Approved by Faculty Senate.


Sociology 378, Lab in Social Research



Instructor: Dr. Brian C. Aldrich
Office hours: TWR, 3:20-4:30
Phone: 507-457-5421


1. Practice and processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their field:

The Laboratory in Social Research is organized around a seven-step procedure for presenting the results of research:

- General Statement of the Research Problem

- Background of the Problem

- Design of the Study

- How the Data were obtained

- Analysis of Data

- Discussion

bulletConclusions and Summary bullet 

Students write rough drafts of each of these seven steps as the research project progresses throughout the semester. Each section is connected to the work in the classroom, is discussed, and each student is assigned to write a rough draft. These are turned in, evaluated and discussed in class.

2. Understand the main features and uses of writing in their field:

The above seven steps are standard in the field for presenting the results of a research report. In addition, students are required to review the other types of writing from data sources, including the textual analysis paper, the library research paper, and the ethnographic field research paper (A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers). These cover the main features and uses of writing in their field.


3. Adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their field:

These are the major forms of writing expected by readers in the field. Emphasis is placed primarily upon presenting quantitative and qualitative research reports.

4. Make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their field:

There are several technologies used in this process. The data access and review

technology associated with on-line searches for the review of the literature (Background of the Problem) is a primary one. Of equal or greater importance is the use of statistical analysis programs to analyze the data and put it into tabular form for presentation and discussion in the paper. The third use of technology is the ability to use word processing programs effectively for drawing together the text and the tables into an integrated paper.

5. Learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their field:

The seven steps in the above process are organized around the empirical research process generating evidence (the design of the study, obtaining data and analyzing it), then documenting systematically how the evidence supports the hypotheses of the study. The study is formatted in a systematic fashion so that questions can be asked, the research can be designed and carried out, and the results of the analysis used to document answers to the questions raised. This is a systematic, widely shared and understood process. The purpose to the writing in the class is to make certain that students exit the course with the ability to communicate in writing with other professionals in the field in this standard fashion.


Course Description

Purpose: To introduce students to the basic techniques and methods of conducting a social survey, analyzing the results and presenting a research report on the conclusions.

Project: Collaborative learning

Grades: Chapter quizzes 25%

Lab assignments 25%

Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis 25%

Final paper 25%


The Sociology Writing Group, A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers, Third Edition.

Week 1 1/9, 11

T, Introduction to course/project
Review of library resources (portable computer) (4)
R, Collaborative learning
Lab assignment: Lit review – abstract of three articles
on collaborative learning (1)

Week 2 1/16, 18

T, Ch 3: Quiz and discussion of steps in research project (1)
R, Lab assignment: Concept definition; three hypotheses from

Week 3 1/23, 25
T, Ch 8: Qualitative research (2)
Quiz and discussion (Esp. 247F)
R, No class; write up three major questions (P. 250) (5)

Week 4 1/30, 2/1
T, Lab assignment: Turn in questions
Work up questions
R, Ch 14: Ethics of research; complete on-line exam;
submit forms for research on human subjects
Quiz over chapter
Interview five respondents

Week 5 2/6, 8
T, No class, interviewing/writing up interviews
R, Lab assignment: Five typed interviews, with copy
for each member of the class (2)

Week 6 2/13, 15
T, No class; Assessment Day
R, Lab assignment: Individual oral and written reports
Summarizing the findings (follow main questions,
(P. 150) (2)
R, Write-up of qualitative study (2)

Week 7 2/20, 22
T, Ch 7: "Survey research"
Quiz over chapter
R, Lab assignment: Write interview questions (5)
Put interview together

Week 8 2/27, 3/1
T, Pretest interview in class
R, Interview ten students each

-----------------------------------------SPRING BREAK------------------------------------

Week 9 3/13, 15
T, Lab assignment: Report on interviews
R, Lab assignment: Report on interviews (5)

Week 10 3/20, 22
T, Ch 11: "Ways of analyzing…data"
Quiz over chapter
R, Coding up data; lab assignment (on sheets) (4)

Week 11 3/27, 29
T, Coding up data; lab assignment (on sheets) (4)
R, No class

Week 12 4/3, 5
T, Ch 12: "Univariates, bivariate and trivariate analysis" (5)
Quiz over chapter 12
R, Lab assignment: Set up tables for your analysis (5)

Week 13 4/10, 12
T, Ch 13: "Elementary statistics"
Quiz over chapter
R, Lab assignment: Interpreting statistics from tables; (5)
Interpreting the results of one-, two- and three-way analysis

Week 14 4/17, 19
T, Interpretation, continued
R, Ch 15: "Presenting the research results" (1)
Quiz over chapter

Week 15 4/24, 26
T, Writing the report (1) (2)
R, Writing the report (1) (2)
Oral and written reports due during fall exam period