Skip to main content LSC-University Park Library research guides banner

Assignment | PSYC 2301 Research Paper (Stalnaker): Getting Started

Fall 2019 | PSYC 2301 | Prof. N. Stalnaker

Topic, Research Question, Thesis

First, you develop and narrow down your topic -- the general idea of what you're going to be researching. From that, you need to develop your research question, i.e. what is the question you are attempting to answer by doing your research? This, in turn, will form the basis for your paper's thesis (your claim/argument/answer) which you'll explicitly state in your introduction.

From your central topic, you develop your research question(s) to investigate, and then finally develop a thesis statement which answers your chosen question.

Turning a Topic into a Search: Phase 1

First, Brainstorm

  • Take your central topic idea and explode it into you know (or think you know) about it.
  • Just really break it down into all its component parts and related ideas.
  • This is the "throw everything at the wall" phase.
  • Mind map it out. You're more visual than you might think!

Uh, I don't know where to start/I don't have an idea...

If you need some inspiration about topics, flip through your textbook for something that sounds interesting. You can also just think of something of personal interest to you and start brainstorming from there -- you'll find a way of tying it into psychology sooner or later, I promise!

You might also seek out inspiration from these sources:

Starting to slow down?

  • Do some background research using...
    • your textbook
    • Google
    • Wikipedia

Next, Find Patterns

Where have you been making a lot of connections? What specific, narrower topic has lots and lots of little notes around it (suggesting that information might be easier to find and/or you have a higher interest in it)?

That's a good choice for your deeper research!

Ask Questions

What question about this narrower topic can you ask? This shouldn't be a simple yes/no question (e.g. "Do people subconsciously reveal biases they don't realize they have?"), or something you already have a pretty clear answer on (e.g. "Is stress bad for learning?").

Think open-ended. Fire up your curiosity! This is the question you'll be trying to answer with the rest of your research.

Your thesis statement (the roadmap of your paper) will be the short version of your answer to the question you pursue. All the other pages of your paper will be the long version.

 

Assignment

Your Goals:

  • 3+ journal articles for your topic
  • 6-8 pages

Research a topic in Psychology that is of interest to you. Using the library databases, choose at least 3 journal articles that relate to your topic. Your paper should include FIVE (5) sections, described below, and be 6-8 pages in length (not including the Title Page & References):

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Body of Paper (2 parts – Literature Review & Discussion)
  • Conclusion
  • References

It's All About the Questions