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SOC 152 (Modern Social Problems): Home

Getting Started on a Research Paper

1. First and most importantly – Read and understand your assignment!  Be sure you understand the requirements and limits of the assignment.  Pay attention to wording, the audience, the scope of expected research, and the desired length.
2. Set up a schedule.  Include library and online exploration time.  Set a date for when you will decide on a topic and/or hypothesis.  Allow time to gather sources.  Consider deadlines for a rough outline and thesis.  Take into account note taking, rough draft, and revision time, and when the final draft is due. Try this assignment calculator from the University of Kentucky. 
3. Identify the purpose:  look for cue words, such as describe, survey, analyze, explain, classify, compare, and contrast in the assignment.
4. Identify the audience:  be sure to think about what they already know, what they will want to learn about, what assumptions they may have/receive, and what response you wish to elicit from them.
5. Identify the scope of your research:  what kind of sources do you need and how many?
6. Choose a topic.  Think about subjects with which you are or would like to become familiar.  Search online and skim your textbooks or other reading materials.  Ask yourself if the topic is:  
1)      interesting
2)      manageable
3)      has more than one angle
4)      has available resources
Focus your topic so that it is not too broad or specific for the length of your assignment.
7. Develop a hypothesis or thesis statement:  one interesting statement about your research that can be proved or disproved by your evidence.
8. Explore your topic:  find relevant books, articles, websites, etc.
9. Adjust your thesis, if needed, based on what you learn from your research.

Adapted from “Getting Started on a Research Paper” published by the Gustavus Adolphus College Writing Center.

Suggested Online Library Resources

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Statistical Information

SOC 152 Course Description

SOC 152 (3) Modern Social Problems

Course ID: 000404

Examines selected social problems of the day from a sociological perspective. Topics may include family, poverty, education, crime, race, housing, population, health care, industrial development, and power.

Pre-requisite: SOC 101 or SOC 151, or Consent of Instructor. Lecture: 3 credits (45 contact hours).

Off-campus Access Instructions

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