Writing an Outline for Research Paper in Physics

If you are enrolled in physics, or are interested in pursuing it as a career, writing a great outline for a research paper is one of the first and best skills that will serve you well in life.

Thought Vomit

If you have an idea of what your topic is going to be, brainstorm all of your ideas onto a sheet of paper. This means ever detail that you can think of, every question that you may have, or every point that you want to make. You do not have to have any kind of organization at this point. What you do want is a good starting point to begin your outline.

Begin to Digest

After you get out every single thought that is rattling around your topic, now is the time to start organizing it into a clear and concise outline. The first thing that you want to do is see where certain ideas relate to one another. Circle them or make marks next to ideas that are similar to one another. Once you have several different groupings, look at the other information you have and see if it is really relevant to your paper or topic. The general topics that you formulate from grouping similar ideas together will not be your body paragraphs. If you do not have a thesis statement already, don’t worry- tying all of these ideas together in one concise statement can become the main lead of your essay.

Now Create the Outline

The point of an outline is to put your thoughts in an organized fashion so that you when it comes to writing your essay, it will be easier. You will also be able to stay on topic. Look at your key ideas. Figure out which ones are the most important, and label them numerically in sequential order. Now, look at all of the facts that you have listed in each category, and put them under each topic heading in an alphabetic order (ex. A., B., C.). If you have other pieces of information, such as statistics, put them under the alphabetic ideas in numeric order. For every 1 there should be a 2, and for every A there should be a B.

Once you have all of your information mapped out, all you need to do is write the key ideas (including your thesis) for your introduction. Next, at the end of your outline, write out your conclusion. If you essay needs to be a certain number of words, write how many words in an estimate each paragraph will contain.