Writing in Sociology at Queens College

The Post-Draft Outline


nother option for creating an outline is to first brainstorm on paper. Put all of the ideas that you want to cover down on paper and write out how the sources will support the main ideas in the paper. Don't worry about the order of the ideas - just get them onto paper.

Once you have a few paragraphs or pages, then go back and try to pull out the main ideas and put them in an order that makes some sense to you. You might try a bullet format, or perhaps this could be the first step in creating a traditional or conceptual outline. The following is an example of the bullet format:

  • A Sociological analysis of Attention Deficit Disorder
    • Is attention deficit disorder a "disease"?
    • Are drugs for ADD a form of Social Control?
  • Definition and history of ADD (Sources 1,2, and 3)
    • What is ADD?
    • In the US, how has this disease been understood and treated?
  • Rates of ADD in different countries
    • Much lower rates in Germany and Japan (Sources 4, 5, and 6)
    • Different diagnostic criteria
    • Cultural differences
  • Relevant sociological theories
    • Labeling theory (Source 7)
    • Social Control (Source 7 and 8)
  • Conclusion: Understanding ADD from a sociological perspective
    • Interactions between nature, nurture, and social expectations

Once you have your outline, you can move ideas around to see if another structure makes sense. For example, in the outline given above I could move "Relevant sociological theories" to just above "Definitions and history of ADD" and improve the flow of the paper.

Remember that your outline may change over time. You may find that the evidence does not support one of your key points or you may discover something that you had not thought of in the original outline. That is fine. In fact, it is a good sign that your paper is developing well - research should be a process of discovery.