Writing a Research ReportIf research was not “written up,” did it really occur?
Writing a Research Report• Academic sociologists conduct research to discover facts, truths, and explanations about the social world.• They write research reports to convey theirs and others’ research findings.• Types of Research: Library research refers to gathering information that others have generated. Primary research refers to generating information through data collection, analysis, and reporting findings.
Writing a Research Report• Sociologists’ articles, papers, or research reports come in different forms: – Literature Review: Library research that organizes facts and/or theories others in the sociological community generated (Rarely published) – Research Article or Book: One’s own findings generated by a primary research project that builds on previous research by the sociological community. (Findings from basic research, most common.) – Applied Research Report: One’s findings from a primary research project that evaluates a program without drawing much from previous sociological research. (Findings from applied research, rarely published.) – This class focuses on writing Research Articles.
Writing a Research Report• A sociological article, paper, or report generally covers only one important topic of interest and conveys evidence and interpretations of evidence.• Research reports are NOT creative writing, opinion pieces, poems, novels, letters, musings, memoirs, or interesting to read.
Writing a Research Report• A sociological article, paper, or report about primary research generally takes a structure or form that seems difficult but is intended to help make reading it or using it for research quick and efficient.• A research report has seven components: 1. Abstract or Summary 2. Introduction 3. Review of Literature 4. Methods 5. Results 6. Conclusions and Discussion 7. References• Note: • Qualitative research reports will vary from what is presented here. • Applied research reports may vary from what is presented here.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 1. Abstract or Summary The abstract or summary tells the reader very briefly what the main points and findings of the paper are. – This allows the reader to decide whether the paper is useful to them. – Get into the habit of reading only abstracts while searching for papers that are relevant to your research. – Read the body of a paper only when you think it will be useful to you.
Writing a Research ReportA research report has seven components: 1. Abstract or Summary—an example
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 2. Introduction – The introduction tells the reader: • what the topic of the paper is in general terms, • why the topic is important • what to expect in the paper. – Introductions should: • funnel from general ideas to the specific topic of the paper • justify the research that will be presented later – Introductions are sometimes folded into literature reviews
Writing a Research ReportA research report has seven components: 2. Introduction—an example
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature The literature review tells the reader what other researchers have discovered about the paper’s topic or tells the reader about other research that is relevant to the topic. Often what students call a “research paper” is merely a literature review. – A literature review should shape the way readers think about a topic—it educates readers about what the community of scholars says about a topic and its surrounding issues. – Along the way it states facts and ideas about the social world and supports those facts and ideas with evidence for from where they came (empiricism).
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – Literature reviews have parenthetical citations running throughout. These are part of a systematic way to document where facts and ideas came from, allowing the skeptical reader to look up anything that is questionable. – Parenthetical citation is our way of substantiating the claims in our paper, without breaking our flow. – Each citation directs the reader to the references where complete details on sources can be found. Therefore, information such as authors’ first names or titles of works do not need to be written into the text.
Writing a Research• Reportcomponents: A research report has seven 3. Review of Literature – Citations consist of authors’ last names and the year of publication. One finds complete information on sources by looking up last names and dates in alphabetized references—so there’s no need to put all that information in the text. – We have conventions that allow the reader to figure out from where information is coming . Here are some examples of the conventions for citing in text of the literature review: Just pointing out where info came from: • Form: blah blah (Author Year) • Example: … the gays are different (Lee 2004). – More than one article in the same year: • Form: blah blah (Author Yeara) and also blah blah (Author yearb) • Example: …are different (Lee 2004a), but are more pickled (Lee 2004b)
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – We have conventions that allow the reader to figure out from where information is coming . Here are some examples of the conventions for citing in text of the literature review: Where a researcher is quoted: • Form: blah, “Quote quote” (Author Year: Pages) • Example: reveals that “the gays are different.” (Lee 2004: 340). More than one source: • Form: blah blah (Author Year; Author Year) • Example: …bi’s are more adept (Lee 2004; Seymour & Hewitt 1997).
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – We have conventions that allow the reader to figure out from where information is coming . Here are some examples of the conventions for citing in text of the literature review: Using the author’s name in a sentence: • Form: Author (Year) says that… • Example: Lee (2004) claims that girls will rule the world… Quoting a person and using their name: • Form: Author (Year: Pages) says, “Quote quote…” • Example: Lee (2004: 341) says, “Girls are more likely to rule the world…”
Writing a Research ReportA research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature—examples of citing
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – If an idea is used, but cannot be substantiated by the community of sociologists, the literature review clearly shows that the author is speculating and details the logic of the speculation. – Do NOT discuss irrelevant information. • For example, a paper on attitudes about marijuana attitudes should not detail the multiple uses of hemp such as in clothing, rope, hemp oil and so forth. – The literature review has is written in the author’s voice. The sources of information are not extensively quoted or “copied and pasted.” Instead, the author puts facts and ideas into his or her own words while pointing out from where the information came. • Analogously, if you were discussing the exciting things you learned in a sociology course at a cocktail party, you would use your own words. You would NOT pull out a book or lecture notes and quote these word for word.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – Note: Explaining why social events occur as they do requires use (and testing) of explanations that have worked before. THESE EXPLANATIONS ARE CALLED THEORIES. • Most academic literature reviews have a guiding theory that is used to: – Frame (or help us understand) facts in the literature. – Establish expectations (or hypotheses) for the research. – Justify speculation when no evidence to justify an idea specific to a topic exists in the literature. • Sometimes the whole point of a research project is to: – Determine whether a theory works – Pit two or more theories against each other to see which works better • You will most likely not refer to theories in your papers
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature – Quantitative literature reviews typically end with: 1. Focused declarations of the particular issues the research activity is addressing—ideas about a topic that will be tested with quantitative methods 2. Research hypotheses Hypotheses are statements of the expected relationship(s) between two (or more) variables For example: “Men will have higher investment income than women.” “Older Americans are more likely to oppose abortion for a woman who doesn’t want her baby because she is poor.”
Writing a Research ReportA research report has seven components: 3. Review of Literature—examples of hypotheses Hypothesis 1. In a new social context, girls will be more sociable than boys—getting more involved with others (interactional commitments) and forming more emotionally close relationships (affective commitments)—across activity domains. Hypothesis 2. Given that commitments to new relationships positively determine identity prominence, and identity prominence positively determines behaviors, if girls are more sociable with newer persons, their identities and behaviors will change more across activity domains. Hypothesis 3. However, girls and boys will experience the same identity processes, meaning that girls and boys with the same sociability in new relationships will have equal identity and behavior changes.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 4. Methods A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN: 1. Descriptions of Data (Think in terms of: “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?”) Report: A. The Target Population B. The Ways Data were Collected: 1. Sampling 2. Delivery Methods C. Response Rates D. Sample sizes resulting from various decisions Such as: 1. eliminating non-Christians from the sample 2. using only white respondents
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 4. Methods A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN: 2. Descriptions of Variables First for dependent, then for independent variables, report: A. Names for the variables—make them intuitive! (Do not use GSS variable names.) B. Word for word description of the questions. (sociology differs from psychology and medicine) C. Final coding scheme—the numbers you assigned to responses.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 4. Methods A METHODS SECTION MUST CONTAIN: 3. Manipulations of the variables or data For example: A. recoding income from 23 uneven intervals to five equivalent categories B. removing non-citizens if studying voting patterns 4. Reflection on ability of data to generalize to the target population A. Limitations of Data (omitted cases, biases, etc.) B. Analyses that bolster claims that the data are appropriate 5. Statistical techniques that will be used to test your hypotheses and the statistics program used.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 5. Results The results section chronicles the outcome of the statistical analyses, assessing whether your hypotheses were correct and why or why not.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 5. Results The results section includes: – Narrative describing most relevant findings – Professional tables showing descriptive and inferential statistics • Tables must be numbered and have a descriptive title • There are conventions for formatting For example: – Asterisks are used to highlight results that are statistically important – All numbers in a column are aligned on decimals
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 5. Results The narrative and tables are complementary. • The narrative discusses ONLY VERY IMPORTANT Results and leaves details for tables. • As different outcomes are described in the narrative, reference is made to where the detailed information can be found in the tables. • The tables contain almost all statistical information so that the author does not have to write a narrative for every detail in the analysis.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 5. Results The narrative highlights: – Evaluations of the hypotheses. Were the research hypotheses supported? – Statements about new discoveries or surprises encountered in the analyses
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 6. Conclusions and Discussion This section assesses how one’s research findings relate to what the community of sociologists have accepted as facts. Things that should be done: 1. Summarize the most salient points of your research (tell the reader what you found out about your topic). 2. Discuss the general significance of your topic and findings.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 6. Conclusions and Discussion 3. Discuss the shortcomings of your study and how these might affect your findings. 4. Discuss things future researchers should investigate about your topic to advance knowledge about it. 5. Help the reader gain the knowledge that you think he or she ought to have about the topic. You spent a lot of time exploring the, you
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 7. References The references are just as important as any other part of your paper. References are the empirical support for claims in a paper that are not directly observed in the research. They are needed for researchers to remain empirical in their descriptions of topics.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 7. References: Link the paper to the community of scholars, permitting readers to assess the worthiness claims in a paper. Make the research process much more efficient because they make it very easy to look up sources of facts and ideas.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 7. References Style: Hanging indented Alphabetical on author’s last name (by increasing year within same author) Invert only first author’s name Information within source in an order determined by type of source Article: Last Name, first name, first name last name, and first name last name. Year. “Article title.” Journal Name Volume(number): 1st Page- Last Page. Lee, James Daniel. 2005. “Do Girls Change More than Boys? Gender Differences and Similarities in the Impact of New Relationships on Identities and Behaviors.” Self and Identity 4:131-47. Multiple authors… Kroska, Amy and Sarah K. Harkness. 2008. “Exploring the Role of Diagnosis in the Modified Labeling Theory of Mental Illness.” Social Psychology Quarterly 71:193-208
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 7. References Book Chapter: Last Name, first name. Year. “Chapter Name.” Pages in the book in Book Name, edited by first name last name. City of Publisher: Publisher. Bianciardi, Roberto. 1997. "Growing Up Italian in New York City." Pp.179- 213 in Adult Narratives of Immigrant Childhoods, edited byAna Relles. Rose Hill, PA: Narrative Press. Book: Last name, first name. Year. Book Name. City of Publisher: Publisher. Stryker, Sheldon. 1980. Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings.
Writing a Research Report• A research report has seven components: 7. References General Social Survey: Davis, James Allan and Smith, Tom W.: General Social Surveys, 1972-2008. [machine-readable data file]. Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden, NORC ed. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, producer, 2005; Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut, distributor. 1 data file (53,043 logical records) and 1 codebook (2,656 pp). Website: Last Name (if available), first name. Year (if available). “Article or web page title.” Journal or Report Name Volume (if available). Retrieved date (http://address). Markowitz, Robin. 1991. “Canonizing the Popular.” Cultural Studies Central. Retrieved October 31, 2001 (http://culturalstudies.net/canon.htm). Note: Do your best to replicate this style in the case of missing information. If there is no author, use the title in that position. Always have a retrieved date and website address.
Writing a Research ReportA research report has seven components: 7. References—an example
Writing a Research ReportSome General Points1. Make accurate sociological claims in your paper. Stake out positions—a kind of, “I think I have the answer to this issue,” position.2. Cite facts to support your sociological claims.3. If you can, use theories to support your sociological claims.4. Every declaration or “fact claim” must be cited or overtly posed as speculation.
Writing a Research ReportSome General Points5. Anticipate your reader’s questions as you write: A. help the reader understand why your topic is important B. demonstrate to the reader that you adequately investigated your topic C. help them anticipate what you’ll say next—everything you say should seem reasonable to say6. While writing, keep thinking “The point is to: (1) establish hypotheses (2) describe how to test the hypotheses (3) give results of tests, and (4) discuss what the reader should believe about the world.”
Writing a Research ReportSome General Points7. There is no right answer in a research paper—Just approximate representations of the truth that are closer or further away from that truth. – The truth is: • From “Community of Scholars”: What they said about your topic in the journals, books, and other publications • From you: What your methods and analyses revealed about the topic.
Writing a Research ReportFinally…Avoiding Plagiarism• What is it? – All knowledge in your head has either been copied from some place or originally discovered by you. – Most knowledge was copied. – This is true in most settings. General knowledge is copied. Most teachers’ lectures are copied knowledge. – Human culture would not exist without our keen ability to copy! – Humans are natural copiers, but that is not what is meant by the term “plagiarism.”
Writing a Research Report• The Elements of Style endorses imitation as a way for a writer to achieve his own style: – The use of language begins with imitation . . . The imitative life continues long after the writer is on his own in the language, for it is almost impossible to avoid imitating what one admires. Never imitate consciously, but do not worry about being an imitator; take pains instead to admire what is good. Then when you write in a way that comes naturally, you will echo the halloos that bear repeating.Copied from: http://www.answers.com/topic/writing-style-1
Writing a Research ReportFinally…Avoiding Plagiarism• What is it? – Among other things, plagiarism refers to taking others’ work and representing it as if it were your own. – In academics this is bad because with plagiarism: • One cannot assess students’ development accurately • The person who makes his or her livelihood by scholarly pursuit is being robbed of credit • It masks the lineage of ideas and facts.“Plagiarism is to academics as Enron-accounting is to corporate America.”
Writing a Research ReportFinally…Avoiding PlagiarismLineage of Ideas: – Original sources of research are all the proof we have for some facts. Without the “paper trail” of academic thought: • People could pass incorrect ideas off as facts • We would have to keep “re-proving” things. • The contexts that generated facts and ideas get lost. • Research becomes highly inefficient as it becomes incredibly difficult to find “full information” on a topic.
Writing a Research ReportFinally…Avoiding Plagiarism – To avoid plagiarism: 1. Document every source for information that is not “general knowledge”—this includes facts and ideas. 2. Cite every time a fact or idea is used unless it is clear that one citation is referring to a group of facts or ideas. 3. If you quote material, put quotation marks around the quoted stuff and include a page number within the citation. 4. It is alright to paraphrase material, but you still have to cite from where the paraphrased material came. 5. When in doubt, cite the source. Improper citing is grounds for failure on the course paper.