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Course Project 2019

TPSYCH 309: Fundamentals of Psychological Research II

Professor: Amanda Sesko

  • Assignment

This assignment was designed to help bring together all that you have learned in this course (and are still learning). We have done a literature search on a topic in psychology and as a group have identified an unanswered research question, and designed methods to answer this question.


To sample participants, we will use our psychology undergraduate research pool and participants that you recruit. Once the data is collected, your job will be to analyze and write-up the results. Your final paper will be a full APA report, including a title page, abstract, introduction, methods section, results section, discussion, figures/tables section, and references. While you will all be working on the same project, each of you will be turning in an independent paper. You will be allowed to work in groups to analyze the data but you must write up the results on your own. It is also be the case that much of the research that we collected throughout the semester is shared; but like the results you must put this research together, add to this research, and on your own write-up of the introduction section.


  • Requirements
  1. You must have a minimum of 10 quality references (peer reviewed, no dissertations, a few book chapters are okay but the bulk should be peer reviewed research articles). You may use the articles I gave you and you have gotten for the reports in this count (but note, you will want to add to this research). You should use UWT library databases (e.g., PsycINFO) to obtain these articles and they must be peer-reviewed.
  2. Your paper must be written using APA style. It should include an abstract, introduction to the research (in which you review past theory and research relevant to our question, ending in a brief overview of our study and hypotheses), a methods section (in which you describe in detail the participants, study design, measures, procedures), a discussion section, and a references page. Double-spaced, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. I do not require a particular length as you should write until completion while being concise and clear, but assume it will be about 10-15 pages in length of text. Introductions tend to be about 4-6 pages, methods about 2-4 pages, results about 1-3 pages, and discussion about 2-3 pages. This is not including your title page, abstract, references, figures, tables, and appendices.


For this assignment I have given you a lot of guides on APA style. In addition to information in this assignment, see the following. It is expected you will be using this information when writing your report.

  1. APA report checklist (posted in the course project folder and in the APA folder)
  2. The APA folder which contains the following: APA citations PowerPoint, UW writing guides (also found at https://psych.uw.edu/undergraduate/writing-center/writing-guides), a chapter on APA style from a methods textbook, a chapter on APA style from the APA manual, a sample paper from the APA manual, and an APA report checklist.
  3. The assignment rubric.
  4. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_style_introduction.html


  • Paper Outline (see sample APA paper. You may use the student or professional format. I am including information for the student format only here).
  1. Title page

Includes four elements: title, running head, author byline, and institutional affiliation. Identify the title page with the page number 1. The remaining pages should be numbered consecutively.


  1. Abstract

Start on a separate page, numbered page 2. An abstract is a mini summary of your entire paper, including about 1-2 sentences from each section. Typically abstracts focus in on results. Here you should 1) introduce the research question, 2) summarize the main methods used to answer your research question, and 3) summarize the main findings (again focusing in on these). Word limit = 150.


  1. Text

Start on a spate page, numbered page 3, broken up into the following parts in the following order:

  1. Introduction

Note: You do not label this “Introduction.” Instead the title of your paper is centered, normal font, no extra spaces between title and first paragraph.

  1. Method

Composed of “Participants and Design”, “Materials”, and “Procedure” (note you likely will not need the materials section and instead discuss all the materials within your procedure).

  1. Results
  2. Discussion


  1. References

Start on a separate page

  1. Tables (start on a separate page, optional, but a good place to depict findings)
  2. Figures (start on a separate page, optional, but a good place to depict findings)
  3. Appendices (start on a separate page; e.g., you will not need these as you can include all materials in the methods section).


More details on these sections follow:


Suggested Outline for an Introduction

Below is a suggested outline for an introduction. The goal is to summarize previous research, synthesizing it all together to lead up to the current study and hypotheses. Think of this as an inverted triangle.


  1. Opening paragraph(s)

The point of the first paragraph or two is to give a broad opening to engage your reader and set up the problem under investigation. You can think of this as a general thesis statement. Give your reader a general “road map.” You should also use and define key terms, discuss major themes, and cite key research that you will be using throughout the paper. Note this can be done in one paragraph or maybe two.


  1. Literature review concerning topic 1 (key variables and/or findings)

Now that you have introduced the reader to the area and topic your paper deals with, you need to review the relevant literature concerning each main piece of your research. For this assignment it will be useful to introduce literature related to each hypothesis, IV, or key variable.

Generally we follow the inverted triangle for the literature review, meaning that you start out broader (but not too broad) first, and then end with the most relevant and specific details later. The goal of the literature review is to lead the reader to your study. Therefore, each article serves as an evidentiary link in a chain leading to your article. The key then is to summarize the article clearly and in enough detail so that it leads to your study without giving too much detail. In other words, you want to remain concise and clear and only present the relevant details.

If this is your first research paper I recommend that you dedicate one (at the most two) paragraph(s) to each article. As you advance as a writer (and you may be there!), you will be using many articles in your intro and thus some articles may les be represented in 1 sentence, with the most relevant articles getting more space—maybe a paragraph, maybe just a few sentences. Always think, do I need this information to make my point? And if not then cut! If readers want specific details (e.g., number of participants) they can go to the original article and look it up. Being concise and clear is essential here. You may want to start by summarizing theories first and then going on to describe empirical articles used to support the theory.

If the article is empirical, you should talk about only the most relevant study in the article and give only the relevant IVs and DVs (making sure to operationalize both for the reader—i.e., how were they measured/manipulated), the main results, and then the main conclusion.  The results are almost always the most important piece of a research article, so focus in on them. As stated above, ff your reader wants more information about the study (e.g., how many participants, where they were from, details of the method) they can look up the research and read it.


  1. Transitional sentence(s) connecting topic 1 to topic 2

The goal here is to signal to your reader that you are moving from the literature supporting and summarizing topic 1 to a new line of research supporting a new topic or concept or finding.

Example (from Buswell, 2004):

“The previous literature review showed that emphatic perspectives lead to more positive attitudes towards outgroup members (Batson, et al., 1997, 1997; Finlay & Stephan, 1999). However, are there circumstances under which one could fail to evoke empathy and thus fail to generate more positive attitudes? The literature regarding individual differences in prejudice levels suggests that….”(CONTINUE TO DISCUSS NEW ARTICLE).


  1. Literature review concerning topic 2 (key variables and/or findings)

Now you are going to repeat the above (including transitions)


  1. Literature review concerning topic 3 (key variables and/or findings)

Now you are going to repeat the above again until you get to your “gaping hole.”


  1. Gaping hole paragraph(s)

            This is one of the most important parts of your introduction. In this section, you will synthesize the literature directly related to your hypotheses and methods. Here you are justifying WHY you are doing your study in this first place. The goal is to talk discuss how the research you have previously discussed should interact in a meaningful way. What is missing from the previous work? What are you doing here in your proposed research that goes beyond what has been studied? For example, below the first two sentences synthesize what the writer has discussed in the bulk of the introduction. The rest of the paragraph represents what these researchers are doing that goes beyond this work. NOTE: Do not use the term “gaping hole” in your paper.


Example (from Buswell, 2004):

            “Literature has demonstrated that empathic perspective taking leads to more positive attitudes toward outgroup members (Batson, et al., 1997, 1998; Finlay & Stephan, 1999). Further, separate research has shown that high prejudice people are less willing or able to adopt the perspective of objects of their prejudice (Davis, 1996; Devine et al., 2000; Plant & Devine, 1998). This suggests then that if one were to examine the effect that emphatic perspective taking has on high versus low prejudice people, a different pattern of results would emerge. In low prejudice people, we should see the familiar pattern of more positive attitudes in empathic versus objective perspective taking conditions. However, in high prejudice individuals, empathic perspective taking should not lead to more positive attitudes versus objective perspective taking as empathy should be less likely to be evoked in these individuals.”


  1. Overview of your study paragraph(s)

There are two goals of this section. First you want to give the reader the purpose of your research in a clear sentence. Second, you want to give enough details of your study so that the coming prediction paragraph(s) make sense. This is like a mini overview of your study without getting into specific detail. In sum, briefly summarize what participants will go through as a follow-up to the gaping hole paragraph. A good way to approach this is to say something like the following in a few sentences: “To test this, in the proposed study participants will be asked to do X and then they will be measured in Y.”


  1. Predictions

            In the next one or two paragraphs, you should state the predictions. Typically this is in past tense as data have already been collected, e.g., “We predicted that participants who X will do Y.”


Note: See APA information for organization and content

Here you will include the following in this order:

  1. Participants and Design

How were participants selected? Who were they? You should include the following demographics: Gender (numbers of males and females), age (means and standard deviations), race/ethnicity (numbers or percent breakdown).

What is your IV(s) and DV(s)? What sort of study design is it? Experimental? Between-subjects? Within-subjects? Correlational? Make sure you write it out as a factorial design.

  1. Materials

First, note that for this project you will not have a materials section as it is reserved for study designs that have complicated or detailed materials. Instead, your materials can be synthesized into your procedure sections. But regardless of if you have a separate materials section or not you should include and consider the following: Questionnaires (cite where necessary and give examples of questions including scales and endpoints), tasks, equipment used, method of delivery (e.g., on the computer, paper and pencil). Here you tell your reader enough information so that they can replicate the study. (See APA handouts as well for more details.)

  1. Procedure

Here you discuss how your work was conducted in the order in which it is conducted. What did participants do, hear, and go through? You are to take your readers through what participants went through, step-by-step, chronologically. (See handout.)


Here you report the results of the study. You may want to break up the results with headings for each DV and/or analysis. Note that you want to discuss the most relevant analyses first, staying in the same order you discussed IVs and DVs throughout the paper as much as possible.


Discussion sections include the following:

  1. A summary of what you predicted and why (cite literature).
  2. A summary of the results (cite literature if relevant. E.g., what literature does this replicate?).
  3. A discussion of any findings that were at odds with hypotheses or were not predicted (cite literature. E.g., is there literature that you did not discuss already that helps shed light on these findings? Here is where you can bring in other work).
  4. A discussion of limitations of this work. Do not give a “laundry list,” just most relevant points.
  5. A discussion of future research.
  6. Implications of work and conclusion.
  7. Other things to note:
  • Your intended audience is someone who has the basics of experimentation, but they know nothing about your topic. Make sure the reader understands what you are talking about without knowing anything about you or your topic in advance.
  • Watch your tenses. For example, when you are talking about findings from research that has already been conducted (including our own) is in past tense. (e.g., Smith and Jones (2000) found that…, we found that…). When you are talking about your what you predict and what you plan to do (at the end of the intro) it will be in future tense, and when you talk about what was done and found (methods and results) it is in past tense.
  • Avoid direct quotes. Note the literature that you are reading rarely (if ever) uses direct quotes. Paraphrase!
  • The order that you talk about your IVs in the introduction should also be the order you use throughout the rest of your paper (e.g., in Methods, Results). Stay consistent.