Introduction — SOCY 601

Hello all! My name’s Peter Jameson, and this is my first semester in the sociology department’s graduate program. I’m originally from Northern Virginia, but I’ve also lived in California, New Orleans and Egypt. I finished my undergraduate degree here at VCU, where I majored in political science with a concentration in public policy and administration, and minored in sociology.

My experience with academic research is limited. Following the advice of my senior seminar instructor, I managed to enroll in a research methods course in my last semester, which I enjoyed immensely. What frustrated me the most about writing literature reviews and research papers was that when I was reviewing journal articles, I could only ascertain information from the concluding sections because everything above that section didn’t make sense. When reading only the end of an article, it’s easy to understand if an author concluded that the hypotheses were proven or unproven, but often difficult to answer questions like “by what margin?” without going into the methodology and findings sections. While I’m certainly not fluent in methodology and statistics, that course helped me to at least begin to understand the word soup that lives between an introduction and a conclusion. Based off the syllabus and the first reading, I suspect that there are bigger questions that this course will address, such as how one designs a functional experimental design, or how one operationalizes and measures social phenomena — but I think learning how to read and understand those intermediary sections would definitely be a meaningful step forward for me.

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