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Step 6: Research Outline

One of the most important steps when writing a research paper is to ensure that all of the information is compiled in an organized, logical and coherent manner. The most reliable method for achieving that goal is to outline your paper. With outlining, the main ideas of your paper will be readily apparent to readers at first glance. Outlining will also show the connection between various ideas covered in your paper, and it will even help you see if you have covered the topic to the furthest extent necessary for your assignment.

When outlining your paper, you will also have a chance to improve upon your writing and editing skills. Outlining not only inspires you to think more intensively about your topic, it can also help you develop and plan for the course of your paper. Once you have worked through your outline, you will be able to tell with greater certainty if your argument is compelling and solvent, or if further work is needed to flesh out your ideas. A properly done outline can also help prevent you from going off on tangents or writing incomplete paragraphs and sentences. Essentially, an outline will spare you from time-consuming mistakes and allow you to focus your energy on crafting a compelling, eloquent and educational research paper. 

Tip: Outlines are an effective tool to make sure your paper follows a logical progression. Don't be afraid to make substantial changes during the outlining process.


Before you write your outline, you will also need to spend a significant amount of time on the preparational aspects of your assignment. Some of the principal activities in that department will include the brainstorming of ideas, the collection of notes and the separating of primary and secondary ideas into organized groups. Once you are ready to write your first outline, the easiest approach could be to start with a high (Roman numeral) level for all the main concepts and then add secondary levels (letters) to account for all the details.

Creating an Outline for a Research Paper

The below guideline explains the step-by-step process of creating a research paper outline.


With the introduction, you put the topic of your paper into context for your audience. In the first couple sentences you would offer just enough information to give readers a clear idea of the paper's overall scope, and use this as a lead-in to your thesis statement.

Sample Introduction

If you were to write a paper about involuntary celibacy (incel) among men, you would introduce the topic by (a) defining the problem in one line, (b) specifying the segment of men affected by this problem and (c) mentioning the words and phrases that constantly apply to this topic, like beta male and incel.


The thesis will state the purpose of your research with either a stance or an observation. This sentence is the culmination of your introduction, and the text that follows will explore and challenge the idea put forth in this sentence.

Sample Thesis Statement

A thesis on the topic of incels could summarize the rise and prevalence of this problem and what society as a whole, and women in particular, could do to make things better for these men.


Now that the topic and purpose of your paper has been clearly laid out for the reader, you should follow that up with background information. In this section, you could provide estimates on the current number of people affected by the problem in question, or you could compare the present day state of things in this regard with earlier times. This should also be the section where you indicate how your research will add to the overall discussion on your chosen topic.

Sample Background

On the topic of male involuntary celibacy, you could talk about whether the problem has escalated proportionately in other countries over the last few decades or if it has mostly been confined to the United States. If your research leads you to the latter conclusion, you could offer some general ideas of why things have turned out that way.


The major points in a research paper are the key elements that support your thesis. Each of your major points should move your paper from strength to strength, adding up to a body of solid evidence that supports your stance on the topic at hand. With every major point, there should be a claim that ties in with the principle argument of your thesis.

Sample Major Point

One major point to address would be the social anxieties suffered by male incels. Here, you could talk about how incels—some of whom are handsome, well-groomed and financially successful—will have typically struggled, unsuccessfully, to overcome their awkwardness and interact with women. This would be the point where you would clarify that involuntary celibacy is rooted in problems far deeper than mere shyness.


Each major point should be supported with one or two minor points. While not meriting its own section, a minor point can add insight and understanding to its corresponding major point.

Sample Minor Point

For the above major point, a suitable minor point would be for you to debunk the simplistic types of knee jerk responses that most people would have towards this topic, such as "these men just need to get out and interact more often." An explanation of why that advice is unhelpful and condescending could help mitigate such attitudes among certain readers.


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The proceeding pages of your paper will consist of further major and minor points, each of which should build upon the prior point and all of which should lend additional weight to your thesis. Once you have covered all the relevant points, you should then be ready to conclude your research paper.

Additional Major and Minor Points

Additional major points for this topic could cover issues like the prospects of incels within the impersonalized urban sprawl of today's dating scene, as well as the ill psychological effects of a sexless, loveless life and how the present day emasculation of men has run contrary to modern female expectations. Minor topics here could touch upon things like the ineffectiveness of pickup routines for most incels, the detrimental effects of hypergamy among women and the erroneous stereotypes that are waged at men who cannot get sex.


Outline Conclusion

The close of your paper should include a recapitulation of the main argument and its relevance to society at large, as well as suggestions on things that could be done to curb the problem at hand.

Sample Conclusion

For the topic of incels, you could conclude the paper by summarizing the current extent of the problem and suggest some ways that women could help these men overcome their awkwardness and live better lives.


Research Paper Sample Outline

The outline below is for a research paper that deals with the topic of involuntary celibacy.

I. Introduction

A. The Issue: Men who want but cannot obtain intimacy

B. Affected Demographic: Socially awkward, low-status men

C. Key Terms:  incel, beta male, Asperger syndrome

D. Thesis Statement: A social underclass of involuntarily celibate men (incels) has resulted in the U.S. after decades in which boys have been raised with no sound guidance on how to behave like men and attract female companionship, but the pattern could be reversed if incels were de-stigmatized and given accurate advice, particularly from honest females.

II. Background

A. A Relatively Recent Problem: In prior generations, men developed social skills and backbone through upbringings based on work and community involvement (cite sources).

B. Link Between Modern Social Conditioning and Involuntary Celibacy: Teaching males to be polite and risk averse has rendered many men sexually invisible in the eyes of women (cite sources).

C. A Problem Most Prevalent in North America: Involuntary celibacy has not been prevalent in Europe or South America, where most boys are taught behaviors that instill them with "game" as they reach sexual maturity (cite sources).

D. Holes in Prior Studies: Few researchers have explored the part that women have played in dividing men into categories of alphas, betas and omegas (cite sources).

III. Major Point 1:  Even after years of effort to overcome this problem, most incels suffer from extreme social anxieties and find it nearly impossible to interact with the opposite sex. 

A. Minor Point 1: Simplistic advice like "these men just need to get out and interact more often," is both unhelpful and condescending; most of these men have tried that numerous times to no avail (cite sources).

B. Minor Point 2: The assumption that male incels are uniformly ill-groomed, overweight and ugly is untrue in many cases (cite sources).

IV. Major Point 2: In contemporary urban culture, the hook-up based dating scene has been very isolating for socially awkward men. 

A. Minor Point 1: Clubs, bars, campuses and other peer-oriented environments have generated a culture of hypergamous behavior among women (cite sources).

B. Minor Point 2: Pickup techniques, which typically involve the mimicking of alpha behavior, do not work for most of these men because the social awkwardness that causes involuntary celibacy is often due to Asperger syndrome or imbalances in the limbic system (cite sources).

V. Major Point 3: The growing number of incels is bad for society because men who lag in their love lives ultimately become despondent and end up lagging physically and financially.

A. Minor Point 1: Despondency among incels can lead to alcoholism, unhealthy food consumption and suicidal tendencies (cite sources).

B. Minor Point 2: Pornography is no substitute for most incels, who desperately need real intimacy (cite sources).

VI. Major Point 4: Raising men to be meek and passive, while at the same time encouraging women to demand more and more from men at large, has left society in a predicament where fewer men are able to attract women.

A. Minor Point 1: When a majority of women are competing over a minority of men, vast numbers of men become disillusioned and less productive, which can negatively impact the economy (cite sources).

B. Minor Point 2: Hypergamy often leads to spinsterhood because, by the time many women feel their body clocks ticking and realize they need to stop the alpha pursuit, many same-aged betas and omegas will have already given up on women and the dating scene (cite sources).

VII. Conclusion

A. Restatement of the Thesis: The current number of American incels, which could be in the hundreds of thousands, is hard to determine since most men suffering this condition are too ashamed to be forthcoming about their problem, but women can help these men by offering sympathy, understanding, encouragement and sound advice on how to socialize and be more attractive.

B. Next Steps: Sympathy should not be mistaken for pity; the way to show sympathy towards incels is to destigmatize the problem so than sufferers can be more open and candid about their experiences. Going forward, society could work collectively towards helping these men overcome this problem. It could all start with women, who could kindly tell these men to man up (if emasculated), stand up for themselves (if passive) and improve their grooming and hygiene (if slovenly). At the same time, women need to stop giving these men fluffy and vague advice, such as "be nice and open" or "just be yourself"—things that most incels have tried for years to no avail. 

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