Oct 07 2019

The Only Psychology Research Paper Writing Guide You'll Ever Need

Stefani Holloway photo Stefani Holloway Content strategist and writer
Study Effectively

You’re a Psychology student, burning the midnight oil to complete your essay on, ‘The Impact of Technology on Procrastination’ and you’re just left marveling at the ironical situation you’re in.

Original: SourceIf only being a Psychology student meant you’ve got it all figured out - but alas!

Every student studying Psychology will agree that it’s a fascinating subject. However, just like other courses, even this one poses one big challenge which is writing the dreaded research paper.

Well, don’t you worry as we bring you the complete guide on Psychology research paper writing.

Ultimate Guide to Acing your Psychology Research Paper in College

Psychology is the study of behavior and mind and writing a research paper in this discipline requires students to conduct extensive research on a specific topic, develop their thesis and discuss their findings on it.

Such an assignment enables students to take a deep dive into the subject and make logical arguments, while empowering them to be critical thinkers.

6 Steps to Writing a Psychology Research Paper for College

If you’re planning to write your Psychology research paper in the very last minute..

Original: SourceThat’s right. It’s a bad, bad idea.

Writing a research paper is no easy feat. From choosing the topic and doing the research to getting down to writing it and fine-tuning it for submission - this assignment demands ample attention, time and motivation.

Here’s how you can write your Psychology research paper in just 6 steps -

Choose a Focussed Research Topic

The best research papers are those that are focussed on a specific topic. Broad and vague topics are an absolute no-no because they don’t give you the scope to conduct your research and present your arguments accurately.

For instance, ‘mental health’ as a topic might intrigue you but is it enough for your research paper. Not quite. You need to go deeper and can consider writing about the connection between parenting styles and mental health instead. Now, that’s more specific, isn’t it?

So, brainstorm and make a list of topics that you find interesting and start shortlisting them on the basis on how much existing research do you have access to and narrow down to a focussed research question/topic.

Organize your Research

It’s well-established that you need to do a substantial amount of research while working on a Psychology research paper. You need to look into empirical studies, published journals, articles and online databases such as PsycINFO and PsycNET.

However, that’s not all. A common mistake students make is that they do a lot of reading without making notes or maintaining a working bibliography by the side. This is a bad practice as you just tend to get overwhelmed by all the information when you get down to writing the paper.

Hence, while doing comprehensive research is important, organizing your research is also equally important for a smoother writing process.

Develop a Strong Hypothesis

A strong hypothesis forms the foundation of your research paper which is why before you rush to write the paper, you need to work on developing a thesis statement or hypothesis.

Your hypothesis needs to concisely state what your research is about and needs to be explained, tested or evaluated in the course of your research. The most important element of a hypothesis is that it needs to be testable which means it has the scope to be proven true or false.

Create an Outline

You might want to rush with your paper and get down to writing but we strongly recommend creating an outline first. An outline lets you organize your thoughts while ensuring the research paper flows in logically.

This is the ideal structure of a psychology research paper
  • Title page - needs to include the title of your paper along with name and other course details
  • Abstract - a 120-150-word summary mentioning the research question/topic and briefly talking about the research method implemented and the results obtained
  • Introduction - introduce the topic while giving context and background information and end with the thesis statement or hypothesis
  • Methodology - explain the research methodology in detail including the number of participants, materials used and procedure undertaken
  • Results - present the results of the research done
  • Conclusion - discuss the results and findings while establishing its connection to the hypothesis stated earlier
  • Bibliography - accurately cite references in APA (American Psychological Association) format

Start Drafting

Now, that you have everything planned, organized and laid out in front of you, you can finally start writing the paper.

Don’t make the mistake of writing the paper at once - it is likely to be a harrowing experience. You need to approach it with a calm mind and to do this, it’s a good idea to break down the writing process. Tackle one section at a time and don’t push yourself to finish it at one go.

Here’s a tip - as the introductory paragraph has a lot of expectations riding on it, we suggest coming to it at the end, once you are done with the rest of the paper.

Video on writing an impressive introductory paragraph for psychology research papers

Edit and Proofread

Don’t make the mistake of submitting your research paper without giving it multiple rounds of proofreading and editing.

Once you’re done writing, give your mind some rest and call it a day. You can start proofreading and editing it the next day. Read it out loud because it makes it easier to spot errors and awkwardly framed sentences. This is where you need to also make sure you have cited sources correctly and avoid falling into the unintentional plagiarism trap.

Parallely, you can also have a friend or family member read your paper to point out mistakes that you might have missed out on.

What Makes an Impressive Psychology Research College Paper?

Writing in psychology does come with a few specifications. After all, you’re not writing a novel or another piece of creative writing, this is a research paper and it’s as formal as formal gets.

Original: SourceHere’s what contributes to a winning psychology research paper for college -

Unbiased and Neutral Language

Whether it’s being sensitive towards all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations or people with disabilities, it’s important to be mindful towards the language you use while writing your research paper. It needs to be bias-free.

For instance, use words such as homemaker or spouse instead or housewife or husband.

So, make sure your tone or words don’t reflect prejudice or discriminatory behavior as that can be a serious downer.

Refer to Credible Sources

The sources you refer to or rely on need to be credible. What is credible, you ask?

While assessing the credibility of a source, you need to look into the following elements - who is the author, when was the source published, is it in line with your research topic and where did the author get the information from.

In Psychology, you cannot go by the opinion or quotes by a scholar or author, you should only abide by their research results.

Here’s a video explaining how you can find credible online sources for your research paper

Remember to stay away from unreliable and outdated sources because they can adversely impact your research paper.

Discuss Alternate Possibilities

You should always address limitations of your research and explore alternate possibilities in your paper. The idea is to have an unbiased approach and compare the two alternate theories instead of just favoring one side of it. This shows your attention to detail and is a sign of a holistic research paper.

Include Visual Content

You are likely to be left with a lot of data and numbers for the results section of your research paper. You need to find ways to effectively present this data and the best way to do that is to include tables, graphs and charts.

There is a lot more you can communicate with the help of such visual content. Just make sure you place them in the right section and label them correctly. They need to be easily comprehensible such that the reader does not have to spend too much time decoding them.

Correct Use of Tenses

Students make the mistake of overusing present tenses which needs to be avoided in such a paper.

When you are referring to a previously done research, it’s best to use the present perfect tense. Similarly, when you are discussing the research methodology and findings, you should use the past tense.

The only time you can consider using the present tense is while discussing and interpreting the results.

Avoid Jargons

You might think you can throw in jargon and technical terms to impress your instructor but that’s not how it works. All that does is makes the paper very complex and impedes the reading experience.

Hence, always focus on writing with clarity and simplicity because more than anything, the reader needs to understand what you’re writing in order to appreciate it.

20 Great Psychology Research Paper Topics to Get You Started

1. Is Child Obesity a Reflection of Parental Negligence?

2. Link Between Television and Obesity

3. Stress and Preterm Delivery

4. Situations Leading to Cutting Yourself Disorder

5. Effects of Abortion on Mental Health

6. Dating Violence Among Teens

7. Teenage Sexting and its Consequences

8. Can Stringent Laws Force Morality?

9. Effects of Designer Babies on Society

10. Social Interaction

11. How Do Individual Differences Affect Stress

12. Psychological Reasons for Depression

13. Causes and Symptoms of Stress

14. Does Gender Affect Depression in Individuals?

15. Human Development - Conception to Old Age

16. Mental Development of Special Children

17. Does Gender Affect Memory?

18. Different Stages of Human Development

19. Relation between Physical Illness and Stress

20. Short Term and Long Term Memory


So yes, the thought of writing Psychology research papers might sound intimidating but when you follow this guide and take it one step at a time, it’s likely to be a smoother process.

In spite of all this, if you find yourself pressed for time or struggling to start your paper, you can always turn to Psychology research paper writing experts such as Writers Per Hour. Our competent team of writers possess excellent writing skills and are subject matter experts in Psychology.

So, contact us for help with your Psychology research paper and you can be sure to receive original, high-quality papers right on time for submission.

last edit at Sep 26 2021