Exercise 16 – Outline of your report

Report elements:

Your report should be structured like a research article in the social sciences. This means it will have an introduction, a literature review, a review of methods, a presentation of findings, and a conclusion section I would like for you to complete this outline filling in a few comments under each of the items. In the end, you should understand the structure of your final paper and have a good template to work from. Remember, throughout the course you have been writing and receiving feedback on the different elements of the paper. The next step is really just artfully weaving them together.

I          Introduction

The introduction of your report will attempt to “hook” the reader, present the critical questions and hypotheses, and provide a synopsis of the remainder of the report. The introduction should be around 2-3 pages.

A        What information do you need to include here?

1        Hook

2        GSS information

3        Other background information

4        Research Question

B        Outline of the paper – give a brief overview of the paper, its structure and what you intend to discuss.

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II        Literature review

This began as a synopsis of academic journal articles your wrote in your annotated bibliography, you then created a review of current social science research in your topic area. Look back at that literature review and complete the information below. The literature review should be between 5 and 7 pages.

A        Introduction to the lit review

1        Transition/ Hook

2        Background information

3        Overview of the articles

B        In addition to the brief review of the article, what were the major points of your first article and how were they relevant to your topic of study? How does this compare with the other articles?

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C        In addition to the brief review of the article, what were the major points of your second article and how were they relevant to your topic of study? How does this compare with the other articles?

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D       In addition to the brief review of the article, what were the major points of your third article and how were they relevant to your topic of study? How does this compare with the other articles?

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E        In addition to the brief review of the article, what were the major points of your forth article and how were they relevant to your topic of study? How does this compare with the other articles?

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F         In addition to the brief review of the article, what were the major points of your fifth article and how were they relevant to your topic of study? How does this compare with the other articles?

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G       Conclusion… where does this review leave you? What are the gaps in the literature? What do the articles have in common? How do they inform your project?

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III      Methods

This section (around 3 to 5 pages) will detail the methods you employed in your project. You will discuss the conceptualization and operationalization, hypothesis construction, process of instrument construction, sampling criteria, survey procedures, response rate, and data analysis (univariate and bivariate).  You will also note the characteristics of the populations studied and how they were recruited. Finally, you will discuss the strengths and limitations of the methods employed including any ethical concerns (look back at your ‘statement of ethical concerns.’

A        process of operationalization and hypothesis construction

B        What methods did you employ? (data collection, and data analysis)

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C        Limitations

1        Ethical Concerns

2        Sampling Concerns

3        Other Concerns

D       Characteristics of Respondents

1        Sex

2        Age

3        Race/ethnicity

4        Education

5        Political Affiliation

6        Religion

7        Other

IV      Findings

This section is the “meat” of your paper (anywhere between 5 and 10 pages). You will present the findings relevant to your research topic. You will need to provide findings from your survey. Weave these findings together to present an argument that either supports of refutes your hypothesis. You should have at least one contingency table. Use graphs, charts, and figures judiciously.

A        Analysis and Interpretation

B        Introduction to the Analysis Section

1        Transition/ Hook

2        Background information

3        Overview of the section

C        Descriptive Results (frequencies, means, etc.)

1        Dependent variable

2        Independent variable

3        Other important variables

D       Findings

1        What evidence did you find that supports your hypothesis (survey data – crosstab or other bivariate analysis)?

2        What evidence did you find that refutes your hypothesis (survey data – crosstab or bivariate analysis)?

3        What evidence did you find that supports an alternate hypothesis (survey)?

E        Conclusion of findings – What might you conclude from this analysis?

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V        Discussion and conclusion

This section (anywhere between 3 and 5 pages) reviews the significant points presented in the paper and draws conclusions relevant to the research topic. You may choose to discuss the importance of the findings, the problems with the findings, and the direction of future research. You will also want to compare your findings to those of the more generalizable General Social Survey.

A        Reiterate the research question and the research hypothesis.

B        Recount briefly the research process.

C        What were the key findings?

D       What is the significance (implications) of these findings?

E        What were the limitations of these findings?

F         What are your general conclusions?

G       What future research should be done as a result?

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