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Research Paper: Social Sciences


Goal

History
  • Critically analyze primary and secondary historical sources
  • Develop well-reasoned historical arguments
  • Contribute something new to the field.
Social Welfare
  • Demonstrate that the student has critical thinking skills that allow him or her to move beyond describing the ideas or findings of others
Economics
  • Inform and convince readers on topics in economics, including markets and government actions
  • Convince readers of the credibility of the paper
Psychology
  • Present their findings in the field of psychology and the human mind to both professionals and the general public
Sociology
  • Understand what people do and how or why they do them on a societal level
  • Test hypotheses and the predictions derived from one’s theory and build upon the findings of others

Structure

Social Welfare
  • The introduction should clarify the topic, making sure the audience and the readers are on the same page.
  • The body paragraphs should describe the findings and provide interpretations or evaluations.
  • The conclusion should apply the results to our situation by providing implications and consequences.
History
  • There is no specific way to structure a history argument; everybody adopts a different style.
Economics
  • The introduction should give the reader a preview of your main results and mention how these results affect the existing understanding of your question.
  • The body paragraphs should include literature review section by finding out what academic literature has already been written on the subject, and how your research will contribute to existing knowledge. Then, lay out the environmental and actor characteristics assumed by your research question, figure out what is implied by combining these assumptions, and iterate the previous step until you are able to arrive at a conclusion.
  • The conclusion should repeat the results you found in the model section. Talk about how these results affect the existing understanding of your question or related questions. Then discuss policy implications of your results.
Psychology
  • Argument papers in psychology use a hourglass model:
    • The first section of the paper should be a broad introduction, where the writer explains basic concepts, talks about the hypothesis, and gives an overview of any previous research done on that topic. The writer should explain the expected results and draw the reader into the topic by giving them background and basic information regarding the study.
    • The middle section of the paper should be more detailed. The writer should provide the methods and results with evidence.
    • The last section should get wider again. The writer should synthesize the results and offer his own conclusion that answers questions such as: What the results mean? How do the findings relate to the research discussed in the introduction? What are the implications of your findings?
Sociology
  • The first section is the “Statement of Problem,” where you should describe what you intend to argue and why. In this section, you should grab the attention of your readers and introduce the problem to be studied.
  • Next section is “Review of Literature and the Development of Hypothesis,” where you should include what others have found regarding your research question. From their findings, coupled with your theory, develop a logical argument that leads to the statement of your hypothesis. A good hypothesis is comparative, measurable, and falsifiable.
  • In the “Methods” section, describe the sample employed and the variables used to test your hypothesis. In this section, you should also address anticipated criticisms regarding internal and external validity.
  • In the “Findings” section, present the results that specifically address your hypothesis and discuss what the results show about the status of your hypothesis and what can be improved upon.
  • In the “Conclusion” section, reiterate what you intended to discover and what you found.
  • At the end of the paper, include all the materials cited in the paper in alphabetical order.

Tips

History
  • Do not be too attached to the argument that you are thinking of; you need to be flexible to change your argument if there is little to no evidence for it.
  • Try to avoid making the argument too convoluted or complicated; a good thesis will be focused.
  • Refrain from being formulaic about the topic; everyone has his own way of approaching the topic.
Economics
  • The style of writing and argument is often mathematical.
  • When you begin to write, break up the paper into smaller part.
  • As the author, you must establish your credentials as economic writer through various methods, including:
    • Demonstrated knowledge of economic facts and theories
    • Understanding of others’ input on the issue
  • Be sure to write clearly; clarity strengthens your analysis and allows the research to take center stage.
  • Economic research often requires analyzing an abundance of data; a good understanding of the data typically translates into the quality of your writing.
Psychology
  • It is recommended that you include multiple studies (aim to have 3-4 studies for each published paper).
  • Use data to disprove any null hypotheses and alternative hypotheses.
  • Typically, you must organize your evidence in a numeric, statistical, and factual manner.
Social Welfare
  • The arguments are based on precedents (past decisions, policies, and legislatures).
Sociology
  • A good sociological argument is able to relate to other themes across the discipline (social justice, equality etc.) and draw parallels or strong juxtapositions.
  • Sociological arguments are scientific, not hypothetical; we use concrete, observational, or statistical evidence as backup, rather than relying on hypothetical situations to prove our point.
  • The most important parts of a good argument are the reasoning of your position and the connections of your argument.