Preparing a Topic Outline

As you consider the purpose and scope of your composition, and assemble information and ideas, it is a good idea to spread keywords, phrases, and sentences over a sheet of paper or over the whole of a computer screen. No matter whatever you are writing, headings will help you to organize your work. So they should necessarily be included in your topic headline. Use your main points as headings, and note supporting details and examples below each heading. Then number the headings as you decide:

  • the purpose and scope of your composition,
  • how the subject is to be introduced?
  • what is the topic for each of the other paragraphs?
  • what information and ideas must be included in each paragraph?
  • are any tables or diagrams needed? If so, where should they be placed?
  • what can be left out?
  • what part needs most emphasis?
  • how can the paragraphs be arranged in an effective sequence?
  • how should the composition be concluded?
  • would sub-headings help the reader?


In scientific and technical writing appropriate headings must be used. These headings should be used in preparing a topic outline, to ensure that all paragraphs are relevant to the preceding heading as well as to the composition as a whole.

After collecting all the required information, if there is still time left then it is a good idea to put your topic outline on one side for a while. Some of your second thoughts may be better than your first thoughts, and you may save time in the end because – even when using a word processor – it is easier to revise a topic outline than to reorganize and rewrite a poorly organized first draft.


Writing Research Papers

A research paper may contain original research results or reviews of existing results. In either case, you are documenting the results of your investigations on a selected topic. A research paper is your unique creation, based on your own thoughts and the facts and ideas you have gathered from a variety of sources. Writing a research paper needs the experience of assembling, interpreting, and documenting information along with developing and organizing ideas and conclusions. You might have investigated a topic deeply and might have spent months or years in obtaining novel results, but, unless you communicate your work clearly in your research paper, the readers will not be able to understand the intent of your hard work. The ability to accumulate, scrutinize and present large amounts of complex information in a summarized form is a skill that can bring you immense satisfaction as a researcher.

The intention of documenting a research paper is to let people study your work selectively. Here are certain tips that you can follow before you begin to jot down your hard work in your paper.

Rough draft

Before you begin writing anything, the most important thing to do is to outline your work. Pen down everything that is in your mind and keep adding to the draft until you think there is hardly anything left out. Include all the information that you feel is important and relevant. Once you are done with the rough draft, check for completeness and accuracy of facts. Your outlined work will give you a clear picture of what to include, what not to include, and how to arrange all the facts and figures in a proper format in your paper.


The title is the first thing that readers will look at in any paper. The title of your research paper should be precise, informative and relevant with the study performed. In short, a title itself should give readers an idea about the research done.


The abstract tells the reader about the intent and importance of your research. It is usually 250-300 words long. Your abstract will tell the readers of what you have done, how you did it, the results obtained and what it implies. It is an overall summary of your research work performed. A research paper begins with an abstract, but you should always write it after you have finished writing the entire paper.


The introduction sets the stage for your analysis; therefore, it should be concise and definite. Describe the topic, and show how it fits into your field of study. Give a brief outline of the problem, describe its implications, its significance and justify the novelty of your study. State the objective of your study and describe the reasoning that led you to select them. Briefly discuss the experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.

Literature Review

The literature review places your research in an appropriate framework.  It is a place to highlight relevant contributions associated with the study and to show how your contribution either fills the gaps or answers the unanswered questions. It may also create gaps in the knowledge of the readers by showing them that something they thought they knew is false. The theory part must focus on the logical reasons for why the readers should believe your hypothesis to be true.

Materials and Methods

This part must contain the details of the tools and procedures employed to fulfill the intent of your research. It must have enough information so that others can follow your procedure and can replicate it to hopefully come up with the same or additional findings and conclusions as you did.


You need to include all the relevant descriptive and numeric data in the form of facts and figures to present a clear picture of your findings. Utmost care should be taken while labeling these facts and figures and including their references throughout the paper.


In the discussion part, you can develop your arguments based upon your findings. The data may be self-explanatory; however, you will need to interpret how it validates your hypothesis, what falls outside of validity, how it impacts the literature you have cited, and the areas where further research is required. It also provides statistical, anecdotal, narrative, or descriptive evidences where and when required.


Summarize all the results in the conclusion part and explain very carefully and exactly what needs to be done next. It is likely that your conclusion will be uncertain.  However, a well-written conclusion will elucidate the next steps that need to be taken before the readers can be absolutely certain whether the research is complete or there is scope of further research on the same.


The most important element of any research paper is the references. Cite appropriate references where and when required, and verify the accuracy of your references before citing it.

Some Additional Tips

When you have finished writing the paper, take some time for yourself before you re-read it.

  • Make sure that your data and citations are accurate.
  • Reword your sentences for effectiveness of grammar, punctuation and composition.
  • Use a dictionary to check your spelling and use of words, or, run a spell check.
  • Read out the paper loudly to see how it flows and to correct any awkward sentences.