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Psychology Assignments (Bradley): Getting Started

Spring 2020 | PSYC 2301 | Professor Bradley

Before You Research

Based on the course assignment(s) students will research topics using course materials and outside sources that are within this guide and the LSC library pages of Lone Star College. Check the D2L classroom for the assignment(s). This guide contains information on the research process, the distinction between credible information sources and scholarly sources, and APA citation.

Begin the research process by building your knowledge of your topic or subject. Course textbooks and the sources linked below offer general information, introduce specialized terminology and provide a foundation to develop the context for your topic. Once this foundation is developed, scholarly sources enable students to dig deeper into seminal and current research.   

Building Out a Topic (To Narrow Down Later)

Fake News is near the center of the image, surrounded by empty space.

Start off with your theme or initial topic idea.

Start writing down what comes to mind -- what do you already know about this central idea? Include specific examples, keywords, causes, impacts... throw everything at the wall now. We'll worry about what sticks later.

Each of the branches has gained sub-branches of its own. E.g. Social Media goes out to Twitter, Facebook, which branch into advertising and bots and viral content.

Don't stop with just one layer of ideas -- keep drilling deeper!

Once you get stuck, start doing some not-really-research. Hit up Google, Wikipedia, your textbook, and so to get some more bits and pieces to add in.

The entire image is now covered in words and ideas related to fake news with some arrows criss-crossing between ideas that reconnect to each other.

You may have started out thinking you knew what that central idea would involve, but now you can see how big (and how many possible directions for research) there really are!

Now that you can see what's going on, consider where your connections are strongest, or where you've made the most most, or what seems most interesting to you.

What are you asking yourself about those ideas? How do they relate to each other? What do you want to find out more of?

This view represents one possibility for a narrower topic. We might ask,

  • How does the psychology of confirmation bias contribute to the spread (or maybe creation) of fake news?
  • How can people recognize and overcome their personal biases?

Another possibility...

  • Is fake news inherent to social media?
  • What has fake news looked liked through history, prior to the Internet?

... and another possibility.

  • Do limits on free speech apply to misinformation shared on private social networks?
  • Does (or should) the government have the power to regulate information shared on social media in order to protect the public interest?

Managing Your Research

While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:

EvernoteEvernote - The Basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.

ZoteroZotero - Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.

OneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students. You will find this tool in your myLoneStar account or at







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