SOC 489: Research Paper Overview

SOC 489:  Research Paper Overview

This is a brief overview of all the parts of an empirical research paper, the kind of paper you will be writing.  There are handouts that go into a good deal of depth about each part.  These will also be discussed at length in this class.

Minimum Paper Requirements for SOC 489

The paper MUST be a minimum of 10 pages of text (not including bibliography or a title page) and use American Sociological Association (ASA) format for references and footnotes.  All sources cited must be correctly listed in the references, and all sources in the references must be cited.  Citation must be done correctly, and all borrowed material must be paraphrased.  Quoting is strongly discouraged.  The paper must incorporate a minimum of 5 academic sources, at least 3 of which are academic journal articles.  Five sources may not be enough to do a good job for some topics, however.  The paper must be organized according to the overview for an empirical paper listed below.  All of the previous requirements must be done in order to have the possibility of a C on the paper and a C in the class.  This includes strict adherence to ASA format (i.e. if another format, like APA, is used the paper will not get a C).  A C or higher will allow this course to substitute for the 498 BEE/CEE internship class.

Structure of an Empirical Research Paper

Empirical research papers follow a fairly standard format.  Occasionally, a part (e.g. findings) of a journal article you see will have a different name or be split into smaller sections.  However, all papers cover these areas and in this order.  Your paper will do the same.  Again, all parts will be covered in more depth in both  handouts and in-class discussion.

I.      Statement of the Problem

This is a brief statement of the research topic and what the paper will do.

II.    Literature Review

This is a synthesized, thematized, and paraphrased summary of what other researchers have found.  This section includes relevant citations to existing literature.

III.    Methods

This is the section in which the researcher describes the details about the data and the research process.

IV.      Findings

This is the section in which the researcher describes the outcomes of the research.  In other words, what did the researcher find after the analysis was finished?

V.     Conclusions

This is the section in which the most important findings are summarized, the findings are compared with the literature, and directions for further research and/or practical (practice or policy) application are discussed.

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