Sociology 385A+B, Second Year Research Practicum                                            Draft: Aug 22, 2020

Fall, 2020 and Winter, 2021



For Fall:

Class meets every other Monday, 11:30A-12:50P

On Zoom



For Winter: Soc 385B

Class meets every other Monday, 11:30-12:50P

On Zoom


My office hour:

Email me and we will make a time for a 1-on-1 Zoom meeting


Professor Michael Rosenfeld




We will meet every other week. This class has two goals:

1) To help you learn how to turn your current research project into an excellent second year paper, and eventually into a published paper.

2) To learn tricks of the trade by careful study of a published journal article that you will pick as your guide star paper for the two quarters. Please pick a published journal article that has some similarity (methodologically or substantively) to your intended project. Please select a guide star paper published after 2000, as we want to capture current norms and expectations in the journals.


We will endeavor to tackle your second year paper piece by piece (motivating question, literature review, data, methods, results, conclusions) by also looking at how the author(s) of your guide star paper tackled the same issues.



The situation we are in: We have a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, a national economic recession, a political crisis and (as if that all were not enough) we have wildfires in California. The world is not normal right now. If the world-wide craziness is interfering with your ability to get things done, reach out to me and we will find an accommodation as best we can.


Assignments: For some assignments, you both perform the assignment, and you will be graded on your feedback of another studentís assignment. Because most assignments have a component of students evaluating each otherís work, I want you to try extra hard to get your assignments in on time, so that other students can benefit from your commentary on their work and you can benefit from their commentary on yours. This class is all about working on your paper writing process; you are not expected to have a finished product, but it is important for you to produce your work-in-progress on time and on deadline.



Since you will produce a final Second Year Paper at the end of your second year that will receive a grade from your second year paper reading committee, Soc 385A and Soc 385B are two Sociology PhD classes where you have the option of taking the class for a letter grade or for CR/NC. If you take the class for CR, I will still grade your assignments as if you were taking the class for a letter grade. Grades in Soc 385A and Soc 395B are not based on the quality of your paper-in-development (since your paper will receive a final grade later) but rather you will be graded based on the progress you are making and based on your engagement with the assignments. If you put some work in, and if you are attentive in your feedback to your peers, Soc 385A and Soc 385B should be not too difficult.


Zoom Etiquette:

*Please keep your video on as much as you can in class if your internet has sufficient bandwidth. Seeing you nod or shake your head helps all of us understand which parts of class are working and which are not. Periodically turning your video off is OK to take a break or stretch. Please have Gallery view turned on so you can see the other members of the class.
* Mute your mic when you are not talking.
* Class will not be recorded, and you may not record class.



Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities that may necessitate an academic accommodation must initiate a request with the Office of Accessible Education.  See the website, or call (650) 723-1066 voice (650) 723-1067 TTY



Required Reading

*Becker, Howard S. and Pamela Richards. 2007 [1986]. Writing for Social Scientists. University of Chicago Press. ISBN-10: 0226041328. There is limited library e-access at, but for convenience note that Amazon has the Kindle version for $10 and the paperback is $11 and there are used versions available for $2.


Recommended Readings (donít buy these, I will refer to them briefly).

* Firebaugh, Glen. 2008. Seven Rules for Social Research. Princeton University Press.

* Becker, Howard. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about your Research while you are doing it. University of Chicago Press.




Class date


Due Date/ Class date



Class Participation

Every class

10 points in 385A

First class

Talk about the plan of Soc 385A+B

September 14



Pick a guide star paper, and write a Project Plan for your paper and describe the project plan of the guide star paper, side by side. Emphasis on the parts of your paper that can be known early: the question and the data.

September 24


Second class

Each student presents their project and describes their guide star paper

September 28



Literature review (for your paper) and main idea, and summary of the main idea and literature review of your guide star paper. One page lit web for your guide star paper.

October 8



Comment on another studentís literature review (mainly), and explanation of the literature review and lit web of their guide star paper (if you can).

October 10


Third class

Each student presents on their literature review and main idea, and the idea and literature review of their guide star paper. Each student comments on the presentation of another student

October 12



Data and methods justification for your paper, and explanation of data and methods justification in your guide star paper.

October 22



Comment on another studentís data and methods justification (and if you can, comment on the other studentís evaluation of the data and methods justification in their guide star paper)

October 24


Fourth class

Present the data and methods justification

October 26



Form a committee

November 1



Writing Exercise: Read Beckerís Writing for Social Scientists, submit a revised and clarified literature review and main idea description of your project (5 pages). Find a section of your guide star paper whose writing is opaque, and quote it and critique it (2 pages)

November 5



Each student critiques the lit review and main idea description of another student for clarity and vigor of writing.

November 7


Fifth Class

Each student presents their critique of some part of the guide star paperís language, and each student presents a critique of another studentís revised lit review and main idea.

November 9



Work on your papers

Thanksgiving break and Winter break







Point total for Fall quarter:




In Winter quarter we are going to work section-by-section through your second year paper drafts. The Winter quarter syllabus will be forthcoming soon.