Describe the treatments and Outcomes in a sensible level of detail • Design

Writing up Research

PSY2004 Research Methods & Ethics in Psychology
PSY2005 Applied Psychology Research Methods &
How do Academics disseminate their
• Books and chapters: creates awareness of the research and
establishes a record of research
• Peer reviewed journals: creates up-to-date awareness of the
research and establishes a record of research
• Conference presentations: creates awareness of the research;
establishes a record of research; builds networks for future study
• Increasing readership and citation: blogging; facebook/twitter
etc..; podcasts; Youtube; Press releases; policy briefs
What is a Laboratory Report?
• A student version of a research-based peer reviewed journal
• How long is a laboratory report? Limit is normally between
2,000-3,000, words ask your lab tutor?
• How does a laboratory report differ from an essay?
– Purpose: Reporting of practical research project rather than
evaluating a question
– Content: descriptive and sequential format rather than discursive
and evaluative
– Format: fixed structure dependent on the type of research being
undertaken rather than a structure based upon the question being
Why do we write lab reports?
the structure of a
Laboratory Report
• Title
• Abstract Andy Field’s “How to write a
Lab report?” Provides a
• Introduction section by section guide.
Please download a copy and
• Method use it to write the report
• Results
• Discussion
• References
Tutor Led
The Abstract
• Is at the beginning of the report but should be the last
thing you write
• Should include: aim and rationale of study; number of
participants; design of study; independent and dependent
variables; the statistics employed; the main findings
relative to hypotheses and the significance level; the
overall relevance and the implications to the field of study
The Introduction
• The role of the Introduction is to explain and justify the purpose of
the H1 . All research should be situated in the context of the H 1
and explained relative to it.
• An Introduction should include: a brief introduction to the general
area; an identification of the problem in the literature; a logical
progression to the H1 ; outline of the aims and purpose of the
study; a general outline of the H 1
• It should: include relevant previous research; be concise and
selective; be critical; be specific to the IVs and DVs
• It should not: read like an essay; or, over-examine previous
Rules for the Inclusion of past studies
• Outline why the study is useful?
• Describe the study in enough detail to enable a critique
• Present the critique?
• Show why the study is relevant to your research,
resolving the critique?
Rationale of The Introduction

Things that will increase your marks:
• Providing a thorough review of the literature about the concepts under investigation
• Writing from the general to the specific
• Demonstrating breadth of reading
• Informally introducing the hypothesis
• Noting previous research on the DV that is linked to both IVs

Things that will decrease your marks:
• Not linking the literature search to the current study
• Providing a very general overview of the research area
• Overly focusing on one concept
• Failing to highlight relevant and recent research

The Method
• A Method Section is written in the Past Tense
• A Method should assume that the reader has NO prior
knowledge of the study and aim to provide enough
information for the reader to replicate the study
• A Method could consist of the following sub-headings:
Participants; Materials; Design; Procedure
• Participants
– Who was the target population and where did you get your samples from?
Provide sensible details (demographics and those relevant to the study) where
they are available; note ethical approval and informed consent
• Materials
– Describe the treatments and Outcomes in a sensible level of detail
• Design
– Type of research (Randomised control study), type of design (e.g. Independent
Groups, Repeated Measures, Mixed); name independent variables and report
the levels; name the dependent variables (only those reported in this study);
identify controls (e.g. counterbalancing)

• Procedure

– Supply a chronometric outline of the study in enough detail to enable replication.
Be concise, no need to mention basic instructions, debriefing, etc…

Results Rules
• Should be written in the Past Tense
• The Results should reflect your hypotheses and the conclusions
you arrive at in the Discussion section
• You must mention ALL relevant information regardless of whether
it was significant
• Less is often more? Do not include: SPSS outputs, raw data,
every single number that emerged from your study!
• Do include: Tables and Figures of Descriptive Statistics linked to
your hypotheses
• Assume that your reader has a solid understanding of statistics
(e.g. there is no need to explain what an ANOVA is?)
Results: Inferential Statisitics

• In this context COULD consist of:
– Tables x 2 (descriptive statistics for main effects)
– Figures x 1 (interaction effect)
– Surrounded by prose
• First paragraph could include:

– What you intend to do (e.g. descriptive statistics followed by the ANOVA followed
by simple main effect analyses)

– Report important details such as: test for homogeneity of variance; tests of
sphericity; Bonferroni procedures to avoid Type 1 errors

– Or you may build this information in to reporting the ANOVA
• Further paragraphs

– Outline the simple main effects; pair-wise comparisons, report ALL inferential


• Outline the key findings in ‘simple English’ with no statistics in the
context of the hypotheses
• Assess your findings in the context of the previous research
presented in the Introduction
• Note the Strengths and Limitations of the study but be careful not
to dismiss your research. You should OWN your study
• Make suggestions for improving the study, but see above..
• Mention questions that have arisen as a consequence of the
study and how you could answer these with future research?
• Conclude with the key ‘things’ emerging from the study

Things that will increase your marks:
• Accurately reporting the findings in the opening paragraph of the discussion. Moving
from the specific to the general.
• Linking the current study (evaluation or comparison) to previous research
• Observing the limitations of the study
• Noting future research (an excellent report will combine this with the previous point)

Things that will decrease your marks:
• Reporting the ANOVAs in this section
• Any reference to confounding variables that is not justified in the findings because
the results were significant
• Failing to reach the minimum word count. This section should mirror the

• References should be included and ‘omitted’ in this
section as they are written in the main body of the text
• Use internet resources to aid APA Formating


Things that will increase your marks:
• Being careful to include all materials that are in the main body
of the text
• Accurate APA referencing

Things that will decrease your marks:
• If there is a mismatch between this section and the main body
of the text
• Inaccurate referencing
• Failing to read the references that have been supplied to you.
Citation rules (Field, 2012)
Revising the Final Draft
• Overall organization: does it flow? Is it coherent? Are the
hypotheses clearly expressed? Is there a strong and
evident conclusion?
• Paragraph level concerns: does the content flow in a
logical order? Do the details support the general aim? Do
the transitions work? Are the non-sequitur’s suitably
• Sentence level concerns: sentence structure; word
choices; spelling; punctuation. If you do not understand
then …?