Writing a psychological research proposal/report


I. Planning the study

A. Reviewing the literature

1. Clearly identify and formulate the specific problem to be studied
2. Learn what is known about the problem and where the gaps in knowledge are
3. Identify extraneous variables which could contaminate study
4. Gain insight into various ways study could be designed
5. Develop ideas about relationship between independent and dependent variables

B. State research question and hypotheses (if quantitative study)
C. Operationalize the variables in the study
D. Select a design
E. Develop a procedure
F. Decide how data will be analyzed


II. Writing the research report

A. General comments

1. Typed, double-spaced, 1-inch margins
2. Writing should be formal, precise, unambiguous, and economical
3. Should be written in the most recent version of APA style

B. Title

1. Should convey exact topic of study, often identifies the IV and DV
2. Should be sufficiently unique to distinguish from other studies

C. Headings

1. As many as four levels of headings may be used
2. Headings should be in APA style and be consistent throughout manuscript
3. Generally, the main headings are: Introduction (not labeled), Method, Results, Discussion, and References

D. Abstract

1. An accurate, self-contained one-page summary of the paper
2. About 100 words long
3. Generally written after the paper is finished
4. A sentence or two from each of the main sections is a good framework

E. Introduction

1. States theoretical framework for the study
2. Summarizes the relevant literature findings and gaps

F. Method

1. Subjects/Participants (who they are, how they were recruited, demographics)
2. Measurements/Instruments (description, validity and reliability data)
3. Procedure (step-by-step description in sufficient detail to allow for replication)

G. Results

1. All the facts, but just the facts (report all analyses with no interpretation/analysis
2. Use graphs, tables, and charts when appropriate

H. Discussion

1. Evaluation and interpretation of results
2. Limitations of conclusions and of study, but do not dwell on every flaw
3. Explain what study contributed, how it fits into literature, and theoretical implications

I. References