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The First Essay of the Semester will be in the form of a blog post focusing on challenging stereotypes with research. There’s Research On That!” (#TROT) is a blogging project at The Society Pages that presents short summaries of classic and contemporary research relevant to current events as a resource for journalists and the public. While our archives are a great resource for students looking to kick-start a sociological research paper or for readers who want a fresh take on the news for their next cocktail party, the format of these posts also works great for class assignments! For this activity, students write their own TROT posts as an exercise in collecting, evaluating, and summarizing research.
Browse the “There’s Research On That!” blog to get a sense of how TROT posts are written. They usually start with a summary of a current event, then provide sociological ideas relevant to the matter at the hand. The author highlights one to four key ideas from the research and includes citations for each source with hyperlinks to the authors’ website and the publication information.
Choose a commonly held stereotype about a group. You may consider finding a recent news event or pop culture reference that addresses the stereotype to help contextualize your choice. “What would sociologists have to say about this that the rest of the media may be missing in regards to this stereotype?”
Search for literature that provides data on the assumptions made by the stereotype you have chosen. Choose THREE or more articles using an online database such as JSTOR, Sociological Abstracts, or Google Scholar. Select three to five pieces that speak to the themes or provide broader information about the topic.
***Start with major journals in the field—American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, or Social Problems—but the search doesn’t end there! Books and publications focusing more narrowly on subfields, such as Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Gender & Society, or Deviant Behavior are always helpful. Also, remember to think broadly; sometimes a general article about the topic can be more helpful than one that fits the news story perfectly.
Evaluate the research. Read the methodology sections of any journal articles, or find reviews of the books published in academic journals. Do you find the conclusion(s) convincing, based on the evidence provided? Is the methodology high quality? Which pieces provide the best takeaways for a general reader? Once you’ve considered the possible sources separately, consider how they will fit together in your post. From your list, pick the three pieces to include in your article.
Write a TROT post in the style of the website but extend the content to include a bit more (4-6 double spaced pages not including images). Include this:
A summary (paragraph) of the stereotype of interest including links to media coverage or memes (if applicable) so the reader can see what’s already been written--include images or a video to support (not substitute) your argument;
Provide an overview of the research organizing it around the key takeaways you identified in the sociological literature. Break each down in separate sections/paragraphs--do not attempt to summarize everything in a single paragraph. Include the research focus and intent of the article, the methodology (did they collect data? How?), findings and a statement linking the findings to your example.
Include a works cited section (does not have to be a separate page). Use ASA format to do so--see guidelines on D2L.
Submit your work in the designated Dropbox folder. You may be asked to share your findings with the class in a discussion thread.
The First Essay of the Semester will be in the form of a blog post focusing on challenging stereotypes with research. There’s Research On That!” (#TROT) is a blogging project at The Society Pages that presents short summaries of classic and contemporary research relevant to current events as a resource for journalists and the public.