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120 Music Research Paper Topics

How to choose a topic for music research paper:.


Music Theory Research Paper Topics:

  • The influence of harmonic progression on emotional response in music
  • Analyzing the use of chromaticism in the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach
  • The role of rhythm and meter in creating musical tension and release
  • Examining the development of tonality in Western classical music
  • Exploring the impact of cultural and historical context on musical form and structure
  • Investigating the use of polyphony in Renaissance choral music
  • Analyzing the compositional techniques of minimalist music
  • The relationship between melody and harmony in popular music
  • Examining the influence of jazz improvisation on contemporary music
  • The role of counterpoint in the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Investigating the use of microtonality in experimental music
  • Analyzing the impact of technology on music composition and production
  • The influence of musical modes on the development of different musical genres
  • Exploring the use of musical symbolism in film scoring
  • Investigating the role of music theory in the analysis and interpretation of non-Western music

Music Industry Research Paper Topics:

  • The impact of streaming services on music consumption patterns
  • The role of social media in promoting and marketing music
  • The effects of piracy on the music industry
  • The influence of technology on music production and distribution
  • The relationship between music and mental health
  • The evolution of music genres and their impact on the industry
  • The economics of live music events and festivals
  • The role of record labels in shaping the music industry
  • The impact of globalization on the music industry
  • The representation and portrayal of gender in the music industry
  • The effects of music streaming platforms on artist revenue
  • The role of music education in fostering talent and creativity
  • The influence of music videos on audience perception and engagement
  • The impact of music streaming on physical album sales
  • The role of music in advertising and brand marketing

Music Therapy Research Paper Topics:

  • The effectiveness of music therapy in reducing anxiety in cancer patients
  • The impact of music therapy on improving cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Exploring the use of music therapy in managing chronic pain
  • The role of music therapy in promoting emotional well-being in children with autism spectrum disorder
  • Music therapy as a complementary treatment for depression: A systematic review
  • The effects of music therapy on stress reduction in pregnant women
  • Examining the benefits of music therapy in improving communication skills in individuals with developmental disabilities
  • The use of music therapy in enhancing motor skills rehabilitation after stroke
  • Music therapy interventions for improving sleep quality in patients with insomnia
  • Exploring the impact of music therapy on reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • The role of music therapy in improving social interaction and engagement in individuals with schizophrenia
  • Music therapy as a non-pharmacological intervention for managing symptoms of dementia
  • The effects of music therapy on pain perception and opioid use in hospitalized patients
  • Exploring the use of music therapy in promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety during surgical procedures
  • The impact of music therapy on improving quality of life in individuals with Parkinson’s disease

Music Psychology Research Paper Topics:

  • The effects of music on mood and emotions
  • The role of music in enhancing cognitive abilities
  • The impact of music therapy on mental health disorders
  • The relationship between music and memory recall
  • The influence of music on stress reduction and relaxation
  • The psychological effects of different genres of music
  • The role of music in promoting social bonding and cohesion
  • The effects of music on creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • The psychological benefits of playing a musical instrument
  • The impact of music on motivation and productivity
  • The psychological effects of music on physical exercise performance
  • The role of music in enhancing learning and academic performance
  • The influence of music on sleep quality and patterns
  • The psychological effects of music on individuals with autism spectrum disorder
  • The relationship between music and personality traits

Music Education Research Paper Topics:

  • The impact of music education on cognitive development in children
  • The effectiveness of incorporating technology in music education
  • The role of music education in promoting social and emotional development
  • The benefits of music education for students with special needs
  • The influence of music education on academic achievement
  • The importance of music education in fostering creativity and innovation
  • The relationship between music education and language development
  • The impact of music education on self-esteem and self-confidence
  • The role of music education in promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity
  • The effects of music education on students’ overall well-being and mental health
  • The significance of music education in developing critical thinking skills
  • The role of music education in enhancing students’ teamwork and collaboration abilities
  • The impact of music education on students’ motivation and engagement in school
  • The effectiveness of different teaching methods in music education
  • The relationship between music education and career opportunities in the music industry

Music History Research Paper Topics:

  • The influence of African music on the development of jazz in the United States
  • The role of women composers in classical music during the 18th century
  • The impact of the Beatles on the evolution of popular music in the 1960s
  • The cultural significance of hip-hop music in urban communities
  • The development of opera in Italy during the Renaissance
  • The influence of folk music on the protest movements of the 1960s
  • The role of music in religious rituals and ceremonies throughout history
  • The evolution of electronic music and its impact on contemporary music production
  • The contribution of Latin American musicians to the development of salsa music
  • The influence of classical music on film scores in the 20th century
  • The role of music in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States
  • The development of reggae music in Jamaica and its global impact
  • The influence of Mozart’s compositions on the classical music era
  • The role of music in the French Revolution and its impact on society
  • The evolution of punk rock music and its influence on alternative music genres

Music Sociology Research Paper Topics:

  • The impact of music streaming platforms on the music industry
  • The role of music in shaping cultural identity
  • Gender representation in popular music: A sociological analysis
  • The influence of social media on music consumption patterns
  • Music festivals as spaces for social interaction and community building
  • The relationship between music and political activism
  • The effects of globalization on local music scenes
  • The role of music in constructing and challenging social norms
  • The impact of technology on music production and distribution
  • Music and social movements: A comparative study
  • The role of music in promoting social change and social justice
  • The influence of socioeconomic factors on music taste and preferences
  • The role of music in constructing and reinforcing gender stereotypes
  • The impact of music education on social and cognitive development
  • The relationship between music and mental health: A sociological perspective

Classical Music Research Paper Topics:

  • The influence of Ludwig van Beethoven on the development of classical music
  • The role of women composers in classical music history
  • The impact of Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions on future generations
  • The evolution of opera in the classical period
  • The significance of Mozart’s symphonies in the classical era
  • The influence of nationalism on classical music during the Romantic period
  • The portrayal of emotions in classical music compositions
  • The use of musical forms and structures in the works of Franz Joseph Haydn
  • The impact of the Industrial Revolution on the production and dissemination of classical music
  • The relationship between classical music and dance in the Baroque era
  • The role of patronage in the development of classical music
  • The influence of folk music on classical composers
  • The representation of nature in classical music compositions
  • The impact of technological advancements on classical music performance and recording
  • The exploration of polyphony in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach

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Writing about Music

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Dissertation and Thesis Research and Writing Guide for Music Students

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Requirements & Formatting

Wondering what your thesis or dissertation should look like? There are a variety of dissertation and thesis options that vary depending on whether you are a DMA or PhD student and what your area of focus is. The School of Music's Graduate Handbook will offer guidelines and requirements for each.

If you would like to see examples of completed dissertations, the Thesis Office has a list of examples divided by department on their website. You can also view the School of Music's collection in IDEALS (the repository for dissertations and other academic work created at UIUC).

  • Graduate College Thesis Requirements In addition to laying out the formatting requirements, the Thesis Office lists good examples of completed dissertations on this site.
  • School of Music IDEALS Collection You can browse completed dissertations and theses others at the School of Music that have been uploaded to IDEALS.

Writing Support on Campus

The Music & Performing Arts Library cannot proofread your thesis or dissertation. However, you can find resources and support for your writing at the Writers Workshop in the Center for Writing Studies. They provide free writing assistance for students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines at all stages of the writing process.

  • Writers Workshop The Writers Workshop supports all writers in the campus community across all forms of academic and professional writing, at any stage of the writing process. They offer writing groups, writing-related presentations, and writing consultations where we provide feedback on essays, research papers, personal statements, cover letters, theses and dissertations, manuscripts for publication, presentations, digital compositions, and anything between and beyond.

Dissertation Writing Guides

Libraries across campus have a variety of books in their collections devoted to the dissertation and thesis writing process. We have included some below to help structure and guide your writing process. You can find other related materials in the library catalog by doing a search for "dissertation writing".

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Music Research Paper

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This sample music research paper features: 6800 words (approx. 22 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 49 sources. Browse other research paper examples for more inspiration. If you need a thorough research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Feel free to contact our writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.


The meaning of music and dance, performance, sacred performance, chant and recitation, instruments, critical musicology, globalization, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, nationalism, medical ethnomusicology, applied ethnomusicology.

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Ethnographic approaches to music and dance in the 21st century explore how modes of expression and performance practices are involved in the making of lifeworlds. Cultural production is situated in specific contexts that generate meaning as particular sonic and kinesthetic phenomena relate to discursive processes and social structures. Scholars of music and dance engage with cultural flow through dialogic encounters and interpretative analyses. These studies help illustrate how performance practices produce meanings, mediate socialities, and configure political relations.

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Ethnomusicology, which generally encompasses anthropology, dance ethnology, folklore, musicology, and sociology, situates specific theoretical issues in comparative social and historical contexts. Up to the late 1960s, the discipline explored and indexed the musical phenomena of non-Western cultures in ways that resonated with concurrent anthropological trends in area studies. Critical analysis of these approaches led to a rethinking of music in which music became not the object of culture, but rather the product and expression of human experience. In his writings on the relations between music and society, anthropologist John Blacking (1995) proposed:

We need to know what sounds and what kinds of behavior different societies have chosen to call “musical;” and until we know more about this we cannot begin to answer the question, “How musical is man?” As “humanly organized sound,” music is a bearer of meanings insofar as it exhibits and necessarily demonstrates a set of values that the society that generates it would otherwise lack. (p. 5) Relations between music, dance, and society are thus viewed as complex networks of interdependence through which a given act embodies temporal and emplaced experiences that structure social processes. Contemporary ethnomusicology pursues a rigorous analysis of how cultural production generates social significance by positioning the individual as the agent of social change through historical encounter. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Theoretical Approaches to Music and Dance

Musical and social structures mutually constitute each other through human interaction. This cultural-studies approach derives from the seminal work of Raymond Williams, who claimed that culture is not fixed as a bounded work or elite mode of production, but is instead embedded in everyday experience and activity. As a cultural materialist who challenged orthodox Marxist accounts of historical epochs or phases, Williams framed cultural practices as sites of political contestation through which groups reproduce and resist modes of domination, particularly those that critique industrial capitalism (Williams, 1977). Critical to his work are structures of feeling that configure the ways in which particular generations and social classes experience difference among social relations. These feelings beget a lived experience of a particular moment in society and history that brings meaning into the lives of individuals and the lifeworlds that they constitute. The production of cultural meaning is a fluid and dynamic process that emerges as a necessary process in which “new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships, and kinds of relationship are continually being created” (Williams, 1977, pp. 122–23).

Musical meaning is not itself generated through aesthetic critique, nor by reference to something extramusical, such as an emotion, landscape, or harmonic figure. Rather, musical elements and structures discursively relate to lived experience by an act of representation that fixes musical experiences to metaphoric and metonymic structures, forms, and works. These bounded entities are placed in a network of complex relations that can be explained through systems of representation in which musical ontologies serve as interpretive frameworks for diverse musical systems, whether Western symphonic music, Hindustani classical music, or Japanese gagaku court theater, or for categorization of musical cultures as classical, folk, popular, and traditional. Categories, however, do not necessarily correlate to an intrinsic value, but more productively relate to “how they are used and embodied in community relations to become structuring forces in musical life” (Holt, 2007, p. 29).

Ethnomusicologists today explore the discursive production of musical meaning as a contemporary response to what comparative musicologist Charles Seeger (1977) problematized as the “musicological juncture” (p. 16), or the gap of representation that occurs when communicating about one system of human communication (music) through another (speech). To redress claims that music is “untranslatable and irreducible to the verbal mode” (Feld, 1982, p. 91), ethnomusicology suggests that musical practice is less a latent mode of (artistic) representation but rather a (socially) active and engaged mode of producing reality. If speech is the communication of “worldview as the intellection of reality,” then music is the communication of “worldview as the feeling of reality” (Seeger, 1977, p. 7). What we perceive as “feelingful” occurs through the “generality and multiplicity of possible messages and interpretations . . . that unite the material and mental dimensions of musical experience as fully embodied” (Seeger, 1977, p. 91). As suggested by interpretive approaches to cultural anthropology, ethnographers study not experience, per se, but the feelingful and discursive structures through which experience occurs.

Musical experience is constituted as meaningful when social structures conjoin with individual consciousness through structures of feeling. Whereas structures suggest fixed relationships that are rigid and determined, feeling inflects the intense and personal experience of what is “believed, felt, and acted upon” (Frith, 1996, p. 252). This becomes important with regard to the construction of cultural forms, whether musical genres and styles or social categories and spaces. How people behave with regard to sound relates to what they perceive and think about such behavior. Anthropologist Alan Merriam (1964) proposed a model of musical anthropology that triangulates these axes of sound, concept, and behavior. This tripartite structure has been redressed by an interpretive analysis of dialectical processes that consist of historical construction, social maintenance, and individual adaptation and experience; in other words, an agency-centered inquiry into how people create, experience, and use music (Rice, 1987).

Feelingful experiences occur through culturally specific processes that produce and perceive sound. Recent directions in the phenomenology of acoustic phenomena argue that sound is not the property of a musical object separated from its origin, but rather, sonic significance lies in the encounter of sound as musical. Sensory dimensions of experience suggest that sonorities may be heard as affective, feelingful, and emotional when perceived as musical patterns in specific cultural contexts. Phenomenological studies suggest the ways in which people relate to each other through senses of hearing. A hearing culture may make it “possible to conceptualize new ways of knowing a culture and of gaining a deepened understanding of how the members of a society know each other” (Erlmann, 2004, p. 3). In turn, individual and social processes perceive musical encounter “not through layers of cognitive categories and symbolic associations, but with a trained and responsive body, through habits copied from others and strictly reinforced, by means of musical skills” (Downey, 2002, p. 490). Listeners’ acquired habits of assimilating sensory experience to musical systems affect them viscerally, and lived bodies are fashioned by patterns of acting in relation to music at the same time that they are responsive to sonic textures.

Performance emerges through the interaction of corporeal gestures, discursive tropes, and performative utterances in social settings that situate these actions as musical or extramusical, verbal or nonverbal, cognitive or affective, sacred or secular. These actions are held together by aesthetic principles that are represented in the social and material world, just as the social and material world is imbued with extraordinary value. Performance and listening are intersubjectively and physiologically experienced in a trained and socialized set of artistic bodily movements that reflect values and ideas (Meintjes, 2003, p. 176).

Embodied realms of experience situate cultural practices in the physiological and expressive body and the social forces that operate through those bodies. Performativity asserts the materiality of nonverbal communication and expression and the presence of the body as it is mediated by the production of sound. Whether sound is produced by a singer, a musician, or mediated by technology, the presence of the medium leaves a material trace that regulates its origin (Barthes, 1978). For example, analyses of timbre consider the grain of the voice in recording—in addition to elements of texture, attack, delay, and pitch—and interpret studio techniques as signifying practices that are deeply connected to the discursive production of style and genre (Théberge, 1997).

Embodied performance by a socialized musician or dancer suggests how bodies may be regulated or may resist forces of power (Comaroff, 1991). The discourse of bodies in motion at Greek weddings, for instance, produces the dialectical relationships and mutual dependencies that are also regulated and constrained by their repetitive power as a body politic, or collective unit. By introducing nonGreek Roma musicians at wedding parties as daulia, or drums (Cowan, 1990, p. 102), Greek townspeople exert power over the materiality of both resonant and outside bodies. As sites of reception and agency, bodies bear narratives of time and place that coalesce into corporeal memories. The ways individuals perform these narratives construct identity and differences that endow sound and movement with the capacity to represent lived experience.

As forms of social action and as meaningful activity, music and dance create and give expression to human and social experience. Epistemological concerns have critically responded to the ways in which a kinetic body and a sound dialogically compose form through performance events, structured practices, and representational strategies. Rather than treat music and dance as objects of discourse that possess meaning in and of themselves, or frame body movement techniques and sonic phenomena as abstract properties that may be reconfigured according to context, ethnographers seek to localize the very terms by which understanding and knowledge of these performative dynamics are produced.

Music Research Topics and Issues

Music plays a significant role in preserving and transmitting the world’s religions in terms of history, culture, and practice. The study of music in religious practices considers the ways in which music transforms experience into sacred meanings, narrates religious myths, and structures religious ritual and communities. The performative conditions associated with religious practice consider sacred sound not as the taxonomy of a particular belief system, but rather as a sensory spectacle through which experiences become enchanted. The sacred nature mediates by sonic utterances that may induce a phantasmagoric state of being, encode sacred language, or embody affective experience. Sound indexes religious experience through the presence of sacred instruments and the act of listening to liturgical chant. Sound also marks sacred spaces through pilgrimages and festival rituals, among other religious practices (Beck, 2006; Berliner, 1993).

The efficacy of music in sacred spaces suggests the ways in which sound may be sacred and how this sacred nature may be mediated through sonic practices. How sound conveys sacred meaning and experience in specific contexts raises ontological distinctions in that what is often perceived as musical in European and North American contexts may be considered nonmusical and sacred in other sacred spaces.

Contexts may determine how sound is received and interpreted and in what ways sound may be ontologically separate from music. Interpretation of sound also structures power relations, in which religious authority is maintained by ideological boundaries of sound seeking to differentiate between sacred practices and secular forms of expression (Baily, 2003).

Ethnographies of sacred performance practices have tended to focus on the capacity of music, dance, and ritual drama to organize religious activity through modes of social interaction that produce webs of associative meaning (Reily, 2002). Performance has been conceptualized as a medium through which participants demonstrate religious conviction and commitment; as a means to structure time, narrative, and symbolic systems; and as a mode of interaction that codifies organizational patterns and the conditions of participation in religious activity. For example, the sacred voice is a medium that binds individuals communally in religious activity. How these experiences shape and are shaped by musical practice is determined by the theological ways in which individuals engage with music and music making. More recently, ethnographers have considered ways in which religious-ritual activity depends on the act of performance in order to be perceived as sacred and, in particular, how sound and movements are mediums that frame a ritual act as sacred. As individuals negotiate moral boundaries between the sacred and the profane in contemporary contexts, the act of producing sound and movement becomes a contested arena where religious authorities judge the ethics of cultural production. Performance through music and dance may allow departure from the profane and entrance into the sacred, mark the aesthetic boundaries of secular space, or itself articulate the boundaries between the sacred and the profane by which religious practices acquired enchanted and sacred meaning.

Several bodies of scholarship have addressed musical change, religious renewal, soteriological potential, musicoreligious orthodoxy, and other related issues. These different forms of religious practice, or syncretism, may be marked through distinct genres and styles that expose moments of encounter and uneven relations of power. In colonial spaces, religious repertory may occupy cultural spaces in ways that reproduce a hegemonic religious order and erase subaltern religious practices (Comaroff, 1991). Folkloric ensembles typically relate to historical or contemporary religious practices through complex processes of aestheticization that problematically blur distinctions between sacred worship, cultural traditions, and popular culture. These distinctions are in part based on a collective memory of the sacred that is translated through aesthetic ideals. The embodiment of these ideals demonstrates how religious ideologies are manifested through bodily practices that themselves produce sacred sound, movement, and performance.

The power of sound embodied in speech patterns, or chant, may preserve and transmit knowledge and religious authority as well as mark historical change. For example, the Rigvedic texts of the Harappan in Pakistan and northwestern India are considered sacred when correctly rendered through transmission and pronunciation of Vedic hymns. Recitation of these hymns occurs through three types of spoken accent with a melodic contour dependent on the succession of accent in the sung syllables, as well as the duration of each relative pitch. The consideration of Vedic chant as the foundation of contemporary Hindustani music in South Asia is, in part, attributed to its preservation through Brahman recitation. Codification of early performance practices, such as Gregorian chant in southern Europe, began when clergy notated plainchant in order to correlate its liturgical function with the medieval Roman liturgical calendar. Compositional practices that developed from these notations are widely considered to be the conceptual and historical basis for Renaissance and late European courtly arts (Bergeron, 1998).

Some religious cultures regard practices of recitation, or the sounding of religious text, as the divine act that makes speech patterns sacred by mediating the transmission of sacred texts through the vocal performance. The significance of such performances is governed not only by the syntactic conditions such as pitch and duration, but also by audition, or the appropriate response, performed by the ethical listener (Hirschkind, 2006).

Instruments embody religious experience when endowed with the capacity to produce sacred sound. In some ritual practices, performance on a particular instrument, such as batá percussion ensembles in Cuban Santería, realizes the divine potential of the ritual event and produces religious transformation. Instrumentalperformance practice marks the shift from secular to sacred contexts; produces the appropriate performance conditions for trance, ecstasy, possession, and other states of heightened sacrality; symbolizes tropes of religious narrative and function; and transfers knowledge and participation among believers (Hagedorn, 2001; Rouget, 1985; Wong, 2001).

Sacred musical practices are often narrative—telling stories and relating myths to generate a sense of historical and religious meaning. Narrative may be considered musical through, for example, the ways in which music marks the passage of time in ritual performance and in the narrative sequence of events, or through the juxtaposition of different musical genres that layer and texture religious stories. Instruments often play a significant role in narrating epic myths with sacred content, such as within bardic traditions or Sufi mysticism. One way in which narrative components of sacred music may shape a religious community is by mediating a sense of place. The act of recalling an original event, such as an act of martyrdom or a miracle, links the event to a specific site. When enacted through song and other musico-poetic genres, the act of recall layers subsequent events to that site in ways that parse history as locally meaningful in religious communities.

During the early 1990s, musicologists readjusted paradigms in which musical performance expresses a natural mode of human existence or formalizes a universal set of aesthetic ideals (Solie, 1993). The critical inquiry espoused by “new musicology” advocated for the deconstruction of ideologies into iconicities of style that are reproduced and transformed by acts of performance. Performance practices now produce social relations that are represented in different categories of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, generation, class and nation, and other forms of identity. Cultural meaning is discursively constructed by specific practices of signification, and links between signifier and signified are not fixed but arbitrary. These practices may construct meaningful experience in ways that depend on conventions of taste and class that are situated in a particular time and place.

Studies of place tend to be located in everyday life and explore the tactics by which people interact and engage with their environment. Gatherings, such as rehearsals among English rock musicians, are not only mediated by these practices, but also produce affective relationships to the settings in which social activities take place. Yet, as conditions of modernity separate space from place in lived experience, the physical settings of social activities are “thoroughly penetrated by and shaped in terms of social influences quite distant from them” (Giddens, as cited in Stokes, 1994, p. 1). Therefore, approaches to place, music, and dance seek to relocate cultural geographies within specific social, economic, and political spaces by addressing how individuals produce sound and movement in order “to reestablish their presence, situate events in a fixed place and time, and reembed actions within social structures” (Stokes, 1994, p. 3). Place becomes meaningful through affective processes that recognize and enable different experiences, mediate emotional relations to an environment, or produce nostalgia through acts of memory that bestow music and dance “with an intensity, power and simplicity unmatched by any other social activity” (Stokes, 1994, p. 3).

As individuals perceive what takes shape around them, they participate in the construction of a soundscape, or an environment structured by the perception and reception of sound. Soundscapes are differentiated not only by dynamics of power, class, and difference, but also by sentimentality, or the emotional and affective relationships that constitute a sense of place (Feld & Basso, 1996). An acoustemology of sound analyzes the sentimental relations to place that are embodied by sound production and reception among, for instance, Kaluli people in Papua New Guinea. Through interlocking, overlapping, and alternating singing that mimics bird calls in the rainforests, Kaluli voices index the natural environment; mediate places as sites of memory; and express an ecological sense of self, place, and time (Feld, 1982). Acoustic environments have also been critical to the historical progression of musical form in bourgeoisie European society and the displacement of instrumentalists to the role of musical interpreters. Early performance practices were comprised of extramusical, literary, or narrative material that was, in part, marked by a musician’s individualized embellishment of musical material.

In the 19th century, the concert room emerged as a performance setting that aestheticized the impression of immediate contact with the music as a listening ideal. Musical practices shifted to uphold universalist aesthetic ideals not only through listening appreciation, but also in celebration of a composer’s genius. Dramatic structures were communicated by composers such as Beethoven through “the abstract logic of pure form” and the formal properties of the music itself in ways that privileged structural-listening practices in European art music. Thus, the commodification of musical knowledge and musical emplacement fetishized sonata form in the historical development of instrumental Western art music (Leyshon, Matless, & Revill, 1998).

The commodification of musical place in a globalized world has induced a certain anxiety among critical musicologists over the ways that disembedding music and dance practices stimulates desires for authenticity by late-capital consumers in a hegemonic economic order. While the capacity for music to travel has augmented an appreciation for place and dismantled cultural borders, the poetics and politics of this have problematically differentiated relations between self and other. World music, and related configurations of art music, ritual, folk and ethnic genres, and world beat and roots music (Aubert, 2007), are authenticated by conditions of place. By privileging the geographically local as authentic, the particular can be naturalized in ways that fetishize locality through terms of belonging. The act of splitting sound from its source and reproducing it depends on uneven processes of representation that contest cultural rights and negotiate various modes of ownership (Feld & Basso, 1996). Styles associated with world music then demarcate community by linking dispersed places and allegiances that, through subjective identity, allow the strategies by which individuals register difference (Erlmann, 1999).

The globalization of world music has also been critiqued as a pastiche, or a process of reconfiguring time and space that detemporalizes the encounter between self and ethnographic others into an event beyond history, or perhaps at the horizon of a certain historical moment. For instance, the production and consumption of alternative folk rock links different historical moments into one bounded cultural space, while world-dance music may layer disparate local styles into a repetitive, temporal sequence (Erlmann, 1999). Cultural interchange and interaction in popular music thus depends upon a concept of culture that binds territory to groups in ways that demand the political engagement of cultural critique. Whereas narratives of cultural interchange such as hybridity, creolism, and syncretism tend to privilege myths of origin, postcolonial analyses encourage new approaches that no longer engender forms of being by binaries of self (self and ethnographic other), place (here and there), and time (then and now), but rather by a third space that is constituted by these boundaries.The circulatory relations of cultural flow have furthered understandings of how historical consciousness may undermine essentializing cultural strategies. Studies of the black Atlantic (Gilroy, 1993) address how black popular music and dance styles shape and are shaped by particular African retentions and situate the Atlantic as a site of crossings, mediations, and exchanges that continually reconsider the cultural flow of African and African American expressive forms.

In response to large-scale processes of migration, globalization, and transnationalism that destabilize structures of belonging, critical approaches to place have also emphasized the production of locality through cultural practices. Tropes of place may uneasily mark displacement from an imagined structure of belonging, for instance when tropes of the crowd and the machine in the South African vocal genre of isicathamiya signify a sense of nostalgia for rural agricultural economies among populations who migrated to cities in search of labor opportunities. Another example can be found in how the mapping of memory fragments onto musical events, instruments, and kinship narratives of a retired Jewish community in Liverpool, England, shapes collective relations that in turn construct an immigrant neighborhood whose identity is nurtured by newly mediated and localized imaginaries of home and community. Locality may also be produced by sound-engineering practices that index a particular place and authenticate a musical style through the technological reproduction of sound in specific performance conditions such as “live” Austin country music (Greene & Porcello, 2005).

Gender and sexuality analyses situate performers and their texts within specific musical worlds and examine how these worlds produce gendered ideologies through performance practice, singing style, repertory, performance events and occasions, lyrics and elaborations, and instrumental practice. Thus, gender and sexuality are mutually constitutive of cultural experiences, and also mutually construct processes of subjectivity and alterity in ways that have been binarily opposed to biological explanations of lived experience. As a method of cultural critique, gender and sexuality studies analyze the ways in which ideology is maintained and transformed through the performance of a gendered self. These studies also examine the ways that musical practices mediate social relations as variously gendered—masculine, feminine, and perhaps hyperreal. Because gender theorists have understood sexuality as constitutive of gendered norms, distinctions between gender and sexuality have been largely premised on identity construction as theorized in psychoanalytic discourse. Lacanian theory argues that linguistic signs triangulate the enlightened self from its other in ways that destabilize a sense of identity by the desire for an object that might represent such identity. By reading social and cultural texts for hidden and repressed desires, critical theorists reveal conditions of heteronormativity that shape and are shaped by cultural practices. Ultimately, gender and sexuality studies suggest how social distinctions may be magnified rather than ameliorated by the performative act of music making and structured movement.

A substantial body of literature has been devoted to highlighting and documenting women’s contribution and women’s roles in musical performance. As professional entertainers, as dramatic personalities, and as audiences, women convey social values and transmit cultural meanings in ways that may be different from those performed by men. The expression of sentimentality by women through forms and repertoires, such as sung poetry among Bedouin women in upper Egypt, resist, maneuver, and maintain patriarchal norms of modesty, honor, and shame that have been typified in Mediterranean studies (Abu-Lughod, 1986), whereas songs sung by Berber women in northern Morocco strategically empower potentialities of marital life (Magrini, 2003). Performance events and contexts have been analyzed with discourses surrounding these practices through elements of lyrics, style, technology, and appropriate behavior. These suggest how identity may be encoded and performed as masculine, feminine, or ambiguously gendered. Postmodernist approaches to the paradigmatic relations between musical and social structures have produced seminal readings of the gendered hierarchies in composition, such as immanent relations between the masculine and the feminine in sonata form (McClary, 1991), formulations of the Western music canon, constructions of ontological difference through gender (Solie, 1993), and the potential of music itself—as a performance rather than as text, to disrupt the masculine musicological narratives within which it is often contained (Abbate, 1991).

The broad compass of vocal performance in different registers constructs gendered and sexualized identities by embracing some, and refusing other, conventions of style and genre. Voice may characterize a range of erotic and emotional relationships among women who sing and women who listen in ways that “resonate in sonic space as lesbian difference and desire” (Brett, Wood, & Thomas, 1994, p. 28). This sapphonicvoice is found in operatic practices by female singers who assume “pants” roles, or castrato male roles sung by women, as well as other singers and singing personalities (Brett et al., 1994). Koestenbaum (1994) argued that the brea between registers is a gendered split that emplaces a voice between male and female. The ways in which the brea is negotiated may be “fatal to the act of natural voice production” (p. 220) when gender and sexuality are transferred beyond normativity, such as the sapphonicvoice’s synthesis of register; this replaces its splitting, or the falsetto register’s failure to disguise this break. The combination of different registers may refuse vocal categories and polarities of natural and unnatural, and may establish interpretations of female desire, male desire, and the relations of class, age, sexual status, and identity through vocal performance (Koestenbaum, 1994).

The performance of gender engages with the kinds of subjects that musical and dance performances engender, both onstage and among audiences, and the ways that such performance relates to everyday life as lived, embodied, and theorized. For instance, a feminized atmosphere at a wedding in Morocco is not dependent on the presence of female dancers, but rather on the performance of femininity among communal relations that may differentiate between gender, sexuality, and class. Perceptions and representations of Asian American femininity have shifted due to North American taiko performance that represents social space through gesture, movement, and the presence of women in drumming practices. In post-Apartheid South Africa, Zulu ngoma song and dance is critical to the performance of masculinity and the anxieties of retaining the presence of individualized expression and stylized body movement in the midst of unemployment, an AIDS epidemic, and a history of violence in KwaZulu-Natal (Meintjes, 2003).

Critical race studies examine how constructions of difference on the basis of body type and color are perpetuated by the representation of essentialized metaphysical conditions. Concepts of race are linked to the emergence of modern scientific inquiry into the natural world and are largely considered a product of Enlightenment thought and observation. The late 18th century produced a world “observed, processed and remapped on the imagination of Europe” (Radano & Bohlman, 2000, p. 13) in which race and music constituted logics of difference that categorized the natural world and sought to make it understandable. Moreover, racial discourse contributed to the formation of musical difference as human difference was mapped onto musical difference, that is, to the object of music itself. The epistemic model that measured harmonic relations on a mathematically proportionate scale and unified differences in pitch influenced Enlightenment thought on the structure and substance of not only resonating, but also racialized bodies. How music participates in the construction of race and racial imaginaries ultimately raises ontological questions of whether music itself represents these qualities, or whether our understandings of music are shaped by and through racial relations.

Racial constructs are connected to music through structures of understandability, that is, the capacity of sound to signify and communicate meaning, and through materiality, or the technologies, objects, and bodies that represent music and musical histories through particular ideologies (Brown, 2007). For example, the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner claimed that the language of European opera and vocal music was degraded through the inability of European Jewish composers to fully control the language of music, which Wagner instantiated in terms of 19th-century German universalism that was first and foremost predicated on language and an assumption that music instantiates comparative linguistic properties. Elsewhere, race interacts with other systemic hierarchies, such as the historic provision of wedding and court entertainment by Jewish musicians in predominantly Muslim worlds situated along the Silk Road, from Bukharan weddings in central Asia to the Abbasid and Omayad caliphates of the 11th century. Categories in which instruments function as a racial mapping of power relations may be critiqued by participants themselves, such as Karnatak and Hindustani musicians who negotiate caste systems in South Asia that distinguish between the permissibility of Brahmin performance on the Karnatic vinalute and the delegation of instrumental performance on untouchable leather-skinned drums to less privileged castes. Conditions of difference, shaped by cultural practices, help to better understand relations of power in systems based on class, caste, kinship, religion, and other forms of belonging and ownership.

Racial conventions of blackness, whiteness, and other morphologies play a critical role in ideological distinctions of music as rational and intellectual, or as orally transmitted, communal, and embodied. The naturalization of certain structures as African retentions, such as improvised movement, antiphonal oppositions, and repeated cycles of interlocking rhythmic patterns, reinforces the putative inseparability of music and dance in the African diaspora (Meintjes, 2003). This becomes problematic when what is musical and universal is defined against conceptions of blackness as physical and embodied.Yet, performance practice and histories may join as lived experience in ways that affirm how blues practices in African American working-class communities in the southern United States influenced the emergence of jazz, gospel, soul, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and other black vernacular music. The problem of race translates into a cultural critique in which creative strategies destabilize the tropes through which they emerge by means of intertextuality, subversion, and other signifying techniques (Radano & Bohlman, 2000).

Ethnicity, like other forms of difference that participate in processes of exclusion and inclusion, is constructed on the basis of shared beliefs in a “common ancestry, memories of a shared historical past, and elements in common, such as kinship patterns, physical continuity, religious affiliation, language, or some combination of these” (Shelemay, 2001, p. 249). Musical and dance practices instantiate ethnic relations by performing social boundaries that reproduce and subvert ideologies; these relations simultaneously also produce meanings, that is, “a patterned context in which other things happen” (Waterman, 1990, p. 214). Ethnic identity is often discussed in terms of minority relations and population movements that are themselves predicated on political difference. Often, ethnic boundaries “define and maintain social identities which can only exist in context of oppositions and relativities”; thus, ethnography can engage with how “actors use music in specific local situations to erect boundaries, maintain distinctions between us and them, and use terms such as ‘authentic’ to justify these boundaries” (Stokes, 1994, p. 6).

Cultural nationalism is a complex process by which institutions and actors integrate diverse populations into structures of national belonging. Ethnography investigates the ways in which music and dance practices—and the discursive spaces that are dialogically created and inhabited by such practices—generate national imaginaries in local contexts. Early forms of nationalism celebrated the universal claim to a single shared language and a set of particular customs and traditions situated in an ethnonational framework. Scholars have since criticized collective national identity as a product of state apparatuses that seek to reify lived experience into internationally recognized forms. Thus, the invention of tradition has been linked with nation-building projects in which state power emerges through the performance of national imaginaries and the efficacy of imagined communities (Askew, 2002). The extent to which symbolic production produces and sustains state hegemony through particular genres suggests whether these processes might be “multivalent, multivocal, and polyphonic” (Askew, 2002, p. 273) and how agents and institutions are involved in negotiating, defining, and contesting that which constitutes the nation. Musical ethnographies reveal the strategic shifts that characterize nationalist projects, ask whether events coincide with or interrupt official ideologies, illustrate why specific forms are chosen to represent the nation, and address how issues of authenticity and preservation are managed in these endeavors. Though global capital flow, access to electronic media, and transnational migration of people have decentered and deterritorialized processes of nationalism, the mediating structure of the nation continues to relate how people cross lines of difference through local transactions and cultural production.

Representation of the nation through music depends on a belief in the representational potential of music, that is, music’s capacity to embody a cultural whole that exists prior to its mediation. The production of national symbols, therefore, depends upon a modern discourse that is represented by cultural mediation. This discourse emerged from Johann Gottfried Herder’s claim that based national identity on the common narratives and histories of a given people and, in particular, on the capacity of language and folksong to represent such shared experiences. Herder’s proto-nationalist theory is comprised of a geographic model where music marks a place, such as the landscape of the nation, an acoustic model whereby sound distinguishes the nation as a whole, and a narrative model in which music encodes stories that represent the history of the nation (see Bohlman, 2004). The quintessential image of the nation, or a “preexisting entity that is more indefinite than definite,” is reflected by national music, “for whom it becomes the task to bring out as much of the definition as possible” (Bohlman, 2004, p. 83).

Conversely, nationalistic music does not harbor relations among a nationalized people, but rather services competition between nation-states. Nationalistic music secures the geographic identity of the nation-state by marking borders and producing alterity through the production of national difference. Alterity may be differentiated on the basis of class, race, ethnicity, and gender dynamics that exclude those whose presence prescribes the need to regulate desires and who trigger ambivalence as a condition of modernity. The marking of borders is instantiated by a presentation of the nation that embeds power in performance, or through a means of communicative interaction in which the act itself is privileged over that which it mediates. Thus, nonverbal performance may communicate messages whose meaning is located in elements of sound and movement and in dialogic interaction between performers and audiences, or between modes of modernity—contingent on the specifics of the temporal and spatial moment.

Early studies of population movement addressed patterns of assimilation and acculturation through theories of culturecontact that failed to engage with political disparities and the contradictions of multiculturalism in modern societies. More recent approaches redressed these patterns as a postmodern condition that negotiates instantiations of nationalism, transnationalism, and displacement through the appropriation of expressive culture and the making of political alliances among transnational populations (Garofalo, 1992). However, the rigidities and essentialisms of diasporic identity created by multiculturalism may articulate or contradict the politics of national, postcolonial, and minority identities even as they stress emergent forms of culture, uneven relations of cultural hybridity, and ambivalent relations to national homelands (Ramnarine, 2007). Contemporary diaspora studies thus emphasize the “newness” of the diasporic experience, and address political belongings and further substitutions as historically specific and shaped by a historical consciousness. Fragments of this consciousness are inscribed within an in-between space by which immigrants may register a sense of loss, exile, and rupture through cultural production. Diasporic music making may thus be a practice of everyday life in local communities by individuals making strategic choices through music festivals, individual biographies, song texts, musical instruments, and intellectual movements. Politically articulated readings of these social relations and creative processes reveal economies of desire in colonial encounters, performances that mourn and remember ancestors, intercultural borrowings in African-Peruvian theater, or state interventions in the creation of broader diasporic groups (Ramnarine, 2007).

Studies of popular culture and music have helped to differentiate between experiences of voluntary and forced migration. The actions and behavior of refugees affect how groups produce and give meaning to their music as they negotiate loss and trauma, and pursue a state of stability that is represented by resettlement. For instance, Vietnamese refugee communities in the United States tend to display a preference for love songs and Western-oriented popular music that convey anticommunist nostalgia for a pre-1975 period of French, U.S., and Japanese colonial influence in Vietnam (Reyes, 1999). Other histories of dispossession and violence have prompted ethnographers to consider the social construction of place, self, and other through aesthetic experience as a means for understanding the performative capacities of particular histories and repertories of violence and “the ensuing meanings violent performances carry for victims, perpetrators, and witnesses alike” (McDonald, 2009, p. 59).

Future Directions

Medical ethnomusicology seeks to integrate disciplines of music; health sciences; integrative, complementary and alternative medicine (ICAM); the physical and social sciences; medical humanities; and the healing arts through integrative research and applied practice. Research in music, medicine, and culture recognizes the dynamic and diverse practices by which specialized music and sound phenomena function as therapeutic strategies and as a means to cure illness and disease. Ethnomusicological discourse has demonstrated the extent to which specialized music emerges from a spiritual or religious ontology and is practiced in ritual or ceremonial events. When music combines with or functions as prayer or meditation, it may constitute preventive and/or curative practices that can be situated among a set of local medical practices. Medical ethnomusicology focuses on the performance of healing and the culture of health in order to better understand disease and illness, health and healing, as well as the performative nature of diagnosis, treatment, and healing. Recent studies and interventions include locating sites of ritual healing in ngoma practice among disparate communities; correlating beliefs about spirit possession to the intricacies of indigenous health care systems in Tumbuka communities; advocating and critiquing how the decline of HIV infection rates in Uganda correspond to the use of local musical traditions that support medical initiatives; engaging with science and religion through a focus on music, prayer, meditation, and healing; and the ways that these processes intimately link with transformational cognitive states in Tajikistan (Koen, 2008).

Applied ethnomusicology refers to work in the public sector that encourages the advocacy, curation, documentation, education, and performance of music and dance. These efforts apply the perspectives, principles, theories, and methods of ethnomusicology to encourage public awareness and participation in broadly defined fields of cultural practice. Advocacy engages with public-policy issues, such as arts access and participation, artists’ rights, censorship, intellectual property, and cultural heritage through institutional and noninstitutional efforts. The Society for Ethnomusicology debates and assumes positions on the ethics of music and fair use, music and torture, and the rights of human subjects in scholarly research. Cultural initiatives facilitate opportunities for performers and performance practices through festival and concert organization, recording and documentary film production, and museum exhibitions.

Efforts to document and archive materials are encouraged through the acquisition and digitalization of archives, collaboration between institutions, improved access, and the support of scholarship, publications, and public programs. Public education and outreach develop curriculum at the primary and secondary levels; establish performance ensembles and programs to nurture skills; and foster audiences and public awareness through the promotion and distribution of related events, productions, and publications. Performance of music and dance by specialists is encouraged not only as a research method in observing participants, but also as a means to preserve, transmit, and produce communities based on knowledge production and creative expression.


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  • Abu-Lughod, L. (1986). Veiled sentiments: Honor and poetry in a Bedouin society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Askew, K. M. (2002). Performing the nation: Swahili music and cultural politics in Tanzania. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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music research paper outline

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Research Paper

All candidates for the Master of Arts degree, and those students in the Master of Music in Music Education degree program who elect the non-Thesis option, are required to write, and submit for approval, a Research Paper.

This research paper may emanate from one of the courses required for the degree, but may not duplicate in whole or part a paper submitted in the fulfillment of course requirements. It may be generated independent of course requirements. The recommended length of the completed Research Paper is twenty to thirty (20-30) typewritten pages. The Research Paper must indicate that the student can conduct research, document accurately, and write at the graduate level. There should be evidence of style in the craft of writing and purpose and structure in the finished product. The paper need not contribute to a specific body of knowledge as in a Thesis. It should, however, reflect a thorough understanding and knowledge of the specific area of the Research Paper.

The Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with each student, and will assign a Research Paper Committee. The Committee will consist of a minimum of two members of the Graduate Faculty in Music (may have up to 3) and will be chaired by a faculty member in the student's primary area of study (music education, piano pedagogy, etc.). The chair must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty; other committee members may have Associate or Full Graduate Faculty status.

A form cover sheet must be submitted with each version to the committee members. It must state the names of faculty on the committee, beginning with the chair, and have blanks for dates when each member completes his/her revisions within a reasonable amount of time. The paper will then be returned to the  student.

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The School of Music procedure for writing a Research Paper:

  • Discuss proposed project with major professor.  
  • After approval is granted, the student should begin collection of data pertinent to project. If data will be collected from human subjects, permission must be obtained from the Graduate College by submitting the Human Subjects Review Form available from the Graduate College. Students are advised to remain in frequent contact with all members of the committee throughout this process. The Research Paper should conform in scope and content to the original proposal. Deviations from the approved research format must be approved by the Research Committee.  
  • The major professor shall review and revise the initial drafts of the paper before submitting to the other members of the committee.  
  • Final copy of Research Paper must be filed in Graduate Music Office with a completed signature page.

Criteria for the Final Research Paper M.M. Music Education:

  • The paper is expected to demonstrate a practical understanding of scholarly process in the systematic investigation of a research problem.  
  • The topic of the paper will be based on a problem that can be systematically investigated. It will be built upon a logically structured research design.  
  • The paper will be developed from a formal written proposal that has been approved by the graduate student's Research Paper Committee. This proposal will outline study design and include the research problem, a selected literature review, and the method by which the problem will be investigated.  
  • The paper must follow the form and content of the accepted Research Paper proposal and can only be changed by approval of the Graduate Coordinator in Music, Chair of Music Education, and all members of the student's Research Paper Committee.  
  • The paper will adhere to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) 5th edition.

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Getting started with your research paper outline

music research paper outline

Levels of organization for a research paper outline

First level of organization, second level of organization, third level of organization, fourth level of organization, tips for writing a research paper outline, research paper outline template, my research paper outline is complete: what are the next steps, frequently asked questions about a research paper outline, related articles.

The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline.

A research paper outline typically contains between two and four layers of organization. The first two layers are the most generalized. Each layer thereafter will contain the research you complete and presents more and more detailed information.

The levels are typically represented by a combination of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, uppercase letters, lowercase letters but may include other symbols. Refer to the guidelines provided by your institution, as formatting is not universal and differs between universities, fields, and subjects. If you are writing the outline for yourself, you may choose any combination you prefer.

This is the most generalized level of information. Begin by numbering the introduction, each idea you will present, and the conclusion. The main ideas contain the bulk of your research paper 's information. Depending on your research, it may be chapters of a book for a literature review , a series of dates for a historical research paper, or the methods and results of a scientific paper.

I. Introduction

II. Main idea

III. Main idea

IV. Main idea

V. Conclusion

The second level consists of topics which support the introduction, main ideas, and the conclusion. Each main idea should have at least two supporting topics listed in the outline.

If your main idea does not have enough support, you should consider presenting another main idea in its place. This is where you should stop outlining if this is your first draft. Continue your research before adding to the next levels of organization.

  • A. Background information
  • B. Hypothesis or thesis
  • A. Supporting topic
  • B. Supporting topic

The third level of organization contains supporting information for the topics previously listed. By now, you should have completed enough research to add support for your ideas.

The Introduction and Main Ideas may contain information you discovered about the author, timeframe, or contents of a book for a literature review; the historical events leading up to the research topic for a historical research paper, or an explanation of the problem a scientific research paper intends to address.

  • 1. Relevant history
  • 2. Relevant history
  • 1. The hypothesis or thesis clearly stated
  • 1. A brief description of supporting information
  • 2. A brief description of supporting information

The fourth level of organization contains the most detailed information such as quotes, references, observations, or specific data needed to support the main idea. It is not typical to have further levels of organization because the information contained here is the most specific.

  • a) Quotes or references to another piece of literature
  • b) Quotes or references to another piece of literature

Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity.

  • Be Consistent : ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organize Information : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Build Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

By now, you should know the basic requirements to create an outline for your paper. With a content framework in place, you can now start writing your paper . To help you start right away, you can use one of our templates and adjust it to suit your needs.

word icon

After completing your outline, you should:

  • Title your research paper . This is an iterative process and may change when you delve deeper into the topic.
  • Begin writing your research paper draft . Continue researching to further build your outline and provide more information to support your hypothesis or thesis.
  • Format your draft appropriately . MLA 8 and APA 7 formats have differences between their bibliography page, in-text citations, line spacing, and title.
  • Finalize your citations and bibliography . Use a reference manager like Paperpile to organize and cite your research.
  • Write the abstract, if required . An abstract will briefly state the information contained within the paper, results of the research, and the conclusion.

An outline is used to organize written ideas about a topic into a logical order. Outlines help us organize major topics, subtopics, and supporting details. Researchers benefit greatly from outlines while writing by addressing which topic to cover in what order.

The most basic outline format consists of: an introduction, a minimum of three topic paragraphs, and a conclusion.

You should make an outline before starting to write your research paper. This will help you organize the main ideas and arguments you want to present in your topic.

  • Consistency: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organization : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

music research paper outline

music research paper outline

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The Top 10 Most Interesting Music Research Topics

Music is a vast and ever-growing field. Because of this, it can be challenging to find excellent music research topics for your essay or thesis. Although there are many examples of music research topics online, not all are appropriate.

This article covers all you need to know about choosing suitable music research paper topics. It also provides a clear distinction between music research questions and topics to help you get started.

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What makes a strong music research topic.

A strong music research topic must be short, straightforward, and easy to grasp. The primary aim of music research is to apply various research methods to provide valuable insights into a particular subject area. Therefore, your topic must also address issues that are relevant to present-day readers.

Also, for your research topic to be compelling, it should not be overly generic. Try to avoid topics that seem to be too broad. A strong research topic is always narrow enough to draw out a comprehensive and relevant research question.

Tips for Choosing a Music Research Topic

  • Check with your supervisor. In some cases, your school or supervisor may have specific requirements for your research. For example, some music programs may favor a comparative instead of a descriptive or correlational study. Knowing what your institution demands is essential in choosing an appropriate research topic.
  • Explore scientific papers. Journal articles are a great way to find the critical areas of interest in your field of study. You can choose from a wide range of journals such as The Journal of Musicology and The Journal of the Royal Musical Association . These resources can help determine the direction of your research.
  • Determine your areas of interest. Choosing a topic you have a personal interest in will help you stay motivated. Researching music-related subjects is a painstakingly thorough process. A lack of motivation would make it difficult to follow through with your research and achieve optimal results.
  • Confirm availability of data sources. Not all music topics are researchable. Before selecting a topic, you must be sure that there are enough primary and secondary data sources for your research. You also need to be sure that you can carry out your research with tested and proven research methods.
  • Ask your colleagues: Asking questions is one of the many research skills you need to cultivate. A short discussion or brainstorming session with your colleagues or other music professionals could help you identify a suitable topic for your research paper.

What’s the Difference Between a Research Topic and a Research Question?

A research topic is a particular subject area in a much wider field that a researcher chooses to place his emphasis on. Most subjects are extensive. So, before conducting research, a researcher must first determine a suitable area of interest that will act as the foundation for their investigation.

Research questions are drawn from research topics. However, research questions are usually more streamlined. While research topics can take a more generic viewpoint, research questions further narrow the focus down to specific case studies or seek to draw a correlation between two or more datasets.

How to Create Strong Music Research Questions

Strong music research questions must be relevant and specific. Music is a broad field with many genres and possible research areas. However, your research question must focus on a single subject matter and provide valuable insights. Also, your research question should be based on parameters that can be quantified and studied using available research methods.

Top 10 Music Research Paper Topics

1. understanding changes in music consumption patterns.

Although several known factors affect how people consume music, there is still a significant knowledge gap regarding how these factors influence listening choices. Your music research paper could outline some of these factors that affect music consumer behavior and highlight their mechanism of action.

2. Hip-hop Culture and Its Effect on Teenage Behavior

In 2020, hip-hop and RnB had the highest streaming numbers , according to Statista. Without a doubt, hip-hop music has had a significant influence on the behavior of young adults. There is still the need to conduct extensive research on this subject to determine if there is a correlation between hip-hop music and specific behavioral patterns, especially among teenagers.

3. The Application of Music as a Therapeutic Tool

For a long time, music has been used to manage stress and mental health disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and others. However, the role of music in clinical treatment still remains a controversial topic. Further research is required to separate fact from fiction and provide insight into the potential of music therapy.

4. Contemporary Rock Music and Its Association With Harmful Social Practices

Rock music has had a great influence on American culture since the 1950s. Since its rise to prominence, it has famously been associated with vices such as illicit sex and abuse of recreational drugs. An excellent research idea could be to evaluate if there is a robust causal relationship between contemporary rock music and adverse social behaviors.

5. The Impact of Streaming Apps on Global Music Consumption

Technology has dramatically affected the music industry by modifying individual music consumption habits. Presently, over 487 million people subscribe to a digital streaming service, according to Statista. Your research paper could examine how much of an influence popular music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have had on how we listen to music.

6. Effective American Music Education Practices

Teaching practices have always had a considerable impact on students’ academic success. However, not all strategies have an equal effect in enhancing learning experiences for students. You can conduct comparative research on two or more American music education practices and evaluate their impact on learning outcomes.

7. The Evolution of Music Production in the Technology-driven Era

One of the aspects of music that is experiencing a massive change is sound production. More than ever before, skilled, tech-savvy music producers are in high demand. At the moment, music producers earn about $70,326 annually, according to ZipRecruiter. So, your research could focus on the changes in music production techniques since the turn of the 21st century.

8. Jazz Music and Its Influence on Western Music Genres

The rich history of jazz music has established it as one of the most influential genres of music since the 19th century. Over the years, several famous composers and leading voices across many other western music genres have been shaped by jazz music’s sound and culture. You could carry out research on the influence of this genre of music on modern types of music.

9. The Effect of Wars on Music

Wars have always brought about radical changes in several aspects of culture, including music styles. Throughout history, we have witnessed wars result in the death of famous musicians. If you are interested in learning about music history in relation to global events, a study on the impact of wars on music will make an excellent music research paper.

10. African Tribal Percussion

African music is well recognized for its unique application of percussion. Historically, several tribes and cultures had their own percussion instruments and original methods of expression. Unfortunately, this musical style has mainly gone undocumented. An in-depth study into ancient African tribal percussion would make a strong music research paper.

Other Examples of Music Research Topics & Questions

Music research topics.

  • Popular musical styles of the 20th century
  • The role of musical pieces in political movements
  • Biographies of influential musicians during the baroque period
  • The influence of classical music on modern-day culture
  • The relationship between music and fashion

Music Research Questions

  • What is the relationship between country music and conservationist ideologies among middle-aged American voters?
  • What is the effect of listening to Chinese folk music on the critical thinking skills of high school students?
  • How have electronic music production technologies influenced the sound quality of contemporary music?
  • What is the correlation between punk music and substance abuse among Black-American males?
  • How does background music affect learning and information retention in children?

Choosing the Right Music Research Topic

Your research topic is the foundation on which every other aspect of your study is built. So, you must select a music research topic that gives you room to adequately explore intriguing hypotheses and, if possible, proffer practically applicable solutions.

Also, if you seek to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Music , you must be prepared to conduct research during your study. Choosing the right music research topic is the first step in guaranteeing good grades and delivering relevant, high-quality contributions in this constantly expanding field.

Music Research Topics FAQ

A good music research topic should be between 10 to 12 words long. Long, wordy music essay topics are usually confusing. They can make it difficult for readers to understand the goal of your research. Avoid using lengthy phrases or vague terms that could confuse the reader.

Journal articles are the best place to find helpful resources for your music research. You can explore reputable, high-impact journal articles to see if any research has been done related to your chosen topic. Journal articles also help to provide data for comparison while carrying out your research.

Primary sources carry out their own research and cite their own data. In contrast, secondary sources report data obtained from a primary source. Although primary sources are regarded as more credible, you can include a good mixture of primary and secondary sources in your research.

The most common research methods for music research are qualitative, quantitative, descriptive, and analytical. Your research strategy is arguably the most crucial part of your study. You must learn different research methods to determine which one would be the perfect fit for your particular research question.

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How Can You Create a Well Planned Research Paper Outline

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You are staring at the blank document, meaning to start writing your research paper . After months of experiments and procuring results, your PI asked you to write the paper to publish it in a reputed journal. You spoke to your peers and a few seniors and received a few tips on writing a research paper, but you still can’t plan on how to begin!

Writing a research paper is a very common issue among researchers and is often looked upon as a time consuming hurdle. Researchers usually look up to this task as an impending threat, avoiding and procrastinating until they cannot delay it anymore. Seeking advice from internet and seniors they manage to write a paper which goes in for quite a few revisions. Making researchers lose their sense of understanding with respect to their research work and findings. In this article, we would like to discuss how to create a structured research paper outline which will assist a researcher in writing their research paper effectively!

Publication is an important component of research studies in a university for academic promotion and in obtaining funding to support research. However, the primary reason is to provide the data and hypotheses to scientific community to advance the understanding in a specific domain. A scientific paper is a formal record of a research process. It documents research protocols, methods, results, conclusion, and discussion from a research hypothesis .

Table of Contents

What Is a Research Paper Outline?

A research paper outline is a basic format for writing an academic research paper. It follows the IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion). However, this format varies depending on the type of research manuscript. A research paper outline consists of following sections to simplify the paper for readers. These sections help researchers build an effective paper outline.

1. Title Page

The title page provides important information which helps the editors, reviewers, and readers identify the manuscript and the authors at a glance. It also provides an overview of the field of research the research paper belongs to. The title should strike a balance between precise and detailed. Other generic details include author’s given name, affiliation, keywords that will provide indexing, details of the corresponding author etc. are added to the title page.

2. Abstract

Abstract is the most important section of the manuscript and will help the researcher create a detailed research paper outline . To be more precise, an abstract is like an advertisement to the researcher’s work and it influences the editor in deciding whether to submit the manuscript to reviewers or not. Writing an abstract is a challenging task. Researchers can write an exemplary abstract by selecting the content carefully and being concise.

3. Introduction

An introduction is a background statement that provides the context and approach of the research. It describes the problem statement with the assistance of the literature study and elaborates the requirement to update the knowledge gap. It sets the research hypothesis and informs the readers about the big research question.

This section is usually named as “Materials and Methods”, “Experiments” or “Patients and Methods” depending upon the type of journal. This purpose provides complete information on methods used for the research. Researchers should mention clear description of materials and their use in the research work. If the methods used in research are already published, give a brief account and refer to the original publication. However, if the method used is modified from the original method, then researcher should mention the modifications done to the original protocol and validate its accuracy, precision, and repeatability.

It is best to report results as tables and figures wherever possible. Also, avoid duplication of text and ensure that the text summarizes the findings. Report the results with appropriate descriptive statistics. Furthermore, report any unexpected events that could affect the research results, and mention complete account of observations and explanations for missing data (if any).

6. Discussion

The discussion should set the research in context, strengthen its importance and support the research hypothesis. Summarize the main results of the study in one or two paragraphs and show how they logically fit in an overall scheme of studies. Compare the results with other investigations in the field of research and explain the differences.

7. Acknowledgments

Acknowledgements identify and thank the contributors to the study, who are not under the criteria of co-authors. It also includes the recognition of funding agency and universities that award scholarships or fellowships to researchers.

8. Declaration of Competing Interests

Finally, declaring the competing interests is essential to abide by ethical norms of unique research publishing. Competing interests arise when the author has more than one role that may lead to a situation where there is a conflict of interest.

Steps to Write a Research Paper Outline

  • Write down all important ideas that occur to you concerning the research paper .
  • Answer questions such as – what is the topic of my paper? Why is the topic important? How to formulate the hypothesis? What are the major findings?
  • Add context and structure. Group all your ideas into sections – Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion.
  • Add relevant questions to each section. It is important to note down the questions. This will help you align your thoughts.
  • Expand the ideas based on the questions created in the paper outline.
  • After creating a detailed outline, discuss it with your mentors and peers.
  • Get enough feedback and decide on the journal you will submit to.
  • The process of real writing begins.

Benefits of Creating a Research Paper Outline

As discussed, the research paper subheadings create an outline of what different aspects of research needs elaboration. This provides subtopics on which the researchers brainstorm and reach a conclusion to write. A research paper outline organizes the researcher’s thoughts and gives a clear picture of how to formulate the research protocols and results. It not only helps the researcher to understand the flow of information but also provides relation between the ideas.

A research paper outline helps researcher achieve a smooth transition between topics and ensures that no research point is forgotten. Furthermore, it allows the reader to easily navigate through the research paper and provides a better understanding of the research. The paper outline allows the readers to find relevant information and quotes from different part of the paper.

Research Paper Outline Template

A research paper outline template can help you understand the concept of creating a well planned research paper before beginning to write and walk through your journey of research publishing.

1. Research Title

A. Background i. Support with evidence ii. Support with existing literature studies

B. Thesis Statement i. Link literature with hypothesis ii. Support with evidence iii. Explain the knowledge gap and how this research will help build the gap 4. Body

A. Methods i. Mention materials and protocols used in research ii. Support with evidence

B. Results i. Support with tables and figures ii. Mention appropriate descriptive statistics

C. Discussion i. Support the research with context ii. Support the research hypothesis iii. Compare the results with other investigations in field of research

D. Conclusion i. Support the discussion and research investigation ii. Support with literature studies

E. Acknowledgements i. Identify and thank the contributors ii. Include the funding agency, if any

F. Declaration of Competing Interests

5. References

Download the Research Paper Outline Template!

Have you tried writing a research paper outline ? How did it work for you? Did it help you achieve your research paper writing goal? Do let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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Home » Research Paper Outline – Types, Example, Template

Research Paper Outline – Types, Example, Template

Table of Contents

Research Paper Outline

By creating a well-structured research paper outline, writers can easily organize their thoughts and ideas and ensure that their final paper is clear, concise, and effective. In this article, we will explore the essential components of a research paper outline and provide some tips and tricks for creating a successful one.

Research Paper Outline

Research paper outline is a plan or a structural framework that organizes the main ideas , arguments, and supporting evidence in a logical sequence. It serves as a blueprint or a roadmap for the writer to follow while drafting the actual research paper .

Typically, an outline consists of the following elements:

  • Introduction : This section presents the topic, research question , and thesis statement of the paper. It also provides a brief overview of the literature review and the methodology used.
  • Literature Review: This section provides a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, theories, and concepts related to the research topic. It analyzes the existing research and identifies the research gaps and research questions.
  • Methodology: This section explains the research design, data collection methods, data analysis, and ethical considerations of the study.
  • Results: This section presents the findings of the study, using tables, graphs, and statistics to illustrate the data.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results of the study, and discusses their implications, significance, and limitations. It also suggests future research directions.
  • Conclusion : This section summarizes the main findings of the study and restates the thesis statement.
  • References: This section lists all the sources cited in the paper using the appropriate citation style.

Research Paper Outline Types

There are several types of outlines that can be used for research papers, including:

Alphanumeric Outline

This is a traditional outline format that uses Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is commonly used for longer, more complex research papers.

I. Introduction

  • A. Background information
  • B. Thesis statement
  • 1 1. Supporting detail
  • 1 2. Supporting detail 2
  • 2 1. Supporting detail

III. Conclusion

  • A. Restate thesis
  • B. Summarize main points

Decimal Outline

This outline format uses numbers to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is similar to the alphanumeric outline, but it uses only numbers and decimals to indicate the hierarchy of the ideas.

  • 1.1 Background information
  • 1.2 Thesis statement
  • 1 2.1.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.1.2 Supporting detail
  • 2 2.2.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.2.2 Supporting detail
  • 3.1 Restate thesis
  • 3.2 Summarize main points

Full Sentence Outline

This type of outline uses complete sentences to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see the entire paper outlined in complete sentences.

  • Provide background information on the topic
  • State the thesis statement
  • Explain main idea 1 and provide supporting details
  • Discuss main idea 2 and provide supporting details
  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the main points of the paper

Topic Outline

This type of outline uses short phrases or words to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see a more concise overview of the paper.

  • Background information
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting detail 1
  • Supporting detail 2
  • Restate thesis
  • Summarize main points

Reverse Outline

This is an outline that is created after the paper has been written. It involves going back through the paper and summarizing each paragraph or section in one sentence. This can be useful for identifying gaps in the paper or areas that need further development.

  • Introduction : Provides background information and states the thesis statement.
  • Paragraph 1: Discusses main idea 1 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 2: Discusses main idea 2 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 3: Addresses potential counterarguments.
  • Conclusion : Restates thesis and summarizes main points.

Mind Map Outline

This type of outline involves creating a visual representation of the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It can be useful for those who prefer a more creative and visual approach to outlining.

  • Supporting detail 1: Lack of funding for public schools.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in government support for education.
  • Supporting detail 1: Increase in income inequality.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in social mobility.

Research Paper Outline Example

Research Paper Outline Example on Cyber Security:

A. Overview of Cybersecurity

  • B. Importance of Cybersecurity
  • C. Purpose of the paper

II. Cyber Threats

A. Definition of Cyber Threats

  • B. Types of Cyber Threats
  • C. Examples of Cyber Threats

III. Cybersecurity Measures

A. Prevention measures

  • Anti-virus software
  • Encryption B. Detection measures
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) C. Response measures
  • Incident Response Plan
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Plan

IV. Cybersecurity in the Business World

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in the Business World

B. Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Business

V. Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

VI. Cybersecurity Ethics

A. Definition of Cybersecurity Ethics

B. Importance of Cybersecurity Ethics

C. Examples of Cybersecurity Ethics

VII. Future of Cybersecurity

A. Overview of the Future of Cybersecurity

B. Emerging Cybersecurity Threats

C. Advancements in Cybersecurity Technology

VIII. Conclusion

A. Summary of the paper

B. Recommendations for Cybersecurity

  • C. Conclusion.

IX. References

A. List of sources cited in the paper

B. Bibliography of additional resources


Cybersecurity refers to the protection of computer systems, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, damage, or any other form of cyber attack. B. Importance of Cybersecurity The increasing reliance on technology and the growing number of cyber threats make cybersecurity an essential aspect of modern society. Cybersecurity breaches can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. C. Purpose of the paper This paper aims to provide an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

A cyber threat is any malicious act or event that attempts to compromise or disrupt computer systems, networks, or sensitive data. B. Types of Cyber Threats Common types of cyber threats include malware, phishing, social engineering, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APTs). C. Examples of Cyber Threats Recent cyber threats include the SolarWinds supply chain attack, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, and the Microsoft Exchange Server hack.

Prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of cyber attacks by implementing security controls, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption.

  • Firewalls Firewalls act as a barrier between a computer network and the internet, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Anti-virus software Anti-virus software detects, prevents, and removes malware from computer systems.
  • Encryption Encryption involves the use of mathematical algorithms to transform sensitive data into a code that can only be accessed by authorized individuals. B. Detection measures Detection measures aim to identify and respond to cyber attacks as quickly as possible, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM), and security operations centers (SOCs).
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) IDS monitors network traffic for signs of unauthorized access, such as unusual patterns or anomalies.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) SIEM combines security information management and security event management to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of security alerts.
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) SOC is a dedicated team responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and responding to cyber threats. C. Response measures Response measures aim to mitigate the impact of a cyber attack and restore normal operations, such as incident response plans (IRPs), business continuity plans (BCPs), and disaster recovery plans (DRPs).
  • Incident Response Plan IRPs outline the procedures and protocols to follow in the event of a cyber attack, including communication protocols, roles and responsibilities, and recovery processes.
  • Business Continuity Plan BCPs ensure that critical business functions can continue in the event of a cyber attack or other disruption.
  • Disaster Recovery Plan DRPs outline the procedures to recover from a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster or cyber attack.

Cybersecurity is crucial for businesses of all sizes and industries, as they handle sensitive data, financial transactions, and intellectual property that are attractive targets for cyber criminals.

Risk assessment is a critical step in developing a cybersecurity strategy, which involves identifying potential threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences to determine the level of risk and prioritize security measures.

Best practices for cybersecurity in business include implementing strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, regularly updating software and hardware, training employees on cybersecurity awareness, and regularly backing up data.

Government organizations face unique cybersecurity challenges, as they handle sensitive information related to national security, defense, and critical infrastructure.

Risk assessment in government organizations involves identifying and assessing potential threats and vulnerabilities, conducting regular audits, and complying with relevant regulations and standards.

Best practices for cybersecurity in government organizations include implementing secure communication protocols, regularly updating and patching software, and conducting regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs for employees.

Cybersecurity ethics refers to the ethical considerations involved in cybersecurity, such as privacy, data protection, and the responsible use of technology.

Cybersecurity ethics are crucial for maintaining trust in technology, protecting privacy and data, and promoting responsible behavior in the digital world.

Examples of cybersecurity ethics include protecting the privacy of user data, ensuring data accuracy and integrity, and implementing fair and unbiased algorithms.

The future of cybersecurity will involve a shift towards more advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and quantum computing.

Emerging cybersecurity threats include AI-powered cyber attacks, the use of deepfakes and synthetic media, and the potential for quantum computing to break current encryption methods.

Advancements in cybersecurity technology include the development of AI and machine learning-based security tools, the use of blockchain for secure data storage and sharing, and the development of post-quantum encryption methods.

This paper has provided an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

To enhance cybersecurity, organizations should prioritize risk assessment and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes prevention, detection, and response measures. Additionally, organizations should prioritize cybersecurity ethics to promote responsible behavior in the digital world.

C. Conclusion

Cybersecurity is an essential aspect of modern society, and organizations must prioritize cybersecurity to protect sensitive data and maintain trust in technology.

for further reading

X. Appendices

A. Glossary of key terms

B. Cybersecurity checklist for organizations

C. Sample cybersecurity policy for businesses

D. Sample cybersecurity incident response plan

E. Cybersecurity training and awareness resources

Note : The content and organization of the paper may vary depending on the specific requirements of the assignment or target audience. This outline serves as a general guide for writing a research paper on cybersecurity. Do not use this in your assingmets.

Research Paper Outline Template

  • Background information and context of the research topic
  • Research problem and questions
  • Purpose and objectives of the research
  • Scope and limitations

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing research on the topic
  • Key concepts and theories related to the research problem
  • Identification of gaps in the literature
  • Summary of relevant studies and their findings

III. Methodology

  • Research design and approach
  • Data collection methods and procedures
  • Data analysis techniques
  • Validity and reliability considerations
  • Ethical considerations

IV. Results

  • Presentation of research findings
  • Analysis and interpretation of data
  • Explanation of significant results
  • Discussion of unexpected results

V. Discussion

  • Comparison of research findings with existing literature
  • Implications of results for theory and practice
  • Limitations and future directions for research
  • Conclusion and recommendations

VI. Conclusion

  • Summary of research problem, purpose, and objectives
  • Discussion of significant findings
  • Contribution to the field of study
  • Implications for practice
  • Suggestions for future research

VII. References

  • List of sources cited in the research paper using appropriate citation style.

Note : This is just an template, and depending on the requirements of your assignment or the specific research topic, you may need to modify or adjust the sections or headings accordingly.

Research Paper Outline Writing Guide

Here’s a guide to help you create an effective research paper outline:

  • Choose a topic : Select a topic that is interesting, relevant, and meaningful to you.
  • Conduct research: Gather information on the topic from a variety of sources, such as books, articles, journals, and websites.
  • Organize your ideas: Organize your ideas and information into logical groups and subgroups. This will help you to create a clear and concise outline.
  • Create an outline: Begin your outline with an introduction that includes your thesis statement. Then, organize your ideas into main points and subpoints. Each main point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Introduction: The introduction of your research paper should include the thesis statement, background information, and the purpose of the research paper.
  • Body : The body of your research paper should include the main points and subpoints. Each point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion of your research paper should summarize the main points and restate the thesis statement.
  • Reference List: Include a reference list at the end of your research paper. Make sure to properly cite all sources used in the paper.
  • Proofreading : Proofread your research paper to ensure that it is free of errors and grammatical mistakes.
  • Finalizing : Finalize your research paper by reviewing the outline and making any necessary changes.

When to Write Research Paper Outline

It’s a good idea to write a research paper outline before you begin drafting your paper. The outline will help you organize your thoughts and ideas, and it can serve as a roadmap for your writing process.

Here are a few situations when you might want to consider writing an outline:

  • When you’re starting a new research project: If you’re beginning a new research project, an outline can help you get organized from the very beginning. You can use your outline to brainstorm ideas, map out your research goals, and identify potential sources of information.
  • When you’re struggling to organize your thoughts: If you find yourself struggling to organize your thoughts or make sense of your research, an outline can be a helpful tool. It can help you see the big picture of your project and break it down into manageable parts.
  • When you’re working with a tight deadline : If you have a deadline for your research paper, an outline can help you stay on track and ensure that you cover all the necessary points. By mapping out your paper in advance, you can work more efficiently and avoid getting stuck or overwhelmed.

Purpose of Research Paper Outline

The purpose of a research paper outline is to provide a structured and organized plan for the writer to follow while conducting research and writing the paper. An outline is essentially a roadmap that guides the writer through the entire research process, from the initial research and analysis of the topic to the final writing and editing of the paper.

A well-constructed outline can help the writer to:

  • Organize their thoughts and ideas on the topic, and ensure that all relevant information is included.
  • Identify any gaps in their research or argument, and address them before starting to write the paper.
  • Ensure that the paper follows a logical and coherent structure, with clear transitions between different sections.
  • Save time and effort by providing a clear plan for the writer to follow, rather than starting from scratch and having to revise the paper multiple times.

Advantages of Research Paper Outline

Some of the key advantages of a research paper outline include:

  • Helps to organize thoughts and ideas : An outline helps to organize all the different ideas and information that you want to include in your paper. By creating an outline, you can ensure that all the points you want to make are covered and in a logical order.
  • Saves time and effort : An outline saves time and effort because it helps you to focus on the key points of your paper. It also helps you to identify any gaps or areas where more research may be needed.
  • Makes the writing process easier : With an outline, you have a clear roadmap of what you want to write, and this makes the writing process much easier. You can simply follow your outline and fill in the details as you go.
  • Improves the quality of your paper : By having a clear outline, you can ensure that all the important points are covered and in a logical order. This makes your paper more coherent and easier to read, which ultimately improves its overall quality.
  • Facilitates collaboration: If you are working on a research paper with others, an outline can help to facilitate collaboration. By sharing your outline, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

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Research Paper Outline Generator

🤖 research outline generator 101.

  • 📝 Template & Format
  • 🤩 Outline Tips

🔗 References

Outlining an academic assignment serves several purposes:

  • It lets students establish connections between the thesis and their ideas.
  • A template also allows them to structure papers and identify gaps in their knowledge.
  • An outline makes their writing more substantial and lets them know if they understand the topic well enough.

Our outline generator for research papers speeds up this process in several ways:

📝 Outline Generator for Research Paper: Template and Format

Our tool can help you cope with the first step in any academic work, whether it's a high school or college tasks. But what should you do next? This part of the article details the components of the research paper format. It will give you a better understanding of how your work should look.

Popular Academic Formats

The format of your research paper largely depends on the style your school uses. Three main styles are widely used in the academic setting: APA, Chicago, and MLA. Each has its features we’ll discuss briefly.

Good Example of a Template

In this section, we have detailed all the components of a comprehensive research paper. Knowing these elements will make it easy for you to structure your work.

🤩 Best Outline Tips: Research Papers & Academic Essays

We want to wrap things up by offering helpful tips for an effective outline. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an academic essay, a research work, or a personal statement. These pieces of advice can be helpful in all types of assignments.

  • Plan and brainstorm . Make a list of ideas that can become good topics for your essay. By the way, having study buddies is also a fantastic idea! Try to brainstorm topics with fellow students. This way, you can better plan and find impactful research subjects.
  • Organize your ideas . Next, organize the ideas into separate categories. Discard bad ones and incorporate good ones in your writing. Narrow them down until you choose the main one to write a good thesis statement.
  • Use bullet points . Utilize a list format to keep your outline organized. Use headings to easily navigate the template and structure the paper logically.
  • Use online tools . If you need help, turn to online platforms for assistance. For example, our research paper outline generator can make this process faster.
  • Write in your mother tongue . If you struggle writing in English , make notes in your native language. It’s also better to research this topic in your mother tongue. You can translate your findings later.
  • Remove redundant points . Revise all the paragraphs of your finished essay template. Make sure that all the sections match the purpose of your paper and reveal the main idea. If you find too many inappropriate points, try rephrasing them to fit the topic.

We hope that our outline generator for research papers helped in your work. If you have any questions left, check out the FAQ section below. Besides we also recommend you take a look at our research guide .

❓ Research Outline Generator – FAQ

Updated: Dec 14th, 2023

  • Writing a Research Paper. – Arrendale Library, Piedmont University
  • How to Write an APA Research Paper – Hamilton College
  • How To Write a Research Paper Outline (With Examples and Tips) – Indeed
  • Chicago Style Guide – Menlo School
  • MLA General Format – The On-Campus Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University
  • Formatting an Academic Paper – Augsburg University
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Learn everything there is to know about our awesome research paper outline generator. This instrument is guaranteed to save you lots of time and energy by creating the perfect plan for your assignment in seconds. Simply set the parameters and get to writing!


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