Topical Essay Guidelines
You will prepare a topical essay (much like those provided in the text) of about
seven-eight (double-spaced) pages in length. Your essay will evaluate and
integrate at least one academic peer-reviewed scholarly research article, one
alternative source of data (Eg., a second scholarly article,
government/organizational statistics), and at least one mass media report
(newspaper, magazine, etc.) regarding your selected aging or age-related social
For all sources you must provide url links at the end of your report, along with
proper citation. For the academic article(s), you must copy/paste the title
page/abstract of each article into your document at the end of your report.
Again, use the topical essays in the text as a guide.
A) Review of each source (about a page for each): 30 points.
For the academic article [12 points total], you must address the following:
1. Describe the research question/hypothesis under investigation. [2]
2. Which of the frameworks or theoretical perspectives in the sociology of aging is
the author using? You need to be explicit about WHY you think the theoretical
model used in the paper is drawn from one of those discussed in the text. [5]
3. Briefly (!) describe the sample and the research design/type of data. What were
the major
findings? What were the author’s conclusions? [5]
For the alternative data source [12 points]:
Same guidelines for another journal article, or
For another data source, clearly describe the nature and collection of the data,
noting strengths and limitations, and conclusions reached.
For the mass media source [6 points]:
Summarize the content/issue in the report.
B) The Essay: 75 points.
In your essay, you must provide a critique of the articles: What do YOU think of the
quality of the research reported? Do you think the author’s reported theoretical
findings are a valid interpretation of the data (why/not)? [15]
What alternative theoretical perspective might you take? Explain. [15]
How does your alternative source of data compare to the theory and findings in the
academic article? [15] How does your “popular” (mass media) report on the issue
compare? Are the finding or assertions the same as the articles? Are they valid?
What do the reports contribute to your understanding of social aging? [15]

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