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SOSC 5110 - Social Science Research Design and Methods: Literature Review

This guide is designed to help students of SOSC 5110 complete their assignments


This guide is created to be a resource to you as you work on your assignments for SOSC 5110. 

It is especially related to doing a literature review.

Excerpts from 2019 syllabus:

PAPER PRESENTATION: From week 6, some lecture time will be reserved for presentations. The topics of the presentations will be chosen by the students from recently published papers in leading social science journals, which should highlight novel research method and design in relevant disciplines


PROPOSAL PRESENTATION The last week of the class November 26th, 2019 will be reserved for you to present your research proposal in class. .....
Proposal parts
1. Aims. .....
2. Research Significance...
3. Background. This should be a review of the relevant literature and a discussion of previous relevant studies. The background should make clear why your proposed research differs from  previous studies, and identify the gaps in the previous research that you seek to fill.


You select documents on the topic that contain information, ideas, data, & evidence

You write it from specific standpoints - express views on the nature of the topic & how you will investigate the topic or question(s)

You effectively evaluate  (appraise critically, not just summarize) the documents you selected in relation to the research you propose.

(Hart 1998, p.13)

Generating & Communicating Research Information & Knowledge

Research is Conducted by:

Associations | Businesses | Charities | Governments | Individuals (people)  | Institutions (universities, think tanks, etc.) | Pressure groups | Trade Unions  

►    Information is Generated from:

Research  |  Critical evaluations  | Interperative work

►   Information from, on, or about Research is Communicated  via:

Anthologies | Blogs | Books (monographs) | Book chapters | Conference Papers |  Emails | Journals |  Journal articles | Lectures | Letters | Meetings | Newsletters  | Newspapers | Reports | Seminars |  Textbooks  | Theses | Tweets

Information from, on, or about Research is Organized  in:

Article Databases | Bibliographies | Data Repositories |  Dictionaries | Encyclopedias | Library Catalogs

(Hart, 1998, p. 4)


  • Demonstrate your skills in library (research literature) searching
  • Show your command of the subject area ("I know my stuff!")
  • Show you understand the research problem
  • Justify your
    • research topic
    • research design
    • research methodology

(Hart 1998, p. 13)

Questions your Literature Review can answer about your topic

  • Key concepts and theories & ideas?
  • Main questions & problems answered up to now?
  • Major issues & debates?
  • Origins of the topic?
  • In what ways has the topic been defined or limited?
  • Key sources (authors, books, articles, data, etc.?)

(Hart 1998, p. 14)


Scholarship as an activity = thinking systematically

  • Systematic questioning
  • Searching
  • Looking  deep and long =  Scrutinizing -   詳細地檢查

Integration (making intellectual connections) between  ideas, theories, & experience = key to good scholarship

  • Applying a method from one area to another
  • Place a situation or phenomenon into larger theoretical framework
    • Drawing elements from different theories into a synthesis
    • Make new insight
  • Re-examine existing knowledge based on new or more recent development

(Hart 1998, p 8-9)

Research Apprentice - 學徒,徒弟,見習生

Social Science has many sub-disciplines and methods - but has some core skills,  attitudes & abilities . As an apprentice sopcial scientist you will learn to...

  • Integrate theory & method:
    • Understand the relationship between   theory, method, & research design and practical skills & particular methods
    • Understand the knowledge base of your discipline
    • Understand your disciplines methodological foundations


(Hart, 1998, p. 5)


Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage, 1998.  (HKUST Library H62 .H2566 1998)

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