What Do Social Scientists Know About

This assignment is meant to achieve two goals: (1) give students the opportunity to learn more about a topic that they may want to conduct research on in the future, (2) gain experience doing “science writing”, where scientific research is summarized and communicated to the public.  

You will be asked to select five articles from the website The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/us) about the same topic and write a five-page summary of those articles (note the video may show 3 – 5 pages, but your class is 5 pages). If you are in CYSE 409 here are the topics you can select from. If you are in SOC 337 here are the topics you can select from


Your paper should have four sections (use unique subheadings).

  • Introduction – An introduction should begin with a few sentences to draw the reader in, followed by an explanation of what follows. The topic should be briefly introduced (you will explain in more detail later). You may wish to highlight a specific scenario or case that illustrates the importance of the topic.  

  • Topic Description – You need to provide a more thorough description of the topic you want to explore. The reader may not be familiar, and you need to explain in one or two paragraphs. You may wish to add some background reading on your own. 

  • Article Summaries – This is the main body of your paper. You have five articles to summarize. One approach is to summarize each article in a separate three to five-sentence paragraph. Or you can organize the articles by theme – maybe two or three of the articles are similar, and you want to discuss these similarly-themed articles all at once.   

  • Conclusion – A good conclusion is a one or two-paragraph ending that restates your paper’s main ideas and then suggests future implications. The main ideas should come from the themes you talk about in the article summaries. The future implications can be anything you like – how someone can use the information, what society needs to do in light of the information, what we do not know, etc.  


  • Title. Your title can be: “What Do Social Scientists Know About X”

  • Use subheadings. Make your own when possible – not “Topic Description”, and “Conclusion”

  • References in APA style (at least five from The Conversation, but possibly more if you bring in information to use in your introduction, topic description, or conclusion)

    • A website you can use: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html 

    • You can copy and paste the website address into the space provided, follow the prompts, and a properly formatted reference will be given to you.

  • Name and date in the upper right-hand corner

  • Page numbers at the bottom

  • Normal page margins

  • 11-point font

  • Double spaced

  • Five pages

  • A separate reference page (that does not count in the final page total)

Grading Rubric






0 – 5

6 – 10

11 – 15 

Topic Description

0 – 5

6 – 10

11 – 15 

Article Summaries

0 – 15

16 – 25

26 – 40 


0 – 5

6 – 10

11 – 15 


0 – 5

6 – 10

11 – 15 


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