Syllabus 2011-2012


Graduate School for Social Research

Semester I, 2011-2012

From Idea to Research and Publishing in the Social Sciences

Instructor: Dr. Joshua K. Dubrow

Place: Graduate School for Social Research, Palac Staszica, Nowy Swiat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Room 242

Time: Tuesdays, 15:00 – 16:30 every week, Semester I

Course Website:

Office Hours: By appointment


Course Description

The purpose of this course is to instruct graduate students on how to turn their research ideas into high quality research products, including dissertation proposal, conference presentations, proposal for grants, awards and fellowships, or a journal article. This course discusses best practices for:

(1) Developing ideas into manageable research projects

(2) Developing research questions that generate interest and answer the question of “So What?”

(3) Sorting through research studies relevant to one’s project

(4) Framing research questions, problem statements and results to specific types of audiences

(5) Finding sources of funding, awards and fellowships, conferences and publication outlets

(6) Completing funding, award and fellowship applications

(7) Participating in conferences and in professional associations

(8) Sending an article to academic journals for publication consideration

In addition, we will examine main research trends the social sciences, including cross-national comparisons and interdisciplinarity.

Course Objectives

This course aims to provide students the key skills for developing both academic and non-academic research products. At the end of this course, the student should be able to:

— Implement their ideas into a research project that is methodologically feasible and relevant to the social sciences;

— Present their research ideas, research questions and/or results to a scholarly audience in writing and orally;

— Review existing literature and effectively select that which is relevant to their project;

— Condense complicated ideas into short, meaningful descriptions;

— Find potential funding sources for their project, including fellowship or award opportunities;

— Write applications for funding and awards.

The course will also facilitate critical reading, logical thinking, and clear writing.

Course Requirements and Evaluation

Class participation (40%): Students are expected to discuss all of the assigned readings on the due date and to participate in in-class discussions and projects. During each class selected participants will informally present their research ideas to the class for general discussion with constructive criticism. Details will be discussed in class.

Class Presentation (20%): Students will formally present their research ideas. Details will be discussed in class.

Review of a Research Article (20%): Students are to write a two-page (single spaced) review of a research article. Details will be discussed in class.

Application and Proposal (20%): Students are to begin applying for funding, award or fellowship. Details will be discussed in class.

Policies on Attendance, Late Materials, and Exam Make-Ups:

You are allowed a maximum of two unexcused absences. Your overall grade can be reduced by 5% per unexcused absence after the maximum has been reached. You are responsible for any and all in-class materials, including hand-outs and lecture notes.

I expect everyone to show up to class on time. During class, cell phones and other electronic devices with noise-capacity must be turned off. I will make exceptions to this rule if you explain why you need them turned on during class. You must inform me of this reason before class begins.

Please remember to be courteous and polite to one another during heated discussions. We will be with each other for over three months and we all need a healthy and comfortable classroom environment to learn and discuss issues.

I accept late materials only if I am notified 24 hours prior to the deadline. Late writing assignments will be assessed a penalty of 10% off per day.

It is the responsibility of the student to be sure that I receive emailed assignments and papers. Excuses and explanations regarding problems in submitting emailed and other electronic materials due to internet, computer or affiliated electronic device issues of any kind are only accepted at my discretion.

Most readings are found in the readings page on this website.  Readings are for research purposes only.


Class 1: October 4


Class 2: October 11

Individual Research

Students are to prepare a one-page statement of their research and be prepared to discuss next class.  Class will not formally meet.  This assignment is due in my email inbox by October 14.

Class 3: October 18

Presenting research that generates interest and answers the question of, “So What?”

R — Guetzkow, Joshua, Michèle Lamont and Grégoire Mallard.  2004.  “What Is Originality in the Humanities and the Social Sciences?” American Sociological Review 69(2): 190-212.

R — Davis, Murray S. 1971. “That’s Interesting: Towards a Phenomenology of Sociology and a Sociology of Phenomenology.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 1(4).

Class 4:  October 25

Moving from Idea to Research

R — Farrar-Myers, Victoria A. 2001. “The ‘Rights’ of Passage.”PS: Political Science and Politics 34(4):  845-6.

R — den Dulk, Kevin R.  2001.  “Proposing a Dissertation with a Free Rein.” PS: Political Science and Politics 34(4):  851-2.

R — Benesh, Sara C.  2001.  “The Key to a Successful Prospectus: Consult an Advisor, Early and Often.” PS: Political Science and Politics 34(4):  853-4.

R — Rothman, Steven B. 2008. “Comparatively Evaluating Potential Dissertation and Thesis Projects.” PS: Political Science and Politics 41: 367-369.

Class 5: November 8

Framing research questions and problem statements to specific audience types

R — Chapters 3, 4 and 18 from A Field Guide for Science Writers (2010)

R — Thunder, David.  2004.  “Back to Basics: Twelve Rules for Writing a Publishable Article.”  PS: Political Science and Politics 37(3): 493-5.

Class 6:  November 15

Special Topic: Interdisciplinarity

R — Jacobs, Jerry A. and Scott Frickel.  2009.  “Interdisciplinarity: A Critical Assessment.”  Annual Review of Sociology 35:43-65.

Class 7: November 22

Grant Finding and Grant Writing

R — Przeworski, Adam and Frank Salomon. 1995. On the Art of Writing Proposals: Some Candid Suggestions for Applicants to Social Science Research Council Competitions. SSRC.

R — Henson, Kenneth T. 2003. “Debunking Some Myths about Grant Writing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26.

R — Moffat, Anne Simon. 1994. “Grantsmanship: what makes proposals work?” Science 265 (September 23).

R — Jordan, Christian H. and Mark P. Zanna. 1999. How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology.

Class 8: November 29

How to Publish

R — van Cott, Donna Lee. 2005. “A Graduate Student’s Guide to Publishing Scholarly Journal Articles.” PS: Political Science and Politics 38(4): 741-743.

R — Polsky, Andrew J. 2007. “Seeing Your Name in Print: Unpacking the Mysteries of the Review Process at Political Science Scholarly Journals.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (3): 539-43.

DUE: List of grant, fellowship, scholarship or award applications

Class 9:  December 6

How to Present

R — King, Charles. 2006. “Reforming the Conference Presentation, or What We Can Learn from Hollywood.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39(4): 875-77.

R — Hassner. Ron E. 2005. “Sliding into Home Plate: How to Use Slideware to Improve Your Presentation (While Dodging the Bullets).” PS: Political Science and Politics 38(3): 393-7.

Class 10: December 13

Guest Lecture

Class 11: January 10

Student Presentations

Class 12: January 17

Student Presentations

Class 13: January 24

Student Presentations