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General Psychology Term Paper Prompt
This assignment will introduce you to the publications that psychologists use to
communicate research findings to one another. Reading and analyzing articles from
scientific journals will give you an idea of how psychologists have investigated your
topic of interest: specifically how they have narrowed the topic into a research
question and created a specific testable hypothesis to address that question.
Your goals for this assignment are to:
• Choose a psychology-relevant topic to research.
• Find two relevant studies from psychology journals.
• Analyze these articles to develop some background knowledge of the topic.
• Use your analysis to brainstorm ideas for your own research question.
The article must be typed, double-spaced, with one inch margins on all sides, 12 pt font in times new roman. The assignment will be turned in via webaccess.
Step 1: Choose a topic and conduct an article search on the topic.
Use the Canada Library site or google scholar and search for key terms:
• It’s a good idea to limit your search to articles that have your search term in the “abstract” or “title.”
• Try a key term related to everyday issues (e.g., sleep, stress, dating), a specific
psychological disorder you are interested in (e.g., depression, autism, eating
disorders), or any core topic in psychology listed on the syllabus/in the textbook (e.g. stereotypes, memory, intelligence, emotion, language).
• “Browse” will list journals by name. You can choose a journal that sounds interesting
and see the most recently published articles. If you find an article that is particularly
interesting, take note of what key terms are listed for it (each article’s record will
include this). Then search using these terms for related articles, search for more
articles by these authors, or look up articles cited by the authors in the introduction.
• If you need more help, talk to/email me!
Step 2: Choose 2 related FULL articles to analyze.
For this assignment, make sure you select articles that are peer-reviewed reports of
original research in psychology journals. Articles that are peer-reviewed are critically evaluated by other researchers before being published. Articles that report original research present the methods and findings of a new study or set of studies that were conducted by the authors. Other articles you might come across are review articles—articles that summarize the body of research conducted on a particular topic.
Step 3: Annotate and analyze the articles.
As you go through the assignment, for each article it’s a good idea to highlight or underline the key information that answers each of the
following questions, and write in the margins what you have identified (e.g. “Research Question” or “Testable Hypothesis”).
When writing your paper devote sections to answer the following questions for EACH article under the following headings:
• What is the author’s general research question? [This will usually be near the
beginning of the introduction.]
• What does the author say he/she is doing to extend what is already known about
the topic? Why does this study matter? [ID as “importance of study”]
• What is the author’s specific testable hypothesis (prediction)? [This is commonly
found at the end of the introduction or the beginning of the study description.]
• Who are the participants? [Highlight “Participants” in text]
• What kind of study is this (experiment, correlational)? [Highlight study summary
sentence(s) and write your answer in the margin]
• What are the main variables in this study? There may be more than one of each.
If it is a correlational study, there may be several variables being observed/measured so just label the major ones that you find.
• Highlight the sentences(s) that describe how the authors tested their most important hypothesis. [ID as “Analysis”]
• Highlight the most important results that test the author’s hypotheses, not the
descriptive or preliminary analyses. [ID as “Analysis results”]
• Do the results support the author’s hypothesis? [Look for a simple statement of this near the beginning of the discussion section. ID as “Results summary”]
• What is the boldest claim the author makes when discussing the results? [Highlight as “Author interpretation of results”]
• What are the main strengths and weaknesses of the study? [Highlight and ID as
“strengths” or “weaknesses”]
• What does the author recommend as the most interesting or important direction for future research? [Highlight and ID as “Future directions”]
Step 4: Create a reference list at the end of the paper listing the your two articles in the following order:
Author(s), Year of publication, Title of Article, Title of Journal it was published in.