Welcome friends, students and psychology aficionados! Today, we will be demystifying the ever elusive psychology research paper. Here at Psych2Go, we understand that writing psychology research articles can be a daunting, confusing, and even trying task, but luckily we have compiled the best pro tips to make your essay writing THAT much easier. You’re welcome!
First, start by planning your response. Having a general idea on the scope of the topic before starting, as opposed to reading while writing, will improve the quality of your paper. Your abstract is limited by a word count, but each section of your research paper must be discussed in order to provide an overall summary of what the research entails, how it was conducted and what was found. To achieve this, try writing a sentence on each division. The APA mandate of dividing research articles into separate “introduction”, “methods”, “results” and “discussion” sections organizes the investigation, but it is up to the writer/experimenter to make the paper flow logically. Strive to make the last sentence of your first paragraph lead into the first sentence of the following paragraph.
Psychology research papers: Pro tips (Introduction)
As Herman Melville once said, “to produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” Writing is so much easier when you choose a topic that interests you. Believe it or not, that interest does translate into the quality of your writing. However, bear in mind that what interests you may not interest everyone else. So, two main goals to consider when showcasing your stellar psychology-research-paper-writing-skills are to: i) maintain the integrity of the research process by conducting sound investigations and ii) to make people interested enough in your topic that they actually want to read your paper.
To write an awesome introduction for your psychology paper, the best and most informative method is the GENERAL to SPECIFIC structure… Kind of like this paragraph. Identify your research question, identify your hypotheses and create a strong thesis.
The, arguably, hardest part is done and now your audience wants to conduct the same experiment or build on your findings! Provide all of the necessary information that the audience will need to replicate your study. Be sure to talk about your participants, including their demography. This can be particularly important later on in the discussion where you have to determine whether or not the study is generalizable.
Again, the research has already been completed! Use the past tense consistently: Instead of “The experimenter uses random selection and offers no compensation for participation”, use “The experimenter used random selection and offered no compensation for participation”. Similarly, engage the active voice! Which option sounds better: “The sample size was made representative of the general population by the experimenter” or “The experimenter ensured that the sample size was representative of the general population.” If you guessed the latter response, you’re correct! It is less laborious and thus easier to read when the subject performs the action as opposed to have the action performed upon the subject.
This section in particular raises a lot of confusion amongst students. It is not yet the discussion, but methods have already been demonstrated. Do not blur these boundaries! Simply quantify the outcome of the investigation as a result of the methods used, without interpreting their meaning or relevance to the research at hand.
Throughout your paper, quality of written communication should be prioritized over quantity, but be especially mindful of this in the results section.
Express your knowledge and understanding of the topic. This is the easy part, as demonstrated by (the sometimes overly) use of citations. Be sure to understand all of the facts that reflect the main theme or perspective of the paper. In addition, it is only necessary to repeat citations when it is unclear which study or theorist is being referred to.
The tricky part is the critical evaluation. For each point or position that is expressed, it is best to have a citation from the literature to support that and then a sentence or so explaining its significance to the overall study. How does your analysis fit with or answer your research question? Evaluation is the component that shows your originality and insight.
Psychology papers can be critically evaluated in several ways. Besides simply looking at the strengths and limitations of a study, the methodology can be assessed, especially in cases where the approach taken creates doubtful conclusions. Comparing and contrasting perspectives, discussing ethical issues and biases may also be included.
As a rule, in research, nothing is certain. Even the fundamental works of Piaget and Watson are still considered theories. Do not state that “the research proves –” or “the hypotheses were proven –”, instead, something along the lines of “the present research supports the idea that-” would be more apt.
The final section in the discussion also plays a major role in helping the reader understand why the study is important and why they spent time reading your paper. Remember, the introduction is set up in a GENERAL-TO-SPECIFIC structure, but the discussion should be setup inversely (SPECIFIC-TO-GENERAL). Apply your research to the general population. What are the real-world implications of the study you conducted?
The APA manual is life… Psychology research life that is. Check and double-check your APA manual or credible APA websites such as Purdue OWL. It may be a tedious process, but it is a process that ensures the standardization of all psychology papers that are submitted for review.
Philbeck, J., Dr. (2003). Laboratory Manual for Psy 106w. Retrieved from https://widstudio.wordpress.com/wid-writing-handbook-project/guide-to-writing-a-research-paper-in-psychology/
McLeod, S. (2014). Essay writing guide for psychology students. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychology-essay.html