Guidelines for Research Project

For the completion of this research project, students will have the option of constructing a four-to-six-page (4-6 page) research paper either individually or in a group (consisting of up to four students total). Each student/group will be required to:

  • Identify a particular topic (e.g., stress, eating disorders, motivation, generalized anxiety, intelligence, dissociative identity disorder, etc.) or person (e.g., Abraham Maslow, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, Margaret Washburn, Kenneth Clark, etc.) of interest related specifically to the field of psychology.
  • Identify at least two (2) specific research studies that relate to your topic or person of interest, being sure to address findings that demonstrate beneficial or harmful outcomes relative to the method/s of data collection, ethical concerns, and/or theoretical positions.
  • Apply at least two (2) areas of diversity to your topic or person of interest within your paper. For instance, if you should choose a topic such as eating disorders, give examples of how a person’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, education, ability/disability, etc. might influence and/or contribute to this condition. If you should choose to study a person in psychology, give examples of how their contributions either affected or included people of a certain age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, education, ability/disability, etc.

Note: Information presented that is specific to research studies or areas of diversity may either be included in the general content of the paper or presented in its own separate section of the paper. In either case, please be sure to clearly identity information from both required areas.

All research projects will be due toward the end of the course session on the specific date noted in Blackboard (see Course Schedule). Any late projects (received any time after 11:59 p.m. on the given due date) will be deducted by 5% for every “day” that it is late (F.Y.I., all “days” conclude @ 11:59 p.m. and may include the weekends; students are also reminded to review the syllabus policy on late assignments).  

Where should I start?

To Begin:

  • Choose your work preference. You must first choose to either work alone or with up to three other students (a total of two to four group members, including yourself). Keep in mind that if you choose to work in a group, all group members will be responsible for contributing to the project and will receive the same grade accordingly.

Whether working alone or in a group, all papers must follow the same format (see below under “Paper Requirements”), and each student must submit a separate copy of the SAME paper with ALL names listed on the title page of the paper.

  • Select your topic. Since psychology is such a broad field of study, there is really no limit to what topic or person a student can explore. Bottom line, if it deals with humans/animals, human behavior, and/or mental processes, then it deals with psychology. You may also refer to the optional topics/persons list below.
  • Familiarize yourself with APA format. It is required that each student/group utilize 6th edition APA style to construct an insightful research paper that cites and references work that is not one’s own (copy and paste into your browser’s search box the following URL to see more on APA format—

Throughout your research paper, you will be expected to follow specific guidelines for developing headings, spacing, page numbers, etc., and you will be required to use parenthetical citations (e.g., Smith, 2004) for each reference (or resource) used to develop your research (for more information, see “Specific Instructions for APA Style Research” handout in Blackboard under the “Research-Related Materials” link). Since all resources must be credible in content, please refrain from using sources such as Wikipedia or student paper web sites. If you have questions about a particular source, simply ask.

  • Construct your paper. Refer to “paper requirements” below.


Your paper should be no more (or less) than four to six (4-6) pages in length, not including the title and reference pages (DO NOT INCLUDE AN ABSTRACT). The paper should include the following:

  1. Title Page (see sample page via the “Research-Related Materials” link in Blackboard)—Includes:
    1. a page header consisting of the terms “Running head:” followed by an abbreviated title typed in ALL CAPS (placed at the top left of the page)

eg.,  Running head: MAJOR DEPRESSION                                     1                                                 

  • the page number “1” placed in the right corner of the page (do not include “p.” or “page”)—see above
    • the title of the paper indicating the topic being studied (centered—also, be sure to capitalize the first letter of all major words)
    • the student’s name (centered)
    • the instructor’s name (centered)
    • the course title (centered; e.g., PSYC 101)
    • and the date of submission (usually semester and year, centered).

Note: For your page header, “Running head:” is ONLY to be used on the title page. All subsequent pages must only use the abbreviated title alone.

  • Body of Text—this a multi-paragraph discussion about your chosen topic or person (see sample paper via the “Research-Related Materials” link in Blackboard)—Includes:
  • an opening paragraph/s (i.e., introduction) describing the background of your topic:
    • identify the topic or person being discussed
    • address the importance of the topic or person
    • identify the specific themes that will be addressed throughout the paper in a well-structured thesis statement.

Note: Please keep in mind that while this section of your paper represents the introduction of your research, it is headed with the same title used on the title page of your paper.

Also, PLEASE DO NOT USE FIRST PERSON NARRATION AT THIS POINT IN YOUR PAPER. The “Discussion/Conclusion” is the only section of your paper in which you are permitted to either discuss the reason for your choice of topic or use first person narration (e.g., “I,” “me,” “we,” etc.).  In all other sections of your paper, use third person narration (e.g., “This research,” “he,” “she,” “they,” etc.).

  • a detailed and insightful overview of the topic or person being researched—this section of your paper should consist of at least two to three pages and should follow the guidelines below:
  • If researching a topic, such as “depression,” you may choose to cover such areas as: diagnosis, prognosis, symptoms, effect, risks, treatments, etc.
  • If researching a person, you may wish to address the individual’s specific contributions to the field of Psychology as well as outcomes of the contributions made?
  • Be sure to address at least two (2) specific research studies and their findings as they relate to the topic or person discussed (as is previously noted), and identify at least three (3) areas of diversity that relate to your topic/person.

Note: Please keep in mind that while you have a great deal of flexibility regarding the content you choose to cover, you have a limited number of pages in which to cover that information; so select your content wisely, being sure to incorporate those areas of content that are mandatory above all else.

  • a closing paragraph summarizing the content of your paper—it is suggested that you use the heading “Summary” to identify this section of your paper. This is a major heading, so it should be centered.
  • a discussion/conclusion section (possibly identified by using the heading “Discussion” or “Conclusion”—This is a major heading, so it should be centered.) ALL STUDENTS MUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WHEN COMPLETING THE DISCUSSION SECTION OF THE PAPER:
  • Why did you choose this particular topic and how does it apply to you as an individual?
  • How does your topic relate to information presented in the course/course text?
  •  In what ways can you apply information gained from this research to future personal, academic, and/or career growth and development?
  • Text Citations (referencing the sources that you used in collecting your data)—as previously noted, these MUST be included within your paper to document borrowed material and to avoid plagiarism (e.g., author’s last name (s) and year separated by a comma–(Jordan, 2006) or shortened title of work and year separated by a comma–(“Psychology”, 2007). Be sure to include page or paragraph number if a direct quote is being cited (though be sure not to overuse quotes—the paper should be more of a reflection of your own words). The research paper, in essence, should include no more than two (2) long quotes and five (5) short quotes. All other cited information should be paraphrased—not directly copied and pasted word for word. Note: An overuse of quotes may result in a significant loss of points—2 pts for every quote over the limit previously noted within this handout. Also, please remember that all sources used must be “credible,” meaning, DO NOT USE SITES LIKE WIKIPEDIA. J 
  • Reference Page—a total of at least 3 sources, typed in APA format, listed in  alphabetical order, placed on the very last page of your paper—this page gets a “page header” like all subsequent pages, but it remains separate from all other pages; in other words, nothing else goes on this page except your references, and the centered heading at the top of the page should read “References” (a sample reference page is provided under the “Research-Related Materials” link in Blackboard). Note: You MAY use your text as a reference, but it will not be included as one of the three required resources that you will need.

Reminder: Each reference listed on your reference page MUST be cited at least once within your actual paper, and each citation MUST be included in your reference list. Failure to do either is considered plagiarism and will therefore result in a failing grade. More specifically, as this assignment is a research project that requires “documented research,” A PAPER WITHOUT CITATIONS OR REFERENECS WILL AUTOMATICALLY EARN A ZERO—NO EXCEPTIONS!

Other Things to Keep in Mind:
Please do not feel overwhelmed, or limited, by the information noted above. You may include as much or as little information as you feel is needed to express the main points of your research. Just keep in mind that too little data may exclude important information which may result in a loss of points, and too much data may be overkill. What’s most important is the quality of your work, not the quantity (though there is a page limit to keep in mind). 

Please be aware that failure to submit your paper in the format described above will result in a significant loss of points. ALL elements of the paper must be included in order for your work to receive the maximum number of points possible (65 points total). It is HIGHLY recommended that you read this handout thoroughly and review all sample papers provided before attempting to complete this assignment.

Research Topic Ideas (Optional)
(People in Psychology)·        Mary Ainsworth·        Gordon Allport·        Albert Bandura·        Alfred Binet·        Charles Darwin·        Erik Erikson·        Sigmund Freud·        G. Stanley Hall·        Karen Horney·        Lawrence Kohlberg·        Abraham Maslow·        Ivan Pavlov·        Jean Piaget ·        Carl Rogers·        B.F. Skinner·        John B. Watson·        ETC…. (Topics in Psychology)·        Abnormal Behavior in Humans·        Abuse·        Achievement Testing·        Adaptation·        ADD/ADHD·        Addiction (drugs, alcohol, etc.)·        Adolescence·        Adoption·        Age differences/Aging·        Aggression·        AIDS/HIV·        Alcohol Use·        Alzheimer’s disease·        Amnesia·        Anorexia Nervosa·        Anxiety/Anxiety disorders·        Asylums·        Attachment·        Attraction·        Autism·        Behaviorism·        Binge Drinking·        Binge Eating ·        Biofeedback (for stress management)·        Bipolar disorder·        Birth Order·        (The) Brain·        Bulimia Nervosa·        Burnout·        Cancer·        Careers in Psychology·        Child-rearing·        Cognitive therapy·        Cohabitation·        Communication·        Conditioning·        Conflict·        Conformity·        Consciousness·        Coronary Heart        Disease·        Creativity·        Culture·        Daydreaming·        Death and Dying·        Delusions·        Dependency·        Depression·        Discrimination·        Dissociative Identity       Disorder (DID or         MPD)·        Down Syndrome·        Dreaming/Dream·        Interpretation·        Eating Disorders·        Emotional Stability·        Evolution·        Facial Expressions·        Fetal Alcohol        Syndrome·        Gender/Gender        Differences·        Genetics·        Group Influences·        Happiness·        Health·        Homosexuality·        Hypnosis·        Infertility·        Insomnia ·        Intelligence/Intelligence       Testing·        Job Satisfaction·        Language Development·        Language Disturbances·        Learning·        Memory/Memory Loss·        Menopause·        Mental Retardation·        Mood Disorders·        Motivation·        Nature-Nurture Controversy·        Neurosis·        Nightmares·        Nonverbal Communication·        Obesity·        Panic Disorder·        Parenting·        Phobias·        Peer Influence·        Personality Disorders·        Personality Types·        Phobias·        PMS·        Pornography·        Poverty·        Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)·        Pregnancy·        Punishment·        Sexuality·        Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)·        Stage Theories·        Type A/B Behavior Patterns·        Twin Studies·        Unemployment·        Weight Issues·        Well-being/Happiness·        Work and Careers·        ETC…. 
How will I be graded on my research project?
The following rubric will be used to grade all research papers:
·        Content o   Does the title identify the topic or person being researched?o   Does the paper include a proper introduction and the exclusion of the use of first person throughout?o   Does the information in your paper adequately address general content (8 pts.), related research (2 pts.), and issues of diversity (2 pts.)?o   Is there a summary that briefly (but adequately) reviews the research topic? o   Is there a discussion that answers the three questions listed? o   Does the information in your paper demonstrate intellect, insight, and thorough research—Is the content solid?26 pts.1 pts.   _____2 pts.   _____ 12 pts. _____  3 pts.   _____ 3 pts.   _____ 5 pts.   _____  
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