A topic of inquiry

Exercise 1 and consultation meeting (4%)

Select a topic of inquiry. Obtain 6 social science scholarly research articles on the topic, include three based on quantitative (survey) research designs, and three based on qualitative field (participant observation, ethnography, focus groups, content analysis) research designs. Experimental and Archival research are not included in this course exercise. Provide an annotated bibliography of these articles.

Exercise 1 (DUE April 14)

Select a topic of inquiry. Obtain 6 social science scholarly research articles on the topic, include three based on quantitative (survey) research, and three based on qualitative field (participant observation, ethnography, focus groups, content analysis) research. Provide a brief annotated bibliography of each of these articles. Additional articles are permitted for the final proposal paper (eg., experimental or archival research) when appropriate.

A. Your introductory paragraph describes your research topic, the main concept(s) you are interested in studying, and the scope of previous research.

Describe why it matters. Opening statements might address some of the following issues: Why is it worth studying? Why is this an interesting topic to a sociologist (not “to society”)? Is the study of primarily practical and/or theoretical significance? What is generally known or of concern about the topic? What, specifically, do you hope to contribute with your research? You must provide indication that the topic is sociological (how it engages sociological perspectives or theories).

Then, state the problem/research question.

This should generally take one of the following forms: “What are the causes of y?”, “What are the consequences of x?”, “Is there an association between x and y?” “How does x influence y?” “To what extent does x impact y?”

For the quantitative portion of your mixed methods design, you will need to clearly specify your hypothesis linking x and y. Include a definition of your measurable independent and dependent variables (these must be measurable) and the ideas linking them (why/how they are related must be sociological). For this course, your research hypothesis (and your quantitative articles) must be testable with a survey method.

For the qualitative portion of your mixed methods design, you will need to clearly describe your research focus. What specifically do you want to learn more about in depth – who, what, when, where, and perhaps why? For example, what are the causes, consequences, or process of x or of y?

Thinking Outline

· Statement of the “problem.” I overheard a conversation about…

· Why important. I found the topic (theoretically, sociologically) interesting for the following reasons…

· Theoretical Perspectives. Several people chimed in on various aspects of the topic.

· One individual talked about it in this way….

· Another person looked at it from a different angle…

· Someone else added the following insights…..

· Entry point. Finally I spoke up to add my “two cents” and explained what appeared to be lacking/needed correcting in what was said….

B. The annotated bibliography will then include a very short descriptive paragraph (your notes about the article in your own words) on each of the SIX sources (three quantitative and then three qualitative) that you have so far obtained related to your topic. These sources should be published within the last ten (preferably five) years.

Clearly label which of your sources are quantitative and which are qualitative.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (articles, books, documents). Each citation is followed by a concise descriptive and evaluative paragraph (approximately 150 words) called the annotation. The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of sources on your list. It is also used to jog your memory about articles you have already read as you continue forward with your literature review and research design preparation.

It should include:

A full citation that includes the author, date, title, and publication information.

Following, a brief paragraph addresses

1) The research question, theoretical framework, and general methodological design of the study,

2) Significant findings and substantive conclusions of the study (ONLY as regards YOUR research question),

3) A brief, critical analysis of the quality (strengths and weaknesses) of the study.

Proper citation:

The American Sociological Association publishes a “Quick Style Guide,” which provides all the information you need to cite properly both in-text and in your bibliography. The Guide can be found on the course website (and cited in your text).

· See next page for an example –

An example:

Waite, L.J., Goldscheider, F.K., and Witsberger, C. 1986. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations among Young Adults”. American Sociological Review. 51:541-554.

“The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.”

Notice that in this example, particular attention is given to gender differences, presumably because the reviewer’s research question focuses on gender differences among young adults. In addition, the last sentence notes an important contradictory finding in a similar study. Think of the annotations as representing a “conversation” between the authors of the various articles you are using. Comparing and contrasting the three studies will assist you in identifying the important themes/issues/problems associated with your research topic. While not reflected in this example, the discussion between the studies might also involve competing theories or paradigms.

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