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Research paper outline template

Brainstorm and organize your ideas for an academic research paper

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The Research Paper Outline template is a space to brainstorm, collect resources, and plan out your academic paper or essay at a high level. This will be a living resource that you can come back to throughout your research and writing process to add ideas and resources, make adjustments, and keep you on track.

Start by brainstorming and deciding on the topic of your paper and outline the main points to include in your thesis and guide you in your research.

In the title brainstorm section you can note down ideas of titles you have for your paper as they come to you so when it is time to choose a title you can revisit the ideas you have been collecting.

Next, the Research brainstorm section is an area for you to jot down ideas to direct you in your search for resources. You could add sticky notes for particular themes, key words, or specific sources you want to make sure to look at. This is the space to ideate what you want to be researching and where you are going to look for the information.

In the Resources section you can directly copy and paste any links to articles, podcasts, videos, images, or any other media you will use. This will help you to keep track and visually organize all of your sources. We recommend sorting the sources into the different topics you will cover in your paper. You can even use icons to indicate if a source has a quote you will want to use or is just good background information. Throughout your research process you can continue collecting different sources in this section. You can also include links to note documents that you take.

Once you have enough resources and understanding of your topic you can determine what themes you would like to cover in your research paper and the associated arguments you would like to make in each theme. Once you have brainstormed arguments you can include which sources from the Research section will provide evidence to each of your arguments.

Lastly, you can create a high level visual outline of your paper or essay. No matter the length of your academic paper, it should include an introduction, body, and conclusion. You can organize your thesis, themes, main points, and evidence into the sections of the introduction, body, and conclusion. You may still want to write out a more detailed outline in a document before you start writing but this visual outline will serve you as a starting point as well as a guiding resource that you can return to throughout the process. The visual nature of the template will make it easy to revisit and rearrange or add quick ideas and thoughts as your paper develops and you need to make adjustments.

Share the mural with any team members, peers, or advisors for feedback on the direction of your academic research paper.

How to create a Research paper outline template

Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.

Tags on sticky notes

Tags on sticky notes

Customizable labels make it easy to find, organize, and categorize your work in a mural.



Add comments and tag collaborators for smooth asynchronous communication.

Icons, GIFs, & images

Icons, GIFs, & images

Express complex ideas visually or lead an engaging team-building activity with Noun Project, GIPHY, and Unsplash integrations.

Research paper outline template frequently asked questions

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