How to Write a Psychology Research Paper?

    How to Write a Psychology Research Paper?


    The main purpose of any psychological research paper is to inform the reader of a new idea, a theory or an experiment. Psychologists usually give more importance to clarity and brevity in writing while minimizing the use of descriptive language and complex sentence structures. A research paper serves the sole goal of making the study look intriguing and even understandable, to a common audience.

    When a research paper is being written, it should be written with the thought of conveying the idea to a large number of people and along with it, all the factual information of the research should also be easily understandable to the readers.

    There are two most commonly used style/types of psychology research papers:

    The Empirical Paper

    The researcher cites his own data and findings. It is an extensive research study which explains in detail what question the research was designed to answer, what all you know about the topic and all the findings and methods. This type of psychology research paper is divided into 6 basic subheadings:

    • Abstract – The abstract is the summary of what is to be dealt with in the research paper. It gives the reader a gist of what the topic is and it should be written in a separate paper. Though the word limit of the abstract should be kept as short as possible, it should carefully and explicitly summarize all the sections of the research paper in a few lines. The abstract should be comprehensible even if the reader should not read the entire research paper.
    • Introduction – The introduction in the psychology research paper, should be followed after the abstract and it should not be treated like subheading but should have its importance and significance. In the section of introduction in the psychology research paper, the psychologist provides the readers with information about the topic of the research and what questions have been tackled by the psychologist in the research paper. The focus is on explaining why certain phenomenon and questions are important and stating the history which follows these questions. All the previous theories and data which are relevant to the study should also be mentioned in the introduction. Finally, the hypothesis that will be tested in the study has to be mentioned. A good researcher always makes sure to tackle the counter questions that can be raised against the hypothesis and will cite clarifications for it in the research paper itself. The main purpose of this is to help the psychologist rule out all the alternative options.
    • Method – This section explains how the psychology study was conducted. It deals with the research methodology and the participants undertaken for the research. All the materials used in the research and the procedures of the participants are a part of this section. Enough specifications and clarity should be provided that your study can be reviewed by another psychologist without them having to consult you for justifications of phenomenon.
    • Results – In this section, what the research discovered and what you expected it will discover, have to be mentioned. The researcher has to provide evidence in the form of data to give validity to the psychological research study undertaken. Graphs and tables are often used to provide the statistical representation of the data collection.
    • Discussion – In this particular section, the job of the researcher if to summarize and synthesize his results and provide conclusions for the research. A good psychology research paper includes the discussion section providing ample clarifications and explanations of what the results actually mean and how the psychologist arrived at those findings. If there were any discrepancies between the hypothesis and the findings, the discussion section of the psychology research paper provides sufficient answers for that. The real world implications of the findings and whether there are any controversies involved in the research are all carefully mentioned in the discussion.
    • References – This section of the psychology research paper should begin on another page, after the discussion has ended. The format of references has been provided by the American Psychology Association (APA) and should be followed. It basically includes all the major literature or previous studies which were used to cite as evidences in favor of your hypothesis.

    The author can choose to outsource this task to agencies such as

    Literature Review 

    The researcher summarizes the works of other people’s research. The common goal of literature review is to summarize a research topic while providing new evidences and material regarding it. It requires substantial research. The purpose should not just be to come up with new similar ideas and theories but rather to evaluate the previously held conceptions about a particular topic. The researcher working by this method should not rely on the summaries of research but should always seek the original source of the study before making his own research paper.

    After reviewing the research on your topic, you’re required to come up with a thesis statement for your paper. In a Psychology Research Paper, the thesis statement is basically a statement which summarizes, integrates or reinterprets a data.

    The main points to be noted while writing a Literature Review are:

    • Introduction – Always begin this kind of psychology research paper with the introduction which explains why the topic is important and the history associated with the topic. It should mention all the related theories to the topic and carefully explain everything in detail. Lastly, the introduction of your psychology research paper should also include the thesis statement.
    • Body – This section of the research paper should describe in detail the previously conducted research upon the topic as well as the criticisms of the research and the controversies which followed it. In this section, the emphasis should be laid upon providing evidence for your findings and stating all the evidences which run against your claim as well and how to reconcile with such evidences. After every stage, certain evidences should be cited to present the major conclusions that are trying to be made in the research paper.
    • Discussion/Conclusions/Implications – This part of the psychology research paper deals with the results of your research. What new information you’ve discovered and what all questions still remain unanswered during the course of the research, are to be stated under these topics. A detailed explanation of the conclusion of your research has to be mentioned and finally, the findings of the entire research have to be synthesized in this section of the paper. Once you return back to the problems that had been raised in the introduction and conclude each and every one of them, you have to close the loop.

    Certain tips can help students make their psychology research paper more appealing:

    • Try to be as unbiased as possible – By the use of bias free language this can be easily achieved in the research paper. Try to avoid using the male pronoun, don’t use generic terms such as “autistics”, “homosexuals”, etc.
    • The past tense should be used throughout the research paper.
    • Avoid the usage of passive voice. Make sure that the research paper is written in active voice.
    • Avoid direct quotations.
    • Avoid jargon and the usage of complication and unusual words as much as possible.
    • Use headings and subheadings.

    Do not make use of slang in the psychology research paper.