Developing an Outline for a Paper

Term Paper Guidance

Stage 1: Preparing to Write
• Narrow the focus of your topic so that it is not too broad
• Review the research literature – and lots of it!
• Organize the articles you have read
• Develop an outline of your paper before you start writing

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Stage 2: Writing and Organization
• Provide an introductory paragraph to prepare the reader for what is to come
• Provide a clear statement of purpose
• Use a logical flow of ideas to develop your argument; do not use stream-of-consciousness
• Do not use long paragraphs (anything longer than ½ page is too long; try to keep to 1/3 page)
• Your statements of fact must be supported by research, must have an in-text citation to support
• Use headers and transition statements
• Do not use “flowery,” “poetic,” or dramatic phrasing

Stage 3: Describe Research Studies
• Concisely describe research methods for each relevant study
– Example: “This was a randomized controlled trial evaluating two experimental treatments for schizophrenia
in a community mental health setting (N = 200).”
• Describe results concisely, and precisely
– Example: “The experimental group showed statistically more improvement at post-treatment than the control
group (effect sizes 1.2 and 0.4, respectively), and 6-month follow-up (effect sizes 1.1 and 0.2, respectively.”
• Provide a rationale for your choice of studies
• Critique strengths and weaknesses of each individual study
• Critique gaps or weaknesses in the entire body of research

Stage 4: Polish and Edit Your Writing
• Never start a sentence with “AND” or “BUT”
• Be concise (use as few words as possible to express your ideas), avoid repetition
• Write in active voice
• Do not use contractions (e.g., do not use “don’t”)
• Do not write in the first person (e.g., do not use “I” or “my”)
• Provide a conclusion, but avoid simple repetition
• Discuss implications for the information that we have available
• Theoretical, practical/applied, clinical, policy, society, etc.
• Discuss future research directions
• Proof read, have a friend proof read, proof again
Stage 5: References
• This is not about your “beliefs” – it is about the arguments you develop from data in scientific papers
– No blogs, no fact sheets, no pop references, no media references
– If it is not published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal, it does not count
• Provide ALL information for references (author, year, title, journal, volume, pages)
– Include the required number of references
– You must cite every reference in the text
• Use a consistent format for references. For more information on Developing an Outline for a Paper visit this:

Developing an Outline for a Paper

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