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Why Writing Matters

Why Writing Matters in Sociology

"Good writing skills help students to both understand their world and to communicate effectively with others."

~Prof. Brian Thomas, Sociology Department


Why Writing Matters in Sociology

Like all departments at SVSU, the Sociology Department requires students to write as part of their coursework. Writing is important because sociologists need to be able to effectively communicate with others in society. Because sociology is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between individual circumstances and broader social forces, one must be able to understand language and writing and communicate clearly. Reading and writing are linked; this is why good writers are good readers and good readers are also good writers.

The Sociology Department looks for ways to teach students to think critically about their social surroundings. Good students must be able to understand and then synthesize the information from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Once they synthesize information, they must spread it to others effectively. With new forms of communication in our changing society, we must adapt. Web pages, e-mail and text messaging now exist alongside traditional forms of communication such as print journalism and books. It becomes more important to learn good writing skills in order to compose effective web pages, cover letters and even e-mails. These new forms of communication require foundational skills in writing.

Typical Writing Assignments

The Department of Sociology assigns varied writing assignments. These assignments may include short essays on exams, research papers, data collection and results, and even papers to be presented at conferences or for publication.

Qualities of Good Writing

Good writing shows good communication skills. The writer should be able to take in information and turn it into something that he/she can communicate back to an audience. The way to do this would be to present information clearly and with evidence supporting each point. Direct your writing towards your intended audience so that it makes the most sense.

Appropriate Types of Evidence and Support

Each paper that you write should use appropriate evidence to support your ideas. The Sociology Department requires that students use peer-reviewed articles and/or academic journals as sources. These documents will give reliable information for students to use as support in their writing.

Citation Conventions

The Sociology Department requires students to use the ASA (American Sociological Association) citation, although others may be accepted. It is very important to cite any information taken from other sources. This includes not only direct quotes, but summaries and paraphrases as well. Writers should cite the information in a reference list as well as within the text. Any information from sources used in a paper and not cited is considered plagiarism.

Special Comments

Studying sociology requires an interest in a constantly changing society; it is very important to consider this factor while studying and writing. There must also be an interest in communicating with others about it. Writing is an effective way to communicate these changes and relationships.

References and Resources

Peer-reviewed and scholarly articles are the preferred references to use in a sociology paper. Most Internet sites are less authoritative, although some may be accepted. Scholarly articles and journals can be accessed from databases on the library website. Your instructor may also recommend sources.

Faculty Perspectives 
on Writing:

Dawn Hinton

Writing in Sociology

Importance of Writing

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