I need to introduce three social topics that I am interested in and explain why they are of interest to me. Any tips to help me with topics to choose and how to research them and on APA formatting?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The following are some tips to help you get started on your paper topic:

Sociology is the study of human interactions through relationships and of the institutions humans have created. Sociologists study a wide range of topics, including crime, race divisions, social class divisions, social stability, fundamental changes society has implemented, family institutions, government structures, and even religion and various other aspects of culture.

With that in mind, to choose your three paper topics, you first want to figure out what aspects of sociology are most important to you personally; this is a very personalized paper assignment. Examples of such topics can include the impact of human rights today, the impact of the Civil Rights Movement today, the study of children's rights across different cultures, the study of gay rights across various cultures, the study of education across culture and class distinctions, and the study of family structures across different cultures and class distinctions.

Once you choose a topic that is important to you personally, you'll next want to do a little bit of research. You would start with a research question. For example, if we decided to write on the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on American society today, we would pose the following research question: What is the impact of the Civil Rights Movement today? We would specifically want to figure out if equality has been achieved and what, if any, social improvements have been made since the movement.

We would limit our research to only academic, credible sources. Using the databases in your school's library--usually accessible through your school library's online website--is the best way to find scholarly sources. If you must use Google, especially to find information on current events, limit yourself to using only professional newspapers and other periodicals. Adding to your keyword search the term ".edu" will help ensure you pull up scholarly articles universities are affiliated with. For example, we might plug into Google the following search term,"What is the impact of the Civil Rights Movement today.edu."

One result the following search term yields is an article published in USA Today in which author Richard Wolf claims that "the battle to end overt discrimination has been far more successful than the effort to attain economic, educational or social equality" ("Equality Still Elusive 50 Years after Civil Rights Act"). His article continues to make the following claims: (1) African-African high school graduation rates have increased, but college graduation rates are still very low; and (2) segregation at work and school is no longer an issue, but "too many African Americans" still live in segregated and "impoverished neighborhoods."

Wolf also names the following positive achievements: (1) African-American voter turnout rate has exceeded the rate of white voters, and we now have seven times more African-American government officials; and (2) the African-American middle class has risen, partly as a result of the increased number of government jobs being offered to and held by African Americans.

Once you have chosen your three topics and have completed enough research to formulate a brief argument explaining what the topics are and why they are important to you, the community, and the world at large, you'll be ready to write your draft. Once you write your first draft, you'll be ready to worry about APA formatting, which is simply a way to format your paper and cite your sources. Formatting the title page with the running head can be the trickiest aspect, and Troy University offers an excellent article, titled "APA-Style Running Head and Page Numbers Using Microsoft Word to Format Your Paper," showing you, with pictures, exactly how to format the running head. You can also look to the "APA Formatting and Style Guide" on the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University for further formatting tips and directions on how to format your in-text citations and reference list.

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