OK. Not the sexiest subject in the world. You have writing a research paper + writing an outline for that research paper. Talk about a snoozer!
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
The trick to how to do it – and do it well – is to think of it as a blind date: Outline the paper as if you Correlational Research were on a blind date and had to sell yourself to the other person! Think about what happens on a date. People introduce themselves, offer a little background info, ask some questions about each other, and finally come to a conclusion about the other person. Sounds like any other research problem to me!
So next time you’re wondering how to do an outline for a research paper – approach it like an outline for a blind date. Here’s the flow and some tips. Remember, I’m the date, you’re the paper.
1. The Introduction:
You open the door and here I am. I’m picking you up (or you’re picking me up) and the date is about to begin. This is crucial. You need to capture me here or I’m out for the next hour.
- The opening statement: What are the first words you’d say to me? How would you introduce yourself? Don’t be boring! Get my juices going. Intrigue me. Make me want to know more.
- A small summary: People on dates are always nervous. I’m nervous. How do you ease my nerves? Give me a preview of what to expect of course! Summarize what you have planned for the night (aka the paper).
2. The Background:
We’ve just sat down for dinner. We’re looking over the menu. Think of this as the small talk. We’re getting comfortable with each other. Give me some more detail but don’t push too hard or I’ll be overwhelmed.
- Literature review: Think of this as your background history. Tell me about what you’ve done, where you’ve been, who you’ve met.
- Market relevance: To prep me for the next part, tell me why you matter. No, seriously – not to be mean but why should I care – in the long run, that is? Where is this going?
3. The Research:
So now dinner has arrived and we’re both juiced up. Let’s get down and dirty and answer the tough questions! And let’s get honest about how things are going. No need to lie to anybody here.
- Methodology: What are you looking for? How are you going about it. What are the standards you live by?
- Data: Well – tell me about everything. We’ve gotten to know each other – now I want details. Numbers, figures, names.
- Analysis: So you’ve just told me your life story. What does it all mean – in retrospect. You’ve had your entire life to analyze it – now tell me about it.
4. The Conclusion:
Dessert and then I drop you off. Time for the close. This is where you have to leave a mark.
- Implications: As dinner draws to a close, tell me about your conclusions. What do you think about everything. Why was this worth your time and mine? If not, that’s OK. But you have to give a rational reason why.
- Next Steps: Tell me what’s next. Is a second date necessary to answer more questions? Have we discovered something profound and need to rush ahead?