INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
INSTRUCTIONS FOR WRITING RESEARCH PAPER
Sociology is a subject with many facets and subtopics, most of which we will not have time to cover in class. You will note, for example, that there are entire chapters and parts of chapters that are not listed on the syllabus. In addition, we may cover superficially topics that you have a special interest in and would like to know more about.
You are asked this term to choose a sociology topic in which you are especially interested and research it, for the purpose of finding out as much about it as you can. That means you should not research a topic about which you already know a great deal. Instead, you should write on a topic about which you know little or nothing and increase your knowledge as much as you can.
If you think you’re not interested in any particular topic, then pick a topic at random. You may be surprised at how much interest you develop in the course of your research. In fact, learning about topics you know nothing about and perhaps have never cared about is at the heart getting an education.
When you’ve completed your research, you will write an academic paper in which you share and reflect on your findings. For many of you, this will be your first academic paper. This is your opportunity to learn how to write a college paper, a skill you will need in many classes throughout your four years as an undergraduate. If you learn to research and write papers now, your road through college will be infinitely easier and your grades will be higher.
Possible Topics: You do not have to use any of the topics below—they are just suggestions. But if you want to use a different topic, you must email it to me for approval, and I will give you a set of questions to answer to guide your research.
1. According to sociologist George Ritzer, society is being McDonaldized.
a. What does he mean when he refers to “the McDonaldization of society”?
b. When did this process begin? What is its history?
c. What are its consequences—its effects on society, both positive and negative?
d. How do you think it will impact society in the future?
e. In the end, do you think McDonaldization is a phenomenon society should shun or embrace? Why?
Instructions for Research
1. You may use our online library or any academic online library, or any large walk-in library such as the Boston Library. Look for recently-published books and journal articles, preferably peer-reviewed.
2. You may use the Internet, but you must restrict your sources to sites that end in .edu, .gov, or .org. Above all, you must use sources that are accurate, up-to-date, and unbiased. If you feel a .com website qualifies under those criteria, check with me to get permission to use it.
3. You must use at least five (5) academic sources. YouTube talks are acceptable, as long as the speaker is a recognized expert on the topic. If you are not sure, check with me or our writing assistant to get approval.
4. Avoid taking the majority of your information from a single source and only briefly mentioning your other sources. If necessary, find more sources.
5. Wikis are NOT acceptable research sources, although the list of original sources they include at the bottom of each article generally are. You must always use only original sources for research papers.
6. Your textbook is not a resource, for the reason given in number 5 above. Textbook authors are simply reporting research that others have done. Go to the original source.
7. You may not site your previous academic papers, even if you got A’s on them, because you are not an expert on the subject matter.
8. Interviews with topic experts are acceptable and recommended where possible.
Instructions for Style
1. APA style required (include a title page but not an abstract)
2. A non-generic title that makes your topic clear is required.
3. Microsoft Word is required. If you don’t have it, type your final paper on a computer that does.
4. Seven to 10 pages, not including title page or Works Cited (papers shorter than seven pages will be graded down, and papers five pages or less will not be graded) “Padding” (irrelevant information) and repetitiveness will not count as part of your page count.
5. Double-spaced throughout. Do not use triple or quadruple spaces. Remove the “add space before paragraph” and “add space after paragraph” options from your settings.
6. Standard 12-pt font throughout—Times New Roman, Calibri, etc. No fancy or “handwriting” fonts.
7. One-inch margin on all sides.
8. Pages numbered according to APA regulations
9. Pictures and graphs (credited) should be included where helpful to making your point. If you use these, make sure that your written text still amounts to at least seven pages.
10. Start with a thesis statement in your introductory paragraph, and make sure that every paragraph in your paper supports that thesis.
11. Use appropriate paragraph structure, with a topic sentence and detailed supporting material. Make sure each topic sentence supports the thesis statement. If it doesn’t you can eliminate the entire paragraph.
12. Include a reasonable conclusion that pulls your paper together for the reader. It can be a brief summary of your thesis and supporting points, although that is the least interesting kind of conclusion. More interesting options are a call to action, your personal reactions to what you’ve learned, or a projection of your findings into the future.
Final Note: Students often struggle with the issue of length in papers. There are four ways to get up to the required length:
1. Make sure you have responded to all the questions asked in the topic description.
2. Give detailed responses rather than general ones; they are more interesting and more informative, and they yield a longer paper.
3. Provide specific examples of each point; examples help the reader understand your point, they make your paper more interesting, and they yield a longer paper.
4. Add some new but relevant information that you think should have been addressed in the topic description.
⇒ The number one reason for “short” papers is failure to write in detail.
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