Characteristics of Literature in the Social Sciences

Issue: "I’ve been doing research in global health and I need to write a paper about my findings to send to a social science journal (conference). I haven’t written anything in college except lab reports. How can I find a good example of the kind of article I need to write?"

“Patterns of Contraceptive Use in China” isn’t as technical as some global health research papers but it is a good example in many respects. Two reasons are the following: (a) it shows how an article can be geared towards a general audience and (b) it has excellent figures and table citations. This article is also very different from science papers in terms of formatting.

This type of style (as the paper notes at the end) is great in terms of a transcript that you might use perhaps to accompany a presentation.

It is also what can be seen as a literature review—that is gathering from sources (first- and second-hand) on the topic and fusing all their results in a single paper. For many, this is a much easier and more comprehensive way to study a subject matter than reading 30 very specific papers to get an idea on the topic. Having such a broad overview, however, does little in terms of supplying solid specifics. This is a good stepping stone to find better, more tailored articles. Articles like these provide much more visual demonstration and dialogue. This style is especially good for reports, proposals, or classes that involve a preliminary literature review.