Ultimately, we will be evaluating your policy report for your ability to both engage with existing research literature and carry out your own observational research that is creative and original. We are not expecting perfection, but are looking for evidence that you have put in time and effort to develop your ideas and carry out the original research and analysis throughout the term.
The final research report will have the following components:
1) an introduction, 2) a literature review, 3) a presentation of your case study findings and analysis, and 4) policy recommendations.
Please use subheadings to organize your paper and direct the reader through the report.
The final paper should be 10pages of double-spaced text, above 2500words. This includes your references, but not pictures, graphics, or any other material you wish to include. The page length may be longer if you integrate photographs.
Referencing – Please use American Psychological Association (APA) formatting for your paper. Please follow APA style for both the in-text citations and for the bibliography.
Section 1: Introduction (1 page)
Begin by introducing your policy report topic and its relevance to transit-oriented development in Scarborough. In the opening paragraph, you should make a strong and compelling case for the importance of the topic. Tell the reader why they should care about this policy issue and why it is important to conduct research on it. Make your introduction colorful and engaging by including personal stories, examples, or imagery. The reader should be able to “see” what it is you are talking about and imagine the places you are describing, even if they haven’t been there.
Example of opening sentences: The Golden Mile is a commercial area that runs along Eglinton Street on the western edge of Scarborough. In the 1950s and 1960s it was home to many small businesses, but since the 1990s has been occupied by large suburban strip malls. In recent years this wind-swept strip, which is mainly accessible by car, has been slated for massive condominium redevelopment in conjunction with the cross-town LRT and the new Line Three subway. The leaves a question for urban scholars is: how might we make this area more walkable and environmentally-friendly, while also ensuring that it is inclusive to the surrounding population?
After making the case for the importance of your topic, walk the reader through the paper. Tell them about your case study, research methods, and the main findings from the report. They should come away from the introduction with a clear sense of what the policy report is about, and where it is going.
*I would recommend leaving the introductory outline sections until the end of the writing process. You might have new realizations about the direction of your paper while you are writing it.
Section 2: Literature Review (2-3 pages)
The literature review provides the foundation for your case study through an engagement with existing scholarly research on your topic. The review should begin at a broad level and continue to narrow in on your specific case. When you are writing, it may be helpful to think of the inverted pyramid diagram I introduced in class. First, you will start with the general topic, for example, affordable housing. You would then move towards a more specific body of literature, for example, the preservation of existing rental housing through zoning policy. Finally, you would move towards your case.
In the opening paragraphs of the literature review, you should refer to at least one course concept to frame your work at a broad level. This might be the concept of growth machines, progressive capitalism, social infrastructure, racial justice, and especially the broad topic of transit-oriented-development from week 5. You should also refer to the overarching theme of your topical working group and explain why this issue is important to urban social scientists generally.
In the next sections of the review, you will provide an engagement with the literature you have identified through your own background research on a more specific topic. You will summarize and outline the existing state of the field by engaging with five high-quality academic sources on your topic. You should clearly explain what the existing literature has to say about your topic and formulate initial “hunches” or “hypotheses” about how it might compare to what is happening in Scarborough.
The end of the literature review should provide a clear justification for your own case study research. You should be able to articulate why you are carrying out this study based on your engagement with existing research.
It may be helpful to follow this formula: Based on what we know about x, it is important to study y in Scarborough. If you cannot answer this question, you may need to think a bit more about where you are going with the research. I would strongly encourage you to talk about your ideas with your group members because it can help to provide clarity.
*Your literature review will include at least 5 high-quality academic sources on your topic. You may the cite the 3 original articles assigned to your group but must also reference an additional 5 sources.
Section 3: Case Study (4 pages)
Outline your case and observational methods: Begin the case study section by outlining your chosen case study and your observational methods. Explain the how, what, where, and when of your research. Also give the reader a clear sense of how your own research can add to our understanding of transit-oriented development.
Example: I studied the Scarborough Town Center food court as a cosmopolitan canopy. Cosmopolitan Canopies are a form of social infrastructure that are important to cities and may be impacted by transit-oriented development. As researchers, we need to understand the types of social interactions these spaces produce in a diverse city like Scarborough. Therefore, I used the observational method of site visits. I went to the food court each Saturday for 1 hour over three weeks and took notes on what I witnessed. I often sat with a coffee to blend in with the crowd.
4 Case study findings: In this section you will tell the reader what you documented during your case study research. Make this section specific and colorful. This is your chance to show the details of your case and illustrate that you are an expert. You can convey this information through descriptions, use of statistics, photographs, and other means.
Example: Over the three hours I spent observing the food court, I witnessed a few interesting interactions. One thing I noticed was that people would be extremely apologetic when they bumped into each other. They would often be speaking in different languages, but when they made contact, they would apologize in English. Those who were bumped into would smile and try to reassure the other person.
Case study analysis: The analysis combines your findings with analytical concepts and theories from the literature. Here you will connect your observations to the academic research and show us that you can integrate the two. You should aim for creativity and originality in this section. Take something that you’ve learned and apply it to your case. The ability to do this is one of the core skills you should be developing in upper-year undergraduate courses, and we will be weighting this heavily in the assignment.
Example: Elijah Anderson describes Cosmopolitan Canopies as places where different racial and ethnic groups come together to mingle and be around “others”. I think that Scarborough Town Center food court functions in this manner but is also different from the American context. People don’t talk to each other directly in the way Anderson describes, but they seem to “get along” and are very conscious of making a good impression – for example by apologizing profusely when bumping into one another. Overall, I would say that spaces such as this serve as important meeting places in a diverse city like Scarborough.
Section 4: Policy Recommendations (2 pages)
In the final section, you will provide three specific policy recommendations based on your research. Your policy recommendations are targeted towards planners, politicians, and policy makers who are involved in transit-oriented development. Your policy recommendations should be based on both your literature review and the findings from your case study. The policy recommendation should be clear and articulated in one or two sentences, and then justified by a paragraph of writing for each. The recommendations should also be interrelated and make sense as a holistic policy framework that will address your issue.
A successful policy recommendation will be based on social science research. You should follow this format: based on my literature and my own research findings, which indicate X, I recommend the following policy Y. If you make a policy recommendation that is not backed up by good evidence and data, it is likely to be ignored by policy makers. In other words, clearly state the policy you are recommending and then explain why this policy is the most appropriate in this context.
5 You can find examples of policy recommendations from my lecture on Susan Fainstein.
Examples of policy recommendations:
– Existing residents should have a formal role in deciding which community amenities are attached to large new development near transit stations.
– Local renters displaced by new developments need to be provided with affordable housing units by developers and the local government. These units need to be within the neighborhood.
– The city should ensure that existing small business owners are protected from rising rents or increasing property taxes associated with transit-oriented development. The local government could create grants and tax breaks for the businesses vulnerable to displacement.
– The City of Toronto should prioritize a new LRT line to UTSC over the extension of large scale subway lines to the west of Scarborough town center.
Tips on Writing a Successful Policy Report:
Crafting an Original and Creative Report:
You will be evaluated on the creativity and originality of your research and your analysis. Your goal should be to impress us with the interesting and unique way you’ve chosen to look at this topic. Avoid “playing it safe”, as that is not the route to a strong mark on this paper. In fact, we encourage you to take risks and be bold.
Ideally, you will provide real-world observations that you’ve collected on the ground (this means you will need to leave your house to conduct this research).
In general, using online data or a newspaper article as data is a good start. It is how you can do background research and find a case. But you should also find a way to independently observe what you are studying and integrate it into the report.
A Step-by-Step Example:
The following is an example of how to go from an initial hunch to a strong observational research site.
1) I am interested in whether public amenities (social infrastructure) in new condos are truly inclusive. I begin to look around on the internet about this issue in Toronto and come across
6 the following article from 2019. The article describes how the public pool at Regent Park is being utilized by people from outside the neighborhood and crowding out the lower-income people who the pool was intended for.
2) Not being satisfied with just reading the article, I decide to go check out the pool myself and see if my own observations correspond. Is the parking lot still filled with BMWs and Audis? Does the space feel exclusive in the way the article depicts? I decide to go inside and sit in the bleachers of the pool to find out. I also take notes on my observations.
3) I reflect on what I saw at the pool and compare it with the existing literature on the topic. Through Google Scholar I find several articles related to this issue.
4) I integrate these findings with my own observations to produce policy recommendations. One recommendation might be: New social infrastructure associated with development should have plans to ensure that it is accessible to local communities. One option is reserving certain times where these groups have priority access.
Another Useful Example (from Aeysha Patel’s Paper):
Another model comes from the paper written by Aeysha Patel on transit-oriented gentrification in Little Jamaica. While her paper was from a different undergraduate course and followed a slightly different format, it provides an excellent example of how to integrate your own observations, academic research, as well as photos and headings to produce a rich and polished final product. This paper is an example of A+ material, and I would encourage you to read it carefully to see what she does right here.