6.1 Learning Goals

Natalie Boldt and Loren Gaudet


You will learn to recognize the social sciences as a discipline (or set of disciplines).

In this chapter, we introduce the social sciences as a discipline, or really, as a set of disciplines. When we call something a discipline, we are categorizing knowledge according to a certain set of values, and these disciplines often share expectations concerning communication. Why should you care? Because understanding yourself as part of a discipline is crucial to your ability to communicate in that field..

You will learn effective strategies to both represent and engage with data in the social sciences.

All researchers work with “data”—this is just a term to describe information that has been gathered, generated, observed, or created and in turn used to provide evidence for claims. Researchers working in the social sciences tend to work with data that they gather through tools such as experiments, field notes, or interviews, but they also work with data generated by other scholars and researchers. Whether you’re working with data you’ve generated yourself, or data you’ve read in a journal article, or any other source, you need to know how to represent that data clearly and ethically. This chapter offers guidelines for representing data visually using tables and figures and outlines common practices and habits when using APA to cite your sources.

You will be prepared for writing in common genres within the social sciences.

Though there are several “sub-disciplines” within the social sciences (for example, psychology, sociology, and anthropology), these sub-disciplines share many types of writing assignments (and rhetorical situations!) in common. In earlier chapters, we talked in detail about how to write a research paper. But not all of the writing you do in the social sciences (or any discipline, for that matter!) will take the form of a traditional research paper. As social scientists, you may be asked to summarize a particularly important text (an article or book) in the form of a “precis,” write a research brief, or pen a journal entry or reflection. You’ll learn more about these types of writing assignments in this chapter.



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Why Write? A Guide for Students in Canada 2nd Edition Copyright © 2022 by Natalie Boldt and Loren Gaudet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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