SSCI 301: Social Problems Research Assignment
For Dr. Weigt's research assignment, you will be asked to bring your academic skills and understanding to a community issue. You will:
1) Choose a social problem related to course materials and explore solutions to your chosen problem.
2) Locate four scholarly articles from two different social science disciplines that analyze the problem and/or propose solutions to the problem.
3) Prepare an annotated bibliography (refer to the suggested 3-paragraph format in Cougar Courses).
4) Interview someone from a community organization that works to address this social problem.
Your deliverable will be a 5-6 page paper that 1) proposes a set of solutions to the problem utilizing the distinctive contributions of the two social science disciplines you have chosen; 2) considers the efforts of the community organization you have chosen; 3) Shows that you have thought deeply about how multiple perspectives may or may not strengthen solutions to this problem.
For full assignment guidelines please refer to Dr. Weigt's prompt in Cougar Courses.
For students gathering background information and developing foundational knowledge on a research topic, longform journalism sources can be valuable for distilling critical ideas and formulating research questions.
Lengthier than your average newspaper article, longform journalism integrates various multimedia tools including video and interactive graphics and data to propel feature storytelling and engage readers. Longform tends to be substantive in content, underscoring immersion reporting, investigative techniques, and sustained narrative (Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications).
Longform Article Examples
These longform periodical titles are freely available on the Internet (limited article access) and via the CSUSM Library's databases.
The Economist (CSUSM Library) News and opinion on international politics, business, finance, science, and technology.
The Conversation Independent news source from the academic and research community curated for the general public. (Note: These are not peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles)
Epic Magazine Immersive narrative non-fiction articles.
Guernica Focuses on the intersection of art and politics. Content includes memoir, investigative reporting, commentary, and multimedia journalism that explores identity, conflict, culture, justice, science, and more.
JSTOR Daily Provides background information on a variety of topics in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Articles contextualize current events with academic scholarship. (Note: JSTOR Daily does not contain scholarly articles; you will find those in the JSTOR library database).
Longform Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh's writing program, this site recommends new and classic non-fiction from around the web.
Longreads Gathers stories from all over the web and also produces original content which includes in-depth profiles and feature articles.
Mosaic Longform articles on science-related topics.
Pacific Standard Publishes investigative pieces focusing on social and environmental justice.
ProPublica Nonprofit newsroom producing investigative journalism pieces focusing on government and politics, business, criminal justice, the environment, education, healthcare, immigration, and technology.
The Verge Focuses on culture and technology.
Reading Scholarly Articles
Reading Scholarly Articles
Reading a peer-reviewed journal article is a multi-step process. By focusing your attention on specific sections, you will be able to decide whether or not the article will be useful to you.
Stage 1: Title + Abstract
The title and abstract for an article will give you the purpose of the article, a small amount of context, and a summary of the findings. After reading the title and abstract:
Does the title and abstract indicate that it will help you understand your topic in detail? (it implies it will support your thesis statement or provide answers to your research question).
If the answer is YES move to stage #2
If the answer is NO, locate a different article
Stage 2: Introduction + Conclusion
These sections will include the purpose of the article along with the main conclusion. After reading these sections:
What did the authors want to learn; what did they study? (thesis statement, research question, hypothesis)
Stage 3: Results + Discussion
The Results or Findings section include specific pieces of data, statistics or examples from the study. The Discussion or Analysis section will interpret these results and help you understand why these results are important. These are sections where you can take direct quotes to use in your own papers. After reading these sections:
What did the authors learn about their topic? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
What are some specific examples you can use from the Results? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
Stage 4: Methodology & Literature Review (optional)
The Literature Review summarized the research that was done prior to this article, and the Methodology section describes how the current experiment was conducted. These sections will be more useful as you move through your journey as student-scholars, and into your major and research methods courses.
Stage 5: Decision Making
After reading the article, you should be able to fit it with your topic, and know how to best use it in your paper. If it takes too much effort to "make it fit," set the article aside, and move on to the next one. After reading the article:
How does this article answer your research question or support your thesis statement?
If it doesn't, how can you use it otherwise?
** If you find an article that is not formatted (uses headings/sections) in this way, start with stages 1 and 2, then read from the end toward the beginning until you can answer the questions in stage 3 **
Tips for Searching the Databases
Tips on searching the databases
Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:
|Use keywords, not long search phrases||
economic inequality and systemic racism permeate our national food system
Instead of searching for "How does economic inequality and systemic racism permeate the American food system?"break down your search into the main keywords:
economic inequality, systemic racism, food system, America
|Truncation broadens your keyword search to include various word endings and spellings. To use it, enter the root of a word and put the truncation (*) symbol at the end.||racis* = racist, racists, racism|
Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together
Use AND to combine different keywords
"system racism" AND "food desert"
|Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords||"food system" OR "food desert"|
|Look for ways to limit your search in the database||You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publication, subject|
| Sociological Abstracts
Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1963 to current||All|
| Social Services Abstracts
Abstracts of current research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1980 to current||All|
Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.
|Full-text||1838 to most recent five years||Most|
A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1966 to current||Some|
| Social Work Abstracts
This database provides access to social work and human services journals from 1965 to the present. Topics include addictions, therapy, child and family welfare, civil and legal rights, mental health, education, and human services.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1965 to current||Most|
| Academic Search Premier
This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.
|Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It||1975 to current||Most|
| Google Scholar CSUSM
Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!
|Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It||current to current||All|
| Dissertations and Theses Database: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection
Dissertations and Theses Database includes digitized dissertations in a variety of subject areas including Art, Communications, Education, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Social Sciences.
|Some full-text||1979 to current||All|
| WestlawNext Campus Research
This is a comprehensive database for news, business, and law-related information has been designed for students. It brings together news databases arranged geographically and topically; newswires as well as business, trade, and professional journals and publications; and law-related resources, including both primary law and analysis.
|Full-text||1789 to current||Some|
| Oxford University Press Journals
Provides access to the full text of approximately 168 scholarly journals in a variety of disciplines including life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and law.
|Full-text||1996 to current||All|
| Sage Journals Online
Sage Journals Online includes over 460 journals in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, Technology and Medicine.
|Full-text||current to current||All|
| Women's Studies International
Includes over 204,000 records drawn from a variety of essential women's studies databases.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1972 to current||Most|
| Project Muse
Full-text coverage for hundreds of scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics
|Full-text||1993 to current||All|
Searching in JSTOR and Google
Research articles in JSTOR:
JSTOR is a multidisciplinary database providing access to a wide breadth of scholarship including books, journals, and primary sources. For those of you searching for critical theories related to your angle of advocacy, I recommend giving this database a try. Its search functions are slightly different from the other databases we've covered, so here are some strategies to try:
- Select Advanced Search (under the Basic Search box)
- Further refine by searching against your initial set of results.
- You may limit to journal articles by checking the "Journals" box; the vast majority of resources in JSTOR are peer-reviewed, including books. However, if you are unsure, check the source of your article (Journal name) and the publisher by doing a simple Google search. If you're still unsure, reach out to a librarian or your professor.
Research articles in Google Scholar CSUSM:
- Please remember to use the Library's access point to Google Scholar CSUSM (linked in the heading of this section) to get to full-text articles and other research
Citing Your Sources
Here are some APA resources for you to consult; if you have specific questions about citation, please ask a librarian.
- In Text Citations by APA (Video)
- APA Formatting and Style Guide by Purdue Online Writing Lab (Comprehensive online guide with examples)
- APA Sample Paper by Purdue Online Writing Lab (PDF)
What is ASA style?
ASA stands for the American Sociological Association. It is the citation style used by many sociologists, and it is the style used in all ASA journals.
Official ASA Style Guide
This is the official ASA manual published by the American Sociological Society. The CSUSM Library currently offers copies of the 5th edition.
- Library copies (HM569 .A54 2014)
The CSUSM Library owns a copy of the official ASA Style Guide that you can consult in person. Click on the link to see where it is located.
- Quick Style Guide (ASA website)
Free PDF from the official ASA website, offering brief summary of ASA style and some sample citations.
Helpful Online Guides
- Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Examples of ASA-style citations from Purdue University's famous OWL website.
- CiteSource ASA (Trinity College)
Examples accompanied by helpful screenshots and pictures showing you how to locate the information you need to include in your citation.
- ASA Format (Cal State Los Angeles)
Guide to key components of an ASA-style paper, including example citations.