Section 001 (Gabriel), Fall 2013 Writing Assignment One: Partake in the Research Process 12.5% of final grade Topic Selection
In Chapter Two of Ballantine and Roberts’ textbook, you were introduced to the main steps in the research process. Beginning on page 35, these authors describe the first step in the research process as “planning a research study.” They specifically detail how to go about defining a research topic or problem that can be investigated sociologically. For this assignment you need to select a research topic or problem. As Brilliantine and Roberts explain, the research topic or problem needs to be precise. Moreover, Chapter 3 of Harris and Tyne-Mullings’ book provides a more thorough explanation of how to select a research topic and search for existing literature and research on your chosen topic. As explained in both of the textbooks, your research topic or problem needs to be precise.
Locating Existing Sociological Research
Once you have identified a research topic or problem, you will need to find existing research related to your chosen topic. As Brilliantine and Roberts’ explain, the second step in planning a research study is reviewing existing research studies and literature to determine what other researchers have already learned about the topic. For this assignment, you must do the same. Since scholarly journals tend to be the primary source for existing research, you will need to find and submit a sociological research journal article related to your research topic or problem. Beginning on page 39 of your Harris and Tyne-Mullings’ book, the authors explain how to utilize the college library to find scholarly journals articles related to your research topic. Moreover, these authors go into great detail explaining how to use the library databases, such as Sociological Abstracts, to locate sociological journal articles. Keith Smith’s (Lead GTA) lecture on Monday, September 9th, will also demonstrate how to utilize the Morgan Library’s databases. The GTAs will also put a list of sociological journal titles on RamCT Blackboard in case you are having trouble locating sociological journals articles or in case you need to make sure your specific article meets the criteria for this assignment. In addition, and as mentioned the first week of class, the Brilliantine and Roberts’ textbook has a companion website, sagepub.com/ballantine4e, which provides access to sociological journal articles. Approximately 50% of your grade on this assignment is based on locating and submitting a sociological research journal article related to your chosen research topic or problem. You must turn in a hard copy of your article attached to your paper by the end of the class on Friday, October 11th in order to receive credit for this assignment. “Printing problems/issues” are not an excuse for not having a hardcopy of the article. There are several computer labs across campus (one of which is located on the ground floor of the C-Wing of the Clark Building) for you to utilize and you should NOT wait until the day the paper is due to print off a copy of the article.
Assessing Existing Research
Once you have chosen a research topic and located existing research on your topic (i.e., a sociological research journal article), you will need to evaluate this article and explain how it relates to your particular research topic. In your evaluation, you will need to describe which level of social analysis is utilized in the article (i.e., recall the Social World Model). Your description needs to articulate why you believe the level of social analysis you’ve indicated is the one utilized in the article. For instance, why do you believe your article represents a micro-level analysis? You will also need to explain which of the major sociological theoretical perspectives are employed in the article, and why (i.e., sociology’s major theoretical perspectives are described in Chapter Two of your Brilliantine and Roberts’ textbook). In addition, your assessment of the article needs to address which methodological approach is utilized (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, a combination of both, etc.). Additional questions that should be addressed in your assessment include the following: 1) what is the research question or hypotheses; 2) what are the main independent and dependent variables/concepts; 3) what data collection methods are utilized; 4) what are the article’s “findings” (i.e., what were the study’s most important results?); 5) would this study and its results be easy to replicate in different contexts and with different populations; 6) are there any ethical problems; 7) did the author(s) do a good job researching the topic and what might they have done differently to improve the study; 8) are there questions left unanswered and/or do the findings suggest additional research questions; and 9) how would you approach researching this topic or problem?
Your discussion of the scholarly journal article needs to be an analysis, and NOT simply a review of the article. Make sure your discussion includes an analysis of why you chose the topic, what level of social analysis is presented in the article, what are the major sociological theoretical perspectives presented in the article and what is the methodological approach utilized. Papers that are not analytical, or do not include ass of these major discussion areas will receive a greatly reduced grade.
• You will also be assessed based on your writing and paper format. The format of the paper should be: Typed, Double-Spaced, Times New Roman, 12-Point Font, with 1-Inch Margins on all Four Sides.
• Your paper should be organized using standard essay format with an Introduction (1 paragraph), Body (estimated 6 paragraphs), and Conclusion (1 paragraph). Paragraphs should be approximately 5-8 sentences long.
• Total paper length should be approximately 3-5 pages. You do NOT need a cover page. The pages need to be numbered and you should NOT have exaggerated headers.
• Your paper should be free of grammatical and spelling errors
. • A Reference Section for citations should be at the end of the paper and in American Sociological Association Style/ASA Style (i.e., Chapter 3 of Harris and Tyner-Mullings’ book explains in-text citations and references, and provides a guide to ASA Style.
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