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How to Write a Sociology Term Paper: Detailed Guide

Need advice on how to cope with a sociology term paper? Sociology term papers are assigned to students who take sociology classes with a purpose to evaluate their performance and develop their understanding of a topic. You should approach these assignments seriously because when you practice writing, you also practice thinking in a more rigorous and profound way. You will learn not only to summarize a text but perform such complicated tasks as analyzing the text as well as evaluating and applying it.

Are you thinking that sociology term paper writing is too challenging for you? Writing is just a skill and, like any other skills, it can be learned through hard work and practice. In this easy writing guide on how to write a sociology term paper, you will find effective tricks and tips that will help you organize the writing process. We will also provide details on planning, outlining, editing, rewriting etc. Be patient, use our guide to practice a lot, and you are sure to notice improvements in your work.

What Is a Sociology Term Paper?

A sociology term paper is actually an extended essay based on the argument for your thesis. There are 4 types of sociology term papers that are typically assigned to college students:

  • The general research paper where you have to collect data through library research. Its goal is to improve the thesis statement and gather information to support it;
  • The quantitative research paper where you need to collect data according to specific techniques of collecting and analyzing data. Its goal is to provide an answer to a sociological question;
  • The ethnographic field paper where you need to generate data from observing and social interactions with people in their typical social environments;
  • The textual analysis paper where you need to analyze some texts or books.

The sociology term paper is typically written in a form of a research report that consists of the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Results/Findings
  • Discussion/Conclusion
  • References

Sociology term papers are typically formatted using APA or ASA citation styles.
You can use a variety of resources from:

  • from discipline-specific databases, for example, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences;
  • subject-specific databases where you can get access to the most common scientific journals;
  • general interests databases that offer a wide range of materials.

Since sociology is actually an empirical discipline, you have to base conclusions of your term paper on the relevant evidence that is documented and gathered from collected experiences and cases. To make your claims convincing, you need systematic evidence.

When doing research and reading, you can use different types of evidence from primary and secondary sources to support your thesis, for example, newspapers, scholarly journals, books, observations, interviews, surveys, questionnaires etc. All evidence can be subdivided into 2 groups:

  • Quantitative data is used for studying social processes at a large scale, for example, changes in social attitudes, population changes, income inequality etc. it comes from censuses, surveys, and statistics.
  • Qualitative data comes from data and texts, in-depth interviews, participant observation, and the researcher’s own reactions and impressions. Such data can give insight into how different people find certain meaning in their world.

How to Choose Good Sociology Essay Topics: Advice from Our Writers

The first step in writing a sociology term paper is to choose a topic. You are likely to have some broad interests in sociology but your task is to develop a specific research question. Here are some tips for choosing a successful sociology research paper topic.

  • Select a topic that you are genuinely interested in. You will enjoy doing research and writing and your readers will appreciate your passion when reading your paper;
  • Use your volunteer or civic engagement experience as an inspiration. You can combine your academic and personal interests to stay engaged on the topic;
  • Pay attention to hot topics that are debated on social media or news outlets. Find questions that need answering now;
  • Use this chance to do something new to you. Find a topic that is unfamiliar to you and challenge yourself;
  • Look for current or past research topics in the top journals in the discipline.

After you have chosen a topic for your research, you have to turn it into a narrower research question. It is a specific problem that can be addressed with empirical data. You should use brainstorming techniques to find some narrow slices in your broad topic. After you’ve found some narrower topics, you should start developing to your research question which should be very specific.

Here is an example of how you can do that. If your topic is “Media and Beauty”, you can brainstorm such sub-topics as Asian, white, and black portrayals of ideal body types; Why are media using super-skinny models? Your research question can be formulated like this: Can ethnic differences in women’s conceptions of “ideal body types” be influenced by the ways they are marketed in the media targeted to certain racial/ethnic groups?

If you are new to sociology studies, you may be at a loss how to choose a good research paper topic. Have a look at a short list of interesting sociology research paper topics ideas.

  1. Human Rights Movement
  2. Gender Stereotypes at a Workplace
  3. How is Homosexuality Portrayed in the Media?
  4. What Messages Are Promoted in Hip-hop Music?
  5. Cyberbullying in Social Media
  6. What Causes Childhood Obesity?
  7. Celebrities on Social Media
  8. What Features Make a Patriot?
  9. How Does Race Affect Educational Levels?
  10. Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary Society
  11. Compare Typical Users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  12. How Is Food Advertised in the Media?
  13. Wages and Taxes in Modern Society
  14. Parenting Styles Of Different Classes
  15. Can Money Buy People Happiness?
  16. Viking Legends
  17. Single Parenting
  18. Are Wealthy People Less Ethical?
  19. What Is More Important for Success: Intelligence or Beauty?
  20. Escapism Through Virtual Reality

How to Choose Methodology to Answer Your Research Question

When you have chosen your research question, you need to decide how you will answer it. The choice of the right sociology research methods will depend on what you want to say. All sociology methods are divided into qualitative (ethnography, interview, participant observation) and quantitative (statistical analysis of some numeric data). Besides, sociologists use historical or archival methods and content analysis and, in some cases, experimental approaches.

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • Quantitative methods are used to identify relationships and patterns among certain characteristics and outcomes of large groups of people.
  • Qualitative methods are applied to determine mechanisms in the relationships and to monitor different social processes in detail.

sociology term paper

When choosing your methods, you should keep in mind that certain sociological phenomena can’t be easily measured with just numbers. In some cases, it is necessary to use multiple methodologies to get an answer to a research question.

Start Writing with a Literature Review

The first thing you should do is to perform a research of the relevant literature on your topic and work on your literature review. You need to give an analytical summary of the previous works on your topic. Remember that it’s not just writing some paragraphs that summarize the content of every article you read.

Your task is to link together the main points that you have read to make a story of what has been done by previous researchers and what has to be done. You should determine several key empirical or theoretical categories and link them together. And you need to determine the key debates on your topic. In the literature review, you need to provide the background information that will help your reader understand your research question.

Use brainstorming techniques to identify several key empirical and theoretical issues for an investigation and start locating your sources. You should start with influential scholarly books and recent articles in the journals, and then use other library resources and Google Scholar. You should make a working list of relevant sources in a form of Word document and copy there their titles, sources, and abstracts. Then, you should read your sources, paying attention to all the keywords on your research question, and make notes of the key points. After you finish reading about 70% of the sources on your list, you may start to draft your literature review.

Develop an Outline

An outline is an organizational plan for your sociology term paper. It helps you present what you plan to say and develop supporting paragraphs to move to your conclusions. Making a good outline can save you tons of time during the revision process because you will not need to rearrange your ideas after you have written them.
Need advice on how you can create a good outline? Here are some tips:

  • First, you should carefully read all your notes and think about ways to organize them. You have to classify all your findings, taking into account how they relate to your thesis statement or research question. That’s why you need to look for some common trends.
  • For example, you can classify all your findings under 2 big headings. That is quite enough for a 5,000-word term paper. You can find clues how to do it if you look through an original assignment that your professor has given you.
  • There is a variety of techniques that you can use for classifying your findings, for example, you can do it on paper with different-colored highlighters or symbols or paper-clip index cards with your notes.
  • If you find that some sections for supporting your argument are not strong enough, you should do some more research or combine 2 weak section under one heading.
  • You can use any outline format that works best for you. There is no need to stick to the formal roman-numeral structure.

Writing a Draft

Now that you have an outline, you have to start writing your sociology term paper sections. You should stick to the point and focus on your thesis statement or research question. Your task is to provide a convincing argument and relevant evidence to support your argument and persuade your readers that your ideas are correct.
Make sure that your thesis statement is strong and do your best to write clearly and concisely. Avoid padding and digressions. Be ready that you’ll need to make more than one draft. Typically, all first drafts are vague, confusing, they feature bad writing and are full of omissions and other errors. Second drafts are better but they are not perfect. So you’ll need to revise your drafts and make improvements in the content and in their logic. Remember that the best term papers are commonly rewritten several times.

Revising and Editing Tips

In the process of revising, your task is to push your analysis further, to improve and expand your original argument, and make connections between your key points. There are different kinds of revising: large-scale and small-scale revising, editing, and proofreading.

When making a large-scale revision, you need to look at the entire paper and find places where your logic is not clear. You may need to provide additional evidence, to define certain terms or even offer an entirely new aspect to your initial reasoning. If you discover a new interesting idea, you might even decide to rewrite the entire paper or at least certain sections. You can change the structure of your sociology term paper to make it more effective.

If you notice that a certain part of your paper is not good enough, you may need to perform a small-scale revision. You should revise this section and after that, you will need to review the whole paper to make sure that the part you have revised works well in the context of the entire sociology term paper.

When editing, your task is to find some minor problems with the text and improve readability – cut and paste paragraphs, delete some sentences or words. At this stage, you need to make your project clear and interesting to your readers.

When proofreading, you will need to find and fix some small punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors.
You should go through all these levels of revision to ensure that your sociology term paper is powerful and flawless.