BIO 205: Ecology

Invasive Species

Writing an Outline

After conducting all your research, now comes the fun part - organizing your information and thoughts into a working outline. It is good to read through all your research notes to help formulate your ideas.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is it that you want your reader to learn about your topic?
  • Do you see any trends or patterns unfolding in your research?
  • Do any of these trends or themes support your thesis?
  • Can you see any clear development of an organizational structure? 
  • How does your research build upon itself?

Purdue Owl

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) has good suggestions for writing outlines.

A good example of a thorough outline is provided in FYS.

Quick List

Before creating an in-depth outline, make a quick list to organize your thoughts.  

For example:


I. Introduction, what's the hook?

Thesis statement:

II. Description, origin, and introduction to America

III. Why is it invasive?

IV. What is its ecological impact?

V. What steps are being taken to mitigate its effects?

VI What are the future implications of this invasive species?

VII. Conclusion

Topic Outline

In a sample sentence outline, you should expand upon your quick list. Complete sentences should be written to explain the main point of each paragraph. Under that main point, sentences should be written to describe the supporting details reinforcing the idea of the paragraph.


  • Start with a sentence numbered I that states your claim.
  • Add complete sentences under it numbered II, III, .... each of which states a reason supporting your claim.
  • Under each reason, use capital letters to list sentences summarizing your evidence; then list by numbers the evidence itself.
  • If there is a point 1, there needs to be a point 2.


I. Introduction: The value of classroom computers is uncertain.

II. Different uses have different effects.

A. All uses increase the number of words produced.

1. Study 1: 950 vs. 780

2. Study 2: 1,103 vs 922

B. Labs allow students to interact.

III. Studies show limited benefits of revision.

A. Study A: writers on computers are more wordy.

1. Average of 2.3 more words per sentence

2. Average of 20% more words per essay

B. Study B: writers need hard copies to revise effectively.

1. 22% fewer typos when done on hard copy vs. computer screen

2. 2.26% fewer spelling errors

IV. Conclusion: Too soon to tell how much computers improve learning.

A. Few reliable empirical studies.

B. Little history because many programs are in transition.

Example taken from:

Turabian, K. L. (2013). A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for students and researchers (8th ed.). University of Chicago Press. (pp.64-65).

DeWitt Library Writing Resources

The following books have a couple pages of good information on how to write a solid outline. They are found in our "Ready Reference Collection" located on top of the shelves in the reference area.