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What is below are the final project parameters so you know what you’ll be working toward:
Your final paper serves as a culmination of what we’ve been covering throughout this course. It is aimed at pushing you to position yourself as a social scientist, conceptualizing, approaching, and analyzing a topic of interest to you. You get to become someone who knows a large amount of information about a very specific topic.
To that end, the Research Paper contains the following, required items:
References (this is not included in the 12 page minimum)
Each of these components break down as follows:
On the cover page you need to have the following items: title, your name, course number, and date submitted
The introduction will serve to introduce the topic and idea to your audience (i.e. me). In this case, you need to construct an introduction that motivates an interest in the topic as well as introduces the basic necessities of understanding to your reader. To that end, your introduction should focus primarily on your issue of interest (the pay gap, for example).
Make sure there is a clear thesis of what your overall paper is as well as the research question you’re attempting to answer.
It should give some insight into the components that underlie that issue (define it, give a bit of history on it, and also present basic statistics for it, which you can obtain through places like newspaper articles or research organizations like Pew).
Remember: the introduction motivates the reader to want to know more, so it needs to stay focused on the issue that you want to address. If you have an annual review article, it can give you some great basic details for your introduction.
The literature review serves to fine tune your point further and helps you to focus on where you are most specifically interested, namely the key concepts, factors, and variables that you think influence the problem you are trying to understand.
You need to work through your idea here about what you identify as happening. This works to take what you’re interested in and give insight into how it’s complex. So, make sure your literature review discusses what influences you’re interested.
For example, say you were interested in the voting behaviors of people. Your literature review would note what influences people to vote and why. So, you’d most likely have some discussion of how and why race influences voter preference, as well as some discussion of some things like gender, income, etc. That way your reader understands the complexity of the issue, but keep in mind your major focus.
For this section, you’re welcome to break it down into subsections. For example, if you’re doing a study of food consumption patterns and the changing nature of diets being influenced by pop culture, you could have subsections regarding vegetarianism/veganism, gluten-free, paleo, etc. (Or, if you’re more interested in how food trends are mediated by demographics, you could use subsections like Racial Variation in Food Consumption, Gendered Nature of Food Consumption, etc.)
The conclusion reiterates your main research question and really offers the moment that you can fully make sure that everything brought home, as it were. You’re not merely reiterating exactly what you just said. Rather, you’re using it to make sure your reader understands the full ideas and implications. You should also articulate what it doesn’t address and that future papers can integrate to understand the topic more fully.
In addition to using in-text citations, you must also have a references list. Use whichever citation method you want but it must be uniform
Topic Proposal Guidelines
This assignment is the basis of your term paper and is your opportunity to propose the general idea of your project. This works two-fold: it allows for you to already start sketching out what American culture means to you both personally and academically while also getting you on the journey to conceptualize a broader project that can address these ideas.
These projects should be of interest to you so that it’s something you enjoy completing. There are minimal limits on this project, the only being that it needs to fit within the conceptual scope of the course (and must be social scientific in nature).
To that end, you’re welcome to think of American culture in many ways though you should consider the Week 1 readings and videos as guidance on how to articulate what may qualify as culture, though you can also look ahead a bit and see if those weeks offer you some inspiration as well. For example, we have a week where we are discussing issues of TV in America or maybe you want to talk about music (why do people listen to only certain genres?), food (how have do certain cuisines become popular?), art museums (why do some people go and others don’t?), shifts in language (how does texting differ from other forms of writing?), cryptocurrency (how has cryptocurrency influenced peoples’ understandings of money?); that’s great! Keep two things in mind: it needs to center on an American context and have some relation to the idea of culture (both are quite large and almost anything can be pointed toward it). For example, maybe you want to discuss something like the changes in religiosity in America, that works but don’t just think of it as how have there been shifts in the proportions of believers maybe overall about American religious participation (increase in atheism/agnosticism), you need to make sure that you will subsequently connect into cultural shifts in the US (i.e. keep you mind on the interpretative aspect or why: why have we seen more Americans turn from formal religion).
Basically, your term paper is about an aspect of American culture that you want to know more about including some aspects of how it came to be and a clear articulation of how/why it matters.
Make sure it is Times New Roman, size 12, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced. I’m not entirely concerned about specific length (aim for about a page, but you can go longer) but you should take as much space as necessary to address each required element in a sufficient manner (i.e. I should understand fully your thinking and reasoning behind each). Acceptable file types: .doc, .docx, .pdf (I have set Canvas to only accept these types so if you can’t upload, make sure that you’ve saved it as a correct file type).
Your proposal must contain the following elements
The broad topic in which you’re interested. Also, why are you interested in this topic/area of study?
Make this the actual question you want to answer, such as “In what ways is American popular culture still influenced by minstrels?,” “How have changes in American culture influenced religious participation?,” or “How has American cuisine been influenced by changes in immigration patterns?
Discuss your thoughts behind this question, why this research question exactly?
Give some pre-emptive insight into your thoughts: what do you think the answer to this question is (and why)?
It’s always good to make sure your particular population of interest is discussed. So, while we are discussing American culture writ large, there are various groups/populations you may want to focus on. In my own research on the cultural bases of pricing, I focus specifically on self-employed craftspeople. This section is to make sure you’re articulating your topic proposal in a manner that lets us know you’ve considered begun considering the important facets of your topic.
Who does your topic and research question apply to? Why this population? Who does it not apply to? Does this create any difficulties in understanding it, or is it a strength?
1 academic, peer-reviewed sources that help to explain and address your paper’s topic with two to three sentences explaining how it connects to your topic.
So, if I was writing about how fashions in computer brands is connected to issues of e-waste, I’d want to start looking for articles talking about changing dynamics of computer consumption as well as articles that address the topic of e-waste and its changing dynamics
1 non-academic (but trustworthy!) source that gives descriptive information to motivate the project with two to three sentences explaining how each connects to your topic.
So, keeping with the prior topic, I’d want to get find a trustworthy source that tells me something like how many computers are produced each year, how many computers are recycled each year, how many computers are thrown away each year, or even (as a recent news report found) how certain companies contractually require all recycling centers to destroy everything so it’s melted down in its constituent parts for reuse rather than allow for parts to be salvaged and used while repairing peoples computers.
Finally, a list of the search terms you used and which databases you used to find these articles.