Reading Response Guide
Your first reading response is due in class Thursday February 13, 2020. Your second is due in class
Thursday March 12, 2020. Each is worth 15% of your final grade (30% combined).
1. Choose one article or chapter from the syllabus. It can be one that we have already read or one
coming up. If you are using one of the two assigned books, choose just one chapter of the book to
2. You may select an article or chapter that is not on the syllabus as long as it is directly relevant to
the course. Approve it with me before or after class or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Use standard formatting – 12-point font, one-inch margins, single spacing.
4. Limit your response to two pages (single spaced) or less.
5. You must include the following four paragraphs.
The first paragraph must summarize the reading’s argument. What was the author’s main
point? Did it contain essential subpoints? Which question was the author trying to answer?
In which debate was the author intervening? Does the author introduce or utilize a
sociological concept or theory?
The second paragraph must summarize the data the reading’s argument is based on and the
methodology through which such data was collected and analyzed. Upon what data did the
author base his or her point, concept, or theory? Did the author use historical archives,
interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, or surveys to collect such data? Did the author analyze
the data qualitatively or quantitatively? Was the data presented in a particular way? Why
did the author select those particular ways of collecting, analyzing, and presenting his or
The third paragraph must summarize the reading’s strengths. Did the author employ new,
revealing data? Did the author employ old data in a new, helpful way? Is the author’s logic
particularly sound or novel? Was the author balanced in his or her analysis? Did the
author address the issue in a comprehensive way? Did the author use novel methods to
collect, analyze, or present his or her data? Was the author’s writing style particularly
effective in communicating his or her point, concept, or theory?
The fourth and final paragraph must summarize the reading’s weaknesses. Was the data
insufficient? Were the conclusions at odds with the provided data? Was there a gap in
logic? Did the author present only one side of the issue? Is the author’s point outdated or
no longer relevant? Were the author’s methods of collecting, analyzing, or presenting his
or her data limited in an important way? Are there newer, better ways of answering the
pertinent question or resolving the relevant debate? Did the author’s writing style detract
from his or her point, concept, or theory?
6. Clearly identify your selected reading in the first paragraph. If you choose a reading that is not
listed on the syllabus, include a full citation for the selected reading immediately following your
response. Use whichever format (Chicago, APA, MLA, etc.) is standard for your major (Chicago
is the most common style in Sociology).
7. Print your reading response and bring the hard copy to class. Only hard copies submitted in class
will be accepted.
Community & Urban Sociology
1. Be as specific and detailed as possible throughout your response. Note important dates, locations,
and names. Define terminology. Include relevant quotes and examples.
2. Start writing as early as possible. The earlier you draft your reading response, the more time you
have to improve ideas and to rewrite.
3. Before submitting your reading response, re-read it to find and correct typos, grammatical mistakes,
and writing missteps. Reading a hard copy of your essay can be especially useful in finding such
Common grammatical errors include: subject-verb disagreement (e.g. “They was…”); split
infinitives (e.g. “To accurately define the word ‘urban’ requires…”); forgetting a comma
after a dependent clause that begins a sentence (e.g. “Although Shelley v. Kraemer ruled
that restrictive covenants violated the Fourteenth Amendment white neighborhoods around
the country continued to establish and enforce…”), not using a comma to separate two
independent clauses in a compound sentence (e.g. “Chicago’s population continued rising
at record rates and by 1890 more than one million people called it home.”); not using
commas to separate items in a list (e.g. “Residences in the Jewish ghetto suffered from
drafts leaks and pest infestations.”); mixing up homonyms (e.g. “The police confiscated
there wallets.”); not using a hyphen in compound adjectives (e.g. “… working class New
Yorkers…”); not capitalizing proper nouns (The new york city housing authority operates
326…”), and omitting the apostrophe in a possessive word (e.g. “Saskia Sassens concept
Since this is a formal writing assignment, also try to avoid colloquialisms (e.g. “get”),
slang, the passive voice, and contractions when possible.
4. Have a friend read your response. A fresh set of eyes can catch overlooked blunders.
5. Schedule a meeting with the Writing Center (https://www.albany.edu/writing/index.php) to
improve your overall writing skills.
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