How Can You Create a Research Paper Outline?

When you are staring at a blank page, it means that you are starting to think about writing your research paper. After months of experiments and getting results, your professor asks you to write an article for publication in a prestigious journal. You talk to your classmates and a few of your seniors and get tips on writing a research paper from them, but you still cannot plan to start writing your research paper!

Researchers’ Attitude about Writing A Research paper

Writing a research paper is a very common topic among researchers and is often considered a time-consuming task. Researchers typically consider this task an imminent threat and delay it as long as they can and avoid it until they cannot delay it any longer.

After seeking advice from the internet and senior people, researchers manage to write a paper that gets published after several revisions. This process causes researchers to lose their sense of understanding of their research work and research findings. In this DoNotEdit article, we want to talk about how to create a structured research paper outline that will help the researcher write their research paper effectively!

Why Publication Is Important?

Publication is one of the important components of research studies in universities for scientific promotion and obtaining funds to support research. However, the primary reason for presenting data and hypotheses to the scientific community is to advance understanding in a particular field. A scientific paper is actually an official record of the scientific research process. A scientific paper documents research protocols, methods, conclusions, and discussions of a research hypothesis.

What Is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is a basic format for writing an academic research paper. The outline of the research paper follows the IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) format.

However, this format differs according to the type of research manuscript. The outline of the research paper includes the following sections to make it easier for readers to read the paper. These sections help researchers to build an effective outline for the paper.

1. Title Page

The title page provides important information that helps editors, reviewers, and readers identify the manuscript and authors at a glance. It also provides an overview of the research context of the research paper. The title should be accurate and contain the details of the article. Other general details, such as the author’s name, keywords, and author’s details, are added to the title page.

2. Abstract

The abstract is the most important part of the paper and helps the researcher to create the outline of the research paper in detail. More precisely, the abstract is like an advertisement for the researcher’s work and influences the editor in deciding to send the paper to the referees. Writing an abstract is a challenging task. Researchers can write the abstract of the article by selecting brief parts of the material.

3. Introduction

The introduction is actually a part of the article that presents the background and approach of the research. The introduction describes the topic of the research paper, states the research hypotheses, and informs the readers about the big research question.

One of the goals of the research is to answer the big research question with the help of experiments, analyses, and data obtained from them.

4. Methods

This section is usually named “Materials and Methods”, “Trials”, or “Patients and Methods”, depending on the type of journal. This section provides complete information about the methods used in the research. Researchers should provide clear explanations about the materials they used and the use of these materials in their research work.

If the methods used in this research have already been published in other articles, the researcher is required to provide a brief account of them and refer to the methods in the original publication. But if the method used is a modification of the original method, the researcher must mention the modifications made in the original protocol and confirm its accuracy, precision, and reproducibility.

5. Results

It is better to report the results in tables and figures as much as possible. Also, avoid repeating the text and make sure that the text summarizes the obtained results. Report the results with appropriate descriptive statistics. In addition, report any unexpected events that could affect the results of the study and include a full report of observations and explanations for missing data.

6. Discussion

The discussion should reflect the context of the research, reinforce the importance of the research, and support the research hypotheses. Summarize the main results of the study in a paragraph or two and show how it fits logically into the overall study design. Compare the results with other studies in the research field and explain the differences.

7.  Acknowledgments

Acknowledgments identify and thank study participants who do not meet the criteria of co-authors. Acknowledgments also recognize funding institutions and universities that award scholarships or fellowships to researchers.

8. Declaration of Competing Interests

Finally, the declaration of competing interests is necessary to comply with ethical norms related to research publications. Competing interests arise when an author has more than one role, which may lead to a situation where there is a conflict of interest.

Steps to Writing a Research Paper Outline

1- Write down all the important ideas that come to your mind about the research paper.

2- Answer the following questions:

What is the topic of my article? Why is this important? How to formulate the hypothesis? What are the main findings of the research?

3- Add context and structure. Group all your ideas into different sections of the paper, such as the introduction, methods, results, and discussion/conclusion.

4- Add related questions to each section. It is important to write down the questions. This will help you coordinate your thoughts.

5- Expand the ideas based on the questions created in the outline of the article.

6- After creating an outline, share it with your mentors and peers.

7- Get enough feedback and decide on the journal you want to submit your article to.

8- Begin the process of actually writing the research paper.

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