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Writing Centre Online Resource Guide


Introduction to Writing for the Social Sciences

What does writing for the social sciences entail? Katharine Betts, Karen Farquharson and Anne Seitz, introducing their guide Writing Essays and Research Reports in the Social Sciences, describe the range of topics and approaches: “In the social sciences, topics may relate directly to social and political life itself and ask questions about, for example, power relations within families, or the origins of social movements, or the causes of inequality between nations, or of unemployment, or of immigration. Other kinds of topics ask you to write about the theories that have been developed to explain that social and political reality. What did Touraine write about social movements or Parkin about class and status groups? The wording of the actual question can vary. You may be asked to ‘outline,’ ‘discuss,’ ‘explain,’ ‘compare and contrast,’ ‘account for’ or ‘critically assess.’ But in spite of this variation in the way they are expressed, most questions can be understood as variations on four basic themes: description, analysis, explanation and evaluation” (7).

 Betts, Katharine, Karen Farquharson and Anne Seitz. Writing Essays and Research Reports in the Social Sciences. 3rd edition.  Melbourne: Thomson Australia, 2005.

Resources for Writing in the Social Sciences