Psychology 1

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Research Paper and Project Guidelines


The grading system for Psychology 1-V01 is based on scores earned on a series of examinations. However, the highest grade that can be earned by way of exam scores is a "B." To earn an "A" grade for the course, students must score at the 80% level on the exams and complete a successful research paper or a project. For Fall, 2001, all papers and projects are due on December 10 by noon. Papers and projects will not be accepted after this date without prior arrangement with the instructor. Note: if you turn in a draft of your paper or project by December 3 at noon, I'll go over your work and get comments back to you by December 5. Turning in a draft is a great way to insure that your work leads to the grade you want!


1. Select a topic in Psychology that you find interesting and use the research paper as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the topic. One of the keys to completing a successful library research paper is to define the topic you want to pursue very carefully. It should not be so general as to be hard to organize, nor should the topic be so narrow that it's difficult to locate information for the paper.

If you are not sure what topic you would like to research or how to narrow down a topic you are interested in, please come by my office and let's work together to select just the right topic for you. A little pre-planning as you start work on a paper will save a lot of grief later on!

2. Your research should include material from as many sources as possible including books; professional journals; Internet sources; interviews and media sources. There is not a set number of references you should use for your paper, but a college level research paper typically uses from 10-15 sources. Note: the sources you use must go beyond the Internet. Your paper should not contain more than five internet sources without permission from the instructor.

The research paper should be a minimum of eight pages in length and should not exceed fifteen pages. The average length of papers received over the last several years is 10 pages. Research papers must be typed or word processed. Handwritten papers will not be accepted. The Learning Resources Center has computers you can use for word processing. Please be sure to number the pages of the paper.

3. Footnotes are not required, however, you should include citations. A full bibliography is required in proper form. Information and samples of the form used in psychology papers will be distributed in class.

4. If you are thinking about doing a library research paper, you must complete a "Research Paper/Project Planning Form" and schedule an appointment with me to get you started. Forms and appointment sign-ups will be available in class.

5. If you are unsure of the process for doing a library research paper or how to do the library research to prepare a paper, please come by my office and let me provide you with some "tips."

Note: I encourage you to let me review a draft (even a very early one!) of your work early on so I can give you some feedback. If you are willing to undertake the effort to do a research paper, let's work together to insure that it turns out successfully.


Depression: What is it? What Causes it? How is it Treated?

Understanding Schizophrenia

Overview of Child Development: Physical, Intellectual and Social Dev.

Psychotropic Drugs: Overused? Study of Prozac and Ritalin

Practical Ways to Improve Memory

Personal Space and Territoriality: Causes and Understandings

Freud's Theory of Personality

Understanding Hypnosis: Good Therapy or Fraud?

The World of Dreams: How to Interpret Them

Infant Development

Causes of Human Aggression and Violence

Techniques for Coping with Stress

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

Child Abuse: Causes and Prevention

Cross Cultural Study of Child Rearing Practices

Understanding the Biology of Mental Illness


As an alternative to a research paper, consider doing an experiment or project. Projects can be done individually or in groups

1. Identify a topic you would like to explore by way of an experiment or project. Then prepare a project plan that outlines what you have in mind. Don't get into a project that's too big given the time that you have available. Prepare a "Paper/Project Planning Form" and let me know how I can help.

2. Do some reading on your topic before getting too far into the project. Be sure you are familiar with the topic before starting the actual project.

3. The amount of time needed to do a project or experiment is considerable. Careful planning out front is essential!

4. All projects require a final write-up (typed or work processed) detailing the purpose of the study, how you went about it and what the results were. You should turn in any materials used in doing the project (test results, videos, logbooks, etc.,) I will provide more detailed information on the format for writing up an experiment/project.

5. Appropriate ethical procedures including informed consent and subject feedback are required in all projects or experiments.

6. If you want to do a project or experiment in a group, keep these things in mind. Keep the group size to 3 or 4. Let me know what the role is for each group member (don't let one member take a free ride!).


Set up a project to demonstrate one or more of the research methods introduced in class.

Do an animal training project wherein you use classical/operant conditioning to train an animal with new behaviors.

Do a structured observation of a young child or a group of children of differing ages.

Do a series of interviews to see how people respond to specific situations.

Do an experiment to show how learning theory can be used to change specific behaviors.

Prepare a video that demonstrates one or more aspects of behavior

Do an experiment that shows how people with different personality types approach problem solving situations

Do an experiment to demonstrate how ESP works.

Do a correlation study of two or more variables you think are related.

Carry out an interview series with a set of mental health professionals.

Do a project demonstrating how birth order effects influence personality

Do a naturalistic observation project using primate subjects at the Oakland zoo.






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