writing for soc.pdf - Writing for Sociology Department of Sociology University of California Berkeley 2008 Writing for Sociology Department of Sociology

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Unformatted text preview: Writing for Sociology Department of Sociology University of California, Berkeley 2008 Writing for Sociology Department of Sociology University of California, Berkeley 2008 Compiled by Jennifer Jones and Sarah Quinn with Nicholas Hoover Wilson, Head Editor and Design Additional Editing by Kristen Gray Greggor Mattson and Marcel Paret © 2008. Work produced for this guide is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA, 94105 Contributors retain the rights to their own work, and should be contacted directly for permission. Department of Sociology University of California, Berkeley 410 Barrows Hall UC Berkeley Berkeley, CA 94720-1980 Table of Contents Acknowledgements Preface from Kim Voss Introduction: Introductory Comments Introduction...1 Excerpt: Letter from Lawrence Summers...3 Chapter 1: Thinking and Reading for College 1.1 Thinking in Sociology...5 1.2 Bloom’s Taxanomy...6 1.3 Reading for College...8 1.4 Guidelines for Critical Reading...9 1.5 Get Messy! A Note on Annotations...11 Chapter 2: Understanding The Assignment 2.1 Summarize a Text...14 2.2 Interpret or Explain a Passage...15 2.3 Compare and Contrast...15 2.4 Evaluate or Critique an Argument or Theory...17 2.5 Apply a Theory...18 2.6 The Components of the Research Paper...19 Chapter 3: The Writing Process 3.1 Picking a Topic with Care...23 3.2 Approaching the Writing Assignment...25 3.3 Organization and Outlines...26 3.4 A Possible Outline Template for an Argumentative or Analytical Paper...29 3.5 Writer’s Block and Anxiety...30 3.6 Drafts, Revising and Editing...35 3.7 How to Revise...36 3.8 Expectations: Great, Good, Fair and Poor Writing...39 3.9 What to do When you get a Paper Back...41 Chapter 4: Mechanics 4.1 Principles of Good Writing...49 4.2 Predication...50 4.3 Active and Passive Voice...52 4.4 Good Paragraphs...53 4.5 Introductions...55 4.6 Conclusions...58 4.7 Racism in Language...60 4.8 Sexism in Language...62 Chapter 5: Thesis Statements and Arguments 5.1 What is a Thesis Statement?...65 5.2 When and Why Thesis Statements are Needed...66 5.3 How to Develop a Thesis Statement...68 5.4 Using Evidence to Support Your Thesis...71 5.5 Counterarguments...72 Chapter 6: Handling Other People’s Writing: Plagiarism, Citations and Quotes 6.1 Berkeley’s Policy on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity...75 6.2 When to use Citations...78 6.3 How to use Quotations and Paraphrasing...79 6.4 Formatting Citations...83 Afterword: Arlie Hochschild...89 Appendix A: Resources for Writers A.1 Writing Intensive Classes in Sociology...97 A.2 Tutoring & Writing support...98 A.3 Writing Classes...100 A.4 Other Opportunities for Student Writing...103 A.5 Recommended Guides and Online sources...104 Appendix B: Checklists B.1 The General Checklist...106 B.2 Research Paper Checklist...107 B.3 Things that Annoy your Instructors...108 B.4 Will this Thesis Make the Grade?...110 Appendix C: Recommended Readings C.1 Writing References, Guides and Advice...111 C.2 Dictionaries, Grammar Guides, and Books on Academic Editing and Writing...113 C.4 Good Writing: Learning by Example...113 Appendix D: Examples of Good Student Writing...116 Appendix E: Writing Groups E.1 Putting Together a Writing Group...125 E.2 Course-Based Writing Groups and Individual Writing...129 E.3 Collaborative Group Assignments...129 E.4 Systems for Sharing Work...131 Acknowledgements We are grateful to the many people who have contributed their time, advice, and teaching materials to this guide. Kim Voss guided this project through its fruition – it simply would not have been possible to do this without her insight and support. Michael Burawoy hosted a forum on teaching writing in the Spring of 2007 in which Jennifer Jones first came up with the idea of this booklet; his enthusiastic response was integral to getting the project off the ground. This booklet has benefited from the advice of many teachers and advisors at Berkeley. Steve Tollefson shared advice about how to launch the project, allowed us to include some of his own materials in this guide, and stood as a model of how to teach writing with verve and care. Kim Starr-Reid of the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching Resource Center provided guidance at the crucial early stages of the project. Kristi Bedolla offered her considerable knowledge about the needs and experiences of undergraduates in the Sociology Department here at Cal. Many members of Sociology Department at Berkeley were kind enough to share their time and teaching materials. We thank our fellow graduate students Kristen Gray, Cinzia Solari, Marcel Paret, Greggor Mattson, Jennifer Randles, Leslie Wang, Stephen Smith, Manuel Vallee, Barry Eidlin, Nick Wilson, Siri Colom, Ana Villa-Lobos and Aaron Platt for their help and contributions. Among the faculty we would like extend a special thanks to Arlie Hochschild, John Levi Martin, Michael Burawoy, Irene Bloemraad, Jim Stockinger, Trond Peterson, Dylan Riley, Sandra Smith, Marion FourcadeGourinchas, Loïc Wacquant, Heather Haveman, Claude Fischer and Brian Powers. Thanks also to Belinda Kuo White who deftly managed our complicated funding needs. We’d like to thank the staff as a whole for their support and assistance in helping us through all of the tasks necessary to get the guide through its many drafts and iterations. This guide is full of advice collected from writing experts and teachers across the country. We are indebted to following individuals and organizations: Allen Brizee at the Purdue OWL; Jim Herron, Elizabeth Abrams, Pat Bellanca, Gordon Harvey and Laura Saltz at The Writing Center at Harvard University; Denise Lach and Richard G. Mitchell, Jr. of the Department of Sociology and Vicki Tolar Burton of the English Department at Oregon State University; Paisley Currah; Karina Ruth Palau; Joshua Page; Vicki Behrens and the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Celia Easton and Paul Schacht at SUNY Geneseo; Cheryl Prentice and the Writing Center at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Karen Gocsik and the Dartmouth Writing Program at Dartmouth College; Bradley Hughes and the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Robert Kimmerle and The Skidmore Guide to Writing at Skidmore College; Barbara Lewis and the Center for Communication Practices at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and Barbara Gross Davis and the Office of Educational Development at the University of California, Berkeley. Greggor Mattson, Marcel Paret, and Kristen Gray were each kind enough to edit sections of the guide. This project was funded by an Educational Innovation Grant from the University of California, Berkeley. We are very grateful to Christina Maslach, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, for her consideration and support of this project. Finally, we would like to thank the Sociology Department as a whole for their encouragement and support throughout this project and their dedication to teaching good writing at Berkeley. Sincerely, Jennifer Jones and Sarah Quinn Preface by Kim Voss Professor and Chair, 2004-2007 I blame it on IQ tests. Many undergraduates arrive at Berkeley with the idea that writers, like geniuses, are born rather than made. They imagine that my colleagues and I simply sit down and write books and articles in pretty much finished form, spending little time on drafts or any hours at all on editing and reformulating. A lot of undergraduates despair because they think that if they were not born writers, they are condemned to never be very good at it. Yet, as you will learn here, the genius model of writing is wrong. Just as psychologists have discovered that many differences in I.Q. scores have environmental, not genetic, roots, writing, too, is an ability that can be nurtured and improved. All the good writers I know spend hours rewriting and reworking unclear text, put in days painfully confronting their own fuzzy thinking, and devote much attention to the craft of writing itself. The academic environment is a writing-intensive environment, and during your college years you will be asked to write dozens of assignments—from brief response papers to essay exams to full-fledged research papers. We ask you to write because we want you to learn a skill that you will need in the future, whether you decide to become an activist or an attorney, a professor or a physician, a social worker or a software engineer. We also ask you to write because—above all else—we want to teach you to think clearly, precisely, and profoundly. This guide grows out of the Berkeley Sociology Department’s quest to find ways to teach our undergraduates to become better writers. Beginning in 2005, we decided to tackle head-on the writing difficulties that many of our faculty and graduate student instructors were observing in the courses were teaching. We began by organizing a series of department-wide colloquia on different techniques for teaching writing and for incorporating sociological writing in undergraduate courses. We also decided to prioritize writing instruction in allocating Graduate Student Instructors to undergraduate courses. Once our new emphasis on writing instruction had been in place for a year, we met to compare notes and to figure out what was working well and what needed to be improved. We agreed at that meeting that the one thing that would most help all of us—undergraduates, graduate student instructors, and faculty—would be a short booklet on writing for sociologists. Producing this writing guide has been a labor of love. Led by Jennifer Jones and Sarah Quinn, the graduate students in the Berkeley Sociology Department have built on their experiences as Graduate Student Instructors to put together a writing guide that they wish they had had when they were undergraduates. I echo that wish—perhaps I’d have spent fewer hours pulling out my hair over my own lousy first drafts if I’d had this guide when I first set out to learn the craft of writing. I hope that you will use this labor of love to make yourself a better writer. Writing for Sociology Introduction Welcome to Berkeley Sociology! text to the more complicated terrain of analyzing, applying and evaluating Graduate students in the sociology it. department created this guide. We combed the internet, begged our Communicate, don’t regurgitate. faculty, and badgered our peers in There are two models for going order to compile all the advice we wish through school. In the regurgitation we heard when we were undergrads. model students seek to please the The guide is designed to help you people grading their papers by produce interesting and satisfying pandering to their interests and work each and every time you write. parroting points from lecture. In the And in the process of improving your communication model, papers are writing, you will find that you think in seen as a chance for students to have more rigorous and profound ways. an in-depth and personal discussion This booklet is filled with tips and directives, but they are all facets of a few simple ideas: Cluster your courses. . .try to build a program of study that allows you Writing is about thinking. Written to explore [an] issue from a variety work is not only assigned to evaluate of angles—in psychology courses, your performance; it is a chance to in history courses, in economics hone your understanding of a topic. If courses, in government courses, you cannot write about something etc. Write research papers. clearly, this is a sure sign that you need Research papers are excellent to understand it better. When you opportunities for you to orient practice writing, you also practice yourself in a particular field or topic thinking, and as you learn to write with and to build confidence and greater precision and clarity, you will experience, so you can tackle future think with greater precision and clarity. assignments in the same general Chapter 1 introduces the different area. types of thinking you will be asked to master in college, and explains what Making the Most of College Writing: A Guide it means to move past summarizing a for Freshman. (Harvard University) 2 with their readers about a topic. Assignments are conversations on paper that communicate your take on a subject, and the comments you get back are a continuation of this conversation. Many people go through school just regurgitating and getting by, but we believe that if you see your assignments as a kind of communication, you’ll find that writing I write to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. - Joan Didion topic, and Chapter 5 will help you develop that topic into an argument. Develop your writer’s voice. The written word is different than spoken communication, and different types of writing projects require different styles. But no matter what you write, your voice should be present throughout so that the reader feels engaged with what you are arguing, pondering or illustrating. Chapters 3 and 4 address the writing process and the mechanics of writing. When reading them, consider how to hone your voice and writing style. Be clear. In a verbal conversation you can find out quickly if someone misunderstood you. As a student, if you haven’t been clear enough with your writing, you often will not find out until you get your grade – which may be too late to recover – so you must say exactly what you mean the first time. The best way to learn how to be clear is to share your work with others Make a point about something that and find out if they understood what matters. The best work takes a stand you meant. We encourage you to about something that matters. always seek out feedback on your Remember that professors ask you to write because they want to give you a chance to think things through, and It’s easy after all, not to be a writer. they want to know what you think. So Most people aren’t writers, and very take the time to make sure that your little harm comes to them. - Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrots writing represents a fully formed point of view about the subject at hand and that you’ve picked a topic that is worth the investment. A resonant topic will work from friends, classmates, GSIs, make the process of writing more professors, tutors, and through the interesting for you and the results many writing resource centers and more interesting for your audience. opportunities on campus (a list of them Chapter 3 will help you identify how to is available in Appendix A). This guide pick a meaningful and appropriate is more enjoyable and more rewarding. As you write in sociology classes you will be entering ongoing conversations about how the social world works. Chapter 6, on dealing with other people’s writing, will explain the rules for engaging with others work in a responsible way. 3 also provides tips for being clear in Chapter 5: Mechanics. Writing is a craft that is learned through practice and hard work. Though it might seem that great writing is a mysterious gift, in reality it is a skill honed through practice and hard work. This means that study habits matter. This guide won’t help you manage your time better, but it will walk you through a set of work habits that matter most for writing a paper. The section on Reading for College (in Chapter 1) lists tricks for understanding and remembering what you have read. Chapter 3 provides an in-depth look at the writing process. Here we reveal that the secret to great work is planning, editing, and more editing. We also detail the process of outlining, editing, rewriting, and absorbing feedback from Readers, Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and professors. The good news is that if you are patient, practice your writing, and work hard, you will be sure to see an improvement in your work. A Letter from Lawrence H. Summers from Making the Most of College Writing: A Guide for Freshman. Harvard University [In college] you will have the opportunity to develop your capacity to think—carefully, critically, conceptually, creatively, and, above all, curiously. This capacity for thought will help you in whatever career you choose and will deepen your appreciation of our culture and other cultures you encounter. It will influence you as a citizen of your country and your world and will be a gift you pass on to those you teach, mentor, and nurture. The single most important thing we know about learning is that active approaches work better than passive ones. When we write, we formulate and answer questions in a process of active creation. I encourage you to view learning to write well as an important objective and to seize opportunities to write in whatever courses you choose. Of course, good writing will mean different things in different fields and different academic contexts But there are some general principles I would encourage you to consider: Write, rewrite, and edit. Thousands of procrastinating students have comforted themselves hearing the story of how Lincoln wrote his most famous address on the train to Gettysburg. Like every other tale purporting that there is great writing without great effort, this one is false. Lincoln wrote a final draft on the train, but the speech’s concision and beauty were the fruit of much prior effort. Get reactions and advice. All of us benefit from how others react to what we have written. The questions others ask force us to clarify our thinking, to anticipate objections to our thesis, and to highlight our main points. Have an argument, point, or perspective. Student writing that is impeccably grammatical and 4 even beautifully worded will not persuade if the reader cannot see its point. Like all readers, faculty are quick to detect when writing lacks purpose, and they tend to prefer ragged but real thought over platitudes that no one could argue with or take to heart. Be concrete, build your arguments with evidence, and support them with well-chosen illustrations. You will remember my reference to Lincoln longer than anything else in this short preface because it is concrete and not abstract. If you cannot think of anything concrete to cite in support of your point, you probably do not understand it very well. Writing is hard. If it were easy, the ability to write well would not be so highly valued. Some of you will come to greatly enjoy the act of writing. For many of you, writing will always feel like work, and the satisfaction will come from having written. Either way, your writing and your learning will coincide. EWP_guide.web.pdf 5 Writing for Sociology Chapter 1: Thinking and Reading for College 1.1 Thinking in Sociology Adapted from Denise Lach, “Introduction” in Writing within Sociology: a Guide for Undergraduates, a guide from the Department of Sociology at Oregon State University 1 Good sociological thinking is a challenge for everyone - from students in Introductory Sociology to professors. Experience offers us only the confidence that we’ve done it before, so we can do it again! One direct path to sociological thinking is through writing. Good writing is connected to reading and thinking - the more we do of all three, the better we become at each one. After all, working at things we have yet to master is what learning is all about. And, like any other skill, the better you are at doing something, the easier it seems and the more fun it becomes. While improving your thinking skills, you can play with ideas and words; find new ways to connect 1 Available online: socwritingguide1-7.pdf previously uncombined concepts; and ultimately convince other people that your ideas are worth listening to. This is especially important in sociology, in which we cultivate what C. Wright Mills calls the ‘Sociological Imagination’. In a nutshell, Mills argues that because “neither the life of an individual no...
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