Once you decide on the topic of your future research, it is necessary to plan the layout and scope of the work, and the best way to do that is to prepare a paper outline. It is a system of ordering information that consists of bullet points and statements denoting the content of the research. It is organized logically and hierarchically, and helps you see the overall idea of the whole work. An outline is written for several reasons:
Outlines will differ according to the length of your paper, but usually they consist of an introduction, a main body (often divided into chapters and subchapters, according to the content of the paper), and a conclusion. Here are a few useful tips on how to write each of these parts.
In the introduction, you should provide the thesis of the research, posing a key problem in a form of a statement. You should indicate the topic and objectives of the project, define the key terms, enumerate the methods of research, and explain its significance. All this information should be written in the form of brief statements to show generally what the paper is about.
In this part of your plan, you should concisely indicate each point in the same order as they are covered in the research. Organize all the statements logically, providing the supporting facts and arguments. Use figures (1, 2, 3) and letters (a. b. c.) to classify the points hierarchically.
The conclusion is the transition to the end of the paper. It should contain finalizing statements, results, and summaries. Here you should state your final point of view, explain how you arrived at these particular conclusions, show the future prospects of the research, and give some recommendations. After the conclusion, you may mention the list of references, indicating the number and character of the sources used.
After you finish writing, look at the outline again. Over the course of preparing it, you might need to introduce some changes, shift a statement to a different chapter, change the order of the analyzed points, or expand some points of your outline.
All the above-mentioned hints aim at helping you to prepare a good outline, and to write a successful research project.