Research paper assignment: Research beyond the textbook
For this assignment, you will write a 4-5 page paper about three research articles on a particular topic discussed in your textbook. (Use 12 point font, double spacing, and 1- inch margins – aim for at least about 1250-1500 words in the body of the paper.) You will also post some of the preliminary planning for this project on the class discussion boards. The project will be a total of 100 points (20% of the final grade), with 80 points for the paper, and 20 points for the discussion board components. I describe the paper first, and then the earlier components, so you know where you’re going with the assignment.
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Research in psychology is a constant process, and new work is regularly being produced. In addition, textbook authors only have so much space to write about a topic and therefore must limit which research they choose to discuss. For this assignment, you will find and summarize additional research articles on a topic from the textbook.
(1) Identify a major topic covered in the textbook, whether we cover it in the course or not. For example, “Parents’ Discussion of Emotion” (Chapter 10) or “Conversational Skills” (Chapter 6) are major topics. Check with me if you’re unsure you’ve got a good topic.
(2) Briefly summarize in your own words what the text says about the topic. What do we know? What research is described? You don’t need to go into specific details about the studies they describe in detail, but give a broad overview, as best you can.
(3) Find three closely related scholarly research articles on your chosen topic.
How do you know if the articles you’ve chosen are “closely related?” They discuss the same key issues, whether from a similar perspective or a different one. Maybe they are by one or more of the same researchers as a study that’s already cited in your textbook. Maybe they each cite several of the same articles or one article cites the other.
How do you know if the articles you’ve chosen are scholarly? Find the articles via a search in PsycInfo, the main psychology research database, and check the box to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Don’t expect to find articles from a typical web search, via Google or other search engines.
(4) Describe what each of these three articles tells us about the chosen topic. For example, what
does Paper A tell you about parents’ discussion of emotion? Briefly describe how the studies described are related to the topic you’ve chosen, what happened in the studies, what the major findings were, and how these findings modify or extend (or even contradict) what the textbook tells us about the topic.
(5) Summarize what you learned, and tie together the discussion in the text with the additional research you’ve found. Did the new research add more evidence in a similar direction as the information cited in the text, or did it change your understanding of the topic in some more fundamental way? If you were going to rewrite that section of the text, are there different points you’d highlight than what was in the text? Why or why not? I’m less interested in the conclusions you draw than in the reasoning you use to draw them.
(6) In another paragraph or two, tell me one or two things you’d like to know about the topic you chose, but that were not covered in the textbook or the articles you read.
(7) Cite your articles in your main text (that is, list the authors’ last names and year of publication for each source). At the end of your paper, include the full references for the articles you cited. If you know it, use APA (American Psychological Assocation) format. See http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/Library/libaxn/libaxn_bibliographic_citations_apa.pdf
Otherwise, use any standard format you know (MLA format, Chicago style, etc.).
A few constraints:
1. All articles must be located on PsycInfo. To use PsycInfo at Hofstra, go to the Hofstra Libraries website (accessible from the Hofstra homepage, or Hofstra.edu/library). Go to the section marked Research Resources (in light blue), then click on Research Databases. Click Psychology. Scroll down until you find the link for PsycInfo.
Also, note that PsycInfo is a database, which means it contains research abstracts. It does not contain the articles themselves. Some of the articles are linked there because Hofstra pays for access to them through EBSCO, the same service through which it pays for PsycInfo. However, Hofstra also pays for access to many other journals. If the full text is not linked in PsycInfo, you’ll see a link that says “Find Article.” Often if you click that link, you’ll be taken to another link where you can see the article directly, through Science Direct or another set of journal resources. If Hofstra doesn’t have a copy you can also try to request a copy through Interlibrary Loan – if the article is in digital format, you can sometimes get it sent to you electronically in a day or two.
A Hofstra reference librarian can also assist you with beginning a search on PsycInfo. Articles from web postings or places like The New York Times are not acceptable.
2. Each article you discuss must report at least one study, whether it’s an experiment (random assignment to condition, manipulation of an independent variable) or a correlational study. It can’t be a review paper or summary. One tip is to scan the article to confirm there is a Method section and a Results section, which would describe what was done in the study, and what was found. If you are unsure if the articles you’ve found fit these requirements, e-mail me to check.
3. The three articles you use can’t already be mentioned in the section you’re writing about (e.g., in “Parents’ Discussion of Emotion,” the authors already mention an article by Eisenberg, et al from 1998, so you cannot use that article for this assignment). The purpose here is to find research that extends what’s summarized in the text.
4. However, beginning with some of the articles that are cited in the text can be a good starting point for the assignment. You can look in the back of the textbook for the full reference for any article that’s cited in the text, and then you can search for that specific article in PsycInfo. For many records, PsycInfo includes as link that says “Times cited in this database” followed by a number. For example, if it says an article has been cited 5 times, if you click the link, it will show you a list of five sources that cite that article in their reference list. That alone doesn’t mean the article is on the same topic (or that it’s an empirical article describing new research), but it’s a starting point. Also, for each article, PsycInfo includes keywords, so you can try to search using some of the same keywords that a related article is tagged with
Some articles are:
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