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Sociology 419, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Spring 2012

Research Project
This page was last updated on January 10, 2012.

The central research project for this course is to design survey-based research projects on the subject of Americans’ views of Islam and Muslims’ views of America. This page offers details on the project and the stages of its preparation.

Each student will conduct 12 interviews over Spring Break and submit the results before class on March 13 in a Microsoft Excel data file, which is worth 12 points. Students will analyze this survey, or other surveys of American and Muslim attitudes that we will make available to you, using the SPSS statistical software (available online via the UNC Virtual Lab – after installing, find the program under Start – Programs – Statistical Applications – PASW SPSS 19). Based on this data, or other surveys conducted in Muslim societies (with instructor approval), students will write a statistical article, approximately 2,000 words in length, worth 20 points and due before the final class session on April 24. This paper should be submitted in a Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat file.

Each of the preliminary assignments for this research project is worth 2 points. For full credit, the assignment will need to be completed fully and thoughtfully.

February 2: CITI Online Course

Assignment due: Take CITI Online Course (Social and Behavioral Research Modules).

Click on the link labeled “Direct to CITI Online Course.” This course is required of all researchers at UNC who work with human subjects. It is intended to sensitize researchers to the history of abuse that research participants have sometimes been subjected to, and the steps that universities and other research organizations have taken to prevent abuse. The course takes about 1-2 hours and includes an on-line test that you must pass in order to get credit for the unit. Please e-mail your certificate number to your teaching assistant after you have passed the test.

February 9: Thematic interests

Assignment due: Submit rank-ordered list of 3 thematic interests in the study of American and Muslim attitudes. Describe each in 1 sentence each.

February 16: Bibliography

Assignment due: Submit bibliography of 4 scholarly articles.

These articles should all revolve around a single issue related to American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims or Muslims’ attitudes (toward America, toward democracy, or toward some other subject). This issue will form the basis for your research project throughout  the semester. The articles should offer contrasting perspectives on this issue, so that you can write your final paper using survey data to “adjudicate” among these perspectives. The articles must be scholarly — that is, they must appear in a academic journal, with a credentialed author, drawing on original empirical research. To locate these items, you may wish to start with databases such Google Scholar, Academic OneFile, Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, Project Muse, or Web of Science. You will be allowed to add or delete items from your bibliography as the semester goes on and your research continues.

February 23: Survey questions

Assignment due: Draft survey questions for thematic group.

What questions would you like to see on our class’s survey of American attitudes about Islam and Muslims? Please suggest four questions for the survey, two drawn from previous surveys and two new questions. Previous surveys include:

American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims:
UNC-CH “Sociology of Islam” survey, March 2006 and March 2010 (to come).
Pew Forum survey, August 2009.
Global attitudes, including Muslim attitudes:

March 13: Survey results

Assignment due: Submit survey results.

Over Spring Break, please conduct 12 in-person interviews. Try to select interviewees who are varied in age (at least six interviewees over college age), gender (try to maintain an even gender balance), and educational attainment.

March 20: Select survey questions

Assignment due: Select survey questions to analyze.

From our class’s survey and/or the Pew or World Values Surveys, select questions that you would like to analyze for your term paper. These questions should address the differences in perspective in your literature review. That is, your analysis will “adjudicate” the differing expectations generated by the paper in your literature review — each of these papers will lead us to expect certain findings in the survey(s), and your analysis will examine whether or not these expectations are confirmed or disconfirmed. The instructors will create SPSS datasets with the questions that you request.

March 27: Literature review

Assignment due: Submit literature review to thematic group. A successful literature review will:

  • summarize the evidence presented in each paper on the bibliography that you submitted on February 16 (as approved or amended by your instructors).
  • summarize each paper’s conclusions.
  • organize the literature review by contrasting the perspectives of the four papers. Later in the semester, you will test these differences in perspective with your data analysis.

At this point, you may not know what your data analysis will reveal — that is a good thing! Asking a question to which you don’t know the answer is one of the ways in which research is exciting.

April 10: Complete draft of article

Assignment due: Submit complete draft to thematic group.

The article should have the following parts, clearly delineated with subheadings:

1. Title (1 point)
2. Summary (about 100 words). (2 points) Use this space to summarize the rest of the paper, including the data analysis and conclusion.
3. Literature review (about 600 words). (6 points). Updated version of your earlier drafts.
4. Description of dataset(s) analyzed in the paper (about 100 words). (2 points) When the survey was conducted, who conducted the survey, how many people were surveyed, who the respondents are supposed to “represent”?
5. Data analysis (about 3-4 statistical tables plus 600 words of text). (6 points) What is “interesting” about these your findings; how they confirm or disconfirm the expectations generated in your literature review?
6. Conclusion (about 100 words). (3 points) Which paper(s) in your literature review were supported by the data analysis, and which were not? Explain.

April 17: Comments on drafts

Assignment due: Write comments to all members of thematic group on their draft papers.

Please write e-mails to each of your group members with at least three helpful, supportive, politely worded suggestions for the improvement of their papers. That is three suggestions for each group member.

April 24: Final draft

Assignment due: Submit final draft of paper.