Essay Writing in the Social Sciences

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Social sciences study the human aspects of the world, and writing in the social sciences is often about assessing your knowledge. The fields that fall under this type of science include, but are not limited to, the following disciplines:

Anthropology, Communication, Criminology, Cultural Studies, Economics, History, Human Geography, Law, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Psychology, Sociology, Social Work

Literature reviews, research papers and experimental reports are the most common types of assignments you encounter when writing in the social sciences. In addition, writing in this field requires meeting certain writing goals:

  • Identifying order in some aspect of social life
  • Finding patterns or relationships
  • Testing theoretical concepts and refining them when necessary
  • Using research to make predictions
  • Recognizing when something has cultural or historical significance
  • Exploring diversity to draw conclusions
  • Formulating new theories based on your research

The main thing that these writing goals accomplish is to add knowledge to a particular issue through the examination of the human components of behavior.

Expectations when writing in the social sciences

To meet the goals of writing in the social sciences, you must follow certain expectations regarding how you go about writing your essay, especially while preparing to write.

  • Read about your topic thoroughly while thinking about what information you need
  • Read as much background information as you can, selecting sources and noting important ideas and concepts
  • Keep the organization of your ideas framed around the scientific context
  • Create an outline before you write while focusing on staying concise and specific
  • Write under the APA style unless instructed to follow a different style
  • Avoid using bullet points; instead, use section headings
  • Write in an academic, or formal, fashion by avoiding flowery or vague syntax and slang
  • Define terms when necessary or when the scientific context changes the general meaning
  • Write as objectively as possible, especially for highly subjective topics

Structure of essays and reports for the social sciences

When writing in the social sciences, the structure of your essay should contain certain aspects while adhering to guidelines for each of those aspects. Your essay should have an introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion and list of resources unless you are instructed to follow a specific format that differs from this construction.

The introduction of your essay when writing in the social sciences accomplishes several things.

  • It states your topic.
  • It gives the purpose, scope and objectives of your essay.
  • It defines the context of your essay in scientific terms.
  • It includes the thesis of your essay.

The body paragraphs of your essay when writing in the social sciences are best broken into clear, well-defined sections with headings. In addition, the body paragraphs should follow these guidelines:

  • They should prove each point you make with facts and analysis.
  • They should not include unsupported facts or data analysis; in other words, cite your sources!
  • They should each have a mini-conclusion that shows the importance of the information you presented.

The conclusion of your essay when writing in the social sciences consists of wrapping up your position, argument or review of research. To do this, it must follow several guidelines:

  • It must restate your thesis, mini-conclusions and any justifications/basis for those conclusions.
  • It should address implications for further research or how the topic fits into a wider scientific context.
  • It should answer the “so what?” question to bring the essay full circle.

Finally, including a list of references is a must when writing in the social sciences. Through citing information you incorporate with direct and indirect quotations, regardless of whether you use paraphrasing or summarizing, you give the proper credit to original sources. The format of the list of references is dictated by the style under which you are required to write, which is usually the APA formatting for a Reference List.

One of the most important things to remember when writing in the social sciences is to maintain your objectively. By nature, fields in the social sciences are more subjective. However, staying objective is critical to the effectiveness of your essay. You can be passionate while staying objective, so use care in sticking with this principle.

Whatever topic about which or specific discipline in which you are writing in the applied sciences, always work through the writing process by conducting research, evaluating sources, citing information, preparing an outline and writing a rough draft before you finalize your essay with an evaluation, proofreading and editing review.