest of your research and ideas.
A Few Tips:
- DO NOT retell the story! Assume I have already read or seen the work. However, DO provide some background or context when establishing major ideas, scenes, symbols, characters, etc.
- Evidence is incredibly important to making your argument work. However, evidence should not overtake your essay. For every bit of quoted info, have a sentence or two of reflection (or “glue”), indicating how this evidence supports your topic sentence. Yes, the more evidence, the better, but you should not simply have an entire paragraph of quoted info.
- The sources you find are meant to support and amplify your own ideas, not to BE your ideas. It is still your responsibility to come up with your own position (thesis) on the topic you’ve chosen, and you still have to provide your own rationale for your points as well as your own specific support and warrants.
- Yes, you can use “I” (first-person) in this essay. However, the use of “you” or “we” is still banned.
Research Paper Guidelines
An introduction to the topic with a clear thesis, stating your argument for this essay
Each body paragraph should be focused on one main point or idea
A conclusion that wraps up your arguments and provides some final thoughts
Must utilize at least four sources (fewer than four will result in zero!), not including the primary source(s)
Sources are meant to support your ideas, not be your ideas
Must have a properly formatted Works Cited page as last page of essay (not having a Works Cited page will result in a zero)
Must use parenthetical references (in-text citation) to indicate use of any idea which is not your own or not common knowledge (not using parenthetical references will result in a zero)
Proofread to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors
Word Count: 800 – 1,200 words