MLA format is typically used for literary research papers and uses a ‘works cited’ page at the end. This format requires in-text citations.
Research paper body is where your outline will come in handy. As you’re writing, remember that your outline isn’t meant to be a prison—it’s a guideline to keep you on track. Your paper may evolve, so keep it fluid, but do remember to stay focused on your thesis statement and proving your points. Don’t let your sources organize your paper! Organize first and use your sources as they become relevant. Consider the Rule of Three. Find supporting arguments for each point you make, and present a strong point first, followed by an even stronger one, and finish with your strongest point.
Most research papers begin with a thesis statement at the end of an introductory paragraph. Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s a good idea to write a thesis statement as you begin to organize your research. Writing the thesis statement first is helpful because every argument or point you make in your paper should support this central idea you’re putting forward.
Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach. (You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink?) Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper.