About the Course (PDF version)

This is a process oriented seminar. The main goal is to arrive at the start of summer break with a clear path toward carrying out a successful senior thesis project in the senior seminar course in the fall.

Participants are expected to attend all sessions, participate actively in all workshops, complete all exercises on time, and maintain a digital portfolio of their work. Final grades will be based on portfolio of work completed during the semester and production by semester end of a research proposal (and human subjects proposal if necessary), a research plan, demonstrated access to data, field site, or informants, and a full bibliography.

The items listed under "Portfolio" each week must be uploaded to portfolio by end of day Friday (midnight) of the week they appear in.

Each seminar member will be responsible for presenting material during one week of the semester. Other members will submit to this person a single question or comment by Sunday midnight and the person whose week it is will have until class on Wednesday to synthesize and prepare presentation/discussion guide/etc. This includes distribution of a one page summary that has a section called "Last time on proseminar" that reminds us of previous class, "This week in proseminar" in which readings for this week are summarized, and "Talking points" in which you summarize questions or issues sent to you by classmates.

Starting around mid-semester we will dedicate a significant slice of class time to "workshopping" one another's topics. We will sign up for slots in week two. The week before your seminar you must distribute 8-10 pages of material for your classmates to read in preparation for discussing your work. Deadline is Sunday 8 am.

Books

  1. Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1999. The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Booksir?t=dary-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0674135865". Harvard University Press (978-0674135864). $20.50
  2. Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition ir?t=dary-20&l=as2&o=1&a=020530902X". Longman. (978-0205309023) $5.20
  3. Booth, Wayne C. et al. 1995. The Craft of Research, Third Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)ir?t=dary-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0226065669". University of Chicago Press. (978-0226065663) $12.96
    EBOOK in Mills Library
  4. Lispon, Charles. 2005. How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)ir?t=dary-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0226481263". University of Chicago Press. (978-0226481265) $15.69
  5. Becker, Howard S. 1978. Writing for Social Scientists
Schedule

1.20

Introductions: What do I know?

Getting to know one another. Demystifying the process. What is a seminar? The books. Building on what you already know.
Prep

  • Think about courses you've taken.

Class

  • (30) Icebreaker, welcome, syllabus, books

Need description of seminar leader duties. One sheet summary of the wisdom of the week. Collation of issues folks want to raise. Present all in 5 minute summary. Post result to website.

Workshop guide on separate page. It needs to describe/give template for "topic treatments" which are the first portfolio assignment. Should tie these in with Zotero library and reading.

Think about group work in workshop. Topics, cluster, explaining clusters.

Create a word template? Or an unformatted text document that needs to be formatted. Demo word formatting. Handout with basic list of techniques. Show how to join Zotero and get the ad-ins and desktop version. Show how to record a reference. How to use add-in in Word. Join ProSem Library group online.

Portfolio

  • (P1-1) 3 topic treatments
  • (P1-2) Zotero account
  • (P1-3) 1 Zotero citation for each topic (something you have already read)

Mountains with Stairs

1.27

What is a BA Thesis?

Process and Product
Prep:

  • Lipson How to Write a BA Thesis, pp. 3-34
  • Booth The Craft of Research, pp. 1-11 ("Starting" and "Thinking in Print"), 29-30 ("Planning")
  • Bernard, H.R. "A Guide to Research Topics, Anyway," pp. 89-95 in Research Methods Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (4th ed)

Class

Handout a grid of Bernard's types. Workshop guide on separate page. For each classmate you have to put one of their ideas into one of the boxes (so each of us will do 13-15 of them) and we have to get as many different boxes as possible. We will stagger the work - 5 minutes each. Everyone has the list in order. First five minutes you do person A and you start with a method you are assigned. Fantasize about a two variable question/approach that the author of the topic treatment might use. Jot it down. We will collect and distribute these and then each person will have a look and give us a quick report on what struck them. The homework assignment will be to write up a report that extends each of your topic treatments in terms that were suggested to you by your classmates. Plus you have to add something reflective about this.

Portfolio


x

2.3

Downloading What You Learn OR How to Keep a File

Everything is data
Prep

Class(seminar leader B)

Examples of files. Scavenger hunt.

What is a wiki? Simple setup. Security. Invite me. Categories and pages. List Pages. Tags

Portfolio


x

2.10

From Topics to Questions

Learning to ask interesting questions is everything…
Prep

  • Lipson:
  • Booth: Ch. 3 "From Topics to Questions," pp. 35-45
  • Becker:
  • Abbott on heuristics?

Class

  • (20) Homework

I think this week we are turning you loose on google so we expect you to find some stuff - and READ some stuff? So maybe some annotations?

Portfolio


x

2.17

From Questions to Problems

What makes something (social scientifically) interesting?
Reading
Booth: Ch. 4. "From Questions to Problems," pp. 48-63
Lipson: Ch. 4 "Refining Your Topic," pp. 66-85

Class

Includes material on writing a pitch


DigiTools: Audio Recording (deferred)

Portfolio

  • (P5-1) Questions to Problems Writeup (advisor pitch) with references
  • (P5-2) 3 bibliographic items (with annotations)
  • (P5-3) Google NGram for topic

x

2.24

How to Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

Note taking, types of sources, reviewing the literature
Prep

  • Field work: visit library to see Annual Reviews, find one reference.
  • Booth Ch 6 "From Questions to Sources," pp. 64-81 and "Speedy Reading," pp. 82-85.
  • Lipson ch. 3 "Taking Effective Notes and Avoiding Plagiarism," pp. 37-65
  • Bengston, V. How to summarize a reading
  • Bengston, V. How to write a lit review

Class

Portfolio


x

3.2

How We Research

topics
Prep

Class

Instructions to include how to cook up some case by variables fake data for your project and then build some tables. Workshop should also show some formatting and copying to word.

Portfolio

(P7.1)3 bibliographic items
(P7.2)Methods workshop writeup
(P7.3)1 annotation
(P7.4)Imaginary dataset for your project with tables


x

3.9

How to Workshop Your Colleague's Work

Drafts, constructive criticism, risk
Prep

  • Richards, P. "Risk" in Becker pp. 108-120.
  • Selection from Zerubavel, Clockwork Muse
  • Something on workshopping.

Class

Move these to whenever we do charts and stuff

  • Lipson ch. 12 "Visual Presentation of Information"
  • Tufte TBA

NOTE if you are "up" next week you need to submit 10 pp (no more, no less) of material to your classmates by 7 am Sunday.

Portfolio

3 bibliographic items
1 annotation
Clockwork Muse sketch for 3 drafts of proposal


Let the Workshopping Commence

3.16

Pilot Projecting

Piloting your study
Prep

  • Lipson ch. 5 "What is good thesis research?" pp 889-98 and ch. 6. "Using Case Studies Effectively," pp. 99-109
  • Becker "Nothing's Happening" from Tricks of the Trade

Class

Portfolio

Plan for your pilot data collection with logistics
Informed consent form


x

3.30

Into the Field

topics
Prep

From among these (or others you might locate on the web), select a model document for your research proposal and/or human subjects proposal.

Class

Tips and tricks in Word and Excel

Portfolio

  • Some evidence you have looked at the real world in connection with your project: a pilot or informational i/v OR 3hrs field notes OR a dataset or …
  • PDF model document for your proposal

x

4.6

Presenting

topics
Prep

Class

  • (5) Five Minute Summary: Paulina
  • (15) Checkin
  • (90) Workshop Sarah, Julia, Betsy
  • (30) Workshop: Demystifying the Graduate School Application Process
  • (45) DigiTools: Slide Shows
  • (10) Homework Assignment: Preliminary Data Analysis Write-Up

Portfolio

3 bibliographic items
1 annotation


x

4.13

Practicality and Ideals

topics
Prep

  • Booth: "Research and Ethics," pp. 255-8

Class

  • (5) Five Minute Summary: Shawnim
  • (15) Checkin
  • (60) Rose, Melissa, Dante
  • (45) Workshop: Public Speaking and Professional Presentations
  • DigiTools: GIS

Portfolio

3 bibliographic items
1 i/v OR 3hrs fw OR dataset
Draft Proposal


The Finish Line

4.20

Researchability

topics
Prep

Class

Check with Maggie to see if she did anything special. Or folks from career services to do resume workshop?

Portfolio

3 bibliographic items
1 annotation
Draft presentation


x

4.27

Introductions

Getting started…
Prep
Booth: ch 15 "Introductions," pp. 234-254
Class

  • (30) Digitools

Portfolio

Proposal


x

5.4

No Official Class Meeting

topics

Portfolio

Proposal

Boilerplate

General Notes about Course

Course Format

This course will employ a seminar format. This means that we will sit around a table and work together to figure out what the texts we are reading mean, where our research is going, how we can help one another along. You are expected to join in this collective project. You will also be expected to comment on classmates' work regularly and to submit your work for their consideration.

Grading

Course grade will be based equally on intellectual engagement (participation), timely completion of assignments, and the quality of final products (seminar presentations, final presentations (at social science research conference, for example), proposals).

Changes

The course schedule should be understood to be tentative. We may get behind or ahead. Readings may be added or dropped. Assignments may be dropped or modified (in the direction of less work).

Accommodations

Course adaptations will be made for students with disabilities. If you need accommodation, please go through the established processes at the Office of Disabled Student Services and let me know as soon as possible what accommodation(s) you will need to successfully complete all course requirements. In no case will it be acceptable to inform me of needed accommodations on the day an assignment is due.

Excuses and Such

“I didn’t understand what you meant” is not an excuse for not doing your work correctly. If you do not understand something on this syllabus or other documents handed out in class, ask for clarification. It is your responsibility to be sufficiently "ahead" in your work to discover such things in time to ask and give me a reasonable amount of time to reply. The night before something is due is usually too late.
Papers are due at the start of class on the day they are due. Missing class that day does not buy you an extension. Deadlines for all written work are firm. Plan accordingly. Unannounced late work will NEVER be accepted. Except under the direst of circumstances, extensions will not be granted. Under no circumstances will any extension be granted within 24 hours of a due date. Plan your crises accordingly.

Verified instances of plagiarism will result in a failing grade or option to withdraw from the course. When in doubt, use quotation marks and fully cite.

Funding

Some research projects receive funding from Mills UROP Grants.