How to write the perfect psychology research paper? I guess that’s what every third-year psychology student is wondering right now. As mentioned in previous posts, dissertation for psychology students is an empirical research project, that is written up in a defined format. Sections of the report are as follows: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and Appendices. Here are some tips for writing up a psychology research paper.
Even though the format is strictly defined, that doesn’t mean you need to start with Introduction and end with Discussion. Given that the research is an experiment and that you firstly need to collect data, that would be the place to start. Following that, write up the Methods section. There’s not much you can get wrong there and it’s pretty straightforward: describe your sample, participants, procedure etc. You can even write it before you collect data and just insert final numbers into the section. Once you have the data you need, run all statistical tests you need to (if unsure which, consult your supervisor). Once that’s done write up the Results section: again, pretty straight forward, nothing subjective here. By now you should have the data collected and Methods and Results written up. Only now focus on Introduction and Discussion. Add any appendices you might have.
Another very useful tip is to find an article that has addressed similar questions as you are exploring. Of course, your dissertation has to be something novel, but similar articles can help you with both the structure and the content. You can see which articles the researcher has cited and read his approach to the question. Perhaps he saw something you might have missed. Remember to avoid collusion and plagiarism, but you are always allowed to assess various resources and ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’.
The final tip would be to take up a project you really enjoy. There are limitless possibilities when choosing a project and if you pick something you like, the whole process is much, much easier. You don’t have to hate your dissertation as you might have hated that annoying essay in your first year that had nothing to do with what you imagined Psychology would be. We all know it takes a long time to write a quality dissertation and this makes it a bit easier.
I’d like to stick with three tips, but if you want another one, here it is: don’t miss your deadlines. You have a whole year to write it and probably the stupidest thing would be to lose marks for a late submission.