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SOC 103 - Naffziger-Hirsch - Fall 2020: Start Here! Your Assignments

Your Assignment and Online Library Guide

Owl on BookStart here to see your assignments and to find resources to help you do a great job.

Assignment: Summary-Response Paper


1) Using the Oakton library databases and/or Google Scholar, locate a peer-reviewed source that is relevant to your final project topic. You may use a journal article (recommended) or a chapter from a book.


How do I know if my source is peer-reviewed?

When searching the databases, be sure that the “Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals” box is checked. In addition, look for the common characteristics of peer-reviewed sources

that we discussed in class:

• Is there explicit use of sources with a reference list at end?

• Has it been published in an academic journal? Common journals in sociology are: American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, Gender and Society, Sociology of Education, Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, Qualitative Sociology, and Theory and Society. While I recommend locating an article from one of these journals, it is not required.

• Does the content of the article focus on sources and conversations within a

particular field or discipline?

• Is there an abstract at the beginning of the article?

• Are there section headings?

• Is the title long and descriptive?


If you still aren’t sure if your source is peer-reviewed, please ask me.


2) Summarize the article in 1-2 paragraphs (approx. 1 double-spaced page). Your summary must include one direct quotation—no more, no less. You must:

• Provide an APA citation for your source

• Clearly indicate the author and title of the text in your first sentence

• State the author(s)’ main ideas and supporting points accurately, clearly showing his/her/their train of thought

• Remain objective. Do not comment or argue with the author(s)’ ideas.

• Use explicit signal phrases and author tags (e.g. Sloan argues…)


3) Write a response (approx. 1½-2 double-spaced page) to the ideas in your article.

Key questions to consider:

  • What do you think of the author’s main point(s)/argument/findings?
  • How does the source relate to broader conversations about your topic?
  • How is the source relevant to your research project?
  • How might it be used in your paper?

Contact Your Professor

Michelle Naffziger-Hirsch

Division of Liberal Arts

Email Address:


Office: 3604 Des Plaines

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Assignment: To Whom It May Concern… Final Paper for Social Problems

We’ve discussed several aspects of a few different social problems in class this semester.  This is your opportunity to take what you’ve learned, learn a bit more, and communicate the significance of a social problem, contributing factors, and possible solutions to a member of society outside of this classroom.  You should either expand on a problem we’ve discussed or link one of the main social problems we’ve addressed in the course to one you choose to investigate and write about it.  The final product will be a letter to a lawmaker (mayor, state legislator, Governor, Congressman or Congresswoman), an agency official, a newspaper editor (as in a “letter to the editor”), or institutional leader about this problem and potential solutions. 


Although the assigned course material will provide a foundation for the letter, some outside research will be required.  You can, and should, use the materials assigned for the course or made available through D2L.  However, you must also use at least 3 additional sources for this paper. One of these must be a scholarly, academic source (such as a scholarly book or academic journal article).  If you’re not sure what a scholarly journal article is, here’s a tutorial:


You can locate scholarly journals through Oakton Library’s SocIndex, here:


And here’s a link to a handy pdf guide for using Oakton’s SocIndex:


Two sources may be other sources of information (e.g., websites, magazine or newspaper articles, personal interviews, etc.).  There is no maximum limit on sources, so feel free to expand on the 3 required!  A works cited page in APA style should be attached to your letter.


In your letter, you should:

  1. Introduce yourself, identify who you are writing to and why you’ve chosen this person.
  2. Explain what social problem you are writing about and why it is of concern to you. Specify the national/international context for the social problem you’re addressing. Is it a problem in the U.S.? Is it a problem in another nation? Is it a global problem?

Make your argument about why this issue is considered a social problem and why it must be addressed. Offer data or other evidence to make your case and 

  1. be sure to consider both subjective concerns and objective conditions of the problem. Be sure to define and cite each term first.
  2. Explain the causal factors (social, political, economic, and/or cultural) that have lead to the creation or perpetuation of this problem. Be sure to explicitly consider the role that globalization has played in this problem. If you don’t believe globalization has influenced the problem in a significant way, clarify why you believe this is the case.  
  3. Offer solutions and explain how you’ve reached your conclusions and how the problem can be remedied.  On what level(s) must change occur (macro, micro, both)? Ideally, in this section, you will consider how another nation has addressed a similar problem. If you are unable to provide documentation of another country’s solution, then indicate this.
  4. Close your letter with an “In conclusion…” section where you summarize your concern, your evidence, and your suggestions.  Sign your letter.


Don’t simply regurgitate what we’ve discussed in class to date; go further with your research on the problem, causes and consequences, and potential solutions.  As you are researching your topic, thinking what about you have to say, and writing your letter, keep in mind the significance of the sociological imagination (remember, we discussed this at the beginning of the semester).  How are the intersections of the personal troubles and social issues evident in social problems?  How do both contribute to the causes?  How might they be part of the solutions?  Papers will be graded on the quality of your argument and how well you convey your knowledge and ideas, the quality of the evidence you provide to support your argument, the quality of the solutions you propose (Are they realistic? How can they be accomplished?), and the presentation of the paper itself (spelling, grammar, etc.).  Please refer to the rubric in D2L for additional information on how your paper will be graded.   


Although I will not be mailing the letter you write, nor are you required to do so, I would strongly encourage you to consider sending it with your suggested solutions to the individual or group you’ve chosen to address.  You could be part of the solution to a social problem! 


Your letter should be 5 – 6 pages in length, typed, and use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling as this will impact your grade. Papers should be double-spaced, typed in 12 point Times New Roman, Arial, or an equivalent font (NO Courier New).  Utilize in text citations where appropriate and make sure to avoid plagiarism. Format your paper according to APA style in all aspects except that you do not need a title page and abstract for this assignment.