How to Write an APA-Style Research Paper Psych 350.

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Slide 1 How to Write an APA-Style Research Paper Psych 350 Slide 2 Major sections of an APA style research paper 1.Title page 2.Abstract 3.Introduction 4.Method 5.Results 6.Discussion 7.References Slide 3 Introduction Slide 4 Introduction Things you must include: State the research problem/question This is what I am interested in. Background information This is what other people have done in this area. What questions are left unanswered This is what other people still need to do in this area. Current study This is what I am going to do, and this is what I predict. Slide 5 How to write an effective introduction First paragraph should be an overview. Give a BRIEF description of the research problem State your research questions. What do you want to know about this topic? e.g., The accuracy of personality judgments is a long debated issue in personality psychology. This study examines whether observers judgments of individuals personalities based on their online social network profiles coincide with individuals self-rated personality. Why is this question important? Slide 6 How to write an effective introduction The body of your introduction should discuss the research relevant to the topic and YOUR questions. What have other people done? How will your study fill in the gaps for what has NOT been done? You will use this information to formulate your hypotheses. Your hypotheses have to be rooted in the existing literature! Slide 7 How to write an effective introduction The last paragraph should address YOUR study. How are you going to address your questions? Do NOT get deep into method here. Example: The current study examined the relationship between personality and emotion. Name your variables (Big Five, intelligence, self-esteem, etc.) and define them as necessary. Slide 8 How to write an effective introduction Lastly, state your hypotheses. Be as specific as possible! What variables are you referring to? What about strength and direction of findings? It is OK to cite other sources here. Based on Zhong & Liljenquist (2006), we expect that guilt will decrease after participants wash their hands. Slide 9 How to write an effective introduction Hypotheses (continued) BE SPECIFIC!! For example: We predict correlations between self- and observer- ratings. vs. We predict strong negative correlations between conscientiousness and alcohol abuse. Slide 10 How to write an effective introduction Tips: Dont talk about your study in the middle of the paper and then go back to discussing research. This will break up your introduction and leave your readers confused. Dont discuss details about your study in the first paragraph. Your first paragraph should be a short summary of what your entire introduction will say. Slide 11 How to write an effective introduction Tips: Do tell WHY you predict what you predict. What are you basing your hypotheses on? Talk about what other studies have found. Do tell why your study is different from previous work. Sell me on why your study is so important, and why I should keep on reading! Talk about how your study replicates and/or extends previous studies. Slide 12 Method Slide 13 Method Things you must include: 1.Participants 2.Measures 3.Procedure Slide 14 1. Participants Describe your sample Who are your participants? How many? What are they like (descriptives/frequencies for age, gender, race, students, etc.)? How did you recruit them? Did you toss any data out? If so, explain why. Describe your raters (if applicable) Slide 15 2. Measures What scales and demographic items did you use? Did you make up the scale? (If so, include it in an appendix in your paper) If you used a pre-existing scale, cite it: E.g., We used the ten-item anger subscale from the Discrete Emotions Inventory (Weiss, Suckow, & Cropanzano, 1999). Slide 16 2. Measures (cont.) What was the response format? (e.g., 7-point scale, open-ended) E.g.: Participants responded to the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)? Give an example of a scale item What are the Cronbachs s for your sample? If you measure 5 traits, list 5 alphas, etc. Slide 17 3. Procedure What did participants/raters do? Tell enough that someone else could replicate your study. E.g.: Filled out ___ scales via the internet. Format: computer vs. paper & pencil How long did it take them? Were participants supervised? Etc. Slide 18 Results Slide 19 Results Give your results in number form; dont explain them yet Use tables and/or figures to summarize your findings Statistics to include: Means and standard deviations (for every variable you studied) Correlations Slide 20 Results What types of analyses did you use? E.g., We analyzed the correlations between self- and other-ratings on Openness. What were your results? Tell in words, then numbers. E.g.: Raters and participants showed strong agreement on Neuroticism (N = 50, r =.33, p =.05). Dont explain your results yet! Just report them. Slide 21 Results How do your results correspond to your hypotheses? Remind your lazy readers what you wanted to do in the first place! Supported or not supported? If you use tables or figures, talk about them in your text. Dont just stick them in your paper at random. The reader may not know what they are for. E.g.: Blah blah blah blah blah (see Table 2). Slide 22 Results How to show data in a table: Table 1 Means and Standard Deviations for Conscientiousness and Extraversion for Real, Ideal, and Undesired Self Note which borders in the table are visible and which are not! Slide 23 Results Another good (informative) table example: Trait Males M SD Females M SD E2.5.752.7.84 A3. C.234.31.6 N2.2.502.3.67 O4. Slide 24 Results Tables should be clearly labeled E.g.: Table 2: Means and Standard Deviations for Conscientiousness and Extraversion for Real, Ideal, and Undesired Self and referred to in the text (See Table 2) Slide 25 Results DO NOT do this: Slide 26 Results Tables should summarize a lot of information in a small space Please put at least two columns in your table and combine results as much as possible! Several 1-column tables are annoying and useless Tables should allow you to compare data across groups. You probably will not need to use figures in this paper. Slide 27 Discussion Slide 28 Discussion Explain results in plain language. Interpret your results using regular language. What does it MEAN if people agree more on ratings of others conscientiousness than other traits? What are the implications in the real world? How do your findings hold up to other studies? Refer back to the articles cited in your introduction. Slide 29 Discussion What are the limitations of your study? What would you do better if you had it to do over again? Future Directions/Research/Studies: How might other researchers or other fields use your results? Slide 30 General Tips Slide 31 General tips Remember, you are telling a story. Doesnt have to be dry... Make your work sound COOL! Show why it is exciting. If you can say it in one sentence or three sentences, say it in one. Research papers should be very concise. Slide 32 Wordiness/Conciseness Eliminate fluff. Using less words makes you sound smarter. For example: ... we tested this by finding the correlations between the composite scores for X and the composite scores for Y. vs. correlating X and Y. Slide 33 Wordiness/Conciseness Eliminate unnecessary thes to instantly sound more professional. Tip: Any time you have the participants, just say participants. Slide 34 Active vs. Passive Voice In your method section particularly, your words need to be as active as possible. Instead of, the personality traits of the participants, say, participants personality traits. Slide 35 What NOT to do DO NOT cite Wikipedia! DO NOT use lots of direct quotes paraphrase (but cite them)! DO NOT talk about how you created your questionnaire in metaform! Do NOT include the steps in SPSS you used to compute correlations, composite variables, etc. Or that you even used SPSS Slide 36 What NOT to do Do NOT say that you created composite variables, reverse-scored items, etc. This is a given. Do NOT copy and paste giant correlation matrices (or any other raw output!) directly from SPSS. Slide 37 Bad... EACNO E1.21.36-.04.17 A.211.23-.25.02 C.36.231-.56.33 N-.04-.25-.561-.11 O.17.02.33-.111 Slide 38 Good! EACNO E-- A.21-- C.36.23-- N-.04-.25-.56-- O.17.02.33-.11-- Slide 39 Lastly... Remember to label your sections! Refer back to the sample paper posted on the class website if you need to.