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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.


This video series was produced collaboratively between the USC Libraries and the Writing Center. Although they are intended to be used more as instructional videos or as "flipped" classroom exercises, the contents can be useful for students who want to learn about specific aspects of the research and writing process.

Research Process Video Series

The Research Process: Instructional Design Video Series

Produced by Kevin Klipfel (USC Libraries) and Cory Nelson (USC Writing Center)

Brief Synopsis: The purpose of this video suite is to introduce learners to central conceptual and critical thinking elements of the research process that are often tacitly assumed to be part of students’ background knowledge but not always explicitly taught. The series attempts to take a learner-centered approach, by addressing live questions students face during the research process, and aims to provide direct interventions on these skills. The videos, wherever possible, are informed by research on the writing process, evidence-based learning theory, and instructional design practices in order to make this tacit knowledge explicit for learners and instructors.

Getting Started on a Research Paper (Using Divergent Thinking) 

Students often say that getting started is the hardest part of the research process. This may be, in part, because whereas most of our education teaches convergent thinking strategies (developing answers to linear questions with fixed answers and solutions), the research process requires a kind of creative, or “divergent” kind of thinking, where we consider multiple potential solutions for an open-ended problem. This video explains how students can use divergent thinking to interpret an assignment creatively and select a meaningful, authentic topic of interest.

Building Stronger Arguments  

Students are often expected to build strong arguments in their research. But what does an instructor mean when they ask that of their students? What does a strong argument actually look like? This video draws on strategies from philosophy, critical thinking, and learning theory to help students use research to build stronger arguments in their writing.

Critical Reading Strategies for Research 

Instructors often ask students to engage more deeply with sources when doing research and writing. But what does that mean, exactly? This video draws on educational psychology and instructional design theory to give students concrete strategies for engaging deeply and meaningfully with sources by asking “Essential questions” about the readings.

Time Management and the Writing Process

In order to do quality research, one must have a good grasp of time management. Research presents unique time management challenges, since it is a recursive process that often requires one to go back to earlier steps in the process even after that part of the research process seems “done.” This video outlines linear vs. recursive processes, how the research process falls under the latter heading, and maps research as a linear process so students have a better grasp of what to expect when engaging in research and planning their time.