How can I write a six-page, thesis-driven research paper for a graduate course on non-traditional roles for women in law enforcement using Bonita Long's "Sex-Role Orientation, Coping Strategies", and "Self-Efficacy of Women in Traditional and Nontraditional Occupations" and P.J. Hughes, "A New Sherriff in Town: The Barriers of Structural Discrimination Facing Women Leaders. Advancing Women in Leadership"?
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The main point of many undergraduate papers is simply to demonstrate to your professor that you did the assigned readings. This means that summary is a significant component of many undergraduate papers, especially at the first and second year level. As you move into graduate school, professors are more likely simply to assume you have done the required reading. What they are looking for in your papers is something different: the ability to take what you have learned from your reading and use it to create your own unique, original ideas or conclusions by applying the reading to new material.
As you work on your paper, you may end up disagreeing with some of the articles' conclusion. At the graduate level, you are expected to do critical thinking, where you look at evidence and make an informed judgment about whether published articles are accurate or whether the theories they put forth need some revision. The main thing you need to do in graduate study, as in law enforcement, is keep an open mind and look objectively and critically at all relevant evidence.
Thus what you want to do in this short paper is take the theories set forth in these three articles and apply them to either some specific aspect of law enforcement or to a particular case study. I've listed several ideas below, but it would be a good idea to email or talk with your professor about the ideas before you start writing your paper. Speaking from my own 20+ years of university teaching experience, professors are happy to talk with students about paper ideas or drafts -- it's not an imposition.
If you are currently interning in or working in law enforcement, you could do a case study involving your own workplace. You might develop your own survey, paralleling the one by Bonita C. Long, either on paper or by using a tool such as Survey Monkey (link below) that allows you to create surveys that can be sent to participants by email and guarantees anonymous recording of answers.
Another possibility would be doing an interview of one individual woman working in law enforcement. You would write out in advance 10 to 20 questions based on the readings and ask your interview subject the degree to which the conclusions of the article reflect her experience.
Another possibility would be doing research on five or ten leading women in law enforcement to see whether they seem to fit the models proposed in the articles you need to use.
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