Sociological research paper format

In three hundred words or less, sum up your research objectives, methods, results and conclusions. This makes it easy for other scholars to understand your research and potentially cite your work in their papers. There is no specified length for the introduction, though most are usually one or two pages long.

The History Behind ASA Format

In the introduction, you begin by introducing your problem in very general terms. Subsequent paragraphs outline previous research completed in the field and then introduce your topic and its relevance to the field. This section shows how you got your information such as: sample composition, qualitative and quantitative measures, statistical analysis tools, inclusion and exclusion criteria, analytic framework, etc.

In other words, you needed to explain your research design.

This is where you report the results of your experiments. You should add graphs, charts and figures to this section to create a concise display of your results in order for your peers to quickly ascertain what you have done and how you arrived at this conclusion. You will also note the margin of error for any statistical analysis.

In this section, you will deconstruct your results, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your study. You may attach a separate conclusion, which explains what implications your research would yield as well as make suggestions for future research in the field. Nowadays, most research establishments have a database to search titles by keyword so try to make sure that your title contains these.

This is doubly important if your research is likely to be published on the internet. The authors section should include your name, as the main writer of the report, alongside the name of your supervisor. In the case of working as part of a team, you should usually include the other members of your group here. The abstract is the most crucial part of the report because anybody searching for your research on a database or in a journal will usually read only the abstract.

Therefore, it must summarize your research, results and conclusions in less than words. Sometimes it is good to think of it as a sample of your research rather than a review ; it should inform the researcher that your article contains the information they need.

There are a few ideas on how to write your abstract but the best advice is that you look at some journals relevant to your research and try to format your abstract in a similar way. This section and is merely a breakdown of sections and subsections by page number. For a short and straightforward paper it may not be necessary to include a contents page.

This is not mandatory for a research paper. This section of your report is where you will document all the painstaking research into the background of your experiment. The main thing to bear in mind, when writing the introduction , is that a scientist who is unfamiliar with your exact subject matter may be reading the article.

It is important, therefore, to try and give a quick and condensed history of the research leading to your experiment, with correct citations. You should also give a little background on why you chose to do this particular experiment and what you expect to find. For this portion of your report you must describe the methods used when performing the experiment. This should include, if relevant, the location and times of sample collection, what equipment was utilized, and the techniques used. The idea behind the methodology section is that another researcher can exactly replicate your experiments without having to guess what equipment and what techniques should be used.

Scientific articles are peer reviewed and this includes the possibility that other researchers may try to replicate your results. There have been many high profile scientific breakthroughs over the years whose results were unable to be repeated; these experiments were disregarded. For field studies you should give an exact map reference and time as well as including a map in the appendix. If you used complex machinery or computer programs in the course of your experiment, to avoid breaking the flow of your report, you should give only the main information and refer to the exact technical specifications in the appendix.

These should be a quick synopsis of the facts, figures and statistical tests used to arrive at your final results. You should try to avoid cluttering up your report and insert most of your raw data into the appendix. It is far better to stick with including only tables and graphs that show clearly the results.

Do not be tempted to insert large numbers of graphs and figures just for the sake of it; each figure and graph should be mentioned, referred to and discussed in the text. Try to avoid putting in tables and graphs showing the same information; select the type that shows your results most clearly. It is usually preferable to use graphs and relegate the tables to the appendix because it is easier to show trends in graphical format. Figures and graphs should be clear and occupy at least half a page; you are not a magazine editor trying to fit a small graph into an article.

ASA Citation Format Guide

All such information must be numbered, as diagrams for graphs and illustrations, and figures for tables; they should be referred to by this number in the body of the report. You do not need to put the full breakdown of the calculations used for your statistical tests; most scientists hate statistics and are only interested in whether your results were significant or not. Relegate the calculations to the appendix. The results section of your report should be neutral and you should avoid discussing your results or how they differed from or compared with what was expected. This information belongs in the next section.

This is the pivotal section of your hard work in obtaining and analyzing your results. In your discussion you should seek to discuss your findings, and describe how they compared and differed from the results you expected.


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In a nutshell, you are trying to show whether your hypothesis was proved, not proved or inconclusive. You must be extremely critical of yourself in this section; you will not get marked down for mistakes in experiment design or for poor results, only for not recognizing them.

Key Questions for a Literature Review

Similarly, be careful about making overly strong or broad claims based on insufficient evidence. For example, you probably don't want to make a claim about how Americans feel about having a black president based on a poll of UW undergraduates.

You may also want to be careful about making authoritative conclusive claims about broad social phenomena based on a single case study. In addition to un- or under-substantiated claims, another problem that students often encounter when writing these types of papers is lack of clarity regarding "voice," or whose ideas they are presenting. The reader is left wondering whether a given statement represents the view of the theorist, the student, or an author who wrote about the case.

Be careful to identify whose views and ideas you are presenting. Another common problem that students encounter is the trap of excessive summarization. They spend the majority of their papers simply summarizing regurgitating the details of a caseā€”much like a book report. One way to avoid this is to remember that theory indicates which details or variables of a case are most relevant, and to focus your discussion on those aspects. A second strategy is to make sure that you relate the details of the case in an analytical fashion.

You might do this by stating an assumption of Marxist theory, such as "man's ideas come from his material conditions," and then summarizing evidence from your case on that point. You could organize the details of the case into paragraphs and start each paragraph with an analytical sentence about how the theory relates to different aspects of the case. Some theory application papers require that you choose your own case an empirical phenomenon, trend, situation, etc. Many students find choosing their own case rather challenging.

Some questions to guide your choice are:. Data is collected by many organizations e.

What is ASA Essay Format? - A Research Guide for Students

The UW libraries make your job easy: on the front page of the library website www. For example, if you are choosing a historical case, you might want to access newspaper articles. This has become increasingly easy to do, as many are now online through the UW library. If you are interested in interview or observational data, you might try to find books or articles that are case-studies on your topic of interest by conducting a simple keyword search of the UW library book holdings, or using an electronic database, such as JSTOR or Sociological Abstracts.

Scholarly articles are easy to search through, since they contain abstracts, or paragraphs that summarize the topic, relevant literature, data and methods, and major findings. When using JSTOR, you may want to limit your search to sociology which includes 70 journals and perhaps political science; this database retrieves full-text articles. Sociological Abstracts will cast a wider net searching many more sociology journals, but the article may or may not be available online find out by clicking "check for UW holdings".

A final word about using academic articles for data: remember that you need to cite your sources, and follow the instructions of your assignment.