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BBS 490: Biological & Behavioral Sciences Capstone

Research Guide for BBS 490 course

Write Your Research Paper

For your Research Paper, you will use your articles to build arguments and conclusions about your research study findings.


1. Title Page

2. Abstract: a summary of your project and its findings, which should tell the whole story of your study, including:

  • the overall purpose of the study and research problem(s) you investigated
  • the basic design and methods of the study
  • the major findings and trends found in your analysis of the study results
  • a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions

3. Introduction and Literature Review: a review of the literature that you used to build your research study hypothesis. Your Introduction should:

  • Be more than a summary of the articles you read
  • Bring together theories and results from a number of studies to provide background for your project and demonstrate how your research study hypothesis fits into this current research area
  • Be a compelling narrative about how the articles you've read have built up to your research questions and study and make the case for why your research questions and study are important
  • End with your study hypothesis

4. Methods: provides detailed information about your research study design and should include the following sub-sections 

  • Study Recruitment
    • describe and explain how participants were recruited
  • Subjects
    • how many participants and participant sex (gender)
  • Materials and Stimuli
    • Describe and explain (refer to them in the text) the relevance of all stimuli to be used/presented to participants. Do not include consent and debriefing forms.
    • Provide all stimuli that will be presented to the participants in the Appendices and refer to them in the text of this subsection; for example, “See Appendix A for the psychometric test that assesses ----.”.
  • Experimental Design
    • the experimental design of your study (for example, describe whether this is a Within or Between Groups Design) and why it was appropriate for your research area
    • describe and label the Independent Variables and Dependent Variables
    • describe how biases may be dealt with
    • describe how the study design is balanced
    • describe the control group or baseline condition if these are included in the design.
  • Procedures
    • Provide a clear and detailed description of the procedures as if it was a recipe; the reader should be able to follow these procedures and be able to exactly replicate your study.
    • Include the statistical analyses you ran

5. Results: report the findings of your research study, written in the past tense, without bias or interpretation. Your Results section should:

  • Focus on being concise and objective
  • Organize your results around tables and figures that summarize the results of your statistical analyses
    • Create your own tables and figures with clear labels. Do not copy and paste from SPSS or other statistics programs into your paper.
  • Include summary text that describes the results in your tables and figures
    • Describe the trends in your data but do not interpret it
  • Organize your key findings in a logical sequence, generally following your Methods section
  • Don't omit relevant findings, even those that don't support your predictions

6. Discussion: interpret and describe the significance of your findings in light of what is already known about the research area you're investigating. Your Findings and Discussion should include:

  • Explanation of results: whether or not the results were expected, explanations for the results, and patterns and trends that emerged from your results and their meanings
  • References to previous research: compare your results with findings from other studies 
  • Use evidence from research sources to build arguments about what your study findings mean
  • Analyze your evidence and observations to show how they link to your broader research question
  • How would you improve this study if you did it again? How would you extend the study to further address your research area?

7. Conclusions: summarizes what you wrote and what you learned

  • Restate your research hypothesis from the introduction in different words
  • Briefly summarize your main points or arguments and pull them together to address your research hypothesis
  • End with a strong, final statement that ties the whole paper together and makes it clear the paper has come to an end
  • No new ideas should be introduced in the conclusion, it should only review and analyze the main points from the body of the paper (with the exception of suggestions for further research)

8. References List: a list of the sources you cited (not your annotated bibliography)

9. Appendices: all research/presentation materials used with participants (but not IRB materials)

For more writing help, contact the Writing Center and make an online appointment to meet with one of their consultants.

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