Writer's WebExpectations for Writing in the Social Sciences

Leadership and the Social Sciences is an introductory course for the Jepson School that explores leadership through theoretical and empirical research of social interactions. The social sciences are fields of study that examine society and human relationships that include sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, and economics. The class addresses the same questions as Leadership in the Humanities but attempts to answer them from a scientific perspective, and because of that, writing for this course will address issues also associated with psychology or sociology classes.

Where to Begin

1. Carefully Read the Prompt. Like writing in the humanities, it is important to understand what question you are trying to answer

2. Understand the Research. Writing for Leadership in the Social Sciences often requires the reading of empirical journal articles which can be challenging to get through if you are not well versed in the subject matter. While it's important to understand the methodology behind the experiment, understanding the results of the study and then reading the discussion of the journal article often prove most helpful in relating the study back to leadership.

3. Make an Argument. While critically thinking about research related to theory, it's important to remember that every paper you write is ultimately making claims to a support a specific point of view.

4. Never Forget the Big Picture. Even though assignments in this class will ask you to read and analyze empirical articles it is important to clearly explicate the implications the research has on leadership theory. Professors will expect clear and precise language which details how the research advances current theory and further directions for research to explore.

Types of Texts

The syllabus for Leadership and the Social Sciences includes a variety of readings, from chapters from Leadership texts, to empirical studies and journal articles (sometimes authored by Jepson's own faculty!), and even the popular works of social psychologist Malcolm Gladwell who authored Blink, The Outliers, and The Tipping Point.

While reading empirical research studies or other journal articles there are several important questions to consider: What topic is the paper suggesting? What has previous research determined? What are the hypotheses? What did they have to do in the study? Do the results support the hypothesis? What are the implications of the study on both a psychological and real world level? What are the strengths and limitations of the study? Is the research valuable or informative and does it enhance the understanding of social phenomena?

APA Citations

Writing in the social sciences most often requires the APA form of citation.

Reference Page


Rogers, C.R., Wakefield, F.E., & Monroe, W.S. (1964). Toward a modern approach to values. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 68, 160-167.

In-Text Citations

Citations in the text of your paper can occur two ways:

1. As a part of a sentence: Jaeger, Anthony, and Rosnow (1980) planted a rumor among college students.
2. At the end of a sentence: Lithium carbonate increases the anorectic's intake of fatty foods and thus produces weight gain (Gross, Evert, Goldber, Nee, & Kaye, 1980).


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