SECTION 01E-- CRN # 22074



Instructor:  Dr. Jiaming Sun

Office Location: SS 205

Face to Face Office Hrs: M & W 9 am - 12 :15pm or by appointment

Office Phone: 903-886-5322

Office Fax: 903-886-5330


Course Website:




Lectures:         M 7:20 pm - 10:00 pm (SS310) 1/18/2011 through 5/13/2011


This syllabus is intended to help you clearly understand the course goals, expectations, testing methods and topics we are going through so you may maximize your performance. It should also help you to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings that will affect your grade adversely.



·         Graduate Research Method (Sociology 575) (Required Reading Package).

·         Neuman, W. Lawrence. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Sixth Edition. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Publisher: Allyn & Bacon. Copyright: 2006 (optional).

·         Jiaming Sun. Global Connectivity and Local Transformation. University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-4008-7 (optional).

            Additional reading materials to be distributed in seminars.


Student Learning Outcomes/Objectives    

Research is the heart of social inquiry. In a Master granting program, one important goal is to train graduate students to be disciplined, productive researchers. This course fulfills one of the core requirements in the sociology graduate program. It is designed to give students a broad view of the variety of approaches for designing a good quality social research. Typically graduate students at Texas A&M University-commerce are required to take a research methods course. The purposes or objectives of the course are:


Ø To develop and discipline your curiosity and passion for inquiry by converting problems and puzzles into research questions and designs for empirical research;

Ø To choose appropriately, and describe in detail sufficient to justify to a research design for a specific research project;

Ø To develop an ability to read with comprehension research reports, especially those found in professional journals. Primarily, the goal is application of information for one's professional pursuit and/or graduate study;

Ø To learn to write with adequate organization, clarity, and scholarly style: a research proposal, a critique of published research, a graduate paper, and a research report;

Ø To become familiar with the steps necessary to the writing of your master's thesis.  This includes survey, ethnographic field research, unobtrusive research, and experimental types of investigations.




This course is an eCollege online supporting course (a hybrid course). eCollege is a campus wide web-enhanced internet teaching and learning support system. Students taking this course will be asked to surf online course website, get reading material, download and upload assignments, take online quizzes and exams, check their grades and cumulative points with percentiles anytime they are online. If you are not familiar with the use of eCollege or the Library Online Services, please avail yourself of the online tutorials easily accessible through your MyLeo web page.


You will need your CWID and password to log in to the course. If you do not know your CWID or have forgotten your password, contact Technology Services at 903.468.6000 or




Course requirements

As per the university rule, students taking one course with three credits hours are expected to spend the same amount of time as attending lectures on out of class activities (three hours in class, and three hours out of class), such as reading, doing assignments, and preparing quizzes and exams.  


To meet those learning goals, this course requires you to demonstrate your critical engagement with the readings and issues of research design through questions, presentations and discussions in class, and proposal completion.


You will be required to prepare questions, presentations and discussions each class meeting based on assigned readings. Your final grade will reflect your engagement of questions preparation, class presentations (discussions) and research proposal completion. At the final stage of the course, you will be required to submit a professional research proposal for “reviewing by the IRB” (Institutional Review Boards).


Discussion and Participation:

Graduate study means learning to learn from every possible source -- from your readings, your peers, your life experience, your professor, and your research practice. Participating in discussions is one of the best ways to learn. You are expected to contribute your questions and insights to the seminar.


The culture of the seminars will, I hope, be a congenial one for self-expression. I cannot help you learn if you don't participate in discussion, however. Doing excellent written work is not enough to demonstrate adequate performance in graduate study. Whatever you do, don't suffer in silence. Say anything you can defend against reasoned argument. Treat your colleagues' contributions with respect (which means taking them seriously and challenging them as well as extending basic courtesy).


The attendance points will not be given to those who are tardy or leave early.  Excuse of absence is not necessary and will not alter your attendance records. Excessive tardiness may result in a further loss of points from your overall performance points. It can mean a difference of a final letter grade. Take it seriously.


Reading Summaries and Exams:

Each student must be prepared to discuss all the readings assigned for a class meeting unless the instructors explicitly specify otherwise. For selected readings, students must submit reading summary to TurnItIn.


We encourage students to discuss reading materials with each other; however, each student must be the sole author of his/her written assignments. If you cannot complete assignments on time due to an emergency, you must let me know before the assignment is due.


An Initial Research Proposal (IRP) will be required to submit for your midterm exam. The length of IRP will be about 3-4 pages. Your finalized proposal is a Professional Research Proposal (PRP) with length no more than 16 pages. The proposal has the following elements: specify a problem of sociological significance, convert problem into a series of hypotheses, and specify the assumptions that are implicit and explicit, literature review, operationalize the concepts, develop a questionnaire, and develop a code manual.


Pre-test and Post-test

At the beginning of the semester, every student must take a pre-test including about 30 multiple choice questions related to basic knowledge of social research methods for undergraduate study (30 points). A post-test will take place at the final stage of the course with 30 multiple choice questions randomly selected from the same test bank (30 points).


Grading Policy:            YOU EARN YOUR OWN POINTS :


Attendance/Online Activity  


Reading Summaries/outlines




Pre-test and Post-test          


Initial Research Proposal (midterm exam)                    


Professional Research Proposal (final exam)                   


Overall performance      





Overall performance points (40 points) based primarily on ranking percentile in class will be added on your total points. For instance, student who is at the 80th percentile will receive 36 points, and student who is at the 60th percentile will receive 28 points and so on.


Final grades will be assigned on the following aspects and scale:


A: Truly exceptional and outstanding work. (450-500)

B: Solid, acceptable graduate-level work. (400-449)

B-: Near acceptable level for graduate work. (350-399)

C: Not acceptable level for graduate work. (300-349)




This is a web-enhanced course and some obvious technological resources will be required. Our campus is optimized to work in a Microsoft Windows environment. This means that our course works best if you are using a Windows operating system (XP or newer) and a recent version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (6.0, 7.0 or 8.0). Along with Internet Explorer and Safari, eCollege also supports the Firefox browser (3.0) on both Windows and Mac operating systems.

*          Word processing software (Microsoft Word preferred);

*          SPSS software (recommended);

*          Some floppy diskettes or jump drive to use exclusively for this class;

*          A speaker for watching online SPSS demos when student using computer at lab or at home;

*          A binder or folder to organize and save computer instructions and output from programs run for lab. Bring this to lab each week;

*          A hand calculator to prepare homework assignments and for use in class and during exams. Any basic calculator with a square root function will suffice.

*          You are strongly recommended to have a computer with internet connections at home to complete course assignments and online quizzes.




Disruptive Behavior

"Disruptive behavior" includes but not limited being rude to other people, destructive (rather than constructive) criticism of another, arriving late repeatedly, sleeping during class, belligerent or aggressive behavior, and so on. These behaviors have no place in a college classroom. You have a right to maintain your own opinions and to disagree with others, but you must do so in a fashion that is conducive to learning and does not take the form of a personal attack on others. Minimally, you are expected to treat your classmates and your professor in a respectful fashion and they will return the favor. Any behavior that obstructs or disrupts the classroom teaching and learning environment will be addressed. Serious or repeated breaches in appropriate behavior may result in a degradation of your final grade in the course and may be referred to additional University authorities.


Cheating & Plagiaris

It should go without saying that every student is expected to do his/her own work. Department policy provides that anyone caught cheating in any form or fashion will receive an “F” for the course and may be subjected to further disciplinary action by the university. Plagiarism (the use of others’ words, phrases, and ideas in your writing without giving credit to the original author) is a form of cheating and not only violates academic ethical standards, but is against the law.


Policies on Enrollment, “X”, “DP,” “DF,” and Withdrawal

Every student has the right to drop the course without penalty until the drop date. Students dropping the course during this period will be given a DP (drop while passing). A grade of DP is GPA neutral, but a grade of DF counts as an F on your transcript.


If you choose to stop attending class, you may be dropped from the course due to excessive absences. If you are not satisfied with your grade in the course and wish you to drop, it is YOUR responsibility to drop the course. Once a grade of DP or DF has been registered, I will not be able to change it. A student may drop a course by logging into their myLEO account and clicking on the hyperlink labeled 'Drop a class' from among the choices found under the myLEO section of the Web page.


Students should check the university catalog, current semester schedule, and other official sources for specific deadlines, policies, etc. It is the student’s responsibility to see that all university procedures are properly followed.


Student Requiring Assistance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact:

Office of Student Disability Resources and Services

Texas A&M University-Commerce

Gee Library, Room 132

Phone (903) 886-5150 or (903) 886-5835

Fax (903) 468-8148





Email Correspondence

In this course, e-mail is an essential corresponding method and supplement to lectures. This means that you can expect to hear from the instructor via emails regularly throughout the semester, such as using e-mail for reminders, clarifications, last-minute notifications, etc. Needless to say, students are expected to check email regularly in daily fashion (a couple of times a day). Conversely, you should feel free to contact the instructor via e-mail with questions, requests or problems that were not or could not be addressed clearly in classes (or online lectures).


You have access to an email account via myLeo - all my emails sent from eCollege (and all other university emails) will go to this account. Conversely, you are to email me via the eCollege email system or your myLeo email as our spam filters will catch yahoo, hotmail, etc. and I will not check for your email in spam.


HOWEVER in order to avoid duplication of questions and answers, please post all class related questions in the Virtual Office. This will be our Q&A forum. It is likely that your peers will have the same question. Emails of a personal nature should be sent to individual instructors email addresses via eCollege.


If you are having problems in class, please come and talk to me immediately. I will be better able to help you if you come to me early. Please understand that you should not come to me at the end of the semester, unhappy with your grade, asking for a way to change it. Grades will not be changed.




The course schedule is tentative and somewhat subject to change. Although this course will follow the schedule, it is possible that some adjustments will be made as we progress through the semester.



Dates (M)

Topic/ Readings



Jan. 24

Brief introduction; Organizational meeting.




Jan. 31

A Methodology for Twenty-First Century Sociology. Joel Smith

Reading with article abstract/outline


Feb. 7

On the Microfoundation of Macrosociology. Randall Collins.

Reading with article abstract/outline


Feb. 14

Manifesto for a relational Sociology. Mustafa Emirbayer.

Reading with article abstract/outline


Feb. 21

Theory and Method in Comparative Research: Two Strategies. Charles Ragin, and David Zaret

Reading with article abstract/outline


Feb. 28

Review for the exam.



Mar. 7

***Midterm Exam***



Mar. 14

Spring Break




Mar. 21

Discussion of initial idea of research proposal





Measurement of World City Network. P.J. Taylor, G. Catalano and D.R.F.Walker.

Reading with article abstract/outline


Apr. 4

Cross-National Research As an Analytic Strategy. Melvin L. Kohn

Reading with article abstract/outline


Apr. 11

Historical Method in Consumer Research Developing Causal Explanations of Change. Ruth Ann Smith, David S. Lux

Reading with article abstract/outline


Apr. 18

Review for the exam.



Apr. 25

Discussion research proposal individually.



May 2

Discussion research proposal individually.



May 9

***Final Exam***