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Choosing a topic: There are so many things around us that it can be difficult to focus on just one for a research project. Here are a few things to think about to find yours. First, we are in a sociology class, so your topic has to be sociological in nature. Wondering if a new diet helps people lose weight, for instance, wouldn’t work. Instead, think back on some of the topics you covered in other sociology classes (Intro Soc, Marriage and the Family, Soc Theory, etc.). Was there something in there that sparked your interest? You can also build on previous research that you have completed for a former class in the program or closely related field. This project will be the focus of your discussions for the next several weeks. It is highly recommended that you choose something that is of interest to you and can keep your attention for that long.
We will be using General Social Survey (GSS) 2018 data set for Weekly Discussions, Assignment 1 and the Final Project (paper and presentation). You should NOT collect your own data. All variables and data are required to be from GSS 2018 data set. To access and download the data, please read through the Week 1 Overview (Content tab – Week 1). To learn more about the GSS, you may visit its main website http://gss.norc.org/. You can find the GSS variables online via GSS Data Explorer. See the attached handout.
The point of this discussion is to share your topic idea for your project, specifying the two GSS variables you want to analyze, so that other students will ask you questions or make suggestions that may help you define your project better. Your instructor will also interact with each of you individually in this module to help you refine your topic. Remember to check your thread regularly!
As you present your topic in this discussion, think about how you would study it. What is your research question and your theory behind it? After writing your introduction, tell the class what your topic is, phrasing it as a research question. Your research question should preferably be more general and open-ended than a hypothesis. (For example, what affects people’s happiness?) Then, identify two variables found in the GSS 2018 dataset. You are choosing one independent variable and one dependent variable. Be sure to identify each variable name AND the questions asked in the survey. See screenshots tutorial (attached) for more details. Wrap up by explaining why you chose these variables for your project and why you think there is a correlation or a relationship. Be sure to reference at least one academic source that relates to your topic.
In your replies to at least two posts from your classmates, think critically about what they are trying to do with their project, and offer them constructive feedback. This can be asking for clarification about their proposed topic, suggesting a direction for their research, suggesting sources they may want to check, or contributing your personal experience about this topic. Be sure to also answer at least one peer who responded to your initial post (and interact with the instructor as needed).