Principles of Methodology

In this assignment students will choose an article from a social sciences journal and conduct a critical review of it.

It is to be 7 to 10 pages in length, double spaced. If you are using APA format please note that your title
page is not page one, page one is your first full page of text. I have no preference as to citation styles just
make sure you use one that includes all the relevant information. No, you do not have to include the article when you submit the assignment.

– Develop a topic of interest (this can be related to your field of study but not required) – do not use
articles that have been assigned in courses.

– Locate a social sciences journal – the article you choose needs to be peer reviewed. Please make sure
that the article presents research results and is not a review of literature (in this course we are going
to examine several different types of methods and you should be able to work with them – see course
outline). Also, I would prefer that the authors conduct their own research rather than rely on secondary
data (this is most common when looking at quantitative work – relying on survey data collected through
organizations such as Statistics Canada or other national/organizational equivalents.

As we’ve been talking about with concepts and variables sometimes there are concepts we need “official” definitions for because of the types of comparisons and correlations we wish to make, the source of data, etc. Statistics Canada is one such source. Consider other sources that you would trust the conceptual definitions for and add it to the discussion board. StatCan is also a data source we’ll talk about later in the term.

Questions to address:
Identify the general problem being studied – what is their research question?

What is the theoretical orientation that informs the research – how do you know?

What are the major concepts discussed in the literature review? What are they and how are they defined?

What type of research methods were used in the article? What was the process (eg. who, where, when, how…)

What are the results/findings?

How are the results used to answer the original research question(s)?

Were there any ethical issues? How were they addressed?

What are the general strengths/weaknesses of the article? Describe.

What is/are the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the article? Describe.

Do you have any other questions about the research, the process, the concepts, that you feel need further explanation?

don’t block quote your answers – summarizing and conducting a critical analysis will demonstrate your own understanding of the material.
As we talked about in class and you can see on the handout from the course information section is an overview of the general topic area and then moving into the specific variables and concepts that the authors are investigating. I want you to think about whether or not they told you enough to be able to understand (and eventually assess) where their research fits into the broader research field and whether or not they were clear about what they were and weren’t measuring. For example poverty, income, housing, health, illness, etc. It may not be quite so obvious as “this is what we mean when we say…” but you should be able to identify and describe the variable. A starting point could be the keywords that are listed after the abstract in some articles. If you draw up the x causes y statement that will also help identify the variables
If you are using data from other countries, do not assume that it reflects Canadian (or other trends occurring in other countries) trends. Use data and materials related to the region of which you are writing.
Be clear about the direction of your paper – include a thesis statement to help guide your reader (and yourself).
Define your terms – this aids in clarity of your thinking and logic. This also makes clear what you are and are not analysing and then using to make your argument.
Avoid generalizations (using “all” to indicate the widespread occurrence of a phenomenon that may not be so widespread).
Don’t forget to proofread your work – just because your computer says it is correct doesn’t make it so. Proofreading ensures that both you and your reader understand your argument and that you can communicate it effectively.
Please remember that all items included in your bibliography needed to have been used within the text of your paper and all items cited in your paper need to be included in your bibliography. Failure to do so could be construed as plagiarism and appropriate actions will be taken. References to course notes in your paper are not acceptable.
Lastly, internet sources are to be carefully selected and scrutinized before you consider using them. There are numerous problems such as accuracy, considering where the information has come from, sources, etc. therefore use of internet sites should be limited to organizations that are reputable and have a peer – review system in place such as federal and international agencies (Statistics Canada, etc). Blogs, rants, online dictionaries, media references or other sites that are not academically sound are not acceptable sources and will result in a penalty of 2 (two) marks per inappropriate source. If you are unsure of your sources please ask.
Please make sure that you use citations throughout the assignment even though you are using a single article. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism.
You are not required to use subheadings. However, if you’d like to then go forth.
They are useful editing tools as well as offering a clear direction for your work. If you turn the heading into a question and then read to the following one, assess whether or not you have answered the question. If not, then go back and fix it.

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