Difference between revisions of "Practice of scholarship (Spring 2016)"

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* Write up the methodological approach you (plan to) pursue in your project. Include
* Write up the methodological approach you (plan to) pursue in your project. Include a brief description of the data you (plan to) analyze, the suitability of the data to your problem, and your analytical approach. Remember that this is not a literature review. (500-800 words).
a brief description of the data you (plan to) analyze, the suitability of the data to your problem, and
your analytical approach. Remember that this is not a literature review. (500-800 words).
=== Week 6: May 10 — Results, limitations, & threats ===
=== Week 6: May 10 — Results, limitations, & threats ===

Revision as of 03:27, 5 April 2016

The Practice of Scholarship

Media, Technology, and Society 503

Northwestern University

Tuesdays 9am-12pm, Frances Searle Building Room 2-378

Instructor:Aaron Shaw (aaronshaw@northwestern.edu)

  • Frances Searle 2-142
  • Office Hours: M 1-3pm; T 3-5pm and by appointment.

Course resources:

  • We will use Canvas for announcements, submitting assignments, and maybe discussions.
  • Everything else will be linked to from this page.

Overview & objectives

The goal for this course is simple: submit a piece of academic research for publication by the end of the quarter. The piece should (obviously) be original. You should be the primary person responsible for the research and should be the lead author of the submission.

The course and assignments are structured to help you cultivate (more of) the skills, wisdom, and experience necessary to publish independent, original, and high-quality scholarship in relevant venues for your work. There are also several milestones to help you measure your progress towards manuscript submission at the end of the quarter. The seminar will be run as a workshop in which we will provide individual and collective feedback on each other's work. Most weeks, we will also read and discuss materials related to the crafts of designing, conducting, writing, submitting, reviewing, revising, and publishing scholarly research.

A note about this syllabus

You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document and you will notice that there are a few places marked "To Be Determined." Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  1. Details on this syllabus will change, but I will not change readings or assignments less than one week before they are due. If I don't fill in a "To Be Determined" one week before it's due, it is dropped. If you plan to read more than one week ahead, contact me first.
  2. Keep an eye out for emails and announcements I send through Canvas re: updates to the syllabus. You can also review the edit history of this page to track what has changed recently and compare it against earlier versions.
  3. You can always give me feedback and suggestions related to what works and what doesn't about the course. I will explicitly solicit your input a few times during the quarter, but be bold and feel free to submit your feedback to me at any time in any format. In the past, I have made substantive changes to courses on-the-fly in response to student feedback.


The assignments are designed to facilitate your progress toward the course objectives. Due dates for assignments are included in the course schedule below.


Almost every week will have some required readings. In general, I will provide links to readings or distribute them via Canvas. You are expected to have read these before you come to class and to have prepared for discussion. There are also some suggested readings and other resources you might find useful.

There are two books that we will read multiple selections from. I recommend you buy both (in theory, you already own one of them from MTS 501). There are multiple editions of each and I don't care which edition you use (I think the chapter numbers and titles are consistent across them all):

  • Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Becker, Howard S. Writing for Social Scientists. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Writing assignments

In many weeks, I ask you to produce and submit some written work. Unless otherwise noted, you should plan to upload this work to Canvas by 9am on Monday morning each week (24 hours before the class meets). This will make it possible for me and your colleagues to read your work before class.

Feedback assignments

At several points throughout the quarter, I ask you to review and comment on colleagues' work. In general, you should provide your comments in a written format of your choosing (e.g., email) and come to class prepared to discuss them.

Research journal

Throughout the quarter, you should keep a research journal documenting your effort, progress, and reflections on your project in this course. I encourage you to write brief daily entries (or as close to daily as you can) and, at minimum, two entries per week. Entries can be brief and might simply record what you worked on that day, how long you worked on it, and a sentence or two reflection on your work experience. You may also find yourself inspired to write more. I have asked you to submit journal entries to me twice during the quarter for review.

Manuscript submission

Due: Tuesday, June 7

Your final project for the course is a submission-ready manuscript for a peer reviewed conference or journal of your choosing. It (obviously?) should follow the style, length, and formatting guidelines of the venue in which you seek to publish it.

Evaluation and grades

In addition to the assignments and frequent feedback you will provide and receive on your work, you will also perform self, peer, and course evaluations at several points throughout the quarter. Your final grades for the course will be constructed based on an aggregation of all these materials with the following weights:

  • Participation 20%
  • Written assignments 20%
  • Feedback assignments 20%
  • Peer and self evaluations 15%
  • Final manuscript 25%

Course schedule

Week 1: April 5 — Introductions

Assignment: Please bring two printed hard copies of the following materials with you:

  • A brief synopsis (800 words MAX) of the research project you plan to pursue in this course.
  • A target venue (peer reviewed journal or archival conference) to which you plan to submit your work.
  • Bibliographic information (the citation) for an exemplary paper (probably authored by someone else) after which you plan to model critical aspects of your own work (e.g., the topic of study, the theoretical framing/contribution, the research design, the empirical analysis, the writing style or structure).
  • A couple of sentences summarizing the aspects of your exemplary paper that make it a useful model for the work you are pursuing.
  • A paragraph or two summarizing the status of the work you have pursued on this project to-date, including any prior papers you may have written, data you may have collected, and resources you may have or need to complete the work.
  • A timeline (with whatever milestones you deem relevant) for completing the project and submitting it for review by the end of the Spring Quarter (or a tiny bit after). If you like, you might find it useful to create a Gantt chart using spreadsheet software.

Week 2: April 12 — Planning your work & work your plan

Reading Part I:

  • Becker, Howard. Writing for Social Scientists. Chapters 1 ("Freshman English for Graduate Students") & 7 ("Getting It out the Door").
  • Booth et al. Prologue to Section IV ("Planning Again") and Quick Tip on Outlining (pp. 185-188).

Reading Part II (pick any two):


  • Create an outline of your exemplary paper. Be sure to include section word counts.
  • Create an outline or a research planning document for your project.
  • Review a peer's outline or planning document.

Week 3: April 19 — Research question: Where's the puzzle?



  • A synopsis of your research project that includes the following elements:
    • A description of the topic and clear statement of the claim.
    • A list of questions derived from the topic and claim. Underscore the most interesting one(s) that you will address.
    • A brief statement posing your research around a problem (or puzzle).
    • A brief statement of the significance or application of your project.
  • Review a peer's project synopsis and evaluate whether it effectively articulates a research topic, question, significance, and problem using the criteria described by Booth et al.

Week 4: April 26 — Prior Work: Interrupting a conversation


  • Becker, Chapter 8 ("Terrorized by the Literature").
  • Booth et al., Chapter 6 ("Using Sources").
  • Healy, Kieran. 2016. Fuck Nuance(pdf). (forthcoming in Sociological Theory.


Week 5: May 3 — Method: Research design & justification


  • Booth et al., Chapter 9 ("Reasons and Evidence").


  • Write up the methodological approach you (plan to) pursue in your project. Include a brief description of the data you (plan to) analyze, the suitability of the data to your problem, and your analytical approach. Remember that this is not a literature review. (500-800 words).

Week 6: May 10 — Results, limitations, & threats


  • Booth et al., Chapter 10 ("Acknowledgments and Responses").


Week 7: May 17 — Discussion: Whose ox gets gored?



Week 8: May 24 — Introduction & Conclusion: End at the beginning



Week 9: May 31 — Submission, reviews, & revision


  • Becker, Chapter ? ("Editing by Ear").


Week 10: June 7 — Final projects due

No class meeting today. Submit your final projects via Canvas.


This section can accumulate helpful resources on topics generally related to the content of the course.

  • A Dozen Slides Philip N. Howard gives advice on preparing a social science job talk that might also help you organize your thinking and writing for any project.