UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI -- SAINT LOUIS
Sociology 4365 and 5495 Section 001
Instructor: Dr. Peter Marina
Course Description: This course offers directed practice in the interpretation and reporting of sociological research in a wide range of styles. Whatever the style, sociological writing tells a story that's judged for what it says and how well it says it. This course explores sociological writing as art and craft focusing on writing articles, book chapters, and books. Students work on a past or present research project that incorporates qualitative, quantitative or mixed method approaches to sociology. Throughout this semester students will develop this paper into a acceptable publishable work in a peer-reviewed journal. Further, student budding sociologists will present this work at an in-class sociology conference. This course helps you to prepare your work for submitting quality class papers for graduate and upper level undergraduate classes, journal submissions in peer reviewed journals, thesis and dissertation projects, and book publications. In the first few weeks, we analyze various sociological writings to evaluate strengths and weaknesses, narrative approaches, writing challenges, thesis statements, and methodologies. We talk about the writing, editing, and the rewriting process, and link it to thinking and rethinking about writing. We read several books to guide the writing process. All semester we write, share our work, redraft, and share again. We develop our skills through the act of writing, that is, drafting, editing, redrafting and reediting to think, clarify, and specify research topics and questions, data collection and analysis, research findings, and thesis arguments. In addition to reading and writing sociological literature, this course takes some time to develop more practical aspects of the discipline necessary for the budding sociologist. This includes learning to write your CV, completing graduate school applications, writing grants, writing a cover letter for academic university jobs, filling out IRB forms, delivering oral presentations, writing article abstracts, writing a book proposal, and editing in peer reviewed journals.
Attributes: Upper Undergrad/Graduate Level, College of Arts & Sciences
Prerequisite: : SOC 1010, ENGL 3100 and junior standing, or consent of instructor.
Course Requirements and Grading
Wikipage and Discussion Board (25%)
All assignments should be posted on your class wikipage and outside class discussions on the discussion board.
Three Oral Presentations (see instructions and guidelines below) (30%)
- First Oral Presentation: Selected topics in sociological writing and publishing
- Second Oral Presentation: Selected topics in student past or ongoing research. This paper presented should be on the research paper selected to develop throughout the course.
- Third Oral Presentation: Ethnographic Field Report Presentations
Each student will conduct various presentations (three major ones) in class on selected readings throughout the semester and submit a three to five page summary of each presentation. Further, your ability to participate in class discussion will dictate part of the discussion grade. Please raise your hand to make a contribution; do not worry about being forceful in making your way into the conversation. The class discussion is about your opinions and issues you would like to address based on some consideration of the readings and other ideas presented in class.
Other notes on Grading
- Excess lateness and absence may result in grade reduction.
- All papers, presentations, wiki pages, and field reports must have a twelve size regular font and be typed, double spaced, dated, and numbered.
Weekly Agenda: You will receive a weekly agenda every class that will include the readings for the following week, class assignment and field reports, notes from the literature, lecture notes, and an extensive list of questions related to the literature. You are responsible for all the questions. They serve as your study guide for the mid-term and final exam. They will also help you think about possible paper topics. Take these questions seriously. Further, every student is expected to be prepared to answer these weekly questions during class lecture/discussion.
Oral Presentation of Research Project
All students are required to present their research during a scheduled class period. The length of the presentation should be no more than 15 minutes. Students should prepare and rehearse their presentation to do it smoothly and not exceed the time limit. Make your presentation using an outline or note cards; do not prewrite your whole presentation and then read it. The purpose of the oral presentation is to show that you understand key concepts, definitions, main findings, and can effectively communicate your research to a group of peers. Here are suggestions for oral presentation of the research paper:
(a) Indicate what your research topic is and why you chose it (why you felt it was interesting and important).
(b) State your main finding(s).
(a) Describe how you did your research (method of data collection and analysis)
(b) If you had preconceived expectations, opinions, or hypotheses about what you would find out, state what they were.
(c) Describe special problems or difficulties that hindered or limited your research.
(a) Describe the most important thing(s) you found out or learned about your topic.
(b) Consider the use of charts, tables, illustrations, etc. to make your presentation findings more effective.
(a) In what ways were you surprised by your findings, or did they confirm what you expected?
(b) Make connections between your research findings and the concepts, theories, and findings we have discussed in class.
(c) Identify any unanswered questions from your research that could be researched in the future.
For an effective presentation, you should prepare a one-page handout to be distributed to the class. It may contain an outline of your whole presentation or you can use it to communicate key concepts, findings, illustrations, and references. Remember that you only have 15 minutes to present your work. Do not ramble; keep it succinct.
Sample Outline for Research Paper. Generally, your final paper should be divided up into the following eight sections (flexibility is allowed when appropriate):
State the purpose of the paper, it's scholarly implications, and key findings. Keep it to 150-200 words.
Indicate clearly and briefly the purpose of the research. Identify the major issues or problems the paper addresses and the major sources of data used in the paper. Succinctly state the core findings of the paper and how the paper will be organized. Do not report on every little detail and finding; be clear and to the point. This introduction section should be about three pages.
Summarize the current sociological research on the your topic. You should include other scholars' empirical findings, concepts, and theories that link your study with existing scholarly research on the same or similar topic. Search for the current state of sociological research on your topic in appropriate peer-reviewed journals and scholarly books.
Explain your methods of data collection and analysis. Put differently, describe how the research was done. Identify the types and sources of data collected (participant observation, interviews, journal notes, archives, secondary sources, documents, census material, etcetera). Include data in tables, graphs, and/or figures if you have large amounts of quantitative data. Put each table, graph, or figure on a separate page with a descriptive title over it. In the text of the research paper, refer to the table or figure by number and then explain it. Consult my lists of books in the required and recommended books sections in my sociological writing syllabus
Provide a general overview of your theoretical argument and then discuss the major findings of your research and data collection. You should show how your findings support your theory and relate to findings of other researchers. Refer to scholarly journals for examples on how to write your findings and implications. This section can be sub-divided into separate units.
Discuss the implications of your research. How is your research and its findings relevant and important to urban sociology? You should offer suggestions for future research.
You must have at least 15-20 citations in your reference section. Cites from textbooks, encyclopedia, or other non-scholarly sources do not count. You may include Internet sources when appropriate.
Wiki Project Instructions:
To create (or edit) a page:
- From any page in the wiki, click on "New Page" (or "Edit Page" if you have already created it and are returning to edit).
- Give your page a name. Format: Your last name, Your first name: short page title
- You'll see a variety of "tools" to help you edit your page – you can choose different fonts, and font sizes, and format your text. You can also add images and links to other web pages (internal to this wiki, as well as to outside web pages). Click the Add Image or Add Link buttons, and follow the simple instructions)
- There's no spell check in the wiki, so I recommend typing your essay in MS Word (or another word processor) and saving it. Then, copy the text.
- Once you've copied text from a word processor, come back to your wiki page (make sure you are in the "edit" frame), click to place your mouse cursor in the page, and then press "Ctrl‑v" on the keyboard to paste your copied text.
- If you know html, you'll find an icon just above the "Save" button that allows you to edit the source code.
- Be sure to click the "Save" button when you are done!
- Create only a single wiki page with references, bibliography, and relevant links and documentation.
- You'll be evaluated for content, style, and presentation
- One member is responsible for editing the'home' page (first page you access when you enter the wiki) and to go through and link all of the other pages together.
Here are some guidelines for using the wikis:
- Do not edit any other student's page. Pay attention to “where” you are when you do your editing.
- The system does add your name and the date to pages you edit, and there is a log of previous versions – but making sure you only edit your own work is crucial.
Sociological Writing/Reporting Discussion Board
Each student is assigned five readings throughout the semester and must post a thorough analysis on the readings in the class discussion board. Further, students must post class questions on each reading paving the way for class discussion. Each student must contribute to each reading on the discussion board. Further detail on this assignment is provided in class.
Group Discussion Board Instructions
To post in the discussion board: from the class MyGateway site, select, Discussion Board, and then click on the proper forum to open it. Select the appropriate thread. Use the reply button to reply to the message with your response (you can also reply to other students). Be sure to use the "Submit" button to post your reply. If you use the "Save" button, your work will not be available to anyone other than yourself, and will not be counted. You can detect a saved message by noting the designation "(draft)" after the subject. You can "modify" a saved (draft) message and submit it.
- Basic help with using discussion forums can be found at: http://www.umsl.edu/technology/mgwhelp/stuhelp/studiscussion.html
The Sociology Student Writer's Manual, 2010, 6th edition Johnson, Rettig, Scott and Garrison Pearson Press (With a pamphlet entitled “Preparing Effective Oral Presentations”)
Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, 2011, 2nd edition Emerson, Fretz and Shaw University of Chicago Press
A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 2007, 7th edition Kate L. Turabian University of Chicago Press
Howard S. Becker. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lee J. Cuba. 1988. A Short Guide to Writing about Social Science. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company. (Chs. 1 and 8 only)
Gary T. Marx. 1997. "Of Methods and Manners for Aspiring Sociologists: 37 Moral Imperatives." The American Sociologist, Spring:102-25.
Ross-Larson, Bruce. 1999. Stunning Sentences. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Ross-Larson, Bruce. 1999. Powerful Paragraphs. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. 2000. The Elements of Style, Fourth edition. New York: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
Other reference books on writing/thinking (for reference only):
Alford, Robert R. 1998. The Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press.
Becker, Howard S. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While You're Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Powell, Walter. 1985. Getting Into Print. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Richardson, Laurel. 1990. Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences. Qualitative Research Methods, Volume 21. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Ross-Larson, Bruce. 1999. Riveting Reports. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Zinsser, William K. 2001. On Writing Well, 25th Anniversary: The Classic Guide to Nonfiction. New York: HarperResource.
Howard S. Becker. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Various outside readings will be included each week to compliment and elaborate on critical concepts offered in the main books and discussed in class. These readings are taken from books and/or scholarly articles. Some of these readings may include but are not limited to the following:
The Sociological imagination, C. Wright Mills (Library Reserve)
The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Peter Berger (Library Reserve)
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Erving Goffman (Library Reserve)
Magical Urbanism, Mike Davis (Library Reserve)
Invistigating Arguments: Readings for College Writing, Walker and McClish (Library Reserve)
Latino Metropolis, Valle and Torres (Library Reserve)
Smith, Becoming an Atheist in America: Constructing Identity and Meaning from the Rejection of Theism (Library Reserve)
Anderson, The Cosmopolitan Canopy (Library Reserve)
Hayward, Space – the Final Frontier: Criminology, the City, and the Spatial Dynamics of Exclusion (Library Reserve)
Young, Cannibalism and Bulimia: Patterns of Social Control in Late Modernity (Library Reserve)
Wilson, When Work Disappears [PDF]
Logan, Life and Death in the City [PDF]
Anderson, The Code of the Streets [PDF]
Lacy, Black Spaces, Black Places [PDF]
Kubrin, Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas [PDF]
Telles, Mexican Americans and Immigrant Incorporation [PDF]
Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society (see Professor Keel's Notes Here) [PDF]
Chambliss, The Saints and the Roughnecks [PDF]
Berger, The Meaning of Social Control [PDF]
Weitzer, Prostitution: Facts and Fictions [PDF]
Leuchtag, Human Rights, Sex Trafficking, and Prostitution [PDF]
Farley and Squires, Fences and Neighbors: Segregation in 21st- Century America [PDF]
Warr, Safe at Home [PDF]
Reuss, Cause of Death: Inequality [PDF]
Adler and Adler, The Promise and Pitfalls of Going Into the Field [PDF]
Gelles and Cavanaugh, Association is Not Causation: Alcohol and Other Drugs Do Not Cause Violence [PDF]
Thompson, Chinatowns: Immigrant communities in transition [PDF]
Wong, Ethnicity and entrepreneurship: The new Chinese immigrants in the San Francisco Bay area [PDF]
Zenner, and Gmelch, Urbanism and urbanization [PDF]
Vigil, Mexican Americans: Growing up on the streets of Los Angeles [PDF]
The UM-St. Louis Grading System
The grading system in all schools, colleges, and other parallel units at UM-St. Louis is based on a four-point scale. The grade value for each letter grade is as follows:
A = 4.0
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C- = 1.7
D+ = 1.3
D = 1.0
D- = 0.7
F = 0.0
- Please arrive on time.
- Pay attention to lectures and discussions. All ideas are welcome in the classroom and are open to debate.
- Please keep cell phones on silence or vibrate to prevent interruption in the flow of ideas and topics discussed in class.
- The academic classroom functions as an arena of thought where ideas are created, debated, and challenged. Topics may become heated and controversial, that is part of the fun of academic life. Please remember to keep composure and express ideas respectfully to others.
Cheating and Plagiarism:
Cheating: The unauthorized use or attempted use of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise. The following are some examples of cheating:
- Copying from another student during an examination or allowing another to copy your work.
- Unauthorized collaboration on a take home assignment or examination.
- Taking an examination for another student, or asking or allowing another student to take an examination for you.
- Allowing others to research and write assigned papers or do assigned projects including use of commercial term paper services.
- Submitting someone else’s work as your own
- Unauthorized us during an examination of any electronic devices such as cell phones, palm pilots, computers or other technologies to retrieve or send information.
Plagiarism: The act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. The following are some examples of plagiarism:- Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source.
- Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source.
- Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source.
Note: Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the Internet without citing the source, and “cutting and pasting” from various sources without proper attribution. Cheating and Plagiarism will not be tolerated, and if it occurs you will not receive credit for the assignment.
ADA Syllabus Statement
If a student has a disability that qualifies under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Disability Access Services Office for information on appropriate policies and procedures. Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders. Students can contact DAS if they are not certain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies.
Voice Telephone: 314.516.6554
TTY: 314. 516.5212
Course Outline and Required Readings (subject to modification):
Week 1: Introduction:
8/23 Introduction to Reading and Writing in Sociology
8/25 Thinking about Writing: Writing as Communication
Week 2: Writing Style for Sociology
8/30 Writing as Communication Writing Competently
9/1 Formats Citing Sources
Week 3: Conducting Research in Sociology
9/6 Organizing the Research Process Sources of Information
9/8: Internet Resources Doing Social Research
Week 4: How to Write Different Types of Sociology Papers
9/13 Social Issues Papers Critical Evaluation of Sociological Literature
9/15: Quantitative Research Papers Qualitative Research Papers
Week 5: Learning Conference Oral Presentations
9/20: Presentation Modeling: Critique the Professor. “Cultural Meaning and Hip Hop Fashion in the African American Male Youth Subculture in New Orleans.” Academic paper presented at the American Sociological Association in New York City meeting, New York
9/22: Student Oral Presentations (selected topics)
Week 6: Conference Oral Presentations
9/27: Student Oral Presentations (selected topics)
9/29: Student Oral Presentations (selected topics)
Week 7: Peer Reviewed Journals (journal editing in the peer-review process)
10/4: Selected Readings from Recent Articles Submitted to an Academic Journal
10/6: Selected Readings from Recent Articles Submitted to an Academic Journal
Week 8: Writing the CV and Cover Letter (for professional academic jobs and graduate school applications)
0/11: 1Examples of the CV and cover letters of Professional Sociologists
10/13: Composing your CV and cover letter
Week 9: Delivering Oral Presentations
10/18: Preparing Effective Oral Presentations
10/20: Organizing and Delivering an Effective Speech
Week 10: Book Proposals and Article Abstracts
10/25: Reviewing samples of successful book proposals and article abstracts from professional sociologists
10/27: Composing the book proposal and article abstract
Week 11: Academic Grant Writing in Sociology and IRB Forms
11/1: Reviewing samples of successful grant writing from sociologists (and IRB forms)
11/3: Composing the grant and IRB form
Week 12: Peer-review Journal Week
11/8: Writing and publishing in a peer-review journal
11/10: Writing and publishing in a peer-review journal
Week 13: Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes
11/15: Fieldnotes in Ethnographic Research In the Field: Participating, Observing, and Jotting Notes
11/17: Writing Up Fieldnotes I: From Field to Desk Writing Up Fieldnotes II: Creating Scenes on the Page
Week 14: No Classes
Week 15: Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes
11/29: Pursuing: Members' Meanings Processing Fieldnotes: Coding and Memoing
12/1: Writing an Ethnography
Week 16: Ethnographic Field Report Presentations
12/6: Student Ethnographic Field Report Presentations
12/8: Student Ethnographic Field Report Presentations
Final Exams/Papers due 12.13