How to Write a Research Proposal for a Sociology Paper

Written by samuel hamilton
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How to Write a Research Proposal for a Sociology Paper
Sociological research proposals require a careful articulation of a problem pertaining to the field. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Sociology entails the examination of human beings in social contexts. Research in the field follows careful observations, surveys and experiments. Engaging in sociological research projects requires you to submit a research proposal to a governing body in the field, such as the American Sociological Association or a project approval committee at a college or university. Writing a research proposal for a sociology paper involves articulating the problem, hypothesis and research methods pertaining to the project.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Compose an abstract of three paragraphs. The abstract acts as your proposal in miniature and as a standalone document. The first paragraph introduces the problem your proposed project will address. The second paragraph explains the importance of the problem, contextualising it in contemporary sociological research and publications. The final paragraph will explain your project's operating hypothesis and how the project will propel contemporary sociological research.

  2. 2

    Focus on the problem and hypothesis in your proposal's introduction. Indicate the type of hypothesis you are operating with. Sociological projects typically fall into two categories: non-causal investigations and causal arguments. The former seeks to explore a topic generally, and the latter seeks to articulate the causes or effects of a specific sociological topic.

  3. 3

    Contextualise the problem and indicate in the literature review section of the proposal the research that led to your hypothesis. This section should incorporate multiple sources representing the most recent publications and research in the sub-field of sociology you are working in.

  4. 4

    Articulate your methodology for the project. Describe the nature of the experiments, surveys, interviews or observations you will use to address the articulated problem propelling your proposal. Explain clearly how you plan to maintain objectivity and accuracy in your experiments and data-gathering.

  5. 5

    Conclude your proposal by emphasising the significance of the problem your proposal addresses and why your study, hypothesis and findings will advance the sub-field of sociology you are working in.

Tips and warnings

  • If operating under a causal hypothesis, indicate the variables you hold as standards in making your claim. For example, if your hypothesis is that incentives cause good behaviour in children, your project will assume as truth the variable statement that "most children generally act in a similar fashion."

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