For the essays, you’ve been writing something like this: 2 – 3 pages that include the 7 main sections, each about ½ a page:
(i) introduction; (ii) literature review; (iii) methods; (iv) sample; (v) results; (vi) limitations; (vii) conclusion.
Please note: Your final paper will be slightly different! It’s important to pay attention to what I say below… it will help you get the A+ grade you deserve!
For an abstract, you should form it using the process we used for Journal Entry #1. One intro sentence describing the topic, One segue sentence. A set of four sentences listing your main points. And, a wrap up sentence. Your paper “introduction” is really just your abstract rewritten (as will be your conclusion of your paper). By the way, avoid bullet points – but, use them to help you form the paragraph.
General Format and Content
For your final paper, it will look like this:
- (i) introduction;
- (ii) literature review; and talking about prior literature, the prior research – (a) methods; (b) samples; (c) results; (d) limitations;
- (iii) your research (like surveys or interviews or whatever you choose to do); and talking YOUR research – (a) methods; (b) samples; (c) results; (d) limitations;
- (iv) a little comparison of your research to prior research – focus on how you added to the overall field of sociology and “filled in the gaps” that were vacant/void in prior research
- (v) conclusion.
Those are your basic sections but that’s not how you name them. Also, don’t put Roman numerals in your headings. Only use numbering (like (i, ii, iii) or (a, b, c)) within your paragraphs. That general formatting simply helps you shape what you will be writing.
Here are recommend page lengths for sections on a 10 page paper
- (i) 1 page
- (ii) 3.5 pages
- (iii) 3.5 pages
- (iv) 1page
- (v) 1 page
Sections of a Good Paper
Guess what… you don’t even label the “introduction.” However, you do need about 1 page of an introduction. Your first page should be your abstract reworded and then another paragraph about the importance of your research. Your first paragraph should contain your research question as its final sentence. Your second paragraph should answer this: Why is this subject worth studying? Why is this research important?
For most of your papers, this is what you have been submitting throughout the course as your rough draft. It may be around 4 or 5 pages. This is fine. Believe it or not, all of your analysis of prior research is contained within this section. You do not need “methods, sample, results” sections here. Simply plow through all 4 or 5 pages, still including those elements, but you don’t separate them out.
This describes your own research! Remember, if you are not actually performing your own research, you at least need to describe what you would do if you could. Plan it out. If you are submitting a “plan,” then we call your final paper a “Research Proposal.” If you actually do some research like surveys or interviews, then we call your paper a “Research Article.”
This section describes your sample. If you are interviewing 100 African American people living in Detroit, you need to make that very clear. Don’t just say “I’m doing interviews.” This is where you get very specific on your sample size. Make sure to do a good job. Your choice of sample can be critiqued very easily. In other words, if you are doing research on drug use and you only interview drug users, one critique may be that your respondents were biased. Perhaps they were afraid that you were the police. So, maybe they didn’t tell you the whole story. Be careful when choosing your sample!
This is where you tell the results of your research. Remember, “research” means your actual work! For example, qualitative research can include surveys or interviews. “Research” is not just summarizing prior literature. You summarize, analyze, and critique prior literature in your literature review section so don’t do that here! If you are unable to conduct actual research for this course due to time restrictions or lack of funding, please describe what results you would expect and then… keep reading…
Describe your limitations here. If you wanted to interview gang members in California but didn’t have enough money or time to fly out there, or if you felt it was much too dangerous, then you would talk about those “limitations” here in this section. Lots of things can be limitations: no access to respondents, language barriers, no money or time, etc. Everything short of “I just didn’t feel like it” is pretty much a viable limitation!
Some authors include a “discussion” section. You can if you want. I generally consider this section all of the previous 4 sections describing your research. Again, I allow you flexibility in the naming of your section headings but they have to at least be generally acceptable. “Discussion” would be acceptable as a replacement for the above 4 sections whereas “My Thoughts” is not a valid section heading.
Unlike the introduction section, you do label this section. Much like the introduction section, you should sort of “rehash” your abstract. Remember, you don’t just create an abstract for no reason! Everywhere in your article I should see how you are attempting to answer your research question! If you bullet out 5 main points in your abstract, I should be able to easily find those points proven in your article. Then, here, you say something like “I proved a, b, and c in my results section but not d.” (Don’t actually word it like that, but you know what I mean!)
That’s it! It is that easy!
Now, here is how I will grade your final papers that are worth 500 total points:
- 20* Points: Cover Page (1 page)
- Format the cover page like the example here at this link http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
- Instructor Girdwood says, “I also want to see your email address and MSU ID# on there!”
- *If you add it up, you can actually receive 520 points on this assignment but I cap it at 500 so the cover page is a free 20 “extra credit” points to start with.
- I want you to say on your cover page if you are writing an Article or a Proposal
- An article means you have actually done your own research
- A proposal is when you describe what you would have done if you had the means (time, money, etc.)
- 50 Points: Abstract (1/2 page, but on a separate full page)
- Format the abstract like the example here at this link http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
- Instructor Girdwood says, “We learned how to write a good abstract in Journal Entry #1! Also, be cool and write some keywords on there to look really slick!”
- Does the abstract have numbered points outlining what will be proven in the research?
- 50 Points: Introduction (about 1 full page)
- Don’t use a section heading label for this!
- Does the first paragraph have numbered points outlining what will be proven in the research?
- Does the first paragraph end with a one sentence research question?
- Does the second paragraph explain why this research is important to the field of sociology?
- 100 Points: Literature Review (4 – 5 pages)
- You don’t need any sub-headings
- Has the author identified “gaps” in prior research?
- Has the author addressed how he will be supporting or negating prior research?
- Has the author pointed out key flaws in prior research, like inadequate methods or samples?
- 100 Points: Your Research (divided as listed below)
- 20 Points: Methods (about 3/4 to 1 page)
- 20 Points: Sample (about 3/4 to 1 page)
- 20 Points: Results (about 3/4 to 1 page)
- 20 Points: Does this research specifically seek to answer the research question?
- 20 Points: Does this research specifically seek to address the main points that are numbered in the abstract?
- 50 Points: Conclusion (about 1 full page)
- Does this conclusion specifically seek to answer the research question?
- Does this conclusion specifically seek to address the main points that are numbered in the abstract?
- Has this research done something to “fill the gaps” left by prior research?
- 50 Points: Grammar, Spelling, Formatting, etc.
- I will deduct 10 points if you have bed spelling and grammar but I can still follow your main points and understand what you are trying to say.
- I will deduct 50 points if your grammar, spelling, and formatting severely hinders your overall product of work.
- 100 Points: Bibliography
- I will deduct points at my discretion, up to 100 points, if you fail to follow the APA format and include an adequate bibliography (at least 5 outside sources).
- Review the format here if you need to brush up http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/
- We have discussed formatting throughout the semester. This I will not budge on!