Writing research papers: Tips and good topics for a sociology research paper

Logo sociologyWriting research papers may seem like a challenge but it’s really an opportunity to explore whatever topic you like. Topics for a sociology research paper can range from systems of government to historical subjects such as the labor movement in America. Whatever your major, there is a way to tie it in with sociology. Instead of feeling as if your assignment is a waste of time, you can use it as a way to delve deeper into your chosen field.

Sociology research paper topics

With such a huge subject, how do you begin to do your research? Taking a look at Questia is a good start. Once you’re there you browse the library and then select Sociology and Anthropology. Subcategories here include:

You might want to explore migration and immigration as a topic because of its prominence in the news. Subtopics here include:

  • Illegal immigration
  • Immigration in America
  • Mexican immigration to the U.S.

Focus on illegal immigration and you’ll find hundreds of books and articles including Aliens vs. Bureaucrats: Our Costly, Record-Breaking System for Dealing with Illegal Immigrants by Greg Beato published in the March 2012 issue of Reason magazine.

Beato cites several important statistics that highlight the declining number in Border Patrol apprehensions that can be useful for your research paper.

“Under President Barack Obama’s direction, ICE has removed 1,179,313 illegal aliens in three years. George W. Bush presided over 2,012,539 removals during his eight-year reign. Despite this expensively enforced exodus of more than 3 million individuals since 2000, the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. hasn’t changed much,” Beato recounted.

Research tools

While at Questia, you’ll also appreciate the research tools that guide you to related topics and help you to bookmark, highlight and take notes while you work. Once you’ve found the sources for your research paper, you’ll want to store them. Questia not only catalogs your sources, it helps you to cite them correctly.

Sociology blogs for a different point of view

Be sure to check out sociology-related blogs to get a sense of commentary and opinion. For example, at the blog Everyday Sociology, you can read the August 8, 2013 post titled, “Why Major in Sociology?” by Karen Sternheimer.

As to why one might major in sociology, Sternheimer, a sociologist at the University of Southern California said, “you learn many important critical thinking skills, research tools, and knowledge about diverse populations when you study sociology. . . . Sociology lends itself particularly well to a double major, or as a skill set to acquire along your chosen career path.”

Other sociology blogs to consider include:

  • The Global Society Blog
  • Understanding Society
  • Orgtheory

The seven steps

According to the folks at the Grady C. Hogue Learning Resources Center (LRC) at Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Texas, there are seven steps to the research process:

  • Identify your topic
  • Find background information
  • Find books and media
  • Use databases to find journal articles
  • Find Internet resources
  • Evaluate what you find
  • Cite your sources

When conducting research, the best sources are those that have been peer reviewed. Regarding evaluation of sources the LRC staff advised, “Many journals are peer reviewed, meaning that submitted articles are scrutinized by one or more experts in the field before they are published in the journal. Not all items in a peer reviewed journal have gone through this process, however. These items may include letters, editorials, news, and book reviews. Generally, only the primary articles, such as studies or review articles, are peer reviewed.”

Other sociology resources

American Sociological Association (ASA) where you’ll learn about careers in sociology

FedStats find direct access to statistical data on topics and links to statistical agencies

World Databank is an analysis and visualization tool containing collections of time series data on a variety of topics. Create queries, tables, charts and maps then embed them in your paper.

Pew Research Center where you can register and then access datasets dating back to January 1997.

IntroSocSites from New York University professors Caroline Hodges Persell and Jennifer Gerdes where you’ll find links to data, simulations, exercises and films related to sociology.

Do you have a favorite sociology source or a tip for doing research? Let us know in the comments below.

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