TOPIC - Choose your topic based on something from your textbook or a lecture that engages your interest. Ask your professor if it is a suitable topic for a paper or presentation.
QUESTION - Ask a research question. Ask open ended questions that require complex answers. Who, what, when, or where are easily answered questions that relate factual information. A good research paper asks more nuanced questions like why and how.
PROCESS - It's OK to start with the internet or Wikipedia to get background or context (and to identify suitable search terms), but it is important to start reading scholarly and academic works early in the process.
REFINE - Typically, as you learn more about a subject your interest and questions will change. Be prepared to make adjustments to your topic and to your questions. It's sometimes tempting to follow interesting tangents, but try to stay focused on asking well-thought out questions and using high-quality research to find your answers.
WHAT TO AVOID
Cherry picking - For academic and scholarly research your goal is not simply to persuade. Your goal is to better understand the natural world and/or human experience. Cherry-picking is selectively choosing facts and research that supports your argument and neglecting information that undermines your argument.
Unreliable Sources - One rule-of-thumb when evaluating potential sources is their use of citations. Do they tell you where they got their information? If not, be wary. If so, consider using the original source.
Outdated Information - Some canonical works may be referred to for decades, but always pay attention to the publication dates of the research you are reading.
What is research?
Most 'research' done by undergraduate students involves collecting high-quality information to help answer a research question or solve a research problem.
When research is done as a profession it is typically expected to add new knowledge to the world.
Where can I learn more about research methods for Sociology?
Check the library catalog for works about sociology methods, social science research, quantitative and/or qualitative research methods. Or, talk to a librarian at the reference desk
Sociology is the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social action, and culture.
The high level of internal differentiation of sociology makes it a hard field to summarize and makes the formation of intellectual consensus difficult. At the same time, it provides openings for a wide variety of analytic approaches and for creative interdisciplinary relationships.
Sociology is recurrently shaped by efforts to make it more scientific, more practical, or more theoretical. Each of these tendencies is influential, but sociology remains enduringly a discipline in which relations are forged between natural science and humanistic concerns, practical engagements and an abstract desire for knowledge, theory, and research.
(2002). sociology. Oxford Reference. Ed. Calhoun, C. Retrieved 9 May. 2018, from http://www.oxfordreference.com.esearch.ut.edu/view/10.1093/acref/9780195123715.001.0001/acref-9780195123715-e-1570.