If you’re working on a psychology research paper, you may findthe writing process a little overwhelming. If you know where tostart, it will make things less stressful and much easier.
Below you will find useful tips on how to write a psychologyresearch paper and improve your writing skills.
The kind of paper you are writing
First of all, find out what kind of paper you are expected toprepare. There are several common types of psychology papers.They include:
- Lab report or original research. This is an empirical paperor a report that provides details of your research. You will needto prepare this kind of paper if your professor asks you toconduct your own psychology experiment. You will need to followthe basic format like an APA and include a title, abstract,entry, methods, results, discussion, and references.
- Literature review. In this kind of paper, you need tosummarize the research conducted by others on a certain subject.If you are preparing a paper in this form, your professor mayindicate the number of studies you need to cite as well as whatlength your paper should be. Usually, students are required tocite from 5 to 20 studies and create a paper that is from 8 to 20pages long. When preparing this kind of a psychology researchpaper, you will need to include an entry, body, as well asimplications, discussion, and conclusions. Literature reviewsoften start by specifying the research issue before you narrowthe focus to certain studies. Then you will need to describeevery study in detail. Also, you need to compare and evaluate thestudies that you use and include your discussion of theimplications of the findings.
Understanding the question of the essay
Before you start working on your essay it is necessary to analyzethe assignment and understand what the assignment question isasking. Sometimes your professor will give you some advice, whichyou need to pay attention to in order to better prepare youranswer.
Then you need to conduct prior research reading through yourlecture notes. At this point you don’t need to have a thoroughunderstanding of the main theories or studies but you should haveat least a general idea of the literature.
Once you go through your notes, plan an answer to the assignment.This plan can be in the following forms:
- A summary table
- A mind map
- A core statement
Once your plan is ready, do supplementary reading improving yourplan and making it more detailed.
Of course, you may want to skip these prior steps and just writethe draft while reading. However, planning and reading will makeyour writing process quicker, easier, and ensure that you delivera high-quality essay.
Selecting a good idea for your paper
When you know what kind of paper you need to prepare, it isnecessary to select a good subject. Sometimes you may be assignedat topic or at least given a general theme you need to focus on.
When choosing the subject, try to stay away from general and tobroad problems. For instance, instead of writing a paper on ageneral subject such as attachment, concentrate on how insecureattachment styles in childhood influence romantic attachmentlater in life.
When you narrow your subject down, it allows you to concentrateyour research on important things, develop your thesis, and fullystudy the appropriate findings.
Psychology topics you may consider writing about include:
- Child obesity and mental health
- Is hypnosis effective in quitting smoking?
- Mental illnesses
- Depression and work performance
- Things that affect our motivation
- Miscarriage and its influence on mental health of the couple
- Impact of violent music on kids
- Reasons and consequences of introverted behavior in adults
- Why do people have phobias
- The role of environment in personality development
- The reason for rate rise in divorce
An effective research strategy
In the process of going through references for your psychologyresearch paper, take notes and begin developing yourbibliography. It is very difficult to structure information andcite sources if you need to constantly look information up. Thereis nothing worse when you can’t track back to the source, whichis important for your paper.
Things that constitute a good paper in psychology
If you want to know how to write a psychology research paper in aprofessional manner, there are several things that will help youdo that. They include:
- Understanding and knowledge. You need to remember, recognize,and demonstrate understanding on the range of scientific materialthat precisely reflects the main theoretical perspectives.
- A global structure. You need to structure the material in away that would allow for a logical order of ideas. Everyparagraph should flow from its predecessor. Your paper shouldflow. Everything have to be linked in an essay. There should be amajor theme in every paragraph and it has to be demonstrated anddeveloped through a number of points backed up by evidence.
- Written communication. Write briefly and clearly usingappropriate paragraphs, grammar, and spelling. Reference all thesources according to the APA guidelines.
- Critical assessment. You should support the argument byappropriate evidence and/or theory from the literature. Also useinsight, evidence of independent thinking, and evaluation ofevidence.
Writing an outline
If you develop a strong working framework, you can save a lot oftime and avoid frustration and hassle. This way you can alsonotice potential issues with flow and organization of yourcontent.
When you line out what you are going to write about, it will beeasier for you to see how one idea flows into the next one andhow your research backs up the general hypothesis.
Begin by drafting three fundamental sections:
- The entry
- The body
- The deduction
Then start working on subsections based on the literature review.The more details you include in your outline, the easier it willbe for you to prepare your psychology paper.
Sections of a paper
Your psychology research paper should include the followingsections:
- Title. Here you need to say as much as possible about thecontent of your research in as few words as possible.
- Abstract. This is a short summary of the whole essayincluding the issue, the method you use for solving it, theresults you achieve, and the drawn or suggested findings. This isthe section that usually consists of only one paragraph so youneed to include all the necessary information here very briefly.The objective of the abstract is to allow the reader to decidewhether or not they want to read the paper.
- Entry. In this section, you tell the audience what the issueis, what question you are trying to find an answer to, and why itis important. The importance of the issue may be for practical ortheoretical reasons. If your issue is basic, you may indicate itfirst and then review what has already been studied about it.
- Method. In this section, you need to provide the details ofhow you researched your project. The section is usually splitinto subsections like materials, subjects, and procedure.
- Results this is a summary that includes information on whatyou have found in your research. It should let the audience knowwhat summary statistics you are using and how it will help themunderstand what happened. Here, you also need to include theresults of statistical tests. In this section you can also inserttables, charts, and graphs.
- Discussion. It is recommended to start the discussion withthe summary of the results to help the readers skip the sectionof results if they want to. Here you need to return to yourinitial question and explain what’s your results have to sayabout it. You may combine the discussion section with the resultsputting the results in the context of the problems that formthem. This is also a good place to say anything else you want tosay that didn’t fit anywhere else in your research likeimplications of the results, methods, etc.
- References. Here, you need to cite articles you used in yourresearch.
- Footnotes. If you want to say something that is notnecessary, you can do that in a footnote.
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