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Here is an assignment from a CUNY campus that ask students to analyze:

Queens College
Sociology
Dean Savage

Essay Assignment: Write a critical analysis, not to exceed five pages in length (typed and double-spaced), comparing Emile Durkheim's “Imitation” and D. Phillips's “Motor Vehicle Fatalities Increase Just After Publicized Suicide Stories.” Keep your essays clear and concise—when rewriting your first draft, you should cut out all material irrelevant to your comparison. Above all, concentrate on making a coherent argument, as your essay will be graded primarily on its analytic qualities.

In your analysis, state very briefly the main argument of each text, identify the contradictions (if any) between the two articles, and present a reasoned evaluation of the two interpretations, In arriving at your evaluations, you will need to be clear on:
  1. which question each article is trying to answer;
  2. whether the research design used is appropriate to the question being asked (what are its strengths and weaknesses?);
  3. whether the measures that have been used are appropriate for answering the question
  4. which has been asked (what is the measure of the key independent variable? of the dependent variable(s)? of any key control variables? are these appropriate?);
  5. whether the database used is appropriate;
  6. whether or not either of the two selections has built-in assumptions (which are central to the argument) that seem dubious;
  7. whether either study has failed to collect data that are essential to its argument.
Both articles deal with suicide, but they don't reach the same conclusions. If you were to imagine Durkheim and Phillips in a debate, what criticisms might each make of the other's work and conclusions?

Finally, assuming you have identified differences in the interpretations offered in the two articles, indicate what future research could be done to help resolve the differences—what type of study is needed and what data should it collect?


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