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PSYC 372: Animal Behavior

Research Guide for PSYC 372

Developing Your Hypothesis

For your annoated bibliography, you will use peer-reviewed journal articles to learn more about your species for your zoo observations. You will also use your peer-reviewed journal articles to develop a hypothesis for the behavior you observed during your first zoo observation. 

Do some exploratory research: Start with some exploratory research to learn more about your species before you start your first zoo observation. You will use this exploratory research to develop a hypothesis of the behavior you expect to see at your zoo observation, as well as to identify operational definitions of behaviors to be observed and an ethogram (check sheet on which to collect your data).

Record your observations at the zoo for 3 full hours. Collate your data and run statistical analysis on it to identify patterns of behavior. 

Identify your variables: Use the information from your exploratory research and your zoo observation to identify a few behaviors that interest you and the possible relationships between them. Write about your observations, referring back to how they relate to what you found in your expoloratory research.

Choose a current research area: Develop a hypothesis for species behaviors about which articles are continuing to be published. Avoid defunct or little-known areas of research. 

Write about what interests you: Professors want students to write about research areas that they care about. If you're interested in the species and behaviors you've chosen, it will be more fun for you to do your observations and write them up, and probably more fun for your professor to read them, too.

Ask Professor Dolins for feedback on whether the hypothesis you develop is a good hypothesis, one that can be tested.

Picking Your Topic IS Research

Once you've picked a research topic for your paper, it isn't set in stone. It's just an idea that you will test and develop through exploratory research. This exploratory research may guide you into modifying your original idea for a research topic. Watch this video for more info:

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