As Psychology 402 is a senior-level course, it is assumed that most students are experienced at writing term papers. Students who are unsure of their writing ability should ask their tutor for assistance and for reference to helpful materials. Also, ensure that you review the Course Resources section below for further guidance with research and for help with the course in general.
Your term paper should be 3500 to 4500 words in length, which is about 12 to 15 double-spaced wordprocessed pages. Note that this does not include title pages, reference pages, figures, and appendices. The typical font size is 12 point (minimum acceptable size is 11 point) and the font style is Times New Roman. Finally, use one-inch margins all around. Primary (original and interpreted) and/or secondary citations within the text are to follow the APA format. You are expected to submit your paper electronically in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) through the online course drop box on the main course page. Contact your tutor for further instructions or to make alternative arrangements.
Your paper should be written according to the style described by the American Psychological Association (APA): American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. http://www.apastyle.org. A tutorial has been created to show you how to use the APA publication manual, and can be accessed at http://fhss2.athabascau.ca/psyc/apa6.
To assist in your literature review, the following scholarly research sites are helpful: Pub Med, Google Scholar, Pro Quest, ERIC, and PsycINFO. Look for scholarly peer-reviewed papers in the last five years. Of course, the AU library is accessible for you to start looking for primary research articles on your topic: http://library.athabascau.ca.
Characteristics of a Quality Paper
A well-organized paper will consist of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It must include a title page and a reference list, and may include figures and appendices. The introduction must provide relevant background information and should contain the rationale and scope of the paper. It should be concise and contain a clear thesis statement. The body of the paper is based on the review of the literature and should support the thesis proposed. The conclusion should summarize and integrate the main points presented in the paper, reinforce the thesis statement, and provide recommendations for further study.
Cite authorities (i.e., authors of research) to back up your statements. Unfounded conjecture (i.e., statements by you or an author that are not based on research or logical extrapolation from empirical or experimental research) has no place in scientific writing. Avoid citing exhortative literature and non-scientific authors or sources. Your supporting citations should be dominated by current journal articles (i.e., primary sources). While textbooks, other books, and internet documents can be used as references, these should be minimized and are considered secondary sources. In particular, minimal reference to Kalat’s textbook is expected and acceptable, but a significant reliance on it is unacceptable. Keep in mind that you could also include sources from the Supplementary Materials List found below. As a guideline, a reasonable number of sources to include in a paper of this nature would be 10 to 15.
Your paper should have a structural theme. You can order it chronologically, logically, or in accordance with some paradigm, such as the thesis you have proposed. The structure should give unity and coherence to your paper. An overall system permitting infinite variation would include the following general structure: Introduction, Background Information, Review of the Literature, Summary, Conclusions (or Discussion and Implications), and References. Considering that the largest portion of your paper will be the literature review (i.e., the body of the paper), it is recommended that it be organized into appropriate subheadings relevant to the specific material.
The paper should demonstrate your ability to integrate a specific body of research rather than just a synopsis of the subject matter. This assignment is intended to develop your skill in analysing, synthesizing, and evaluating scientific research, and to further the development of your skill in writing a scholarly paper.
An additional feature of the paper may include a figure or diagram to enhance discussion of complex anatomy, circuitry, or mechanisms of specific biological processes.
The citation system outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed., 2010) is the most easily used and economical system currently in use in psychological circles. This manual may be borrowed from the Athabasca University Library, or from another library at which you have borrowing privileges. Alternatively, you should consult with our APA Tutorial.
Note that it is quite uncommon to use quotations in scientific writing. When citing research, you should use your own words to describe the particular study. Quotations should be used only when you wish to point out some specific aspect of the actual writing of the authors. Do not use quotations to introduce general information from the source you are using.
A reference list contains all the sources referred to in your paper, and is arranged in alphabetical order. Every source mentioned in your paper should appear in the reference list, and every item in the list should have a corresponding citation in the text of your paper. A list containing articles and/or books that you read but did not actually cite in the text of your paper is called a bibliography, and typically is not included in a paper of this nature.
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