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PSYC 465 (Musial): Experimental Psychology

Research Guide for Dr. Musial's section of the PSYC 465 course

Putting together your Major Scientific Experiment Writing Assignment


1. 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

2. Introduction: a review of the literature that describes your study experiment. 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 experiment and demonstrate how your experiment fits into this current research area
  • Be a compelling narrative about how the articles you've read make the case for why your experiment is important
  • End with your study hypothesis

3. Methods: provides detailed information about your research study design. Your Methods section should include:

  • the study populations and subject recruitment procedures
  • the experimental design of your study and why it was appropriate for your research area
  • the procedures your research design followed
  • the statistical analyses that you ran

4. 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

5. 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:

  • Restate your research hypothesis from the introduction in different words
  • 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?
  • End with a strong, final statement that ties the whole paper together and makes it clear the paper has come to an end

6. Bibliography: a list of the sources you cited (not your annotated bibliography)

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

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