When you outline your main ideas, putting them in a specific order is important. Place your strongest points at the beginning and end of your essay, with more mediocre points placed in the middle or near the end of your essay.
Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper: an argumentative research paper or an analytic research paper. Each requires a slightly different focus and writing style which should be identified prior to starting a rough draft.
Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach. (You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink?) Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper.
Depending on your paper rubric, class guidelines, or formatting guidelines, you may have to organize your paper in a specific way. For example, when writing in APA format you must organize your paper by headings including the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. These guidelines will alter the way you craft your outline and final paper.
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