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Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide: Get Started

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Writing a good research paper outline

In the case of working as part of a team, you should usually include the other members of your group here. The abstract is the most crucial part of the report because anybody searching for your research on a database or in a journal will usually read only the abstract.

Therefore, it must summarize your research, results and conclusions in less than words. Sometimes it is good to think of it as a sample of your research rather than a review ; it should inform the researcher that your article contains the information they need.

There are a few ideas on how to write your abstract but the best advice is that you look at some journals relevant to your research and try to format your abstract in a similar way. This section and is merely a breakdown of sections and subsections by page number.

For a short and straightforward paper it may not be necessary to include a contents page. This is not mandatory for a research paper. This section of your report is where you will document all the painstaking research into the background of your experiment. The main thing to bear in mind, when writing the introduction , is that a scientist who is unfamiliar with your exact subject matter may be reading the article.

It is important, therefore, to try and give a quick and condensed history of the research leading to your experiment, with correct citations. You should also give a little background on why you chose to do this particular experiment and what you expect to find. For this portion of your report you must describe the methods used when performing the experiment.

This should include, if relevant, the location and times of sample collection, what equipment was utilized, and the techniques used. The idea behind the methodology section is that another researcher can exactly replicate your experiments without having to guess what equipment and what techniques should be used.

Scientific articles are peer reviewed and this includes the possibility that other researchers may try to replicate your results. There have been many high profile scientific breakthroughs over the years whose results were unable to be repeated; these experiments were disregarded.

For field studies you should give an exact map reference and time as well as including a map in the appendix. If you used complex machinery or computer programs in the course of your experiment, to avoid breaking the flow of your report, you should give only the main information and refer to the exact technical specifications in the appendix.

These should be a quick synopsis of the facts, figures and statistical tests used to arrive at your final results. You should try to avoid cluttering up your report and insert most of your raw data into the appendix. It is far better to stick with including only tables and graphs that show clearly the results. Do not be tempted to insert large numbers of graphs and figures just for the sake of it; each figure and graph should be mentioned, referred to and discussed in the text.

Try to avoid putting in tables and graphs showing the same information; select the type that shows your results most clearly. It is usually preferable to use graphs and relegate the tables to the appendix because it is easier to show trends in graphical format.

Figures and graphs should be clear and occupy at least half a page; you are not a magazine editor trying to fit a small graph into an article. All such information must be numbered, as diagrams for graphs and illustrations, and figures for tables; they should be referred to by this number in the body of the report.

You do not need to put the full breakdown of the calculations used for your statistical tests; most scientists hate statistics and are only interested in whether your results were significant or not. Relegate the calculations to the appendix.

The results section of your report should be neutral and you should avoid discussing your results or how they differed from or compared with what was expected. This information belongs in the next section. This is the pivotal section of your hard work in obtaining and analyzing your results. In your discussion you should seek to discuss your findings, and describe how they compared and differed from the results you expected.

In a nutshell, you are trying to show whether your hypothesis was proved, not proved or inconclusive. You must be extremely critical of yourself in this section; you will not get marked down for mistakes in experiment design or for poor results, only for not recognizing them.

Everybody who has written a dissertation or thesis has had to give a presentation to a room full of fellow students, scientists and professors and give a quick synopsis. These people will tear your report apart if you do not recognize its shortcomings and flaws. Very few experiments are per cent correct in their design and conception so it is not really important what your results were, only that you understand their significance.

Usually you will have had some promising results and some that did not fit with what you expected. Discuss why things may have gone wrong and what could be done to refine the results in future. Suggest what changes in experimental design might improve the results; there is no right or wrong in science, only progress.

Finally, you can discuss at the end ideas for further research, either refining the experiment or suggesting new areas. Even if your paper was a one off, somebody may come along and decide that they find your research interesting and that they would like to continue from where you left off.

This is really just a more elaborate version of the abstract. In a few paragraphs you should summarize your findings. Your abstract will do most of this for you but, as long as you do not get carried away, especially for longer reports, it can help the reader absorb your findings a little more.

Include all of your direct references here, even if you only found a couple of sentences. In the case where somebody referred to an original source, reference that too, but if you did not manage to get hold of it, try to rewrite so that you will not have to reference or use "referred in"-citation.

Here it is polite to acknowledge anybody who helped you with this report, although do not go overboard; it is not an Oscar speech. Your supervisor is a good start, as well as others who helped. If a landowner gave you permission to take samples then it is good practice to acknowledge them and give them a summary of your results, if permitted. Turning your outline into an essay. According to a college 58 of paper traditions said outline had been literary for the US.

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Research Paper Outline Examples Once you've decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion.

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An outline is a “blueprint” or “plan” for your paper. It helps you to organize your thoughts and arguments. A good outline can make conducting research and then writing the paper very efficient.

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The Basic Outline of a Paper The following outline shows a basic format for most academic papers. No matter what length the paper If a research paper, use strong evidence from sources—paraphrases, summaries, and quotations that support the main points III. Conclusion. A research paper outline is a helpful point-by-point plan, which makes your research paper writing easier. However, before proceeding to an outline you will have to take some pre-writing steps. They will be helpful in composing the best quality outline and, as a result, a great academic work.

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Tutorial to the research paper outline. It helps you through the steps of writing a research paper. Good writing is essential for any article or term paper. Outline the Paper Search this Guide Search. Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide: 4b. Outline the Paper For research papers, a formal outline can help you keep track of large amounts of information. Example taken from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (9th ed). How to Create an Outline.