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Research Essay

2132 words - 9 pages

How To: Outlining a Research Paper Note for students: This document was prepared by Dr Amy Stuart for a class in which she requires a research paper related to air quality. I am providing it here to offer you some guidance on preparing a good outline. It is possible that some of the details will not apply to your paper – for instance, your overall organizational structure might not include a “results”section as Dr Stuart suggests for her students. The point here is to understand the overall ideas and methods suggested by Dr Stuart, not the specific sections of the paper. Outlining is an important step in organizing a paper. When done well, it clearly shows the relationships between ideas in ...view middle of the document...

A One Level Outline Start with a one level outline. A common basic one-level outline is shown below: I Introduction II Literature review III Analysis IV Results V Discussion VI Conclusions Using the above outline as a guide, create a one level outline for your paper by making the topic headings more detailed. For example, instead of “Literature review”, a more detailed heading could be “Literature review on the impacts of community design on air quality.” After providing details, read your outline. Does it flow clearly and provide a structure to build a complete paper around your chosen topic. If not, refine it. When it does, move to a two level outline. A Two Level Outline A two level outline is made up of headings for sections and subsection of a paper. A heading is a short phrase that describes the topic area of the section or subsection represented. A basic, two-level outline with many of the common elements in a research paper is shown below:

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I Introduction A. Motivation (Why this work is important) B. Objectives (Goals of this paper) or Thesis Statement C. Organizational overview of paper II Literature Review A. Heading for topic area A B. Heading for topic area B C. Heading for topic area C D. Heading for topic area D III Analysis Approach (What was done.) A. Heading for the description of the scope of the analysis B. Heading for methods used for first major task C. Heading for methods used for second major task D. Heading for methods used for third major task IV Results (What was found) [Sometimes this is combined as Results and Discussion] A. Heading for results of first major task (or Results/Discussion topic area E) B. Heading for results of second major task (or Results/Discussion topic area F) C. Heading for results of third major task (or Results/Discussion topic area G) V Discussion (How results contribute to knowledge in the field, e.g. compare results to literature) A. Heading for discussion topic E B. Heading for discussion topic F C. Heading for discussion topic G VI Conclusions A. Summary of objectives and approach of this paper B. Major findings of this paper C. Important implications of this paper's findings (e.g. for policy) D. Needed future work in the field Parent headings of an outline (e.g. I, II, III, IV, V, VI here) should represent topics that are more general and more important than sublevels under them. Sublevels of an outline (e.g. A, B, C, D here) should be more detailed than the parent heading they are under. Topics at the same level should be the same importance as each other. A good rule of thumb is that the heading phrase should get longer as the outline level is more embedded. Each section or subsection of an outline should be divided into at least 2 parts. It is good practice to use parallel grammatical structures for headings of the same level. Using the above outline as a guide, increase the level of your previous outline by one. In other words, replace the general topic headings used above with...

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