The Final Project Paper
All projects must examine the relationship between at least one indicator (i.e., variable) of the dependent concept and at least six independent variables. However, more complicated projects are encouraged. * * * The creativity and degree of difficulty involved in a project will also be considered when evaluating the final grade in the course. * * *
Note: It is highly recommended that you store your most recent project drafts and supporting materials in a secure cloud-based service such as DropBox or your Google Drive.
Here is an outline of a typical quantitative research paper in the social sciences. The amount of attention paid to each section and other features will vary depending on factors such as the intended audience. For the purpose of the course project, you are expected to follow this format exactly as presented below. Additionally, you must use descriptive headings and subheadings to organize each section of your paper.
I. TITLE PAGE & ABSTRACT
a. On a title/cover page give the paper an informative title that clearly points to the variables under study; under the title, include your name and date of the final revision, along with the statement “Submitted to Dr. Toth in partial fulfillment of the requirements for SOC 4360”.
b. Abstracts should be written using the OMRC (objective, methods, results, and conclusion) abstracting technique. Prior to the final paper, the abstract should be preliminary (objectives and method only). Put the abstract on either a separate page after the title page or on page 1 before the introduction section.
c. Although you must use APA style, you do not need to include a “running head”.
II. INTRODUCTION (Note: no longer required for APA 7, but you may still use it)
a. What is the general status of the problem/topic (i.e., what is the current scholarly understanding of the topic? What are the common views of the issues among the general population?)
b. What is the significance of the problem? That is, why is it important to study this topic?
c. What will your study contribute to the problem area? For example, we need to study this topic because we do not have enough information on how college-aged adults view the problem.
d. Include a clear thesis statement. Note: In this stage, you are moving from a more general “research question” (from the proposal stage) to an explicit statement that articulates how all the variables in your study connect. This statement must be the last sentence in the last paragraph in the “intro” section.
Sample thesis statement:
This paper will examine the effects of race, gender, education, income, political beliefs, and religious attendance on attitudes toward spanking a child as a disciplinary practice.
III. REVIEW OF THE RELEVANT LITERATURE
a. What are the major generalizations? Variables? Relationships between variables?
b. How does the literature relate to your study?
c. The writing style should tell a story about the dependent variable. Use subheadings to organize this “story”.
d. The entire review will probably be between 2 and 4 pages.
e. Include a section on hypotheses at the end of this section (under its own subheading). You should have at least 3 hypotheses. Each hypothesis will be a clear statement about the anticipated relationship between a unique X variable and your Y variable(s).
f. The final paper should have a minimum of 10 scholarly references.
IV. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
a. Source of data & methodology: Name of dataset? Year(s)? Type of sample (and why good)? How many cases? Methodological approach?
b. *Optional analysis*. If available in the GSS, you may include data for your dependent variable from previous years of the GSS to show change over time.
c. Full list of variables examined, with exact item wording and coding of each variable. Use subheadings to have separate sections for the dependent and independent variables.
i. Every student should include FIVE “usual suspects” in the list of independent variables: These include variables for (1) race, (2) gender, (3) income/social class, (4) education, and (5) political orientation. Of course, every student will also include those variables identified as theoretically meaningful in the literature (which may include some of these “suspects”). NOTE: At a minimum, you should include ONE variable beyond these usual suspects.
ii. Every student must recode at least one variable (the race variable will be one; all nominal-level variables must be recoded). Note: Include both the variable’s original coding and its new recoded values in the paper.
d. Analytical procedures (i.e., the statistics you use). Everyone will use descriptive statistics and bivariate correlation.
e. Address limitations or weaknesses in your study.
a. Present statistical results according to those specified in the methodology section.
b. Interpret results in a succinct fashion. State the bivariate correlation coefficients and interpret each one fully using the language of the variables. This section is a “just the facts” approach; save the elaboration for the discussion section.
c. State whether each hypothesis was supported.
d. Use appropriate tables and charts to present results. At a minimum, the paper will have two tables: (1) one for the descriptive statistics and (2) one for the bivariate correlation results. Note: IF you analyze data from previous years of the GSS, you will need a table or figure to report these results.
Notes about recoded variables and tables: Run analysis with, and report only the results of, your recoded variables. Also, always introduce the tables or figures with text; and never insert a table directly below a (sub)heading without at least a minimal amount of text to introduce the table. You will have other tables or charts if you include data from previous years of the GSS.
VI. DISCUSSION (You may combine this section with the findings, but use a clear heading.)
a. As much as possible, frame your findings within the theoretical or conceptual context covered in your literature review.
b. Discuss the significance of the results as they relate to your hypotheses.
c. Link your results with the previous work cited in the literature review. Do your results support/go against other studies? Do your results make sense given the general views of the topic in the literature? Cite specific points from the articles or books you collected for your project.
d. You should have at least two FULL pages of discussion.
a. Give a brief overview of your findings.
b. Make “grand generalizations” about your findings (e.g., what have we learned?).
c. State suggestions for future research.
VIII. REFERENCES (Citations must be in format of the American Psychological Association).
I would encourage you to consult with each other—that is, activate your peer networks—throughout this research process. Moreover, I am always open to answering any questions that you might have. So, when in doubt about any of these guidelines or steps in the research process, please feel free to talk with me. Finally, take advantage of the UCA Writing Center. Finish drafts of your work as soon as possible, and then have the Center staff give you feedback. (It’s really worth the effort!)