Mechanics Topics

"Mechanics" Presentations

Some aspects of writing a thesis are in the realm of technique — stuff you simply need to know how to do and that you learn how to do both "on the job" and by reading instructional material. A number of the books we are using are more or less completely in this realm.

Early in the seminar students will take turns leading discussions of these materials. Here is the basic outline of how to prepare for such a presentation.

  1. Select one reading (or sometimes one topic that might have two readings) — see online syllabus
  2. After reading carefully and thinking about material…
    1. …identify and briefly describe three overarching issues (note "overarching" — not three tiny details within the readings)
    2. …identify three "take-aways" — probably in the form of "rules of the road" or "helpful hints" or "best practices" — the point is that they should be exhortations to actually do something concrete, an actual practice
    3. …three questions to generate discussion among your classmates (this is probably the hardest of the three items).
  3. Discussion leaders should prepare these in written form (following all the usual professional style practices) — in most cases, no more than a single page.

Getting Started

Lipson: How to Read This Book
Lipson: Introduction
Lipson: Useful Nuts and Bolts

Leading Questions

  1. What's the "basic map of the book" (3-4)?
  2. Did you take a look ahead at chapters 15 and 16 as recommended?
  3. Build on previous work (10.2)! Q: list five interesting things you've learned about in previous courses.
  4. What does YOUR sociology (anth-soc) major look like? What non-required courses does it add to the core? What courses from other departments are components of your major?
  5. What are the component tasks of writing a thesis? (10.6)
  6. How might we revise the schedule shown on page 7?
  7. Three topics (14ff)
  8. Divide and Conquer (actually, divide and schedule) (25-26

Starting a File

Mills: "On Intellectual Craftsmanship" HTML, PDF
GTWSP: Ch1. Getting Started (pp. 3-27)
Lipson: Refining Your Topic, Writing a Proposal, and Beginning Research

Leading Questions

  1. How did Lipson describe this "file" thing?

TASKS: Assemble a reading list and start a file.


Lipson: Taking Effective Notes and Avoiding Plagiarism
GTWSP: Acknowledging Sources

What is a thesis?

Lipson: What Is Good Thesis Research?

Lipson: Using Case Studies Effectively
Lipson: Every Thesis Should Have a Thesis


Lipson: Planning and Prewriting: How Do They Help Your Thesis?
Lipson: Writing Your Best

Rewriting, Editing, Wordsmithing

Lipson: Effective Openings, Smooth Transitions, and Strong Closings
Lipson: Good Editing Makes Good Writing
GTWSP: Polishing Your Paper
Zerubavel: The Clockwork Muse

Graphics and Tables

Lipson: Presenting Information Visually

Time Management

GTWSP: Organizing Your Time
GTWSP: The Writing Process
Lipson: Working Efficiently
Lipson: Overcoming Problems
Lipson: Thesis Time Schedule

Textual Analysis/Paper

GTWSP: The Textual Analysis/Paper

Library Research Paper

GTWSP: The Library Research Paper

Ethnographic Fieldwork Paper

GTWSP: The Ethnographic Field

Quantitative Research Papers

GTWSP: The Quantitative Research Paper