When you outline your main ideas, putting them in a specific order is important. Place your strongest points at the beginning and end of your essay, with more mediocre points placed in the middle or near the end of your essay.
Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper: an argumentative research paper or an analytic research paper. Each requires a slightly different focus and writing style which should be identified prior to starting a rough draft.
If you are writing a research paper for a class, consider the other students. Is it likely that they will also be writing about your topic? How can you keep your paper unique and interesting if everyone is writing about the same thing?
An outline will help you organize your thoughts before you dig into the writing process. Once you’ve developed your thesis statement, think about the main points you’ll need to present to support that statement. Those main points are your sub-headings. Now, organize your thoughts and information under each sub-heading.