Sociological Research Practicum

Sociological Research Practicum

All students will be required to take the SRP series to prepare an independent research paper, the “empirical paper.” Typically, this empirical paper will be used later as the basis for participation in S700, the publishing course.  Ideally, the requirement will help students get acclimated immediately into empirical research and get started early enough to publish an article in time for the job market. The empirical paper will also fulfill the essay (thesis) requirement for those earning a Masters degree.  (Those who already have a Masters degree in sociology will also be required to complete an empirical paper through SRP.)

Practicum details

The SRP series will comprise a three-course series:

  1. Spring of first year in program (3 credits of S566),
  2. First six-week Summer session between first and second years (3 credits of S567),
  3. Fall of second year in program (3 credits of S567).

The Spring and Fall courses will be taught by the same faculty instructor who will also serve as the first or second reader on empirical papers being used to fulfill the essay (thesis) requirement.  The first, Spring course will be a regular, in-person class that meets weekly.  It will cover how to select and frame research questions, finding and analyzing data, and writing up.  Students are expected to finish this course with a draft of the front end of the empirical paper, including the introduction, conceptual background, and methods sections.

In the Summer course students will finish collecting (if needed), cleaning, and analyzing data.  The deliverable will be a revised methods section, a polished draft of all tables and figures, and possibly a research findings memo if appropriate (for instance, if it is an interview-based paper).  The summer course will be taught by the Clinical Associate Professor who will also serve as a third reader for those fulfilling the essay (thesis) requirement.  At the invitation of the faculty instructor, the Clinical Associate Professor will also attend a few, but not all, of the class sessions in the Spring and assist students with finding data, choosing appropriate software, IU research protocols and resources, etc. The summer course will be an ARR course and students are not required to be in residence.  Students will be required to meet weekly with the Clinical Associate Professor (in person or over Zoom) in groups or individually as appropriate.

In the third, Fall course of the student’s second year in the program, students will complete the empirical paper.  Specifically, they will draft the results, discussion, and conclusion sections and then revise as needed.  This Fall course will be ARR and will comprise individual or group meetings as the faculty instructor sees fit.  Typically, students will be expected to meet weekly or biweekly with the instructor.

Masters Readers

As noted above, the faculty instructor will be the first or second reader and the Clinical Associate Professor will serve as a third reader for empirical papers being used to fulfil the Masters essay requirement.  The default is that the faculty instructor will be the first reader. Students will choose a second reader from among the faculty in consultation with faculty instructor.  This second reader will be identified near the beginning of the first Spring course (S566).  

Alternatively, the faculty instructor may serve as second reader and another faculty member will be the first reader if circumstances warrant.  For example, if a student’s paper requires methodological or substantive expertise that another faculty member is uniquely suited to provide it may well make sense for that professor to serve as first reader. 

Interested in learning about past projects?

You can view past Sociological Research Practicum projects on the Karl F. Schuessler Institute for Social Research’s website.

View past projects