SSCI 301: Social Problems Research Assignment

SSCI 301: Social Problems Research Assignment

SSCI 301: Social Problem Paper

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.


Longform Journalism

Longform Journalism

Longform Journalism

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

Here We Abandon All Destinations

The Everything Town in the Middle of Nowhere

Why Is It So Hard to Stop People from Dying of Snakebite?

The Case for Reparations

Longform Periodicals

These longform periodical titles are freely available on the Internet (limited article access) and via the CSUSM Library's databases. 

The Atlantic Monthly (Internet) / The Atlantic Monthly (CSUSM Library) Covers news, culture, politics, technology, and more through multimedia content, articles, and its flagship magazine.

The Economist (CSUSM Library) News and opinion on international politics, business, finance, science, and technology.

The Nation (Internet) / The Nation (CSUSM Library) Established in 1865, one of the oldest, progressive news sources covering a variety of political and social issues.

The New Yorker (Internet) / The New Yorker (CSUSM Library) Features journalism on politics and social issues; includes incisive cartoons in each issue.

New York Times Magazine (Internet) / New York Times Magazine (CSUSM Library) Features longer articles than those typically found in the newspaper.

Longform Websites

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.

Additional resources

Gathering Research Sources (differentiating between scholarly / substantive (longform) / editorial)




Reading Scholarly Articles

Reading Scholarly Articles

reading scholarly articles tips

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 for Searching the Databases

Tips for Searching the Databases

Tips on searching the databases

Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:

Tip Examples
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

"systemic racism"

"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 publicationsubject 


Research Databases

Research Databases

Most Useful

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
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

Also Useful

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
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

Searching in JSTOR and Google

SOC 480: 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)

Searching JSTOR

  • Further refine by searching against your initial set of results.

Refine JSTOR searches

  • 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

Refining your search in Google Scholar CSUSM

Citing Your Sources

Citing Your Sources

ASA (General)

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.

Cover of ASA Style Guide


Helpful Online Guides

Sample Papers in ASA Style

There are currently no sample papers available in ASA style. The following links offer guidance on how to format an ASA-style paper.