Research Paper Guide STEP 1: Think about the subjects we’ve covered in class and in your textbook. We’ve already covered: Authority and the state, crime and deviance, capitalism and the economy, stratification, and inequality We will be covering: Culture and the media, socialization, human interaction, race, gender, family, education, religion, health, science and the environment, urbanization, globalization, collective action, and social movements STEP 2: Use your knowledge, experiences, and curiosity to pick a topic that interests you. Each subject has many elements to it. Here are some examples: – Authority and the state o The government’s power in society o The role of the military o Voting and other democratic practices o Nationalism o Citizenship and rights – Crime and deviance o Prisons o The death penalty o White collar crime – Capitalism and the economy o The nature of work and the role of workers o Corporations o The free market – Stratification and inequality o Poverty Research Paper Guide STEP 3: Begin to conduct research on a topic of your choosing. Example: Poverty I read the following article and found it interesting. I’d like to continue researching this topic. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/us/18poverty.html Another (more specific) example: Menstruation huts in Nepal https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/world/asia/nepal-women-menstruation-period.html STEP 4: Ask yourself some key questions about your topic. Poverty: 1) Broad: Is there truly a culture of poverty in the United States? 2) Narrower: Are poor individuals responsible for their own poverty? 3) Even narrower: Do the economic conditions of a given country contribute to the poverty of individuals? Menstruation huts in Nepal: 1) Broad: Do women experience differential treatment in poor countries? How? 2) Narrower: Are women in poor countries discriminated against based on their gender? 3) Even narrower: What aspects of society value masculine norms? 4) How exactly are women discriminated against in poor countries, taking a look specifically at Nepal? What experiences do women in Nepal have that prove this discrimination? STEP 5: Narrow it down to one or two main questions that you will answer in the paper. Poverty: 1) How does poverty affect an individuals’ life chances in 21st century America? Menstruation huts in Nepal: 1) How do societies with biases toward masculine norms treat women? Research Paper Guide How to Approach Conducting Research STEP 1: How am I researching what I am researching? Your first step in the research process is to determine what method of research you’ll be using. WE WILL ALL BE USING TEXTUAL ANALYSIS. That is, your papers will revolve around you reading the relevant literature connected to your topic, analyzing if that literature is right or wrong, and using it to inform your new ideas on the topic. If you think you’d like to or your topic calls for you to use observational research, interviews, surveys, experiments, or comparative research, please let me know. STEP 2: What sources am I using? You will use mostly textual sources, including books, journal articles, newspaper articles, and possibly blogs and websites (if they are reputable, see below). Therefore, you need to search through the resources available to you to find these sources. Here is a non-exhaustive list of potential searching tools: 1) Google and Google Scholar – make sure to refine your searches 2) JSTOR – great source for academic journal articles 3) InfoTrac – good source for academic articles 4) EBSCO – great for books and all kinds of articles 5) LexisNexis – used more for legal research 6) Any library’s catalogue a. RVCC b. Rutgers What is a trusted/reputable source? – Any source (book, journal article) that is peer reviewed or backed by researched sources o It should cite previous and existing research and be grounded in research, provides evidence, and uses the approved research methods we’ve discussed o Usually, the authors are professors or researchers who are known for studying a specific topic What you CANNOT cite? – Wikipedia Research Paper Guide o You can, however, use Wikipedia to find sources cited in their articles. § Check the “references” section of Wikipedia articles for proper sources – Opinion articles, blogs, and any sources that do NOT use research or support their claims with citations from sources involved in research Research Paper Guide How to approach the literature review STEP 1: What are my main sources? Your first step is to determine which of the sources you’ve researched are your key sources. In other words, which books, articles, and other sources contribute the most to your argument? What has already been written on this topic? Here, you could also split your sources into categories by their utility towards your paper. STEP 2: What is good about those sources? What elements of these sources have you found to be useful? How have they helped your research and how have they helped you reach your conclusions? STEP 3: What am I adding that they are missing? What are you contributing to the already existing research? Talk a little bit about what your paper and the argument you make bring to the conversation on this topic. [NOTE: You will not have to discuss this element at length, it can simply be a restatement of your argument.] Research Paper Guide Structure of the Research Paper Section 1: Introduction You should start the paper with an introduction into the topic. The introduction should include: a. What influenced you to research this topic? Why did you choose it? b. How did you find this topic? c. Introduce your research question Section 2: Literature Review The second section should be your literature review. d. Review the works that were most instrumental in informing your paper e. See the “Literature Review Sample” document, the above page for a guide, and the scaffolding exercise for examples and reinforcing Section 3: Background Your third section should be what you know about your topic f. What happened? Give some background. g. Describe events like a story – who? what? where? when? Section 4: Analysis In the fourth section, you will explain how and/or why it happened. h. Provide your methodology – how did you approach your research? i. This is where you explain what transpired in between the “what happened” part that made “what happened” actually “happen” j. What caused the “what happened” to become a reality? k. Here, you will analyze your topic by using concepts that you’ve learned in class and through your research that help you explain the problem you’ve researched l. You will have a sub-section discussing how your theory fits in here and explains your topic Section 5: Conclusion The fifth, and final, section is your conclusion. m. Summarize and restate your original argument n. What’s the result and what might we learn about this topic in future research? ***7-12 pages total, 1” margins, 12-point font, double spaced
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