Navigating an Undergraduate Degree in the Social Sciences: Tips and Strategies is based on a combination of the authors’ personal reflections and prior experiences teaching and mentoring thousands of students through their undergraduate degrees. The suggestions in this guide are largely the result of our own research into best practices for assisting students alongside strategies used by high achieving former students we have taught or assisted who were completing course requirements for an undergraduate degree. We have also included a few guidelines that we developed in our respective areas to help circumvent lessons learned through the challenges and disappointment experienced by students who failed to master these essential skills. It is the common errors, questions, indecision points, and various writing and learning styles of students that have ultimately culminated in this book that we hope will afford all students an edge in their quest to succeed in the social sciences.

This is the first revised edition of the Thomson Nelson Guide to Success in Social Science: Writing Papers and Exams by Diane Symbaluk (2006) published by Nelson, a division of Thomson Canada Limited.

Outline of the Book

  • Chapter 1 focuses on specific strategies for studying, including how to translate course activities and readings into meaningful lecture notes, how to organize lecture notes into study notes, and how to study effectively.
  • Chapter 2 explains multiple-choice, short-answer, and essay questions, including how the questions are developed and how best to tackle exams based on them.
  • Chapter 3 explains how to write an essay including how to narrow your topic and outline your ideas.
  • Chapter 4 describes methods for navigating the library and the Internet to find appropriate reference materials for course assignments.
  • Chapter 5 covers referencing using APA format, the most commonly used citation style in the social sciences.
  • Chapter 6 describes the objectives and main components of a research proposal including important ethical considerations in research.
  • Chapter 7 outlines the main format for writing a publishable research report.
  • Chapter 8 covers how to start developing a curriculum vitae that conveys your academic achievements to a potential employer or supports your application into graduate studies.
  • Appendices include a sample essay, research report, and poster by students who earned high marks and whose writing demonstrates many of the principles outlined in this book.


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Navigating an Undergraduate Degree in the Social Sciences Copyright © 2019 by Diane Symbaluk, Robyn Hall, and Geneve Champoux is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.