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SOC 480: Sociology Capstone (Professor Suarez) [Spring 2021]

SOC 480: Final Project Assignments

Library resources, videos, and assignments are integrated into the preparation of the Final Project. A virtual library orientation will show you how to start locating 30 research studies in sociology and related disciplines that pertain to your advocacy area. That way you can refine it further as you learn more about it.

From that initial list, you will then select 25 peer-reviewed scholarly articles (not dissertations, magazines or policy papers) to annotate in detail over 5 weeks. That breaks down to one a day over a 5-day work week. The Annotated Bibliography you create will be based on three questions that will guide your reading and evaluation of the articles you’ve chosen. The format of the annotation that you will write should cite the article, provide a link to it, and then succinctly respond to the three points below (word count minimum 250):

  1. the thesis argument/ research findings;
  2. the strengths and limitations of the research design and/or research findings; and,
  3. the potential of the research contribution in advancing your advocacy position.

With all these notes in hand, the next step invites a deep breath and the big picture: take notice of the gaps in understanding between the scholarship and the area of advocacy you care about. Even the best research study you find can be made better! How might research scholarship better reflect and engage the concerns of “multiple publics” in social life - a truly Public Sociology – and the mission of your department?

Next, visualize that story through the Concept Map assignment using To do that, you have to assemble your annotated notes visually into three themes and create a literal “map” or flowchart of your thinking. The last box on your map, that ties together the three themes to your advocacy position, should reveal “A-HA!” why your advocacy is needed in the first place AND state in what direction(s) your advocacy should go. (Basically, the gist of the Significance and Implications sections.)

This is an opportunity to build up your tool kit of skills that you can use beyond college graduation. Just give it your best try. Effort over polish. Helpful materials and exemplars will be available on Cougar Courses.

The Concept Map has a role and purpose: it will guide you visually through the complex ideas that you will write through - and grow from intellectually - in the body paragraphs of your Final Project. (See the Literature Review section.)

You will draft your Introduction early on as a rough draft that will be shared for feedback through a Peer Review exercise. Your Introduction puts YOU at the center – the who, what, when, where, why, and how – of the advocacy position you have chosen to “capstone” your time at CSUSM as a college graduate in sociology. Drop the mic, as they say.

Final Paper Organization

The Senior Capstone Final Project should meet a word count minimum of 2500. Follow the outline below.

Introduction (1-2 pages)

Identify your stakes - personal and research - in the advocacy position you’ve proposed. To start, journal responses to the questions listed on the first page of these guidelines – in addition to the RR1 assignment that Dr. Suarez gives you for class participation points. 

Conclude this section with a paragraph of what your paper will be about – explicitly state your advocacy position, followed by a brief statement of the argumentation model that your research discussion and recommendations will likely follow (a link to the models will be available). As in the first paragraph, end this section with a reiteration of why your choice of topic is relevant and important to the field and practice of sociology. 

Literature Review (6+ pages)

Choose roughly HALF of your Annotated Bibliography notes (or 12 sources) as a baseline for this section. Two per page.

Your body paragraphs will likely start with your responses to question #3 of the Annotated Bibliography – that is, on the potential you see in the research to support your advocacy. Your written argumentation will then literally organize, build, and expand through a critical engagement with scholarly literature (questions #1 and #2 of the Annotated Bibliography). Your Final Project is writing itself if you completed five weeks of Annotated Bibliography assignments! 

Significance and Implications (two separate sections)

The remaining sections for the Final Project carry your scholarly voice (and the “endgame” of your Concept Map) forward into proposing new research ideas for study in universities and beyond (the Significance section), recommending practical changes in everyday life (the Implications section), and pondering YOUR future prospects as a visionary college graduate in sociology.

  • Strive to include five research study ideas or improvements (Significance Section, 2+ pages) AND three practical recommendations (Implications Section, 1+ page). Not just two lists; rather, explain why and how you arrived at these points, as well as any limitations or challenges that remain. These can be numbered within the paper as well as typed in bold or italics.
  • Provide information about what you observed, studied in the scholarship, and/or experienced as it relates to the recommendation.

Future Directions (1+ pages)

Your words provide a literal bridge across the knowledge gaps between social life and scholarship. The only way that social research will be made relevant and timely to the concerns of multiple publics is with your leadership and perspective as a college graduate of the field! Your constructive critique matters. Lead with your words at the start of every paragraph, and let the scholarship serve as a helpful backdrop to your point of view. To end your Final Project, explore how your training in the major and the Senior Capstone Final Project has deepened your Sociological Imagination. Mention the thoughts and ideas beyond the scope of the particular argumentation in your capstone project – here’s where everything goes in! Make the paper meaningful, thoughtful, and purposeful. 


List your 30 academic sources using ASA citation style. The Cougar Courses site offers the citation style guide for the American Sociological Association. You may also consider using other style guides (like APA), but just be consistent.

Other Important Details

  • Create a cover page that lists your name, your email, and your virtual placement site (if applicable), along with the date and the name of class.
  • 10+ pages or 2500 word-count minimum (not including cover page and bibliography) in 12-point font.
  • Write section/paragraph transitions with clear topic sentences that highlight a facet of your argumentation. Don’t lean on section subtitles for transitions
  • Spell and grammar check.
  • Showcase in-depth engagement and reflections.
  •  Double-spaced, one-inch margins.
  • Number your pages.