How to write a good sociology essay
Sociology is a new topic for many students, and writing a paper for a sociology class can be daunting. It is important to remember that sociology is an empirical discipline, which means all sociological writings (including your paper) need a thorough grounding in research and rigorous documentation. You will be asked to interpret these facts that you gather during your research phase. You might be asked to write a paper on cultural topics such as gender stereotypes, marriage, or race. Sociology is different from other social sciences because it relies heavily on both statistics and more interpretive analysis than say, English Literature. It is also a subject that relies heavily on the written word. Chances are, if you are a student in a sociology course, you will need to write several papers. If you learn the proper way to write a sociology essay, the rest of your semester should go smoothly. There are several steps to take to make sure you do a great job and earn the grade you want.Review the assignment. The first thing you want to do is choose a topic. Sometimes your professor will explicitly assign a topic and other times you will be given a list of possible topics. If you are in an upper-level class, the assignment might be more broad, and you will need to come up with your own subject for the essay. Whatever the case, start thinking about your topic right away. 
Ask questions. If your professor did not assign a specific topic, make sure to get approval before you start researching the subject you have chosen. Visit your professor during her office hours to discuss the essay and ask questions. For example, do you know how long the paper should be? Do you know how many sources you need to cite? Make sure you are clear on guidelines before starting your essay. 
- Remember that a good sociology paper starts with an important sociological question. Your first step in writing a good essay is to figure out which question you are going to answer.
Research your topic. To write a sociology essay, you will need to collect evidence. All sociological arguments must be supported by facts and documentation. You will likely need to visit the library and do some online research, too. Ask your professor for suggestions if you do not know where to find sources. 
- If you are unable to attend office hours, you can ask your professor questions via e-mail. Write this e-mail as if it is business. Be professional, courteous, and clear.
Read efficiently. In a sociology course, you will be asked to read a lot of information. It's helpful to have a system to make sure that you can read the material quickly, while retaining the important points. As you read the sources for your paper, make sure you are reading for specific information. Look for examples that relate to your thesis, and make note of them. 
- One type of sociological data is quantitative. These statistics are based on sources such as surveys and censuses. These are generally numbers. An example of quantitative data could be: 9,326 people lived in Urbantown in 1972.
- The other type of data you need is qualitative. This research is less concrete, and is based on sources such as interviews and the researcher's own impressions. An example of qualitative data is: "The number of people living in Urbantown in 1972 likely was much lower because the major industry in town had closed and there were also severe racial tensions".
Take good notes. You want your notes to be detailed, but not so lengthy that they are not easy to skim. Just note the most important piece of information, with a reminder of where you found that information. You can go back and expand later, but when you are taking notes, it is important to be efficient.
- Highlight important information. Not only will this make it easier to find that specific information later, but the act of highlighting itself will help embed the information into your brain.
- Don't be afraid to skim over parts of books or articles that either do not relate to your paper topic or are not helpful.
- Remember that sociology is largely about concepts. For example, you might need to explain the relationship between class and power in contemporary society. Therefore, your notes will be different from your chemistry notes, since you are memorizing ideas, not formulas or methods. In your notes, make sure that you have been thorough enough that you will understand the concept when you review your notes.
Organize your materials. When you have completed your research, make sure you have it organized in a way that will help you to write efficiently. As you sit down to write, make sure that you have all of your books, printouts, and notes nearby. This is also a great time to make sure you have anything else you need--computer, pencils, and the assignment guidelines.Prepare your work area. Make sure that you have plenty of room to work. You might need to spread out your materials in order to be able to view multiple documents at once. You'll also want to make sure that you have a chair with good back support, and that the room is a comfortable temperature for you. 
Formulate your thesis. The thesis, or argument, is the most important part of your paper. It tells your reader exactly what you are writing about, and lets them know the point of your paper. Without a strong thesis, the rest of your paper will be vague and general. Write your thesis before you structure the rest of your essay. 
- Experiment with the noise level in your writing space. Some people work well with music playing, while others work best in total silence. Figure out the right atmosphere for you.
Make an outline. After you construct your thesis, outline the rest of your paper. An outline is key for creating an organized and structured essay. Your outline should be thorough, indicating the topic for each paragraph (or section, if this is a longer paper). Your outline should also include references to your sources. 
- You can use several methods to come up with a thesis statement. For example, you can start by asking a series of questions. Once you find a good one, turn it into a declarative statement.
- Another method is to use "free association". Write down all of the terms that come to mind when you think of your topic. An idea for a thesis might jump out at you.
- Your thesis must have two key parts: first, it must be debatable. This means that your argument is not a basic statement of facts, but that it is open for critical debate. Second, your thesis must be tightly focused enough that it can be clearly supported with evidence. 
- For example, perhaps you have been assigned an essay about gender. Your thesis statement could be something like this: "Gender is essentially a social construct, particularly during the early to mid-twentieth century. There are actually much fewer biological differences between men and women than previously thought; the divide between the sexes has actually been created by society."
Write your introduction and conclusion. For many people, getting started is the hardest part of writing. Tackle your introductory paragraph first; you'll feel much better once it is out of the way. Make sure it is tightly focused and introduces your thesis statement. 
- When writing your outline, make sure that all of the parts of your essay support your thesis. If the information is not directly related to your thesis, you don't need it.
- For example, if you have been assigned an essay about racial segregation in Chicago, you do not need to spend time discussing sexism in the same city.
- If you are writing a brief essay about race, your outline could indicate that you will discuss the historical precedents, the quantitative date, the scholarly interpretations, and trends for the future.
- Don't worry if your outline takes a while. Once you have a sturdy outline, the rest of the writing progress will be much more efficient.
Work on your body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should have a main point and several supporting statements. Make sure that you use your data to support the main points in each paragraph. It is important to include clear transitions between each paragraph so that your paper flows nicely. 
- Try using a specific example in your introduction. In the example essay of racial segregation in Chicago, you might include a story about a young child who was not allowed to attend the school nearest her house.
- It is useful to write the conclusion before you write the body of your essay. This will help you to stay on track and make sure that your essay clearly relates to the conclusion you are making.
Cite your sources. Typically, your professor will require you to cite your sources in using the American Sociological Society system. This method requires in-text citations using parenthetical documentation. The important information to include is the author, title, and date. 
- For example, if you are writing an essay about ageism in America, one of the topic sentences for a body paragraph might be, "Ageism is a prejudice that makes it difficult for older citizens to get hired for certain jobs, even if they are the most qualified."
- An ASA citation could look like this: "The results gathered by Davis (1982: 78) demonstrate that. 
- Make sure to check with your professor to ensure that you are supposed to use ASA style. Then familiarize yourself with the rules of this documentation system.