SOC 3112 Final Paper (Due 5/6/2015)

SOC 3112 Final Paper (Due 5/6/2015)

Description:
The purposes of this paper are twofold.  First, it is designed to give you the opportunity to explore a topic of interest to you in more detail than we are able to in class (because I’m sure you’ve all been dying to do just that). Second, this assignment gives you an opportunity to dazzle me with your mastery of SPSS and your understanding of the types of analyses we’ve covered in class.  I expect you to choose at least two variables (one independent and one dependent variable) from the datasets we’ve used this semester, explain the theoretical connection between the two variables and then conduct and interpret analyses (hypothesis tests, regression, etc.) that explore the relationship between them. This paper will have five parts, each of which is discussed below.

Intro/Literature Review:
In this section, you will introduce your independent and dependent variables.  You will also BRIEFLY summarize at least two other studies on the same subject and explain how your paper will add to the existing body of literature.

Analytical Section:
In this section, you will describe your sample (i.e., what is the name of the survey from which you obtained your data?  How are your independent and dependent variables distributed throughout your sample?) and explain the analyses you intend to run.  Be sure to explain why the analyses you plan to conduct are appropriate for your research question and the variables you chose.

Results Section:
In this section, you will summarize the results of your analyses, noting any statistically significant relationships.  I would appreciate it if you were to summarize your results both in paragraph format and as a table (SPSS already displays results as a table, so this requirement shouldn’t be too onerous).

Discussion Section:
This is the “So, what?” section of your paper.  Explain to me why your results—and your study as a whole—matter.  Do your findings have any real-world implications?  Did the results line up with the findings of the studies you covered in your literature review?  Is there any potential for future research on the same topic?  Any questions left unanswered?

Graphic Presentation Section:
I would like you to include some sort of a graph or chart in your paper.  This might be a good way of describing your sample (i.e., if your paper were examining racial differences in educational attainment, you might consider including a pie/bar chart that illustrates the relative size of the racial groups in your sample; or you could include a histogram showing overall educational attainment).

Here’s a very, very detailed summary of the criteria I’ll be using to grade your paper:

4    3    2    1

Introduction/Literature Review
Introduction    Clearly explains the purpose of the study including independent and dependent variables.    Purpose of the study is clear, but the paragraph lacks flow or is disjointed.    Conveys a vague notion of the purpose of the study, but it is not clear.    Introductory paragraph is missing and/or consists almost entirely of unnecessary information.
Review of relevant literature    Discusses at least three relevant studies, noting the implications and limitations of each    Discusses fewer than three relevant studies, but does so thoroughly    Discusses relevant studies, but does so in a way that superficial or incomplete    Fails to cite any relevant literature

Application of statistical analysis
Selects appropriate methods of statistical analysis    Choice of methods of
summarizing and analyzing data is ideal for the dependent variable(s) and for answering the research question    Choice of methods of summarizing and analyzing data is appropriate for the dependent variable and for answering the research question
Some methods are not appropriate for the dependent variable or for answering the research question    None of the methods are appropriate for the dependent variable or for answering the research question
Performs statistical analysis correctly    Data analysis is complete and thorough; statistical analyses are performed properly    Statistical analyses are performed properly; data analysis may be incomplete; analyses, though correct, are lacking in thoroughness
Data are not analyzed beyond the descriptive level; inferential statistics are not performed or are performed incorrectly    There is no attempt to summarize or evaluate the data and only raw data are reported

Interpretation of findings
Interprets research findings appropriately    Draws inferences that are consistent with the data and scientific reasoning    Draws some inferences that are consistent with the data and scientific reasoning, but fails to draw other conclusions which may be deduced from the findings
Over-interprets findings and draws conclusions from the data which may not be justified, or fails to draw conclusions which may reasonably be deduced from the findings
Does not provide an interpretation of the data

Provides an explanation of the findings    Explains expected results and offers explanations for unexpected results    Explains expected results but does not adequately explain unexpected findings    Does not fully explain expected results or adequately explain unexpected results
Does not explain expected results, and ignores unexpected results

Application of findings
Identifies limitations of the study    Methods of the study are critically evaluated; identifies questions that are unanswered; identifies and describes suggestions for further research     Identifies questions that are unanswered; identifies and describes suggestions for further research; does not critically evaluate methods of study
Identifies questions that are unanswered; does not identify or describe suggestions for further research; does not critically evaluate methods of study    Methods of study are not critically evaluated; does not identify questions that are unanswered; does not suggest further research or follow-up studies
Applies findings to other contexts     Discusses possible applications of findings to contexts outside that of the study    Discusses possible applications of findings to contexts outside that of the study, but the discussion is somewhat unclear
Applications and extensions of research findings do not follow logically from the original research question
Does not discuss applications or extensions of the research findings

Graphic Presentation
Characteristics of sample displayed in either chart or table    Clearly describes sample in a way that is relevant to the analysis; axes are labeled (if applicable); title included    Describes sample in a way that is relevant to analysis, but axes/slices are not labeled and/or no title    Describes sample, but does so in a way that is either ineffective or misleading    Fails to describe aspects of sample that are relevant to analysis
Relevant results summarized in table format    Results clearly summarized, including statistical significance; table is clearly labeled    Results are summarized, but key aspects of the table are missing (i.e., title, statistical significance)    Results are summarized in a way that is illogical or difficult to interpret    Results are not summarized in any sort of a figure

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