Writing in Psychology – How To Do It Successfully

Writing in psychology entails three vital elements according to Thrass and Sanford (2000). The tree elements include: explaining, understanding and describing concepts from the point of empirical investigation. Writing in psychology is a form of discipline-specific writing regarding writing techniques, writing process and integration and location of sources and it also has its expectation and rules in writing. Psychology writing has some principles, which include:

  1. Usage of plain language

The language used in writing psychology should be straightforward and understandable. It should not have alliterations, metaphors or anecdotes

  1. Evidence-based reasoning

Writing of psychology involves the use of arguments which bases on empirical evidence. Use of narratives and personal opinions or examples is not appropriate

  1. Clarity and conciseness of language

The prose in psychology writing should be clear and concise. You should relate empirical evidence, conclusions, and theories

  1. Use of APA format. In the publications of psychology writing, use American Psychological Association format.

There are two types of writing of psychology, and it includes:

  1. Experimental reports (lab reports)
  2.  Critical analyses or reviews of research.

In experimental reports, it involves detailing the results of projects of experimental research after researching with participants. These psychological reports are usually written in the experimental psychology (laboratory) courses. In reviews of research or critical analyses, it involves examining and drawing conclusions on a topic using existing literature. Critical analyses are usually written in upper-division courses of survey.

How to Write Psychology Lab Report

Write a title. It must be concise and explain well the study. Write the variables that you are manipulating

Write an abstract. Write a small abstract which should have information about the aims of the study, what was done, why it was done, and how it was conducted. Also, include what was found, the results showed and conclusions in your abstract. Note that you should not include variables in your abstract and you should not include the abstract in the report but instead put it in italics and center it so that it does not become part of your introduction

Write the introduction. Your introduction should give your reader enough debate and background so that they can understand your study. Also, discuss other studies conducted in that field and discuss how it led to your question of research. Explain the goal of your study in a way in which is logical from the findings of the previous researches. Note that you should not state your hypothesis but rather explain the expectations of your findings and also explain if your study is exploratory

Write about your method. The method of your study should have the following parts:

  • Design. It is the type of design needed to explain your experiment. The type of design may be either:
  1. A within-participants design. It is where all your experimental conditions are exposed to your participants
  2. A between-participants design. Here, the participants to be exposed to the experimental conditions are divided into different groups
  3. A mixed design. It uses both within-participants and a between-participants design. Note that you should state each independent variable if there is any and also state the different levels of that variable. State also the dependent variables that are, what was measured.
  • Participants. Here, you write the total number of participants who took part. Note that you should write numbers from one to nine in words while those that are above nine you write them in numerals. Write the number in words if it begins a sentence whatever the number is. State how many females and how many males took part in the study and write the range of your participant group(s) and their mean age(s) and mention that the gender and age were not noted if you did not collect this data in your study. Also, mention the number of participants in each condition if you have more than one experimental group and write how the recruitment of participants was done and the consent that was given
  • Materials. Write all the equipment that you used and include the stimuli. Write concisely and mention what the reader will need to replicate the experiment. Also reference questionnaires and other materials used. Note that in writing the materials you should use full points and not bullet points. Examples of these materials are questionnaires, computers and software and stimuli, stopwatches, response/coding sheets, furniture/items. Here, do not mention analysis and clearly define behaviors in your observations.
  • Procedure. Clearly explain what was done, to whom, and when. Example of this is: whether it was conducted in groups or individually, where the study was conducted, what the participants did or were asked to do, the instructions were given to the participants, whether there were practice trials, whether there was a time limit and whether the conduction of study was in silence.
  • Results. Write what was done and the data you collected in your study. Indicate the calculated mean of your research and describe your raw data. Also, give the references and appendix of your work so that your readers can read more about your study using the references. Include the standard deviation table and means for each condition or groups and write descriptive and appropriate titles for these tables. Write the types of analysis conducted and indicate if the analyses were one-tailed or two-tailed tests. State statistics of the test and indicate whether the p-value was significant or not and note that you should write the results in full sentences

Write about your discussion. Write the findings of your study which you are dealing with in your introduction. Consider what implications your findings have on real life and how they fill the gaps in the knowledge of readers. Write the aim of your study again and provide a statement of your results relating to your aim Discuss your findings and show if they relate with the previous researches or if your findings are different and these should be concerning your introduction.

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Think about the factors that could have affected your group(s) that is, those that could have minimized or exaggerated differences between these groups since inconsistency between previous researches of your field and your findings could be due to the above kind of factors which include difference in behaviors and personalities of the participants you used in your study or the difference in methods you used in the study that is if they are different from those that other researchers previously used.

Also, when discussing your results, you should be careful so that if your p-value is close to significance, you will clearly state that the trend it suggests is non-significant rather than stating that it is significant.

Write the reference. There should be a reference section in your report and references of your report should include sources that you directly consulted only while writing your report and those you cited in the texts of the lab reports. Also, mention a source in your text that helped you gain ideas or knowledge.

Write the appendices. Write you appendices and in each, including the title and numbers. Ensure that they attach in the order that they appear in the texts of your report. Examples of these appendices include the questionnaires used, the stimuli, and instructions that the participants were given, raw software packages for social sciences data files and data output and response sheets used in the statistical analysis.

How to Write a Critical Analysis

  • Write the thesis of the author. It includes determining what the author is against or arguing. For an academic article, the thesis of the author is easily identifiable than that of creative work, painting or a movie. To identify the thesis, ask yourself the context of the argument and the reason why the writer argued on that topic and identify if he or she gave the solutions of the problem he or she raised
  • Write down all the main ideas. Write the main ideas to analyze the structure of your work. For an academic article, the main ideas are written on the topic sentences of every section or paragraph while in works of paintings or fiction it may be difficult to find these ideas since you will need to ask yourself what the author presents in their thesis
  • Research unfamiliar materials. Find other words or material you have less knowledge about in the encyclopedia or dictionary. Also, read other articles clearly that describes the unfamiliar concepts to give context of the work you are analyzing
  • Write a description of the work in your own words. You can outline your work or write a summary briefly then read your work thoroughly
  • Identify the appeals used. It includes three types which are logos, pathos, and ethos. A logos is an attempt to reason and use logic to change the opinion or perspective of the reader. Pathos is an attempt to appeal to the emotions of the reader to entertain the reader. An ethos an appeal to obtain credibility and is used by the author to explain their professional, academic or personal merit so that they can be trusted
  • Evaluate the way the author conveyed the meaning. It is how well, or effective the appeals of the author are from your view as a reader. It involves asking yourself if the author is credible and determining the reasons why he or she is credible or not.

For effective writing of critical analysis, consider the following:

  1. Choose several areas which are noteworthy to analyze. It involves reviewing your notes and coming up with observations of the works that should be expanded and critically analyzed
  2.  Balance the negative and positive. It involves beginning with negatives before the positives that is if your critique has more positives than negative elements and starting with the positive before negative elements if your critique has more negative elements. If the number of positives and negatives are the same and all needed to write the paragraph, start with the positives before writing the limitations in your work
  3. Identify the controversies which surround your topic. Write the information about the disputable matter in the work you are analyzing and also write how the author succeeded or did not succeed in arguing on that matter
  4. Explain the relevance of your topic. Write on the relevance of your essay in that it should have current age and day on the implications of the subject
  5. Avoid turning inward your focus. The work should not be personal, but it should be of academic tone
  6. You should not focus on the summary, but you need to provide a summary that has a sensible context containing your thoughts but not the thoughts of the author

In organizing the review of your analysis, consider the following: Introduce your work, write the thesis, write the summary of your work, write your critique and then write your final judgment of your work.

Methods Used in Research

The correlation research methods used to describe different experiences, events, and behaviors include the following: surveys, naturalistic observations, case studies and laboratory observation.

  • It is used to get the specific type of experience, event or behavior. In this method, it involves the use of interview and questionnaires in getting the information
  • Naturalistic observation. It involves collecting information by observing the subjects without interfering with them
  • Case studies. It involves studying the subject in depth, and it includes collecting data through direct observation, psychological testing, examination of records and documents or interviews about the subject
  • Laboratory observation. It involves the use of sophisticated equipment to measure and record behaviors of the subjects. There is the use of hidden recording devices or one-way mirrors to observe subjects. Laboratory observation gives the researchers some degree of control of their work over the environment

The elements of research in correlation studies in the field of psychology includes creating an experiment, the hypothesis, the dependent and independent variables, the population, and samples.