In a guide to writing sociology papers, the Sociology Writing Group identifies four types of papers that are based on data sources as the most common writing assignments given to undergraduate sociology majors:
(1) The textual analysis paper in which the student has to analyze a text like an essay or book. The text provides the data, and the student is not asked to interpret the text.
(2) The ethnographic field research paper in which data are generated by observing and interacting with people in their social environment.
(3) The quantitative research paper in which data are collected using specific methods of data analysis and collection in order to answer a sociological question.
(4) The general research paper in which data are collected through library research to refine a question and gather information to support the paper's thesis.