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SOC 388: Sociology of the Family in America (Christy Craig)

This guide will walk you through the research process on how to find scholarly, sociology articles related to the sociology of family. It includes the major sociology journals on family studies, citation instruction, how to read scholarly articles, and ho

How to Form a Topic

A topic is a general inquiry you are interested in answering. It is not a statement, but a question. 

Examples: Are same-sex parents as effective at raising children as heterosexual parents? How does the incarceration of a parent affect a child's concept of family? How has the concept of childhood changed, and what is its impact on current day society?

 Steps to formulate a topic:

Read your assignment and note any requirements.

  • Is there a required page length?
  • How many sources do you need?
  • Does the paper have to be in a specific format like APA?
  • Are there any listed goals for the topic, such as synthesizing different opinions, or applying a theory to a real-life example?

Formulate a general idea.

  • Look at your syllabus or course schedule for broad topic ideas.
  • Think about reading assignments or class lectures that you found interesting.
  • Talk with your professor or a librarian. 
  • Check out social media and see what has been trending that is related to your course. 
  • Read and watch the news to see if there is anything going on related to your course. 

Do some background research on your general idea.

  • Read an encyclopedia entry.
  • See what your course notes and textbook say about the subject.
  • Google it. 

Mind map it.

  • Video on how to do a mind map. 

Write out your topic question & reread the assignment criteria.

  • Can you answer your question well in the number of pages required? 
  • Does your topic still meet the requirements of the paper? Ex: is the question still about the sociology of the American family?
  • Is the topic too narrow to find research? 

Resources - Background Information