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HOW TO DO A SOCIOLOGY RESEARCH PAPER / REPORT.

Compiled by Julian Heidt

Developing a Hypothesis
Step One Do yo!" p"eli#ina"y "evie$ Let us suppose you have chosen to write a hypothesis about a topic covered in this chapter. Your preliminary review would consist of reading through the chapter. Step T$o W"ite yo!" hypothesis What you write might look like one of the items below, all of which are based on information contained in this chapter. Look them over and note the characteristics that are common to all of them. a% Cultural change is caused by a limited number of factors, and it is possible to identify which factor is most significant at any particular time. &% ocial change occurs as a result of the phenomenon of continuous progress, with each new society building on the e!periences of its predecessors. '% "ositive behaviour#modification programs are more effective than negative behaviour#modification programs. (% $o win grater influence in society, women must rely on themselves to break the patriarchy e% $he reductionist theories of %arl &ar! cannot correctly e!plain social change because there are such vast differences among human societies. Check each e!ample to see which of the following criteria apply to all of the above e!amples. It is $"itten in the )o"# o) a 'on'ise state#ent. It "e)le'ts a position &eing ta*en &y the $"ite" It is a"g!a&le+ an( a 'ont"a"y position 'an &e ta*en It "e,!i"es "esea"'h to (ete"#ine $hethe" o" not it is t"!e. It is a signi)i'ant #atte" to so'ial s'ientists. It is a 'o#ple- notion+ (ealing $ith a n!#&e" o) va"ia&les. It is not $"itten in the )i"st pe"son. It 'an &e teste(

Step th"ee Che'* yo!" hypothesis 'efore you finally settle on your hypothesis, check it against the characteristics of hypotheses, as listed above, to see if it meets all the criteria re(uired of a hypothesis.

In'l!sive Lang!age
Step One I(enti)ying P"o&le#ati' A"eas You might think that using inclusive language means avoiding the use of terms like )spokesman* or )stewardess* while it is true that spokesperson and flight attendant $o"* as non.gen(e" spe'i)i' te"#s+ !sing in'l!sive lang!age #eans #!'h #o"e than this. $he +merican "sychological +ssociation ,+"+- .dentifies three ma/or areas that re(uire particular attention. $o adhere to +"+ guidelines in their documentation of their studies, social scientists must remove bias in the language they use to describe. e.g. disabilities se!uality race and ethnicity Your first step, then, is to spot any language relating to the above three areas. Step T$o Re'ogni/e $hy 'e"tain Lang!age 0ay 1e P"o&le#ati' $he +"+ outline the principles involved in language use the three areas identified0 2. Disa&ilities $he guiding principle for non#handicapping. Language is to maintain the integrity of individuals as whole human beings by avoiding language that ,a- implies that a person as whole is disabled ,e.g., disabled person-, ,b- e(uates the person with their condition ,e.g., epileptics-, ,c- has superfluous negative overtones ,e.g., stroke victim-, or ,d- is regarded as a slur ,e.g., cripple-. 3. Se-!ality "roblems occur in language concerning lesbians, gay men, and bise!ual persons when language is too vague or concepts are poorly defined... 1irst, language may be ambiguous in reference, so that the reader is not clear about its meaning or its inclusion and e!clusion criteria. econd, )homose!uality* has been associated in the past with deviance, mental illness, and criminal behaviour, and these negative stereotypes may be perpetuated by biased language.

4. Ra'e an( Ethni'ity $he problems of racial2ethnic designation are twofold0 +uthors must determine when to report these descriptions and how to refer to ethnics minority samples or other special interest groups. 3esearchers must determine the e!tent to which their investigation should report real or potential racial2ethnic variables are unimportant to the investigations, authors should state the basis for this assumption.... +uthors are encouraged to write in accordance with the principles of cultural relativism, that is, perceiving, understanding, and writing about individuals in their own terms. $hus, indigenous self# designed nations are as important as designations by others, although authors must be cogni4ant of the fact that members of different groups may disagree about their appropriate group designation and that these designations may change over time. Step Th"ee 5se In'l!sive 6o'a&!la"y an( Style $he final step is to replace the problematic terms with more acceptable language. $hirty years ago, your high school5s rules might have said something like the following0 )+ student who has been absent should always bring a note of e!planation from his parents* $his statement is regarded as biased language today. 6ot all students are male, and not all live with both parents. .nstead the wording might be changed to read as follows0 )+ student who has been absent should always bring a note of e!planation from his or her parent or guardian.* .nclusive language can sometimes be a little more awkward to use, but the goal of inclusiveness supercedes the goal of easy reading. 7nacceptable 8isabled "erson troke victim e!ual preference 9ne hundred aboriginal people were sampled. "referred "erson ,who has- a disability. .ndividual who had a stroke. e!ual orientation 9ne hundred +boriginal people ,:; Cree, <: &ohawk, and <: .nuit- were sampled. $he +fro Canadian... 3eason "ut person first, not the disability. 7se emotionally neutral language. e!uality is a biological function, not a social choice. "eople should be fully described when possible, and identified by the names they use to identify themselves. 7sing )artistic* this way might suggest that it is an unusual (uality for such a person. +void hyphens in designating race2ethnicity.

$he artistic +fro#Canadian

C"eating a S!"vey
Step One 7o"#!late a hypothesis 8see a&ove% Step T$o Develop yo!" ,!estions 6ow you can develop a seires of (uestions that you will ask people to answer, for the purpose of proving or disproving your hypothesis. Sa#ple ,!estions =. 8o you have a part#time /ob> <. How many hours a week do you work> ?. What is your level of academic performance> 8o this by imaginating the possible responses. 1or e!ample, @uestion < might be hard to answer if the hours vary. .t could be ad/usted to )How many hours a week do you work on average>* or )How many hours did you work last week>* @uestion ? could also be hard to answer. .t could be ad/usted to )What was your overall average last semester>* Step Th"ee C"eate #!ltiple.'hoi'e ans$e"s )o" yo!" ,!estions .f you allow respondents to write in their own answers, you might not get usable results. 1or e!ample, some respondents might answer @uestion ? with a letter grade, while others might answer with a percentage. $o eliminate this problem, you can create multiple choice answers. &ultiple choice (uestions have two advantages0 ,=- they set ob/ective limits for the respondents5 answers to your (uestions, and ,<- they are easy to score. 'y giving respondents a series of choices, you make the /ob of interpreting the results much easier. A.g. a- lower than :; B b- :; C :D B c- E; C ED B d- F; C FD B e- higher than FD B Step 7o!" A(( (ist"a'te" ,!estions +dd distracter (uestions, which are (uestions designed to obscure the true purpose of the survey. Without these distractions, the purpose of the survey may be obvious. .f respondents were to know the purpose of the survey, they might not answer as ob/ectively as possible. 1or e!ample, someone who wants to keep their part#time /ob even though they have low grade, may be tempted to represent their marks as higher than they really are.

St"!'t!"ing Yo!" So'ial S'ien'e Resea"'h Pape"


Your research paper will contain the following components0 $itle page +bstract .ntroduction Avidence ,main bodyConclusion .mplications 3eferences +ppendi! ,optional+uthor note

Step One C"eate yo!" int"o(!'tion 9ne of the most critical components of a research paper is an effective introduction. +s the name implies, this component introduces the reader to your topic by focusing attention on what you intend to do in the paper. +fter reading the introduction, the reader should know ,a- what your paper will e!amine, and ,b- what it will try to prove. Step T$o P"esent yo!" evi(en'e 80ain &o(y% Having e!plained to the reader what you are trying to do in your paper, now you must do it by presenting the evidence you have discovered that pertain to your thesis. ome of the evidence available may be contradictory, but you must be intellectually honest by presenting evidence that both supports and challenges your thesis. You must not merely select the information that supports it and ignore the evidence that does not. $his cimponent will undoubtedly be the longest component to your paper, probably taking up between E; C F; B of the total report. Step Th"ee Develop yo!" 'on'l!sion an( i#pli'ations 'y this point in your research paper, you will have introduced all then new evidence that you will present. .n the balance of the paper, you will review what you have already presented, evaluate its meaning, and asses its implications for further study. Step 7o!" Co#plete a((itional 'o#ponents +fter stages = to ? are finished, you should create a title page and write an abstract to appear at the beginning of your paper. .n addition, you should document your references and write an appendi! ,optional- and author note to appear at the end.

Int"o(!'tion )o" a so'ial s'ien'e "esea"'h pape" Component .ntroduction "urpose 1ocuses the reader5s attention on what you intend to accomplish in the research paper. Guidelines 8o not label. 8iscuss related background information to provide conte!t for the paper 8evelop key (uestions that arise regarding the topic. .dentify problems ,from your list of key (uestions- that the paper will try to address. 8efine the scope of the investigation, by identifying subheadings if necessary. "resent the thesis of your paper C what it is you are trying to prove or demonstrate. A!plain how your paper will contribute to a greater understanding of the sub/ect area.

The #ain &o(y o) a so'ial s'ien'e "esea"'h pape" Component Avidence ,main body"urpose 8emonstrates that you have undertaken varied research and assembled it into a logical argument Guidelines 8ivide the main body into labeled sections. ummari4e evidence from ma/or sources. .dentify ma/or sources from which evidence comes. .dentify different arguments, interpretations, or schools of thought relating to the sub/ect. 7se direct (uotes and paraphrases ,fully acknowledged by citations- from ma/or sources to demonstrate your understanding of what is crucial material. Create tables or figures that summari4e statistical evidence clearly and economically. uggest factors that you consider to be relevant when e!amining the validity of each argument, interpretation, or school of

Con'l!sions 9 I#pli'ations )o" a so'ial s'ien'e "esea"'h pape" Component Conclusion "urpose ummari4es evidence presented in the main body, and establishes whether or not your thesis is correct. Guidelines 'riefly review ma/or pieces of evidence presented in the main body. .dentify the key pieces of evidence that support or oppose your thesis. uggest whether the weight of the evidence supports or contradicts your thesis. uggest how your thesis needs to be modified C if it does. uggest reasons why your thesis is incorrect C if it is,. .dentify how the paper5s conclusions relate to the social science discipline it represents. .dentify other factors that might be considered if further studies on the sub/ect were to be undertaken, and the possible impact of those factors on your conclusions. .dentify any other factors that you think may give the sub/ect of the paper and its conclusions a broader scope for society as a whole.

.mplications

.dentifies the significance of the paper5s conclusions. 'roadens the focus of the paper to suggest other factors that could be considered in the future.

Int"o(!'to"y se'tions o) a so'ial s'ien'e "epo"t. Component $itle "age "urpose ummari4es the main idea of the report Guidelines Give the author5s name. Give author5s academic institution. Give full title. "rovide running head ,abbreviated title of :; characters ma!imum, which is placed at the top of each page in the report'e accurate create a self contained paraphrase. 8o not use specific (uotes from the report. "lace most important information first. 8o not e!ceed =<; words. 8o not label 8iscuss related background readings tate hypothesis .dentify variables 8evelop rationale for hypothesis and variables.

+bstract

+llows potential readers to decide if report is relevant to their studies, through this brief but comprehensive summary

.ntroduction .dentifies the problem and research strategy of the report.

0ain 1o(y o) a so'ial s'ien'e "epo"t. Component &ethod "urpose 8escribes in detail how the e!periment or observation was conducted. Guidelines 8ivide into labelled sections ,e.g., sub/ects 2 participants, materials, procedure8escribe what you did and how you did it in detail, so that reader could, if desired, reproduce the e!periment or observation. "rovide tables and figures to display results clearly and economically. "rovide statistics to help reader understand your analysis, and possibly to arrive at alternative e!planations. Clearly state whether results support or contradict your hypothesis, either partially or fully. .dentify the conclusions you have come to as a result of your research. 6ote and e!plain any similarities between your results and those of others ,as described in related readings in your introductionComment on the degree of importance of your findings.

3esults

ummari4es the data obtained and the method of analysis.

8iscussion

Avaluates and interprets results and their impact on your hypothesis.

Con'l!sions 9 I#pli'ations )o" a so'ial s'ien'e "esea"'h pape".

Component 3eferences

"urpose "rovides comprehensive summary of all works cited in the previous components

Guidelines "rovide in alphabetical order all relevant details for print sources. H+uthor,s-. 8ate. )+rticle title.* &aga4ine2'ook $itle. "lace0 "ublisher.I "rovide all relevant details for electronic sources. H$itle. H9nlineI. +vaoJanJe at http022reference. 8ate of retrieval.I 'e concise but not e!haustive. 8o not add references not cited in the manuscript. .nclude only material about specific matters that are so detailed that they might distract from the body of the manuscript. .nclude an appendi! only if it is necessary. $his element is not a re(uirement. "rovide university department or organi4ation of author. .dentify sources of financial support. 8isclose whether or not this report is part of a larger study.

+ppendi!

"rovides additional material.

+uthor note

Links the reader more fully with the author.