When it comes to writing academic papers, you will sometimes be required to write an outline. For example, if you need to write a research paper, then this particular section may be required before you proceed with the rest of the work. Essentially, an outline will describe various aspects of the work, including what you will attempt to answer, and why you are doing it.
Why is an outline important?
Essentially, an outline will be used to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the topic, and that there is a question or set of questions that can be asked about the topic that you will be discussing and hopefully answering. Ultimately, your outline will attempt to demonstrate that your research paper will be useful, as long as it is completed to a high standard, of course.
What details to include
When writing an outline you should start by introducing the topic that you will be writing about. As well as simply stating which topic you will be discussing, you may also wish to include some background related to the categories that you will be using for your research paper. Furthermore, at some point it can be a good idea to include details of other studies that have been completed based on the topic that you will be discussing; however, these references can be included slightly later on in the outline.
Once you have introduced the topic, you may wish to provide details of any primary and secondary questions that you will be attempting to answer. It may be that there is a particular issue that you will be discussing; however, there are likely to be other aspects of the topic that you will be aiming to find more about during your research.
Explaining how you will do the work
As well as providing details relating to which questions you wish to ask, you should also provide details of any methods that you will use in order to answer these questions. For example, you may wish to outline a range of research methods, such as questionnaires, surveys, or scientific experiments. You may also wish to describe why it is that you have chosen the methods that you have, and why you feel that other methods may not necessarily be quite as suitable. It may be that you feel the methods you have chosen are more likely to get you better results or, alternatively, there may be simple financial reasons as to why you have chosen the methods you have.