My research question is about the reason for abortion. This topic can be broken down into socio-demographic characteristics, experiences of becoming pregnant, pregnancy planning, and the abortion decision-making process.
Write a brief account (about 400 words) of the research topic you want to focus on for this course. The purpose of this is to get you to think hard about the topic you are going to be researching and analyzing for the three written assignments to follow.
First of all, pick a topic that you are really interested in. No neuroscience/medical research topics. This is a sociology course and so we must focus on social issues.
As you select your topic, try to keep the subsequent assignments clearly in mind. You will be doing an annotated bibliography, and then an in-depth analytic review of a few research texts which focus specifically on your topic, and finally a research design in which you propose an explanation for an aspect of your chosen problem that is not well dealt with in the literature, and explain how you would test your hypothesis. Pick a topic that will work well for those assignments.
You will need to focus your question in order to be able to do these assignments. It won’t do to say that you want to study ‘children and computers’, or ‘divorce’. These are huge topics, and the literature on them would fill libraries. For this assignment, you need to pick a part or an aspect of these larger questions. “Education and jobs” is a huge, unworkable topic; “Does working for pay while in college affect educational performance in college, and what factors explain this effect?” is a precise and researchable question. Saying you want to study “alcoholism” is not a focused topic. You need to explain exactly what it is that you want to study about alcohol consumption. For example, you may want to study “factors that affect alcohol consumption among women in America.” A possible factor of alcoholism is stress levels.
Why you need to choose an aspect or a subtopic: remember that your goal is to review the relevant literature and see what other scholars have said about this topic, and then see if you can come up with your own explanation, or slightly improved explanation of what is going on. If you have a vague general topic, the literature will be vast and impossible to digest. If you have a precisely focused question, it may take longer to come up with relevant references, but you will be able to make sense of them. You will also find it is much easier to construct a research design which tackles a specific aspect of your topic
So, in this discussion, you need to begin to come up with a precisely focused research question, one that you later will keep clearly in mind as you research the literature, as you select three or four relevant articles to read carefully and analyze in depth, and as you construct your own research proposal which will help explain the answers to the research question you have selected. Some hard thinking now will make everything easier later on. State the topic as precisely as you can, state why it seems interesting or important to you, and what you think are likely to be the main causal factors which explain this problem.
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