SO401 and SO 402 Sociology Research I and II

                                                                    Dr. Dobbertin

This is the capstone course in the Sociology program and the course in which you bring together skills and knowledge gained throughout your college program.  In this course you demonstrate your intellectual abilities as a person about to become a college graduate.  You will want to give considerable energy and effort to make the your senior research paper and presentation the absolute best you can do. 


You will have two semesters to compete the project.  Most students start reading and writing in preparation for this major project in the spring semester of their junior year. 


This project is excellent preparation for reports you will probably have to write in future employment and for graduate work, if you continue your formal studies. This course will challenge your character and work habits perhaps more than to your intellectual ability. You will need organizational abilities to schedule your own work, discipline to stick to your schedule, imagination to create your own project, ability to work with others to give and receive suggestions, humility to ask for help when you need it, and, most important, courage to plunge ahead in a project without having a clear idea of the form and shape of the outcome.


The Sociology Research Paper

The major product of this course is a sociological research paper and presentation.  It is completed in stages, each step more clearly defining the final product.Through a library search last spring, you have transformed your general area of interest into a research proposal. During this fall semester, you will read and reflect upon sociological theory and research directly related to your hypothesis and will write the "Review of Literature" chapter summarizing these. This will be completed and presented to the class during the tenth week of fall semester.  During the remaining weeks of Fall semester you will write a draft of your plan for conducting research, using your texts on research methods and statistics, and other resources as are necessary. During spring semester, you will secure approval for your project, conduct the research and analyze the data, using inferential and/or descriptive statistics. The final report will consist of:

            1.  a title page,*

            2.  an abstract (written last),

            3.  a table of contents,

            4.  a chapter reviewing the literature, developed from notes created during your library research but written by you in your words, *

5.      the methods chapter, which is the plan for gathering data and the second part of the report to be written,*

6.      the findings and analysis, which is the chapter wherein you present your data, the                                                    

7.      inferential and description statistics with charts and/or tables, and the implications of these for your hypothesis,

8.      a conclusion, included if you wish to discuss the policy or theoretical implications of your findings,

9.      the list of references used in the report is required,* and

10.  an appendix which may be necessary to include the questionnaire or interview schedule, etc.

*These parts will be written fall semester.


Guidelines for the research paper include the following.

1.       The paper will be written in APA style.  A manual is available at the Library Circulation Desk.

2.       All ideas will be cited with page(s) given.  All material used must be available to me, through the library, on-line or photocopy provided by the student.  All note cards must be turned in with the paper.                                          

3.       The student will use a minimum of quotations.  Papers with excessive or unnecessary quotes will be returned for revision and will be considered late.

4.       Papers with writing errors or problems of style will be returned for revision and will be considered late.   It is assumed that the student will revise her/his writing about 3 to 5 times to produce a paper reflecting the student’s best effort.  Even very accomplished professional writers do not do their best in their first drafts.  Good writing is the product of revision.

5.       Making your written work concise is an important step in revision.  Most students” first drafts are too wordy.  Expect 4 or 5 pages in early drafts to yield 2 to 3 pages in final form.

6.       The end product will be about 25 pages of text for items 4 - 7 listed of contents above.  Use font of 12, one-inch margins all around, and double spacing.

7.       All presentations are to be given using a limited number of note cards.  You cannot read your paper for the presentation.  You will speak, not read, to the class.  Presentations are required for credit in the course.    


It is expected that, as a college senior, you are a competent writer and are able to use the computer as a word processor and to produce graphics.  It is expected that the report will be written using a computer and that at least one computer-generated table or chart will be included in the paper.  For assistance with writing or computer problems, use the Learning Center.



The quality of the final paper and presentation will determine 70% of your grade in this course. Thirty percent of your grade will be based upon your performance on assignments and participation in collaborative work in class, including listening and responding to colleagues’ presentations.  Late work will lose 20% of its credit.  There is no make-up for collaborative class work.


Plagiarism will result in failing the course.  Failing the course means returning to repeat the course next year to remove the F grade.  Whatever requirements you may have had for other papers in other courses, in this course you will compose your paper, using and citing many ideas from your readings, but using your words, your sentence structure, and your phrases.  Do not paraphrase sources.  Typically paraphrasing produces papers with poor flow and lack of clarity.  Often paraphrasing leads to plagiarism.  To avoid plagiarism and paraphrasing, I strongly recommend that you follow these procedures in making reading notes.

     1.  Read and understand the source before you pick up pencil or pen or touch the keyboard,

     2.  close the source, then write or keyboard your notes, and

     3.  keep the source closed during the entire time you are writing your note(s).




Please do not plagiarize.  The above will be applied without exception.




CONSIDER the following.

>This is the BIG project of your college years.  You want to be proud of it.

>This project requires time spent working, not worrying or avoiding work.

>Finishing the paper requires making a schedule, revising it when needed, and completing scheduled tasks,

  one day at a time.

>Needing help is not a weakness, but needing help and failing to ask for help is.

>If you can write a paragraph, you can write this paper.