Assignment 4 (50 Points)

Write a 3-5 page paper, excluding reference pages, in which you:

  1. Identify a sociological topic on which you would like to do research and indicate in a few sentences why you think the topic is worth studying.
  2. Review and summarize the academic and professional literature relevant to your topic. Emphasize literature that reports original research substantively related to your topic, but you may include works that are theoretically or methodologically relevant, especially if substantive literature is scarce. Include a minimum of 10 sources in your summary, including at least 7 articles from scholarly periodicals or journals. (Click here to view a list of widely cited sociology journals.) You may also include books and edited volumes, theses and dissertations, government documents and reports, papers presented at professional conferences, and scholarly works from the Internet. Avoid non-academic articles and books, including web sites that do not cite sources or provide empirical evidence to support claims. To locate resources, you can use Infotrac, Sociological Abstracts, the Social Science Index, Social Science Citation Index, bibliographies from other works, the library's electronic card catalog, dissertation abstracts, indices to government documents, local professionals and scholars, the Internet, and other databases and indices. Click here to access sociology databases available through the Walker Library.  Do not simply list and summarize individual articles. Instead, integrate the literature into a single, consistent essay. Your goal is to summarize "the facts" about your topic in concise, well-written paragraphs. Put similar and related information together. You may want to organize your review around the major areas of research in the studies you have read or around the major findings reported in the research. How you organize your review is up to you as long as it is logical, connected and integrated. Make sure you cite your sources in the body of your paper using ASA style. (Click her to view an online version of the ASA Style Guide.) You will also need a list of references at the end of the paper, again following ASA style. You must include a reference for every work you cite, but only for works you cite. (Click here to view some sample literature reviews.Do not cut and paste large blocks of text from the internet. To do so without appropriate citation is plagairism. Even if cited correctly, a review built almost entirely of quotes from other sources is inappropropriate. The review should be your summary of relevant thought and knowledge of the topic you have chosen.
  3. Clearly and concisely state a research question (or questions) you would like to address. Choose a single or a small number of related questions and express them as simply and clearly as possible. Then, depending on your orientation and the nature of your research question(s), develop either testable hypotheses or sensitizing concepts/questions. Remember that hypotheses are statements, not questions. They typically express relationships between two or more variables that are believed to exist in the empirical world. These relationships may be causal or simply associational.  If causal, be sure to clearly state which variables are causing other variables to change and whether these causal relationships are direct, indirect, or involve interactions. Whenever possible, you should also state the type of association that exists between the variables, whether positive, negative, curvilinear, non-directional, or none at all. If you have several related hypotheses, you may want to express your hypotheses as a path model. (Click here to view some sample hypotheses.)  Sensitizing concepts and questions are concepts, ideas, notions, or questions that guide observations and data collection in inductive qualitative research. Sensitizing concepts are the starting point and inform the researcher where to look, for what to look, and give him/her some idea of what they can expect to see. In the latter sense, they serve as pseudo-hypotheses. Like hypotheses, sensitizing concepts can be drawn from theory, previous research and the researchers own interests and concerns.