Writing in Sociology


Good writing requires attention – not only to the ideas you are trying to convey, but also to the style, the form, and the function of your writing. No one produces an A paper the first time around. Award winning author James A. Michener acknowledged this reality when he admitted, “I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.” Yes, all good writers know that writing of any worth entails a process of meticulous research, writing, feedback, rewriting, editing, and citing sources carefully before a piece is ready for public scrutiny.

Helping students to develop their writing skills to the max is an important element of the Sociology major. Throughout their time in the major, students will be expected to hone their abilities to write from a sociological perspective. All Soc majors first start putting a special focus on writing as a sociologist when they take Soc 30900, Foundations of Sociological Theory. Soc 30900 is the department’s writing intensive course, wherein students reflect on the quality of their own and others’ written work through specially structured exercises and assignments. As they progress through the major, students encounter further opportunities to improve their writing skills through course papers and creative assignments.

Sociology majors have a number of ways to showcase their written work. They may choose to produce a senior thesis, a particularly distinctive accomplishment.  Seniors may also enter one of their praiseworthy papers into the department’s Best Essay or Research Paper Award competition. This competition is open to all students. The award is bestowed on a graduating senior each May.

The topics that follow are designed to guide you through the process of research and writing in Sociology.  Take some time to absorb the information provided here so that you continuously improve your writing skills throughout your sociological studies!  And toward that end, be sure to take a look at these books and guidelines for effective writing

Roadmap: Research and Writing as Reiterative Process

Elizabeth E. Martinez

Writing a term paper in sociology is often thought of as a linear process, but in reality it is a reiterative process.  Here is a list of seven steps, which can be viewed as a roadmap on how to write a research paper.  Follow this roadmap, and you will be able to navigate successfully from assignment to completed paper – along a trail that circles back and forth, not a trail that simply goes in a straight line from one place to another.

Sociology Resources in the Hesburgh Library

Every semester, Sociology majors will have to write at least one research paper.  Deciding on a topic and/or finding resources for that paper can be difficult, especially when you are first getting started.  That’s where this introduction to Hesburgh Library's collections comes into play: to direct you to the plethora of resources at your disposal in Hesburgh Library!

Senior Thesis

A senior thesis project is the pinnacle of writing experiences in the Sociology undergraduate major. It is both the most challenging commitment a Sociology major can make and the most rewarding! All majors are invited to consider doing a senior thesis to cap off their Sociology major! 

Best Essay or Research Paper Award Competition

Each year, the Sociology Department awards a monetary prize for the best essay or research paper submitted by a graduating Sociology major on a topic of sociological relevance.  The paper may have been written at any point during your time as a major. The recipient of this award is announced at the Sociology Department’s Senior Luncheon & Recognition Ceremony, which takes place at the end of each spring semester. The winner is also recognized at commencement.