Constructing the Social Problem: Empirical and Nonempirical Perspectives

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June 21, 2022
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June 21, 2022

Constructing the Social Problem: Empirical and Nonempirical Perspectives

Assignment: Constructing the Social Problem: Empirical and Nonempirical Perspectives
For your dissertation or capstone project, you will strictly use scientific, peer-reviewed literature to investigate your topic and inform your research. But how will you know if your source is legitimate or appropriate to inform your research? Claimsmakers can move from popular media, such as newspapers, magazines, and emerging media platforms, and enter scientific literature to shift a social condition to a problem and bring it to the public’s attention.

As a scholar-practitioner, you will need to understand the differences between popular media and scientific literature and determine how to investigate the evidence to make a judgement about the claim or result. This will be a critical skill that can help position you as a thought leader in your field.

For this Assignment, you will use the social problem you identified in Week 2 and build on your knowledge of claimsmakers by comparing how the problem is depicted in empirical and non-empirical sources.

To Prepare
Conduct a search in Walden Library for at least two empirical sources.  You can use sources from previous weeks. Your sources should cover the same topic area within your selected social problem.
Conduct a search in Walden Library for at least two newspaper articles.  You can also use news segments from news programs. These sources should reflect the same topic area as your empirical sources.
By Day 7
Submit a 1- to 2-page paper that addresses the following:

Using the empirical literature (not the newspaper articles or the news program), explain how the authors/researchers define the nature and scope of your selected social problem. Be sure to cite specific passages from your sources.
Using the newspaper articles and/or news segments you researched, identify the inside claimsmakers. Describe how they provide credibility and legitimacy.  Be sure to cite specific passages from your sources.
Compare the evidence provided in the empirical literature with the evidence provided in the newspaper articles or news program segments. How does the evidence support the definition of the social problem?
When is it appropriate to use nonempirical sources, such as newspaper articles or news segments, in your research? How do you judge the legitimacy of these sources?

Topic from Week 2: The prevalence and association of homelessness and mental illness in rural areas.

How can I find newspaper articles in the library?
To find newspaper articles in the Walden Library you can use our Databases A-Z page and filter by database type Newspapers & Magazines.

From the Walden Library’s homepage, in the center of the page, click on Databases A-Z.
In the drop-down choices at the top, click on All Database Types.

Locate and click on: Newspapers & Magazines
Read the descriptions of the databases and click on the one you need.
Tip: Each of these database require different steps to find newspapers. When you access the database, locate the check box to filter or limit to just newspapers.

What are “popular press articles” and how can I find them?
The term “popular press” refers to material written for the general public. This is opposed to scholarly material written for an academic or research audience, or trade material written for an industry audience. Most popular press materials are newspaper and magazine articles.

Examples of popular press, trade, and scholarly
Popular Press Trade Scholarly
Time, Newsweek, etc.
New York Times, The Guardian, etc.
Does not include:
Tabloids or gossip magazines

Chronicle of Higher Education

Wall Street Journal

American Journal of Nursing

Educational Leadership

Psychological Bulletin

The ProQuest Central database is one place to find popular press materials.

On the Walden Library homepage, click on Databases A-Z.
Click on the dropdown box: All Database Types.
From that dropdown list, click on: Newspapers & Magazines.
Scroll down and click on: ProQuest Central.
Log in with your MyWalden email address and password if prompted.
Type your keywords into the search boxes. For example:

First Search Box: healthcare

Second Search Box: privilege

Verify the Full Text box is checked.
In the Source Type box, check Magazines and Newspapers.

Click the Search button.

Search tip: By default the database displays the search results by relevance. You may find it useful to view the results by date. Use the Sorted by button in the left column to change the sort order.

How do I find research articles?
You can find research articles in most of the Library databases by including the keyword research in your search.

On the Library homepage, type your main concept in the search box, and click on Search.

For example: online education

If prompted, log in with your Walden credentials.
Once you are in the database, you can add the term research to the search, in the second row of search boxes.

The search set up should look like this:

In the first search box

online education

In the second search box


Click on the Search button to run your search.
Once you have your search results, you can click in the box for Peer Reviewed Scholarly Journals Only in the Refine Results section on the side of the page.
Checking the peer review box will automatically update the search. As you look through the articles, check to make sure the article you choose does in fact report on research the author(s) did.

More Information:
Evaluating Resources Guide
Database Search Skills Guide
Peer Review Guide
How do I find articles on my topic?
How do I find an article that reports on research that uses a specific methodology?

Do you have other search questions? Ask a Librarian!

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