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How to Write a Research Paper

Organize Your Ideas

Research Papers


  1. Establish your topic.
  2. Look for sources of information.
  3. Read your sources and take notes.
  4. Organize your ideas.
  5. Write a first draft.
  6. Use footnotes or endnotes to document sources.
  7. Write a bibliography.
  8. Revise the first draft.
  9. Proofread the final draft.

Using the information collected on the note cards, develop an outline to organize your ideas. An outline shows your main ideas and the order in which you are going to write about them. It's the bare bones of what will later become a fleshed-out written report.

  1. Write down all the main ideas.
  2. List the subordinate ideas below the main ideas.
  3. Avoid any repetition of ideas.

Below is a partial sample outline for a research paper entitled The Early Days of Baseball. To see other sample outlines, click here.

  1. Baseball is born
    1. Rounders
      1. Originated in England in the 1600s.
      2. Differences between rounders and baseball.
    2. The Abner Doubleday theory
      1. Many people think Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839.
        1. Doubleday's friend, Graves, claimed he was a witness.
        2. A commission credited Doubleday with inventing the game.
      2. Historians say theory is bogus.

  2. Baseball becomes popular
    1. Interest soars after 1900
      1. Kids' favorite warm-weather sport.
      2. Crowds follow pennant races and World Series.
      3. Star players become national heroes.
      4. Known as "the national pastime."
        1. Quote from philosopher Jacques Barzun: "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."
    2. The Babe Ruth era
      1. Babe Ruth joins NY Yankees, 1920
        1. Plays outfield.
        2. Hits more and longer home runs than anyone before.
      2. Other heroes
        1. Lou Gehrig.
        2. Rogers Hornsby.
      3. Radio stations begin broadcasting games
        1. Play-by-play accounts reach millions of people.

No part of this outline may be reproduced without the permission of Information Please.



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