136 posts categorized "Statistics and Methods"

February 01, 2021

Writing a Literature Review: Connecting Past Studies with Your Research

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Writing a literature review demonstrates that you are familiar with previous research and theoretical concepts related to your research topic. The “literature” includes scholarly publications written by primarily by researchers in your discipline. Reports of research and theoretical discussions are mostly found in peer-reviewed journals and books, which you should read before designing your own study.

A literature review is more than a list of previous research, and it’s more than a description of studies. It is a detailed case that we make to justify how and why our study will contribute to the existing scholarly knowledge on our topic. When writing a literature review, we need to explain why this is important based on the scholarly discussion on our topic, not just why it is important to society in general.

How do you get started?

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January 25, 2021

Learning from the Literature: How to Find Categories and Themes

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Are you writing a literature review? If you are doing this for the first time, you might be struggling with how to write about the various sources you have found for your project.

First, recall that a literature review is a detailed discussion of academic research related to a specific research question. The two words can be confusing; by literature, we primarily mean the scholarly books and journal articles that have been published on your topic. These sources should peer-reviewed, which means that scholars in the field have determined that the research was of sufficient rigor to merit publication. The sources you include in the literature review should mostly come from your academic discipline—in this case, sociological journals and books by sociologists.

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January 04, 2021

What is Peer Review?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Within scholarly work, the gold standard is to publish in an academic journal that is peer reviewed. Books published through academic publishers also undergo peer review. This means that before anything is published, experts in the area of study read the manuscript and decide whether it should be published.

Here are some of the basic facts about the peer review process in sociology:

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December 21, 2020

What are Gaps in the Literature?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I’m sure you’re familiar with the word “gap.” People might take a “gap year” in their education, maybe between high school and college or between college and graduate school. A gap year is essentially a fancy way of saying you are doing something else and pausing your education.

There might be a gap between a window and a wall, which means that there is space between the two objects, and maybe a draft or a leak depending on the weather.

We might consider a more abstract definition of a gap, such as the gap between expectations and reality, which can produce social unrest, according to one popular theory. The gap between our own personal expectations and reality can shape the way we make sense of our relationships and achievements.

If a gap is a break, or space between thing 1 and thing 2, what is a gap in the literature?

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November 23, 2020

Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography: What’s the Difference?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Literature reviews are a central feature of sociological research, and it is vital for students of sociology to learn how to read and eventually write them. Too often, students tasked with writing a literature review often turn in something in between a true review of the literature and an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is basically a fleshed-out works cited page. To get started, you list the full citations of previous publications related to your topic. This list should be formatted according to whichever style you have been instructed to use. Below each citation, include a brief, 2-3 sentence synopsis.

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October 12, 2020

Sampling: Who do You Want to Learn More About?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

These days, if we want to know more about someone, we often need look no further than social media sites or do a basic Google search. But what if we want to know more about a group or a population?

Let’s say you were interested in learning about the student body of a school to find out how they are managing the COVID-19 crisis. We decide an Internet-based survey is the way to go. How do we go about doing this?

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September 07, 2020

Connecting the Dots II: Linking Theory with Research, Revisited

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Last year, I wrote about the connections between theory and research. It’s very tempting for the first-time student researcher to come up with a research topic and either ignore theories about the topic, or have difficulty integrating theories with their research question or their findings. Theories may seem abstract and sometimes difficult to grasp, while research is concrete and its results sometimes easier to digest. Connecting the two takes practice.

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August 31, 2020

What Makes an Interview Sociological?

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Many sociologists use interviews to collect data, and while journalists also conduct interviews, there are significant differences between how and why sociologists use the information that they gathered. Here are a few of the biggest differences.

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May 18, 2020

The Challenges of Doing Research while Social Distancing

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

A group of my colleagues have started a support group for qualitative researchers, called “Ethnographers in Exile.” After spending a year securing a field site and getting Institutional Review Board approval to do an ethnography in an emergency room, one colleague found that his research could not go forward under the current circumstances, with no timeline for his project to begin any time soon.

Ethnography involves immersing one’s self in the lived experience of the group that you are studying and being present to observe interactions and ask questions that might come up in the course of our participants’ day-to-day lives. Ethnographers observe the tempo of interactions, what happens when seemingly nothing is happening, and ultimately try and learn what it is like to be a member of a particular group.

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March 30, 2020

How to Speak Sociologese

author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

At the Everyday Sociology Blog, we pride ourselves on avoiding academic jargon whenever possible and clearly defining concepts whenever we do use words that might not be familiar to most readers.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are some words and phrases that should be used very specifically while speaking and writing sociologically, and in the social sciences more generally. The list below is not exhaustive, but a reminder that we should use our words carefully to clearly communicate sociological concepts and findings. Think about the following examples when reading and writing:

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