Writing a Research Paper

All sections must be in APA format and include all information specified in the Engagement Study Rubric.

Guidelines for specific sections below (link to APA formatting guide).

Sample paper in APA format

Title Page

Abstract (150-250 words) – your intro distilled.  Must be captivating, else readers won’t read on.  Must include hypotheses.

Main body of Paper

Include your title (yes, again) at the top of the page

Introduction You need *all the information* that was required in your intro draft. double check these because where people were making the same mistakes/omissions I had already told them about when I graded their intro, I didn’t spend time reminding them this time around.  Introduce your question.  Discuss background, relevant existing literature to thoroughly motivate the present study.  Highlight how your study will further our understanding of the topic.  Be sure to restate your hypotheses.

Methods – describe in enough detail that I could go out and run the exact same study.  The exception is that we do not need to know every stimulus that went into the study (you will often find these in an appendix of the paper, or an online supplement).  Do thoroughly describe the variables/scales that you examined.

Manipulation Check (part of establishing Validity)- For your experiment you will need to verify that your manipulation leads to differences in the construct or phenomenon you are studying.  Researchers typically perform manipulation checks by either collecting additional data during the experiment (separate from the study’s dependent variable to be analyzed) or in a debriefing, following the experiment.  For example, experimenters running a study on memory for faces displaying emotional expressions may ask participants whether they found any of the emotions more salient.

Analysis- be clear that you have tested the relevant assumptions for the test(s) you are using.  Review your stats book or my lecture slides from stats class for considerations that need to be addressed for each test.  These can’t just be ‘eyeballed’, you must, for example, use a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test to determine that your data are normally distributed.

Results (including tables and figures)

Discussion– When discussing limitations, you can probably come up with a handful.  Be humble and acknowledge anything readers might find problematic, and discuss how this could be addressed in future approaches to the problem.  This is also your opportunity to discuss possible reasons for null results when you still have compelling reasons to think there is something going on (an effect in the real world that your methods failed to capture).


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