JoAnn Martin                                                                                       So/An 345

Bolling  Center 323                                                                              Bolling Center 226                                                                          Mon., Wed., Fri  10:00

Office Hours:  By appointment with secretaries

In social science office

Social Research methods

The purpose of this course is to teach students to ask researchable questions, to find the relevant background research, to develop a research design, and to write a fundable research proposal. While we will begin the course reflecting upon and discussing intellectual foundations and ethical issues associated with different approaches to research, the course is primarily skill based. Ideally this course is taken early enough in a student’s career to enable them to use the skills they acquire in this course to develop a senior thesis project.

The course is unusual in the demands it places on students. The primary vehicle for assessing student work will be the research proposal written primarily in the first half of the semester. In order to write this proposal students should anticipate spending considerable amounts of time working on their own in the library. To ensure that students have ample opportunity to work in the library, I have scheduled several weeks of library time and have kept readings to a minimum during that period. But, the class time spent in the library will not be sufficient to complete work for the course.

Students should expect frustration in moving through the process of exploring a researchable question and writing the proposal. It often takes several weeks to develop a research question and students often take a number of detours as they search for relevant materials. Again this means that each students needs to allocate sufficient time to complete work for this course.

Students who are having difficulty moving forward with this project should seek my assistance as well as that of the library staff early on. Depending on the overall progress of students in the class, we may meet in the library for an extended session on a Sunday during the semester.




Required Readings:

On Reserve:

On Reserve:

Some Candid Suggestions for Applicants to Social Science Research Council Competitions by Adam Przeworsk and Frank Salomen

Body Rituals Among the Nacirema by Horace Miner

Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry by Michael Jackson

Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture by Clifford Geertz.

Interpretation and the Sciences of Man by Charles Taylor


Agar, Michael

1996 The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography. New York: Academic Press.

Salkind, Neil
2000 Statistics for People Who Think They Hate Statistics. New York: Sage Publications.


Week 1 – Introduction

8/24-8/26  Reading:  "Body Rituals Among the Nacirema."

Week 2

8/29 - 9/2  Readings:  "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture."; "Interpretation and the Sciences of Man." "Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry."

Week 3   Library Meeting

9/5-9/9  Readings: Agar pp. 1-51;53-72;73-90.

Statement of Problem due 9/12

Week 4 


9/19-9/23  Readings:  Agar pp. 91-111;113-131;133-166.

Week 6

9/26-9/30  Readings:  Agar pp. 167-184;185-221;223-252.

Rewrite of Statement of Problem due 10/3

Week 7 

10/3-10/7  Library Meeting

Midsemester Break 10/13-10/16

Week 8 

10/10-10/14  Readings: Salkind (pages to be announced).

Week 9

10/17-10/21   Readings:  Salkind

Week 10 

10/24-10/28  Readings:  Salkind 

Week 11 

10/31-11/4 Readings:  Salkind 

Week 12

11/7-11/11  Readings:  Salkind

Week 13 

11/14-11/18 Readings: Salkind

Week 14  Fall Break


Week 15

11/28-12/2 Readings: Salkind

Week 16  Literature Review due 12/5

12/5-12/9 Presentations in class