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How to write psychology papers

Psychology is the scientific study of human behavioral patterns. It is the study and prediction of behaviors. Human behavior is complex; therefore, researchers engage diverse approaches and methods to achieve this. So, the psychologist makes use of a systematic approach to give answers to several behavioral patterns.

For instance, looking at why female folks perform better than their male's folks in schools, researchers have carried out a thorough study to see whether the tutors, parents or guardian, schools, and the society behaves in a manner that makes the female students perform better than male ones.

Psychology writing is related to other scientific forms of writing in its clarity, organization, and concision.

The Most Popular Type Of Psychology Papers

Research papers:
Here, an already published research work is engaged to deliver an insight of argument on a subject matter. To give only a summary of what you have read is not sufficient, but rather, make use of what you have read as a strong basis for your argument.
So, the goal of a research paper is to synthesize your findings on a subject matter under psychology and, at the same time, give an insight into the subject. You must choose a topic where you can find adequate resources, and discuss only the section related to your subject matter. Besides, headings and subheadings are essential as they guide the audience all-through a lengthy research paper.

Your research study must be patterned in the following way:

  • Introduction: it outlines all that will be done and why it will be done
  • Define the problem
  • State the significance of the problem
  • Talk about the strategy of the research
  • What are the guiding theories of previous research and how your research will build on this material?
  • State the objectives of the study
  • Enumerate the hypothesis

The research procedures engaged in answering all questions are enumerated here. An overview of the analysis is also discussed here.
Identify data collection and analysis methods. Avoid the use of passive voice. When describing your procedures, it is recommended you use “We” or “I” and avoid the use of the third person.

The result section enumerates all the findings from the research questions. Present all data even if does not agree with your hypothesis
Your statistical results must follow the American Psychological Association (APA). More often than not, the result section is not always included when writing research proposals, but you might be required to give an insight into the expected outcome.

The study limitations, theoretical, and or practical implications are well highlighted here. Discuss emerging questions and recommend future research. Compare your findings with the works of others.

Research proposals:
It gives insight into a completed or proposed research, what was done and what will be done in the experiment. It is a termed research proposal because, in some instances, you will be requested to write a research study but not to carry it out. The research proposal is divided into six segments.

  1. Abstract: Usually, it is not always more than 150 words. It gives a brief description of what is to come. It should come on a separate page. The abstract should enumerate what the whole research work entails by summarizing each segment in two or more sentences.
  2. Introduction: It comes after the abstract. Give details of the questions you have tackled or about to answer and how it connects to related research in the field. Explain why it is important to give answers to the questions. Give a summary of the origin of the question and touch-on the past data and theories that are related to your study. Explain the hypothesis you will test (or have tested) in your study. Enumerate how your research will generate support for the hypothesis while ruling out alternative possibilities.
  3. Method: It enumerates how the research work was carried out or will be conducted. It contains the list of materials used for the research work, the procedure, and the study’s participants. The APA style should be employed in presenting the methods. The method should be well-detailed so that it can be easily replicated without contacting you.
  4. Results: This is where data is presented; highlight all the steps employed in cleaning up the data, analysis employed, and the outcome of the analysis.
  5. Discussion: Here, you streamline your results and give recommendations. Discuss the relationship between your findings and the research presented in your introduction. Does your finding support the hypothesis ruling out alternatives to questions answered? Implications of the research to the world should be highlighted. Are there direct or indirect implications of the findings? Are there discrepancies between your research and established theories? 
  6. References: This comes after the discussion on a separate page, and it is laid out by the American Psychological Association (APA). You can check out the APA manual for further guidelines.

Guidelines For Writing Psychology Papers

Since psychology is a science of behaviors, so, psychology writing is similar to that of other hard sciences. It is advisable to always confirm what the expectations of your tutor are for a different assignment.
Desist from using unusual or technical words or jargon as this confuses the audience. Use clearer terms and avoid as much as possible euphemistic phrases. Writing "poverty" rather than use "monetary scarcity," for instance, will make the research well-defined and explicit.

Pay attention at:
The clarity in the title of your psychology paper
Headings and subheadings should be included
Voice usage should be active and not passive
Desist from wordiness and be succinct
Avoid the use of "subject", but rather, make use of "participant"

Do not use direct quotations as this distills of the statement. For example, you should write, Larry (2000) demonstrate that peer evaluations and performance in college contribute to adolescent self-esteem and not Larry wrote, "Our findings show that adolescent self-esteem is directly linked to peer evaluations and school performance.

Do not be bias in the choice of language. Make sure you refer to people just as they refer to themselves. Consult APA for more publication guidelines.
In order not to be portrayed as being biased, when talking about sex or gender, for example, do not start by mentioning men followed by women, or when making reference to ethnicity and race, do not start by saying white followed by a minority.

There is a need for consistency, sensitivity, and specificity when referring to racial or ethnic groups. For example, if Chinese Americans participated in a research study, ensure never to call them Asian Americans. Also, designations like the "negro" should be avoided as it is termed offensive. Make use of "Black American" or "African American". Make use of terms that the group or individuals prefer.

Consider the following examples:

  • Use he, she, his, or hers, etc. Do not use the male pronoun.
  • For instance, use "people living with autism" and not "autistic patients".
  • Say "lesbians or gay men" and not "homosexuals", which is a bit complex.

Be specific on the nationality of people, desist from saying non-white and say "African" or "Asian", "American", etc. Not all Africans can be referred to as Americans; therefore, African-Americans will not always be the best for the blacks.

Never keep the readers in suspense. So, you must be very clear about the point you are making and enumerate how new findings will relate to the paper. However, let your audience know where you are heading in your introduction, your body, discussion, and conclusions.

The word "We" and "I" should be used concerning the author of research work and not to the general public. Note that the APA style does not support the use of the first person.

Besides, it is good you know that the word "data" is plural while the singular is a "datum".

Source Of Evidence In Psychology Paper

Good preparation is essential in whatever form of writing style you want to do. These three steps will assist you makes use of evidence as you write your psychology papers.

  1. A proper understanding of the sources engaged in psychology writing
    Psychology papers depend absolutely on sources from scholars like articles published in journals of the same field you are working on. However, it is essential you beam your light on these scholarly sources and not on newspapers, websites, or magazines.
    Do not consult Wikipedia, textbooks, or even dictionary, not even for a definition. It is good you consult experts in the field where first-hand details gotten from the research work are documented. This documentation will be reported as methods, results, discussion, and conclusions.
    These published reviews in articles can be a good starting point for having a detailed understanding of the topic to read and quote in your research work. However, this should not compromise the major sources of references cited in your work.
  2. Do a proper literature search
    Do not rely on Google for the information to be used in your research work, but you can engage search engines like PsycINFO. Also, an additional search could be done on Academic Search Complete or Google Scholar.
    Let your literature search begin on time as several students wait for long before they start, and there is limited time in getting the research completed. Besides, you could consult the most recent literature review materials to acquire the fundamental knowledge of the research work and get enough references to quote and cite in your work.
  3. Proper documentation is key
    Ensure that you take note as you read through these articles, do not assume that you will be able to call to remembrance everything you have read in a certain article. This might also make you have plagiarized psychology paper. Significant sections of the article you have read should be highlighted; you can take notes in the margins.
    Save every note taken in a file on your personal computer. The reference should be written using the APA style.

Use bullets to summarize the purpose of the article, methods, results, discussions, and conclusions. Highlight why you also think your reference article is relevant for your research. Also, state how and where the article is needed for your work, maybe in the abstract, introduction, discussion, or even in the conclusion.

Important things to note:

Do not copy information word for word from an article, not even when you make use of quotes, ensure you paraphrase every part you make use of from the beginning to the end. When you do this, you avoid plagiarism.

Lifting what you have from the abstract alone is a violation of the honor code and, therefore, scientifically unethical. You must read the whole article for any research work to be referenced in your paper.

Other things to put into consideration when writing your psychology papers

Look for nice exemplar papers or a good role model. Occasionally, you might be given an excellent example from a student who has done well before. On the other hand, you could go all out to locate a good one yourself. Get research work that is written with good arguments. Figure out the proper sections that can be emulated in your article. It will not be a bad idea if you also read through other materials from the same author.

Work on your article outline before writing your psychology paper. Firstly, you need to arrange, organize, and outline your thoughts before putting pen to paper to do your writing.

Sort the article into the order you would want them to appear in your paper based on your arguments. Besides, your paper structure needs to be outlined, too, that is, how the topic will be introduced, presentation of the thesis statement, article order, descriptions, evaluations, and the concluding thoughts. It is important you also make recommendations for the future.

It will also be beneficial if you make use of subheading and headings to outline your psychology paper.

In conclusion, making use of this material will not only keep you informed but will adequately equip you while writing and presenting your psychology paper.


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