How to Write for Sociology

Writing academically begins with good research. It also includes using a more formal style of writing and language. This document is a guide to basic sociological writing in an academic format. The American Sociological Association (ASA) is the organization that advances the discipline of sociology. It also sets the standards for format and style.

For sociological writing, you should explore the research found from the sociological perspective by using articles from the academic sociology journals. A list of approved journals is attached to the end of this document.

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When you are logged in, you can access the library and all the journals at no cost.

  • J. Conrad Dunagan Library –
  • YouTube how to video –

Contact the librarian if you need help. The librarian has phone and online appointments. You are not required to go on campus in order to get library help. See the library weblink above.

The online library has free journal articles. NEVER pay for access to an academic journal article. If you access a website (e.g. Sage, Taylor-Francis) that requires payment to view an article, log into the site via your course log-in password.

How to Use Sociology Journal Articles

For sociology research, once you get access to the library, you can find a number of databases with sociology journals. However – many databases have journal from other discipline (business, history, health…). Follow this example for the “JSTOR” database so you can specifically narrow your search to the approved sociology journals.

  • Click on “Research Databases.” I usually choose JSTOR by clicking on the “J” tab for sociology journals. Other good databases include WorldCat, Academic Search Complete, SociIndex, … there are many.
  • Click “Advanced Search”
  • Scroll down to “Sociology.” There are about 150 journals for the sociology discipline (see attached list). There are many excellent, academic sources (Harvard Business Review), but for this course, you must use journals from the *sociology* section. Do not use journals from business or other disciplines.

Narrow your search by topic and secondary interests. Let’s say, your research discussion question is “sexual assault.” You could differentiate your writing from your peers, by narrowing your topic of sexual assault beyond race (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, …) and age (youth, teenagers, college-aged, elderly) You could exclude/include even more specific topics by selecting terms of gender (male, female, transgender…), religion, education level, socio-economic status (SES), geography (Texas, rural, urban, United States, Thailand, etc.), persons with disabilities, or any number of other areas of interest.

Narrow your search to sociology journals that you think would have the best articles for your needs. Of the more than 150 sociology journals, I selected only the following journals: Black ScholarChildren, Youth and EnvironmentsCrime and Justice, and Culture, Health and Sexuality.

  • Click “peer-reviewed.” It will exclude newspapers and magazines (New York Time, Fortune, etc.). Although newspapers and magazines are good sources for “general” information, they are not academic articles.
  • Click “2007-2017” and limit the search to the past 10 years – or even shorter for highly current data. For instance, if you are searching for economic indicators – -an article written in 2005 would be outdated considering the changes in economy over the past 10 years and the 2007-2009 recession. You’d probably want to limit that search to articles written from 2012-2016.


Once you have completed researching your topic, you should analyze what you have read to formulate the summary of your writing. See the section below on in-text citations and references. Also see the section in your UTPB student handbook on “Academic Dishonesty.”

In general, all of your writings (including essay) should be no more than about 20% – 25% quotes from other sources. Many writers are familiar with the concept of avoiding plagiarism and understand copying directly from a website, article or book is unacceptable. Additionally, a student should conduct independent research for each writing assignment. You cannot use a paper submitted for another class without express written permission from me.

Collusion is equally unacceptable. Collusion is working with others when the assignment is not a group project. Primary discussion posts and essays (unless otherwise stated) are considered individual assignments. You should conduct independent research and not use sources that other students are using. To avoid the appearance of collusion, research specific sub-categories of general topics and avoid general search terms.


Now that you have conducted your topic research at the library, it’s time to write your assignment. Do this early, and you will have time to submit your work to the UTPB Student Success Center – Writing lab. Make an appointment here – Do not expect to submit an assignment to them a few hours before it is due. You will need to make an appointment for them to have time to get feedback to you and for you to revise your assignment.

Here a few common areas that need to addressed in academic writing.

Write academically. Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Avoid slang, trite phrases, and clichés. Do not use offensive language or swear words. Instead of “kids,” try children, youth, adolescents or teenagers. A good handout for avoiding clichés –

Use paragraphs to separate your thoughts/points. Many discussion questions have several components. Each component might benefit from a separate paragraph, depending on how you choose to outline your answer. You might need 2-3 paragraphs to logically layout your discussion.

Write gender neutral. Avoid masculine pronouns. Hints for alternative examples


Write concisely.The purpose of the Discussions is to help you think about the topic and research it so you understand the many possible facets of a topic. Do not use author name, article title or journal name in the sentence with an in-text citation. The citation is all the reader needs to find the article. Below are two examples. The first “good” example demonstrates concise writing. The second “Poor” example demonstrates superfluous writing.


  • Different cultures can be found in many places of the world (Smith 2012).


  • I read an article, “Cultures from Around the World” by Pat L. Smith in Journal of Sociology that indicated different cultures can be found in many places of the world (Smith 2012).


Follow the directions below for writing in ASA style. View the PowerPoint slide in your Resources section for point-by-point examples.

Do not type your assignment in WORD and attach it to the Discussion board. Save your writing as a plain text file (.txt or .rtf). Then, copy/paste directly into the Discussion box. You will see the format tools in the discussion and you can bold, indent, underline, etc. You can attach files to your discussion. Please tell us what you have attached and why. For example, write “Attached is a YouTube video about the XYZ I discussed.” If you attach your Discussion as a file, you will not receive a grade.

Use the American Sociological Association (ASA) 4th or 5th edition Style Guide for formatting. If you need help, contact the UTPB Student Services – Writing Center. There are also online resources:


The main problems I see are incorrect or missing in-text citations and improper reference formatting. See the links above if you need help. In-text citations are used to avoid plagiarism and it documents your research. It shows what information you learned from the articles you read and how you are using that information to analyze your topic. References should be at the end of your document so the reader can find the entire article if they want to learn more on the topic.

In-Text citations

  • Direct Quotes: If you use direct quotes, include the page number.
    • Different cultures can be found in many places of the world” (Smith 2012:43).
  • Indirect Quotes/summary: If you are summarizing, cite author/s last name, year and OMIT the page number.
    • The social world consists of various cultures (Smith 2012).

Notice, there is no space after the colon between the year and the page number for a direct quote (Smith 2012:43). The period goes after the citation.

References – Use ASA formatting for references that includesName/s, Year, Title, Journal, Publisher, Volume, Issue, and Page Numbers. See resource guides for further examples, such as, if there are more than one author. Also include the “Accessed on [date] (weblink) if you are using online articles.

References should be single-spaced (not double-spaced) and use a hanging indent for subsequent lines.

An easy way to format your references into ASA style is to save/copy from the journal “cite this article” tab and choose the “Chicago/Turbian” style which most closely matches ASA style. Hint: you can often copy the article reference citation from the journal website from several choices of style. Choose the Chicago/Turbian and you’ll only have to change a few things.

This link has good examples of formatting. Scroll to the section “EXAMPLES OF REFERENCE SECTION CITATIONS”


For the reference example below, note:

  • List in alphabetical order by first author’s last name.
  • Only the first author’s name is inverted (last name first). Additional authors are listed as first last name (Jones, Sue and Mark Smith).
  • Period after the author name.
  • Next is year and a period. It does not go in parenthesis.
  • Article title should be in quotation marks with a period inside the quote mark.
  • Journal title should be italics.
  • This is followed by the volume number, issue number in parenthesis, colon, and then the page numbers of the article. THERE ARE NO SPACES.

References (in alphabetical order by first author’s last name). Examples:

    • Benge, Allen. 2015. “Article of Research.” Sociology Journal Name 24(12):384-392.
    • Kalleberg, Arne. 2012. “Bad Jobs in America.” American Sociological Review 65(2):256-78.
    • Kalleberg, Arne, Joe Smith and Sally Que. 2012. “Bad Jobs in America.” American Sociological Review 65(2):256-78.
    • Sanchez, Esmerelda. 2016. “Title of Article.” Journal Name 32(4):17-21.

Approved List of Academic Sociology Journals

  • The Academy of Management Journal
  • The Journal of the Academy of Management
  • The Academy of Management Review
  • Acta Sociologica
  • Acta Turistica
  • Administrative Science Quarterly
  • The American Journal of Economics & Sociology
  • American Journal of Sociology
  • American Sociological Review
  • The American Sociologist
  • Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
  • Annual Review of Sociology
  • Asian Journal of Social Science
  • Berkeley Journal of Sociology
  • The Black Scholar
  • British Journal of Educational Studies
  • The British Journal of Sociology
  • The Canadian Journal of Sociology
  • Children, Youth and Environments
  • Children’s Environments
  • Children’s Environments Quarterly
  • Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture
  • Contemporary Sociology
  • Contexts
  • Crime and Justice
  • Critical Historical Studies
  • Culture, Health & Sexuality
  • Czech Sociological Review
  • Czechoslovak Sociological Review
  • Environmental Values
  • European Sociological Review
  • Family Relations
  • The Family Coordinator
  • The Family Life Coordinator
  • The Coordinator
  • French Politics, Culture & Society
  • French Politics and Society
  • Gender and Society
  • German Politics & Society
  • German Studies Newsletter
  • QUANTUM Information
  • Historical Social Research
  • Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
  • Industrial and Labor Relations Review
  • International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
  • State, Culture, and Society
  • International Journal of Sociology
  • International Journal of Sociology of the Family
  • International Review of Modern Sociology
  • International Review of Sociology
  • International Review of Qualitative Research
  • International Social Science Review
  • Social Science
  • Israeli Sociology
  • Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • Journal for the Study of Radicalism
  • Journal of Applied Social Science
  • Journal of Black Studies
  • Journal of Educational Sociology
  • Journal of Haitian Studies
  • Journal of Health and Social Behavior
  • Journal of Health and Human Behavior
  • The Journal of Human Resources
  • Journal of Marriage and Family
  • Marriage and Family Living
  • Living
  • The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • Journal of Palestine Studies
  • The Journal of Sex Research
  • Advances in Sex Research
  • Journal of the History of Sexuality
  • Language in Society
  • Law & Society Review
  • Michigan Sociological Review
  • The Peninsular Papers
  • Middle East Report
  • MERIP Middle East Report
  • MERIP Reports
  • Philippine Sociological Review
  • Polish Sociological Review
  • Political Behavior
  • The Public Opinion Quarterly
  • QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking
  • Race, Gender & Class
  • Race, Sex & Class
  • Race, Poverty & the Environment
  • Reis: Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas
  • Revista española de la opinión pública
  • Review of Religious Research
  • Review of Social Economy
  • Revista Mexicana de Sociología
  • Signs
  • Social Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice
  • Social Choice and Welfare
  • Social Forces
  • Journal of Social Forces
  • Social Indicators Research
  • Social Issues in Israel
  • Social Problems
  • Social Psychology Quarterly
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociometry
  • Social Research
  • Social Science History
  • Social Science Quarterly
  • The Southwestern Social Science Quarterly
  • The Southwestern Political and Social Science Quarterly
  • The Southwestern Political Science Quarterly
  • Social Scientist
  • Social Thought & Research
  • Mid-American Review of Sociology
  • Kansas Journal of Sociology
  • Society and Economy
  • Society and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Sociological Bulletin
  • Sociological Focus
  • Sociological Forum
  • Sociological Methodology
  • Sociological Perspectives
  • The Pacific Sociological Review
  • The Sociological Quarterly
  • The Midwest Sociologist
  • Sociological Theory
  • Czech Sociological Review
  • Sociology
  • Sociology of Development
  • Sociology of Education
  • Journal of Educational Sociology
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Sociological Analysis
  • The American Catholic Sociological Review
  • Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men
  • State & Society
  • State Crime Journal
  • Studies in Popular Culture
  • Symbolic Interaction
  • Teaching Sociology
  • Theory and Society
  • International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Work, Employment & Society

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