Psychology is a field that revolves thoroughly around research, which is why when you present a research paper, it should be done in a specific manner so that your reader understands it clearly. While the entire process of research is long-drawn, writing it down within a given template is a whole task that should be completed with equal efficiency.
Every section in a psychology research paper, right from the topic to the abstract, the introduction, and the references, holds equal importance. You cannot overlook one section while doing better in another. As such, here are some guidelines that tell you how to write a psychology research paper.
Format of a Psychology Research Paper
Assuming that you have already chosen a topic and conducted the necessary research, it is now time to go about compiling this information and presenting it appropriately in a research paper. Given next is the format of a psychology research paper, and specific methods of writing each section.
The title of your research paper should be short, and should ideally end within 12 words. Ensure that it clearly summarizes the concept of your research. Also provide details of the subjects of your research. Mention teenagers, women over 40, men over 50, children, rats, monkeys, etc. in your title if you have used them as subjects.
One whole page is dedicated to a title and it is aligned in the center, vertically and horizontally. Use upper case only for the first letter of each word and lower case for remaining letters. No part of words such as a, the, on, in, etc. is typed in upper case. After the title, give double spaces and write your name with your institute/college's name.
An abstract is the summary of your entire research and the results of your study. Not everyone may be able to read your entire research paper, which is why your abstract has to give a complete overview of the research you have conducted, the processes you have utilized to carry out research, the subjects, the results, and the significance of these results.
On the page after the title, you will center align the word abstract on the top of the page, leave two spaces, and begin writing the text. An abstract usually is not broken up into paragraphs, and is written as one continuous paragraph. It is a good idea to write an abstract without quoting anyone or citing references.
Write the abstract in your own words. Use the active voice in writing to keep it short. Write this section after you have finished writing all the other sections so that you have a better idea of what exactly should go into the abstract.
The third section of your research paper is the introduction. This is the area where you will introduce the concept you are researching. You will include relevant definitions, a brief history of study conducted on this subject, recent research and associated results, and its relevance with your research.
You will make a note of the importance of your study and the reason for research on this particular subject. You will end the introduction with a thesis statement, where you explicitly state what you have set out to prove with this study.
Your introduction should not be very long, and should consist a minimum of four paragraphs that encompass the aforementioned topics. On page 3 of your research paper, write Introduction and align it to the center of the page. Leave double blank spaces and begin the text.
This section of the paper tells the reader how your research was performed. The language should be simple but academic. It should be similar to an instructional piece of writing, but professional enough to be submitted to a psychology journal. You will write this section in the past tense.
Based on the kind of study you have carried out, i.e. experimental or survey-based, this section will be divided into four sections. You will continue writing the method section on the same page after the introduction, after leaving two blank spaces. The following sections will be written in the exact manner as presented here.
4.1 Subjects or Participants of Study: The term subjects is used for animals used in the study, while the term participants is used for human beings who participated in the study. You will indicate the parameters of selection for the subjects of study and the number of subjects that were a part of the study.
All details regarding subjects relevant to the study will be included here. For instance, whether it was women over 40 with a particular weight, or all women undergoing menopause, or any relevant detail of the subject affected the study, will be mentioned here. Also include any incentive that was provided to the participants to be a part of the study.
4.2 Apparatus: This section will include details of the apparatus used in the research process. The model no, the company name, and the address of the company of any equipment used will all be included here. The dimensions of the apparatus, if necessary, should be mentioned.
The mention of the use of smaller items such as pens and pencils may be overlooked, though you may make a passing reference to them. This is not the section where you will describe the procedure of the experiments. You will only describe the apparatus used here.
4.3 Design: Here you will mention the process of group selection, and will enlist the independent and dependent variables among them. Any repetition of and the level of each variable should be mentioned here. Make a mention of the control procedures that you have used in your research process.
4.4 Procedure: Here you will outline the entire procedure you have used in carrying out your experiment. Every step will be presented in the form of a summary, including instructions provided to participants, along with details of each phase (tests, etc.) Assign specific names to groups so that it is easier to refer to them in writing and reading.
The results of your study will be presented in this section. It is up to you to decide how you would like to summarize them. They could be presented with the aid of tables, graphs, pie charts, and other statistical tools. Summaries of your findings should be presented clearly.
Do not use the word 'prove' casually as you are likely to have found probable results rather than final results. Establish correlations and causes separately. Be careful with the use of such words. Here, you will not discuss the consequences of your findings.
You will merely relate your findings here. Do not start this section on a new page, but continue writing after leaving two blank spaces from the previous text, and after the heading that has been center aligned.
Here is where you will state the implications of your research findings. In the first paragraph you will provide a summary of the results you found, without the use of any statistical language.
In the next paragraph, the results should be interpreted in relation with the topic of the research, along with a comparison with previous research procedures carried out on the same subject. You may also provide your own comments on the importance of the results and findings of your study.
You may finally conclude the discussion with a simple summary of the results and its consequences. Do not start this section on a new page, but continue writing after leaving two blank spaces from the previous text, and after the heading that has been center aligned.
In this section you will mention citations that you have utilized in your writing. If you have made a reference to previous research or studies, those should be cited so that readers know where to find complete details. You will mention authors in alphabetical order in terms of their last name, followed by the year.
In cases of citations from books or journals, those names, the volume number (of the journal), month/year of publishing, and the city, state, and publisher's name of the book should be mentioned. This section will be started on a new page and will follow the same formatting as the previous sections.
This is the best format to follow when you write a psychology research paper as it is easy to locate specific sections that need to be addressed, and keeps the paper easy to follow. Hopefully, this guide has helped you write a good research paper.