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5 Steps for Writing a Psychology Research Paper


August 15, 2018

How to Write a Psychology Research Paper Effectively

Before you start working on a psychology research paper, you may find the whole process a bit frustrating at first sight. Though, if you know at least how to start the research process, it can become a pretty easy and enjoyable activity.

We have prepared a few tips to teach you how to write a psychology research paper. Writing a research paper seems intimidating at first, but it is not as scary as you think if you try to divide your research into several steps.

  • Deciding on the Type of a Paper

Learning how to write a psychology research paper starts with finding out the right type of paper. You might come across such types of psychology papers as:

 Lab Report or Original Research

A report (empirical paper) serves to detail the research you have conducted. You can be asked to write this type of paper after performing a psychology experiment. Writing a paper of this type, you need to follow APA format lab report, which includes a title page, abstract, introduction, method section, results section, discussion section, and references.

Literature Review

Another type of the research paper is a literature review. It serves to summarize research carried out by other scientists in a particular sphere. If you write a psychology paper of this type, you might be asked to cite a certain number of studies. In literature reviews, students usually need to cite 5 – 20 works, which are all from 8 to 20 pages in length.

The required format and sections to include in a literature review are usually an introduction, body, and discussion, implications, and conclusions.

  •  Selecting a Good Idea

As soon as you decide on a type of your research paper, it is of the paramount importance to select a good topic. Sometimes, your instructor assigns you to a certain subject or at least specifies a theme on which you should focus.

Selecting a topic, avoid too general and too broad problems. For instance, a subject like attachment is too general for a research paper; you may instead choose a topic as, for instance, how unsafe attachments in childhood influence romantic attachments in adulthood.

When you narrow your topic down, you get an opportunity to center the research, develop a good thesis, and analyze findings in their entirety.

  • Developing an Effective Research Strategy

Finding references for your psychology research paper, try to take notes of the information you look for and develop a rough draft of your bibliography. It might be a real challenge to get all the information organized and cite sources if you continually look up information. Moreover, it is so time-consuming and discouraging to have a completed paper with an important data which you fail to track back to its source.

Thus, as you conduct your research, always take notes of each reference you use including the title of a paper, its authors, journal sources, date of publication and so on.

  • Writing an Outline

Don’t get tempted to just plunge right in and start writing. Hold on for a while and first develop a solid working framework, which will save much time and effort. It will also help you to structure potential issues better.

When you line out your research from the beginning, you will better see how one idea can be followed by the next and how your hypothesis is supported by the collected data. Note and keep three fundamental sections when writing your research: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. You can also create some subsections. Remember that the more detailed outline you make up, the easier process of writing paper will be.

When you have a strong outline, it is high time you started writing. Keep in mind that you need to follow APA format working on your paper; remember to include in-text citations for any referencing material within your text.

Try to make the structure of your paper obvious. One of the ways to help your reader follow your ideas can be realized through providing some foreshadowing of the topics you are covering. For instance, after you introduced your topic in the Introduction section, you can write a few sentences like, “First, the aim of this research paper is to review some of the most relevant findings in the gathered literature. Second, there will be discussed some limitations of the previous studies and introduced an experiment designed specifically for addressing these limitations.” Probably at first, it seems weird to talk so explicitly about the framework of your research paper, though in scientific writing such technique is valuable. It helps your readers grasp better the logic of your psychology research paper.

A vital concept in academic writing is to create logical paragraphs. Make sure each of your paragraphs has a beginning, middle, and end. Remember that the beginning of a paragraph introduces the topic which you are to discuss in a paragraph. It can include some transitional comments that connect some ideas from the previous paragraphs with the forthcoming material. The middle of your paragraphs should contain all the discussion of the topic supported by relevant data, while the end summarizes and concludes the discussion.

Don’t forget to revise and edit your psychology research paper as the written is only a rough draft and after proofreading you will find many mistakes. We hope these tips will make your writing an enjoyable and highly productive process as you learn how to write a psychology research paper.