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Theoretical approaches

Theoretical approaches
Description: The essay will build on assignment #1 and will be a synthesis and critical and
comparative analysis of your 5 articles. Another way of saying this is that you are showing the
reader that you comprehend the complexity of the research and can engage with it in a thoughtful
manner. You need to develop connections across your 5 articles without resorting to merely
summarizing each article. The objective of the paper is to analyze the topic from a sociological
perspective by drawing on sociological research. What does sociological research have to say
about your topic? The following are suggestions for what you might want to discuss in your
Comparisons across 5 articles in relation to:
? Central research questions pursued by researchers and significance of the questions
? Key findings (Address complexity here; avoid temptation to simplify findings)
? Theoretical approaches (Differences in theoretical approaches taken by the various
researchers studying your topic)
? Methodological approaches (i.e., How might differences in methodology or sampling
impact the findings?)
? Policy Implications (i.e., How might you explain variation in policy suggestions made by
researchers studying the same topic?)
? Directions for future research (these should be grounded in the findings of your studies)
Format: 8 pages (excluding Title page and References). Do not exceed page limit.
Double-spaced, 12-point font, number your pages.
Thesis Statements: Many of you have written position papers where you take one side of a
debate and use selective evidence to support your position. This essay is NOT a position paper;
it is a synthesis and critical analysis of sociological research. Rather than a one-sentence thesis
where you take a position on an issue, the kind of thesis that you are writing for this essay is one
where you will take a few sentences and be very specific about what sociological research has to
say about your topic.
Here is an example of a thesis that is incorrect because it is based on opinion rather than being
informed by research on the topic: In this paper I will argue that divorce has negative
consequences for children’s emotional, physical, social, and academic well-being and I will use
sociological research to support this position.
Here is an example of a thesis that is correct, and the main reason that it is correct is that the
thesis has been informed by sociological research rather than being based on personal opinion or
experience: Research on the impact of divorce on children throughout the life course suggests
that there is no singular uniform outcome for children (cite specific source). This research
dispels the myth that divorce is devastating to all children. This essay will examine recent
sociological studies on the role of non custodial fathers. It examines the ways that involvement
with non-custodial fathers impact children’s adjustment to parental divorce.
Sources: Same 5 peer-reviewed sources as Assignment #1. If your TA indicated on Assignment
#1 that particular articles needed to be replaced you must do this for your essay.
Using Quotes:
? Do not use long quotations to fill space throughout your essay
? If you are going to use quotes, make sure they are short, be selective in what you decide
to quote, and ensure that you have integrated the quote into your discussion (need to
explicate quote).
? Do not just stick a quote into your essay without doing something with the quote.
? Limit the number of quotes you use by putting others’ work into your own words. You
must cite the original author’s ideas even if you have put it into your own words.
Writing and Organization: How you structure your essay is important. Organization is not
merely a reflection of writing style. An organized essay reflects clear logic and reasoning. Avoid
summarizing each article in sequence. This reflects poor organization and an underdeveloped
analysis. You must demonstrate that you have read and synthesized the research cited in your
bibliography. Your essay should be organized around major ideas, themes, findings, or
arguments, not by each individual article.
Many of you learned in high school that an essay has a one sentence thesis followed by three
points, or three body paragraphs. This rule is not appropriate for university academic papers and
should be disregarded. You will take several sentences to identify the specific issues that you
will examine in the paper. This takes the place of a one-sentence thesis statement. You can have
as many points as you want in the paper, keeping in mind that it is better to focus on fewer issues
in greater depth than to cover numerous points superficially.
Subheadings: The student can use subheadings, however the use of subheadings does not
necessarily mean that the paper is organized. Ensure that the material you have in each section
under the subheading is organized. Group similar ideas in the same paragraph and use
transitions when you are moving from one issue or idea to the next. The reader should know
where the writer is headed and it is the writer’s job to make this clear. Do not jump from one
point to the next without adequate discussion or analysis. It is better to focus on fewer issues, and
to examine them in greater depth, rather than touching on many issues in a superficial manner.
There is no singular way to organize this paper as it is dependent on the specific issues that each
student is addressing in their paper. Thus, no two papers will be organized in the same way.
Introduction: The essay must have an introduction where the student is explicit in highlighting
the issues that will be addressed in the paper. Be as specific as possible in this introduction:
what are you planning to address in your essay?
Conclusion: Include a conclusion at the end of the paper which highlights what was discussed.
You might also point out directions for future research (which connects to ideas that were raised
in the essay).
Common Areas of Weakness:
? Basing an essay on inappropriate sources (sources that are not sociological; or sources
that are not closely related)
? Inadequate critical reading and reflection of articles; poor comprehension of articles
? Summary of articles rather than synthesis and analysis of articles
? Clarity of expression (often tied to problems with sentence construction and paragraph
? Inappropriate use of quotes (too many/too long quotes that are not integrated into the
? Inclusion of unnecessary bibliographic information within text of discussion (author
name and year of publication is sufficient, you do not need to include article title or
journal name as this information appears in the References)
? Inadequate editing of work
? Essays that are too short
? Poor organization, discussions that address each article sequentially rather than having
the discussion be organized by idea, theme, or finding

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