Writing Guide for Psychologists
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Updated August 17, 2022
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More so than other social science and science-related disciplines, psychology requires practitioners to engage in various types of writing throughout their academic and professional careers. Beginning with their college applications, prospective students must supply a writing sample to demonstrate their ability to convey ideas clearly and effectively. Throughout their time in school, learners hone writing skills by learning about various styles associated with essays, research papers, and exams. They also learn how to properly cite sources to avoid plagiarism.
Graduates use writing in a variety of important ways. Whether reviewing literature, contributing an article to an academic journal, writing a report about their own research, or keeping detailed client notes, psychologists continually use writing to advance both their careers and the profession as a whole. Psychology's precise nature requires practitioners to expertly convey nuance. The following guide highlights some of the types of writing aspiring psychologists engage in while at school, provides helpful information about common writing styles, and offers a number of resources for those looking to learn more.
Types of Writing Psychologists Will Do in School
As the introduction between a college and you, personal statements serve an important function. Personal statements provide the space for applicants to differentiate themselves by sharing unique interests, accomplishments, and life experiences in a well-crafted essay. When reading personal statements, admissions panels look at what makes a student tick and, most importantly, why they fit within the program. Rather than submitting carbon-copy statements to every school, students should take time to personalize each statement.
Some of the common application essay prompts students may encounter include:
- Describe the background, interests, and talents that make you who you are.
- Can you name a time when you found yourself questioning or challenging an idea or belief that previously informed your worldview? What did that process look like?
When sitting down to write an essay, students must consider how to portray themselves.
According to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab , students should consider a number of approaches, including what's unique about their story, how their life story has been shaped, how they became interested in the field, and how they hope to use the degree. Above all, students should avoid writing a generic essay that could easily belong to another applicant. They should highlight their personality, as admissions specialists want a true sense of you. While not every school requires a personal statement, learners should take advantage of schools that provide the option of submitting one as it allows them to further establish what they bring to the table.
Once students reach college, professors expect them to embrace numerous psychology writing styles. Exams also require students to perfect their writing, as exams take the form of essays rather than multiple choice or short answer questions. Because students typically enter the exam without having first seen an essay prompt, they must develop a plan of action for whatever faces them on testing day. Aside from keeping up with all required reading, learners should spend time thinking about how to apply the knowledge gained to real-world questions.
When testing day arrives, remember to embrace all of the writing rules. After developing a solid thesis, create an outline of the three main points that you plan to convey and jot down notes to support the main argument. Take a moment to review the prompt once more, ensuring your argument and outline thoroughly answer each question. Remember to write each sentence in a way that supports the overarching thesis. While students should avoid rushing through the essay, they must also remember to leave ample time for proofreading, as careless mistakes cause point deductions.
Research papers provide another avenue for students to demonstrate their psychology writing style and skill. Unlike essays, which tend to rely heavily on the student's point of view, research papers call on learners to highlight the views of others and draw conclusions about existing primary and secondary sources.
When selecting a research topic, psychology provides students with a wide range of options. In addition to focusing on particular branches of the discipline, students also explore disorders, therapies, historical psychology figures, case studies, and literature reviews. After selecting a topic, learners must form an outline incorporating the various sections expected within a research paper. Professors set specific guidelines, but a standard assignment consists of an introduction, literature review, outline of methods, results of any findings, a discussion of the topic at hand, conclusion, and list of references.
When starting, learners should ensure that they fully understand the writing prompt and follow any guidelines. They should also select a sound thesis with qualitative evidence to back it up. Students then create a comprehensive outline of points and sub-points to guide the argument. When sitting down to write, use the active voice, follow style conventions, proofread, and make sure to write an accurate bibliography.
How Do You Write an Essay?
During the course of their college career, students come across various types of writing in psychology. Essays take multiple forms, making it imperative that students familiarize themselves with each.
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Narrative essays may initially seem like the easiest of all writing forms, but those who earn the highest scores recognize the importance of ensuring that the reader learns something new or thinks that the story provides an insightful angle. When writing a narrative essay, make full use of all five senses to draw the reader in and help them experience the setting.
Expository essays help students learn how to properly conduct research and express their findings in an academic arena. Rather than relying on existing knowledge, students should use these essays to fully delve into research and demonstrate how their findings helped them uncover a new perspective or way of looking at something. Although expository essays ultimately call on students to express their opinions, research should inform the opinions they form.
Persuasive essays require students to use evidence and reasoning skills to persuade the reader that their point of view represents a logical conclusion. When sitting down to write this type of essay, students need to ensure that their sources strongly support the argument they want to make.
These types of essays call on the student to examine two topics and draw conclusions about their similarities and differences. Students should use qualitative research for each topic and craft a new, logical, and interesting argument.
Cause and Effect
As the name implies, cause and effect essays require students to examine a situation or event that caused something else to occur (i.e., the effect). One example might include an individual experiencing trauma (such as fighting in a war) and then developing post-traumatic stress disorder. When crafting this type of essay, students must establish a strong relation between the cause and the effect.
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Citations Guide for Psychology Students
Learning how to properly attribute research articles and sources counts as one of the most important parts of becoming a psychologist . When students fail to acknowledge the ideas of others, they plagiarize by passing off someone else's work off as their own. Many students commit accidental plagiarism by failing to understand the rules of citations. If caught, students may face suspension or even expulsion, especially if it happens multiple times.
American Psychological Association (APA) Style
Established in 1929 by the American Psychological Association, APA Style serves as the primary style guideline for individuals working within the behavioral and social sciences. Whether writing an academic paper or compiling an article or literature review, APA Style provides all of the information needed to correctly cite sources and avoid plagiarism. Unlike citation forms that emphasize authorship, APA style emphasizes the date of publication to help readers ascertain how recent the research and ideas appear in the available literature.
Example: (Author last name, author first initial. (year of publication). Title of publication. Location of publication: publisher) Frankl, V.E. (2006). Man's search for meaning . Boston: Beacon Press.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
A variety of disciplines use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) to bring uniformity and clarity to readers. Regardless of whether the text focuses on literature, history, the sciences, or medicine, CMS serves as a uniting form of citation that allows users to introduce both notes within the text and a full bibliography at the end of the work. Footnotes and endnotes count as common methods used by CMS. While they both add clarification to the main text, footnotes appear on the page at the bottom, and endnotes appear near the end of the work. User should use the 17th edition of the CMS, it's latest update.
Example: (Author last name, author first name. Title. City of publication: Publisher, Year of publication) Frankl, Viktor Emil. Man's Search for Meaning . Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.
Modern Language Association (MLA) Format
Created by the Modern Language Association (MLA), humanities students and scholars most commonly use this style of citation because it emphasizes authorship. When using MLA, writers cite the name of the author within the text and organize the bibliography (known as the Works Cited page) at the end of the paper. Disciplines commonly using this form of citation include English, history, anthropology, philosophy, and literature. Many high school teachers use MLA, meaning lots of students possess some familiarity with this style upon reaching college.
(Author last name, author first name. Title. Publisher, Release year) Frankl, Viktor Emil. Man's Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006.
Associated Press (AP) Style
Associated Press Style (AP) caters to disciplines related to news writing and journalism. AP style focuses on numbers, dates, and abbreviations rather than end-of-chapter citations to ensure that writers maintain uniformity across publications. The Associated Press updates their style guides regularly, making it imperative for students and professionals alike to ensure that they follow the most recently established best practices.
The Best Writing Style for Psychology Majors
Students and scholars of psychology most commonly use the American Psychological Association writing style. Designed with psychology and other science-related disciplines in mind, APA style provides the clearest method for citing the types of materials typically encountered. Most psychology college professors require students to use APA style to prepare them for professional writing for psychology practice; however, some introductory classes may allow students to use MLA.
Common Writing Mistakes Students Make
Active vs. passive voice.
Writing in the active voice allows students to convey findings clearly and succinctly by calling on the subject of the sentence to perform the action. Passive sentence construction, conversely, allows the subject to receive the action. While not technically incorrect, passive sentences tend to weaken the persuasive nature of a sentence -- as they require more words (and prepositional phrases, in particular) -- and sometimes muddle a sentence's meaning. Understanding how to use active voice presents little difficulty, but executing active-voice sentences often requires sustained focus and practice. Examples of active and passive sentences include:
Passive: The man was scratched by a feral cat. Active: A feral cat scratched the man.
Passive: My shoe was left in the car by accident. Active: I left my shoe in the car by accident.
Passive: The picture has fallen off the wall. Active: The picture fell off the wall.
Students make a variety of punctuation and grammar errors. Some of the most common punctuation errors include the overuse or underuse of apostrophes and commas, adding unnecessary quotation marks, and failing to understand colon and semicolon rules. Examples of these mistakes include:
Apostrophes Incorrect: The professor took five point's off of your test. Correct: The professor took five points off of your test.
Incorrect: Its time to apply for graduation. Correct: It's time to apply for graduation
Quotation Marks Incorrect: The teaching assistant told me I wrote the "best paper he's ever read." Correct: The teaching assistant told me I wrote the best paper he's ever read.
Commas Incorrect: Within the field of psychology students are expected to use proper punctuation. Correct: Within the field of psychology, students are expected to use proper punctuation.
Incorrect: Today, we have a test. Correct: We have a test today.
Semicolons versus Colons Incorrect: I am interested in three types of psychology; developmental, school, and educational Correct: I am interested in three types of psychology: developmental, school, and educational.
Incorrect: I'm looking forward to summer break: I need time to rest. Correct: I'm look forward to summer break; I need time to rest.
Grammar mistakes take many forms, but students who closely observe the rules of writing quickly learn how to avoid them. Whether struggling with subject-verb agreement, unclear pronoun usage, or incorrectly using words, students can make easy repairs to these sentences. Examples of how to correct these common mistakes include:
Subject-verb agreement Incorrect: My colleague and I was happy with our grades. Correct: My colleague and I were happy with our grades.
Unclear pronoun usage Incorrect: Our professor told my colleague that he didn't like his writing style initially. Correct: Our professor encouraged my colleague by complimenting his improved writing style.
Incorrect word usage Incorrect: When they're group excepted our invitation, their were no spaces left for others. Correct: When their group accepted our invitation, there were no spaces left for others.
Writing Resources for Psychology Students
- Purdue Online Writing Lab : Every students seeking writing advice should bookmark Purdue University's OWL. The site provides endless resources to help them excel as writers both in college and beyond.
- APA Style : Psychology most commonly uses APA style for citations, and students should know the most updated rules. APA also provides several online and printed resources.
- Writing in Psychology Resources : The University of Connecticut offers an extensive list of resources for psychology students, including guides on how to read research articles, summarize reports, report statistics, and take examinations.
- Psychology Writing Resources : The University of Toronto offers help on APA style guidelines, scientific article writing, and best practices within the field.
- Tips and Advice for Writing Psychology Papers : Very Well Mind takes psychology students through the steps of learning to write great psychology papers and offers helpful tips and resources along the way.
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How to Write a Psychology Research Paper
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
James Lacy, MLS, is a fact-checker and researcher.
Are you working on a psychology research paper this semester? Whether or not this is your first research paper, the entire process can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But, knowing where to start the research process can make things easier and less stressful.
While it can feel very intimidating, a research paper can initially be very intimidating, but it is not quite as scary if you break it down into more manageable steps. The following tips will help you break down the process into steps so it is easier to research and write your paper.
Decide What Kind of Paper You Are Going to Write
Before you begin, you should find out the type of paper your instructor expects you to write. There are a few common types of psychology papers that you might encounter.
Original Research or Lab Report
A report or empirical paper details research you conducted on your own. This is the type of paper you would write if your instructor had you perform your own psychology experiment. This type of paper follows a format similar to an APA format lab report. It includes a title page, abstract , introduction, method section, results section, discussion section, and references.
The second type of paper is a literature review that summarizes research conducted by other people on a particular topic. If you are writing a psychology research paper in this form, your instructor might specify the length it needs to be or the number of studies you need to cite. Student are often required to cite between 5 and 20 studies in their literature reviews and they are usually between 8 and 20 pages in length.
The format and sections of a literature review usually include an introduction, body, and discussion/implications/conclusions.
Literature reviews often begin by introducing the research question before narrowing the focus to the specific studies cited in the paper. Each cited study should be described in considerable detail. You should evaluate and compare the studies you cite and then offer your discussion of the implications of the findings.
Select an Idea for Your Research Paper
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Once you have figured out the type of research paper you are going to write, it is time to choose a good topic . In many cases, your instructor may assign you a subject, or at least specify an overall theme on which to focus.
As you are selecting your topic, try to avoid general or overly broad subjects. For example, instead of writing a research paper on the general subject of attachment , you might instead focus your research on how insecure attachment styles in early childhood impact romantic attachments later in life.
Narrowing your topic will make writing your paper easier because it allows you to focus your research, develop your thesis, and fully explore pertinent findings.
Develop an Effective Research Strategy
As you find references for your psychology paper, take careful notes on the information you use and start developing a bibliography. If you stay organized and cite your sources throughout the writing process, you will not be left searching for an important bit of information you cannot seem to track back to the source.
So, as you do your research, make careful notes about each reference including the article title, authors, journal source, and what the article was about.
Write an Outline
You might be tempted to immediately dive into writing, but developing a strong framework can save a lot of time, hassle, and frustration. It can also help you spot potential problems with flow and structure.
If you outline the paper right off the bat, you will have a better idea of how one idea flows into the next and how your research supports your overall hypothesis .
You should start the outline with the three most fundamental sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Then, start creating subsections based on your literature review. The more detailed your outline, the easier it will be to write your paper.
Draft, Revise, and Edit
Once you are confident in your outline, it is time to begin writing. Remember to follow APA format as you write your paper and include in-text citations for any materials you reference. Make sure to cite any information in the body of your paper in your reference section at the end of your document.
Writing a psychology research paper can be intimidating at first, but breaking the process into a series of smaller steps makes it more manageable. Be sure to start early by deciding on a substantial topic, doing your research, and creating a good outline . Doing these supporting steps ahead of time make it much easier to actually write the paper when the time comes.
- Beins, BC & Beins, A. Effective Writing in Psychology: Papers, Posters, and Presentation. New York: Blackwell Publishing; 2011.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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- Educational and developmental psychology
How to Write a Psychology Paper: An Expert Guide
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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A Guide On Writing a Psychology Essay
The best way to deal with the "how to write an essay for psychology" question is to actually define a narrow area you would want to delve into and research. It is quite a fascinating paper for those students who major in psychology. Of course, you must carry out research before moving to the paper drafting phase. It is called an "essay," however, there can be some slight differences compared to other types of essays.
The most exciting part is that students who attend courses like abnormal psychology may be asked to write a paper on a scenario they once encountered or one that they can think of and recreate in detail. Often, it's better to try getting a thorough understanding of the essay requirements before diving into writing to avoid going off-point.
Psychology Essay Writing Guidelines
Before you sit to write a psychology essay, make sure you read the requirements and a question set thoroughly and understood what is required of you. If you can answer what's asked and required of you, you can start writing a draft. The easy way to gain the understanding is to identify and mark the keywords (such as evaluate, discuss, etc.) as they will guide and continuously remind you as you are writing.
As a student already studying psychology, you probably have knowledge on the subject, but it is essential to expand it through some journal articles, textbooks, news, the Internet, etc.
An essay on psychology presupposes carrying out substantial research on the topic. You should not just gather the relevant information: your task is to read it, assess it and critically evaluate the material to be able to use it in your essay. If psychology isn't your major, it's okay to consider it difficult enough to write an essay on this discipline. You didn't spend much time studying it, so it's essential for you to lack the understanding of the human mind, consciousness, and the way they work.
Essay On Psychology: Structure Guidelines
Whatever essay type you need to write, a standard or core structure should be used in your writing. It consists of the intro, body, and the final part - a conclusion. Following this structure is an excellent way to write a psychology essay: your reader will have a better understanding of your paper's main ideas and thoughts. In addition, it is an order the audience should follow when going through your writing. A five-paragraph structure is the most popular one, however, in this type of paper, you may have even more sections because everything depends on the number of arguments and points you are ready to provide.
Formatting Your Psychology Essay In APA
There are different styles that a student can choose to format the psychology paper. The format used for this type is called APA and is the one that most students should use.
- Theme 1~ point 1-3
- Theme 2~ point 4-5
- Theme 3~ point 6
If the essay is five pages or more, the APA format requires it to be divided into the following segments:
- The Abstract
The citation should, by all means, follow the set of rules as information that is wrongly referenced may lead to plagiarism and also result in marks lost. The student is to be careful in their writing, and also below are some things to note in APA text citation:
- The title of the source is to be in the capital.
- Use initials for the title in case the author's name is not provided.
- The initials and the name of the author should be capitalized.
If you are not paraphrasing, it is imperative to write the page number in quotes.
If you are not sure about getting this format correctly, do not go for the APA citation generators, as it will be substandard. Instead, it will be advisable to use the BestCustomWriting.com professional writers to check if your work is written accordingly to the required format.
Psychology Essay: Tips On Writing an Introduction
The introduction is the first paragraph of your paper, and its significance is huge. This section lets your readers understand what the paper is about. The task of the writer here is to summarize the background information and help the audience understand the value of the paper.
Remember that the end of your introduction should have a thesis statement - it's often considered the main sentence of the whole paper. It may be two to three sentences that are important to the audience, which will tell the main ideas of your paper.
It could be more meaningful to write the introduction after you finish the body because then you will have your main points clearly written. However, the choice is up to the writer.
Psychology Essay: Tackling Body Paragraphs
Every paragraph should be on a different concept or idea. You begin each by introducing an idea and then explain or develop it with some facts and examples. Remember that if you are actually telling the readers the information they haven't heard before, it shouldn't be your mere opinion but vivid evidence from your research.
The Secret of Crafting a Conclusion For Your Psychology Paper
The ideas and thoughts you mention in the main sections must be summarized in this final part. Note that the thesis statement should be paraphrased and restated to avoid repetition. The conclusion is more or less the same length as the introduction.
Good Psychology Essay Topics
Selecting the winning topic is extremely important because it allows you to maintain proper focus and comply with your professor's instructions. Let's take a look at some interesting ideas for psychology essay topics:
- Can a person suffering from depression take Prozac and avoid side effects?
- How does insomnia negatively affect the mental state of a human being?
- Why do children really need to play?
- Can a person's mental health issues be solved or improved by exercise?
- Is there any correlation between old age and decline in mental health?
- How can stress, which is not dealt with, affect a person's health?
- Explain the Bipolar disorder.
- How is work performance affected by depression?
- How do certain habits begin, and how can they be changed or stopped?
- Effect of violent films on children.
- The impact of abortion on females' mental health.
- What is the best way of assisting children after their parents' divorce?
- Are students having breakfast livelier than those who do not?
- How a minor got molested can have a lasting effect on their subsequent lives.
- Why do good girls fall for bad guys?
- Are stay-at-home mothers able to raise happier and more successful children?
- The psychological issues homeless people have to deal with.
- Effects of postpartum depression on the mother and child.
- The psychology behind long-lasting marriages.
- Obsession with fast foods.
Sometimes, researching a good topic can be even more frustrating than writing a psychology paper itself, especially if you're dealing with a multifaceted discipline like psychology. Students need to decide which psychology branch they would like to focus on, and it's very easy for them to lose their bearings in such a diverse environment. They should invest a lot of time and effort into researching so they don't have any difficulty organizing and structuring information in their research topic. Please, keep in mind that writing a research paper also requires students to do a lot of reading and carry out extensive fieldwork.
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Essay and dissertation writing skills
Planning your essay
Writing your introduction
Structuring your essay
- Writing essays in science subjects
- Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
- Writing extended essays and dissertations
- Planning your dissertation writing time
Structuring your dissertation
- Top tips for writing longer pieces of work
Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations
University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions.
You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:
Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.
However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:
Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’
Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:
The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.
- Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
- References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline.
Essay writing in science subjects
If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:
A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.
Short videos to support your essay writing skills
There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:
- Approaching different types of essay questions
- Structuring your essay
- Writing an introduction
- Making use of evidence in your essay writing
- Writing your conclusion
Extended essays and dissertations
Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.
Planning your time effectively
Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.
Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.
The structure of extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:
- The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
- Explanation of the focus of your work.
- Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
- List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.
The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.
The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources.
Tips on writing longer pieces of work
Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.
For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work .
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220 Psychology Essay Topics
Writing a psychology essay has many challenges that can deter students from starting or completing the writing assignment. From finding a topic with credible sources to citing formats and in-depth analysis, psychology essays often become complicated. However, it is possible to research and write a psychology essay in an organized and coherent format that follows the correct rules for avoiding plagiarism.
If you are a psychology student or writing an essay for a psychology course, check out the following guide detailing the basics of psychology essay writing along with 220 psychology essay writing prompts to help you get started.
What Is a Psychology Essay?
Psychology is defined as “the science of mind and human behavior.” It focuses on how humans think, act, react and feel. This includes the study of emotions, intelligence, thoughts, memories, learning, and motivation.
A psychology essay is usually written in response to a specific assignment question or topic. The goal of the essay is to demonstrate your understanding of the psychological concept or topic that has been assigned and your ability to analyze and interpret data.
How Do I Write an Effective Psychology Essay?
To write an effective psychology essay, you must first research the topic. This can involve reading journal articles, textbooks, and other scholarly sources. Then, once you have a clear understanding of the topic, you can formulate your thesis statement and develop an argument.
Students should outline their psychology essay before writing any drafts. The outline will help organize thoughts, examples, and evidence logically. A psychology outline should include:
No matter the type of essay you write for a psychology course, it’s essential to start with a compelling introduction paragraph to entice the reader and inform them of what will be discussed in the essay.
After relevant information has been covered, a psychology essay introduction must include a detailed thesis statement that details the point of the essay.
It is important to note that the thesis should not be a vague or broad claim that cannot be supported by the rest of the essay. In fact, an excellent thesis statement will detail the nature of the problem, its causes, and how it can be solved.
Topic Sentence & Body Paragraphs
Your essay should include at least three body paragraphs that address specific arguments relating to the thesis statement. Each paragraph must include a topic sentence and supporting evidence from credible sources. The topic sentence of each paragraph should link to the thesis statement while providing context for the evidence that follows.
Each body paragraph should only include one point per section. Don’t try to stuff all of your arguments into one paragraph. Additionally, each body paragraph should end with a transition sentence that flows into the thought of the next paragraphs topic sentence.
The conclusion paragraph should briefly restate the thesis statement and include a brief summary of the three body paragraphs. The conclusion should also have an opinion or evaluation on the topic being addressed. While including your own opinion is not required, it will make you stand out as a writer. Psychology essays written on unusual issues may require a creative approach to the conclusion.
In addition, students should include an introductory page with a running head and title page followed by a works cited/reference page at the end of the essay. Finally, all pages should be numbered consecutively, beginning with the introduction page.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Psychology Essay
Because of the detailed and informational nature of a psychology essay, it is essential to follow these important do’s and don’ts to ensure that your writing is compelling, accurate, and informative:
- Start with a compelling introduction.
- Use evidence from credible sources to develop an argument.
- Write in the third person and include quotes.
- Omit, add or paraphrase information without providing citations for any ideas that aren’t your original thoughts.
- Use an informal writing style that includes idioms or slang.
- Use passive voice constructions (e.g., it should be ‘is’ not ‘was’).
- Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that doesn’t connect to the thesis statement.
- Follow a pattern of organization that is not logical or clear.
Psychology essays are an important part of most undergraduate psychology courses. By following the do’s and don’ts listed above, students can produce high-quality essays that effectively communicate their arguments and position on the topic being addressed.
If you have been assigned a psychology essay but aren’t sure what to write about, consider using any of these 220 psychology essay writing prompts. Each one is designed to help you explore an interesting topic in psychology and generate a well-written paper.
Psychology Essay Topics About Human Cognition
- What is cognitive dissonance, and how does it affect human behavior?
- Is the self a social construct or something innate to human nature?
- How does experience influence perceptual development in infants and children?
- How do culture, emotion, and cognition influence one another?
- How do culture and environment influence thought processes in children?
- What are the most common cognitive biases observed in human behavior?
- What is the theory of mind, and how does it influence social interaction?
- How does aggressive behavior develop in children and adolescents?
- Does visual or spatial intelligence differ between genders?
- How does the brain process information and store memories?
- What is the effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive function?
- What are the most common learning disabilities, and how do they impact cognitive development?
- What are the best ways to enhance cognitive function?
- What causes the decrease in cognitive function as we get older?
- Does a reduction in cognitive function affect emotional stability?
- When should a person seek professional help for a cognitive disorder?
- What is the role of dopamine in cognitive function?
- How do genetics and environment interact to influence cognitive ability?
- Are the effects of diseases that limit cognitive function better reduced with traditional or alternative therapies?
Psychology Essays About Famous Experiments
- How do Milgram’s obedience experiments challenge our understanding of human nature?
- What can the Stanford Prison Experiment tell us about the power of authority?
- What is the Hawthorne effect, and how does it impact research results?
- How did the Watson and Rayner Little Albert experiment help to shape psychology as a scientific discipline?
- What are the ethical implications of Milgram’s obedience experiments?
- What are the ethical implications of the Stanford Prison Experiment?
- What are some of the criticisms that have been leveled against the Watson and Rayner Little Albert experiment?
- Are there any benefits to conducting research on children?
- What are the most common ethical issues associated with psychological research?
- Which groundbreaking psychology experiments from the past would be considered unethical in modern times?
- Discuss the revelations of the Stanford Prison Experiment and how they might have been prevented.
- What are the ethical considerations of conducting psychological experiments?
- Should the benefits of understanding human behavior outweigh the ethical implications of a particular experiment?
- Which famous psychology experiment has been shown to be false in modern times?
- Which famous psychology experiment is no longer valid thanks to increased technology use?
Psychology Essay Topics About Psychology Careers
- What are the most common career paths for psychology graduates?
- How do you decide which psychology career is right for you?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of a psychologist?
- What are some of the challenges faced by psychologists in their careers?
- What are the benefits of being a psychologist?
- How do you become a licensed psychologist?
- What are some of the areas of specialization for psychologists?
- Should the average salary for a psychologist in the United States increase or decrease?
- What are the job prospects for psychologists in the future?
- What are the educational requirements for becoming a psychologist?
Psychology Essay Topics About Child Development
- What is the impact of television on child development?
- What are the best ways to discipline a child?
- How do children learn to trust or mistrust others?
- What causes bedwetting in children?
- How does a child’s temperament develop?
- How does language development occur in children?
- What is the best way to solve problems parents have with their children?
- How do children develop empathy for others?
- What is the “terrible twos,” and why does it happen?
- Does reading books to children impact their development?
- What are some developmental milestones healthy children should reach by certain ages?
- What is the impact of divorce on child development?
- How does a child’s social environment affect their development?
- What are some common issues that children experience during puberty?
- What are the benefits of nature exposure for children?
- How do siblings influence each other’s development?
- Discuss different parenting styles and their effects on child development.
- How do different parenting styles impact a child’s social skills development?
- What are some ways to discipline a child without being too harsh or permissive?
- Which psychological disorder is most likely to be passed down from a parent to a child?
- Is sexual abuse as a child easier to overcome than sexual abuse as an adult?
- Does abuse become a cycle if it is not addressed immediately?
- How does child development research help to prevent child abuse?
- What are the long-term effects of child abuse?
- What are some warning signs that a child may be being abused?
- How can parents get help for their child if they think they may be abusing them?
- What is the best way to help a child who has been abused?
- What are some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior in children?
Psychology Essay Topics About Disorders
- What is the difference between a psychological disorder and a mental illness?
- What are the symptoms of a psychological disorder?
- What are the most common causes of psychological disorders?
- How do psychologists diagnose psychological disorders?
- What are the most effective treatments for psychological disorders?
- Are there any benefits to taking medication for a psychological disorder?
- How do psychologists treat patients with psychological disorders?
- What are some of the most common psychological disorders that require hospitalization?
- Which famous psychologist is well-known for his work on psychological disorders?
- What is the difference between a personality disorder and a mental illness?
- What are the most common treatments for personality disorders?
- How can someone know if they have a personality disorder?
- Is there a cure for psychological disorders?
- Can psychological disorders be prevented from developing in the first place?
- Are psychological disorders genetic?
- What is the difference between a phobia and an anxiety disorder?
- What are the most common treatments for phobias?
- Can people overcome their phobias?
- What is the difference between OCD and anxiety disorders?
- What causes dissociative identity disorder?
- What are the signs and symptoms of dissociative identity disorder?
- How do psychologists recognize if someone has a borderline personality disorder?
- What is the difference between psychotic and neurotic disorders?
- What causes schizophrenia?
- What kind of treatments does a psychologist recommend for schizophrenia patients?
Psychology Essay Topics About Branches of Psychology
- What are some of the different theories within psychology?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
- Which branch of psychology studies personality?
- Is it possible to determine someone’s personality type just by looking at them?
- How do psychologists conduct tests to measure personality traits?
- Which branch of psychology studies how people are affected by their social surroundings?
- What is the difference between positive psychology and clinical psychology?
- Which branch of psychology studies intelligence?
- How do psychologists test for different types of intelligence?
- Are there any tests that measure creativity?
- Which branch of psychology is most effective at treating mental disorders?
- How do psychologists use different therapies to treat mental disorders?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a social worker?
- What are the different specialties within psychology?
- Is there such a thing as abnormal psychology?
- How do psychologists study the human brain?
- What is the difference between a research psychologist and a clinical psychologist?
- What are the most common research methods used by psychologists?
- How do psychological studies receive ethics approval before they begin?
- What is the difference between an experimental design and a correlational design?
- What is the difference between descriptive statistics and inferential statistics?
Psychology Essay Topics About History of Psychology
- What are some of the significant events in the history of psychology?
- Who are the most influential psychologists in history?
- What are the most important experiments that have taken place in psychology?
- How has psychology evolved from pseudoscience to a science?
- What have been some most tragic events in the history of psychology?
- How did the Scientific Revolution contribute to the development of modern psychology?
- Why is Wilhelm Wundt considered one of the most influential psychologists ever to have lived?
- What is Skinner’s theory of learning and behavior called, and why was it controversial?
- What are some examples of cognitive biases?
- What is the difference between a cognitive bias and an optical illusion?
- When did psychology begin to flourish as a scientific discipline, and why do many historians credit the U.S. government with its success?
- What are some of the most important contributions women have made to psychology over the years?
- Who was the first person to study the behavior of animals in a laboratory setting?
- What is the difference between Gestalt psychology and structuralism?
- What are some of the key figures in the history of psychoanalysis?
- How did Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious mind influence psychology?
- What is the difference between psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory?
- How did Anna Freud change the way that psychologists think about child development?
- What are some areas of psychology that psychoanalysis has influenced?
- Who is Carl Jung, and what was his main contribution to psychology?
- What is the “father of modern-day psychology” credited with doing?
Psychology Essay Topics About Drug Addiction
- What is drug addiction, and what are the different stages that a person goes through in order to become addicted to drugs?
- What are the physical and psychological effects of drug addiction?
- How does drug addiction affect the brain?
- What are some of the most common treatment methods for drug addiction?
- What is relapse prevention, and how does it differ from drug replacement therapies?
- What is the difference between a physical and psychological addiction?
- Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don’t?
- What are some factors that can contribute to becoming addicted to drugs?
- What is the difference between drug abuse and drug addiction?
- How does withdrawal from drugs affect the body and mind?
- What are the long-term effects of drug addiction?
- How do family dynamics play into a person’s vulnerability to drug addiction?
- What is the difference between treating addiction and managing a chronic illness?
- How effective are drug addiction treatments?
- Can drug addiction be cured, or is it a lifelong struggle?
- What is the difference between 12-step programs and treatment centers?
Psychology Essay Topics About PTSD
- What are the symptoms of PTSD?
- How is post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed in adults and children?
- Why do only some people get PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event?
- How common is PTSD among soldiers who have returned home from war?
- What are some of the possible causes of PTSD?
- Why do many people with PTSD avoid talking about or thinking about their traumatic experiences?
- How does treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder differ in children and adults?
- How effective are different forms of treatment for patients with PTSD, including group therapy and medication?
- What are some of the long-term effects of PTSD?
- Can PTSD be cured?
- What is the difference between PTSD and everyday stress?
- What are some common myths about post-traumatic stress disorder?
- How can friends and family help someone who is struggling with PTSD?
- What are some examples of PTSD in classical literature, such as The Iliad or The Odyssey?
Psychology Essay Topics About Social Issues?
- How does the current political climate impact how people think and behave?
- What effects to violence in video games have on behavior?
- What are some of the findings from research on the biological factors that make a person more likely to become violent?
- How has technology impacted current crime and criminal justice trends, including cyberbullying and sexting?
- In what ways have social media changed interpersonal relationships?
- What is the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?
- How does the Social Learning Theory explain criminal behavior?
- What is the difference between an individual and a collective conscience?
- What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination?
- Why do people conform to social norms even if they disagree with them?
- Are there any benefits to living in a society structured around social norms?
- How does the bystander effect explain why people don’t always help someone in need?
- What are some of the different types of aggression?
- How does Sigmund Freud’s theory of the Id, Ego, and Superego explain how people make decisions?
- What is the difference between primary and secondary deviance?
- How does the Labeling Theory explain why people engage in criminal behavior?
- How does the dramaturgical perspective help us to understand social interactions?
Psychology Essay Topics About Sexuality
- What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?
- How does one determine their own sexual orientation or identity?
- Why do some people engage in homosexual behavior even though they don’t identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
- What are some of the different types of sexual orientation?
- What is the difference between asexuality and celibacy?
- What are some common myths about sexuality?
- How does the development of sexual orientation differ in boys and girls?
- What is the difference between love and lust?
- Why do people engage in sexual activity even if they don’t want to?
- What is the difference between sexual arousal and desire?
- What are some of the different factors contributing to sexual violence against women, including date rape and domestic abuse?
- Why do people engage in sex even if it poses a risk for them, such as contracting a sexually transmitted infection?
- Can people change their sexual orientation or identity?
- What are some of the benefits of being open about one’s sexuality?
- How does the Kinsey Scale work?
- What is transgenderism?
- How does the Sexual Response Cycle describe the physiological stages of sexual arousal?
- What are some of the reasons for engaging in sexual activity?
- What neurotransmitters are responsible for sexual urges and arousal?
- What is the difference between sexual paraphilias and fetish?
- What is the psychology behind pedophilia?
- What is the difference between a monogamous and polygamous relationship?
- How does the development of sexual identity differ in boys and girls?
Psychology Essay Topics About Memory
- What is the difference between short-term and long-term memory?
- How does information enter into short-term memory?
- How does information leave short-term memory?
- What is the difference between recall and recognition?
- What are the different types of forgetting?
- What strategies can be used to improve memory?
- What is the difference between proactive and retroactive interference?
- What parts of the brain are associated with different types of memory?
- Why do we experience false memories?
- How does sleep affect memory retention?
- How does alcohol consumption affect one’s ability to encode memories?
With these 220 psychology essay topics, students at any level of education will be able to research, outline, and craft a well-thought-out essay that will earn them a good grade.
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How to Synthesize Written Information from Multiple Sources
B.A., English Literature, University of Glasgow
Shona McCombes is the content manager at Scribbr, Netherlands.
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Saul Mcleod, PhD
BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester
Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
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When you write a literature review or essay, you have to go beyond just summarizing the articles you’ve read – you need to synthesize the literature to show how it all fits together (and how your own research fits in).
Synthesizing simply means combining. Instead of summarizing the main points of each source in turn, you put together the ideas and findings of multiple sources in order to make an overall point.
At the most basic level, this involves looking for similarities and differences between your sources. Your synthesis should show the reader where the sources overlap and where they diverge.
Franz (2008) studied undergraduate online students. He looked at 17 females and 18 males and found that none of them liked APA. According to Franz, the evidence suggested that all students are reluctant to learn citations style. Perez (2010) also studies undergraduate students. She looked at 42 females and 50 males and found that males were significantly more inclined to use citation software ( p < .05). Findings suggest that females might graduate sooner. Goldstein (2012) looked at British undergraduates. Among a sample of 50, all females, all confident in their abilities to cite and were eager to write their dissertations.
Studies of undergraduate students reveal conflicting conclusions regarding relationships between advanced scholarly study and citation efficacy. Although Franz (2008) found that no participants enjoyed learning citation style, Goldstein (2012) determined in a larger study that all participants watched felt comfortable citing sources, suggesting that variables among participant and control group populations must be examined more closely. Although Perez (2010) expanded on Franz’s original study with a larger, more diverse sample…
Step 1: Organize your sources
After collecting the relevant literature, you’ve got a lot of information to work through, and no clear idea of how it all fits together.
Before you can start writing, you need to organize your notes in a way that allows you to see the relationships between sources.
One way to begin synthesizing the literature is to put your notes into a table. Depending on your topic and the type of literature you’re dealing with, there are a couple of different ways you can organize this.
A summary table collates the key points of each source under consistent headings. This is a good approach if your sources tend to have a similar structure – for instance, if they’re all empirical papers.
Each row in the table lists one source, and each column identifies a specific part of the source. You can decide which headings to include based on what’s most relevant to the literature you’re dealing with.
For example, you might include columns for things like aims, methods, variables, population, sample size, and conclusion.
For each study, you briefly summarize each of these aspects. You can also include columns for your own evaluation and analysis.
The summary table gives you a quick overview of the key points of each source. This allows you to group sources by relevant similarities, as well as noticing important differences or contradictions in their findings.
A synthesis matrix is useful when your sources are more varied in their purpose and structure – for example, when you’re dealing with books and essays making various different arguments about a topic.
Each column in the table lists one source. Each row is labeled with a specific concept, topic or theme that recurs across all or most of the sources.
Then, for each source, you summarize the main points or arguments related to the theme.
The purposes of the table is to identify the common points that connect the sources, as well as identifying points where they diverge or disagree.
Step 2: Outline your structure
Now you should have a clear overview of the main connections and differences between the sources you’ve read. Next, you need to decide how you’ll group them together and the order in which you’ll discuss them.
For shorter papers, your outline can just identify the focus of each paragraph; for longer papers, you might want to divide it into sections with headings.
There are a few different approaches you can take to help you structure your synthesis.
If your sources cover a broad time period, and you found patterns in how researchers approached the topic over time, you can organize your discussion chronologically .
That doesn’t mean you just summarize each paper in chronological order; instead, you should group articles into time periods and identify what they have in common, as well as signalling important turning points or developments in the literature.
If the literature covers various different topics, you can organize it thematically .
That means that each paragraph or section focuses on a specific theme and explains how that theme is approached in the literature.
Source Used with Permission: The Chicago School
If you’re drawing on literature from various different fields or they use a wide variety of research methods, you can organize your sources methodologically .
That means grouping together studies based on the type of research they did and discussing the findings that emerged from each method.
If your topic involves a debate between different schools of thought, you can organize it theoretically .
That means comparing the different theories that have been developed and grouping together papers based on the position or perspective they take on the topic, as well as evaluating which arguments are most convincing.
Step 3: Write paragraphs with topic sentences
What sets a synthesis apart from a summary is that it combines various sources. The easiest way to think about this is that each paragraph should discuss a few different sources, and you should be able to condense the overall point of the paragraph into one sentence.
This is called a topic sentence , and it usually appears at the start of the paragraph. The topic sentence signals what the whole paragraph is about; every sentence in the paragraph should be clearly related to it.
A topic sentence can be a simple summary of the paragraph’s content:
“Early research on [x] focused heavily on [y].”
For an effective synthesis, you can use topic sentences to link back to the previous paragraph, highlighting a point of debate or critique:
“Several scholars have pointed out the flaws in this approach.” “While recent research has attempted to address the problem, many of these studies have methodological flaws that limit their validity.”
By using topic sentences, you can ensure that your paragraphs are coherent and clearly show the connections between the articles you are discussing.
As you write your paragraphs, avoid quoting directly from sources: use your own words to explain the commonalities and differences that you found in the literature.
Don’t try to cover every single point from every single source – the key to synthesizing is to extract the most important and relevant information and combine it to give your reader an overall picture of the state of knowledge on your topic.
Step 4: Revise, edit and proofread
Like any other piece of academic writing, synthesizing literature doesn’t happen all in one go – it involves redrafting, revising, editing and proofreading your work.
Checklist for Synthesis
- Do I introduce the paragraph with a clear, focused topic sentence?
- Do I discuss more than one source in the paragraph?
- Do I mention only the most relevant findings, rather than describing every part of the studies?
- Do I discuss the similarities or differences between the sources, rather than summarizing each source in turn?
- Do I put the findings or arguments of the sources in my own words?
- Is the paragraph organized around a single idea?
- Is the paragraph directly relevant to my research question or topic?
- Is there a logical transition from this paragraph to the next one?
How to Synthesise: a Step-by-Step Approach
Help…I”ve Been Asked to Synthesize!
Learn how to Synthesise (combine information from sources)
How to write a Psychology Essay
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How To Write A Psychology Essay
Table of Contents
Content of this article
- Outline sample
- Tips on writing
- List of topics
How to Write a Psychology Essay
A psychology essay is an article that tackles a certain aspect of psychology.
Before writing a psychology essay, it is important first to understand the question at hand.
It serves the following purposes:
- To explain a particular concept: a psychology essay tries to explain a certain aspect for example, what causes fears and phobias;
- To encourage creativity: a psychology essay improves the creativity of students as they are required to think out of their comfort zone and write an article that stands out;
- To give a diagnosis: the student can write a psychology essay to explain why they think that a particular diagnosis is necessary. It explains the reasons behind the diagnosis arrived at.
Outline for a psychology essay
Before writing an essay on psychology, it is important first to understand what the topic is all about. Reread general notes on the area before narrowing it down to your area of interest. Doing this makes it easier to settle on a subject. Besides, follow the tips for a psychology essay writing to make your work easier.
Below is a sample of an essay on psychology
Personality and Character
In interpersonal relationships, various factors contribute to the sustenance of a relationship. Different people have different personalities and how they relate to each other is different. Understanding personalities lead to better interpersonal relationships.
Different circumstances shape personality traits and characters and therefore influence how they interact with others.
- Girls who grow up in violent homes have self-esteem issues. Seeing their mom being abused gives them a false understanding that being a woman is worthless.
- A person who grew up without siblings becomes more inclined to be self-centered as they are not accustomed to sharing.
- An introvert is more likely to have fun when staying indoors with friends rather than going out or hanging out in crowded areas.
Various factors shape personality and character and these factors should not be overlooked. The environment that a person grows in greatly influences their future life.
The above outline for a psychology essay looks at the effects and influences of the environment on the character.
Good tips on writing
1. tips concerning introduction for a psychology essay.
- The first step to writing a good psychology essay introduction is to have a rough idea of what you are about to write. Having some previous knowledge on the topic ensures that you become more competent and research widely.
- Secondly, have a global structure- this ensures that you have a coherent sentence and flow of ideas . The psychology essay draft tells you whether your content will be enough and lets you know if you have the know-how on how to go about the topic. This method of psychology essay writing is very helpful.
- How to start a psychology essay is challenging for many writers. It is, therefore, necessary to follow the guidelines as shown by the lecturer or from copies found on the internet and various other sources. Start with a catchy phrase or a story. The purpose is to attract the reader from the very beginning. The rule of thumb in the introduction is always to be creative. Readers should look forward to reading your essay and not just skimming through it.
- Write your introduction in short flowing sentences. They give your essay a touch of excellence. When writing very long sentences, use commas to allow the reader to breathe.
- Ensure your topic is written well and not too wordy. It should not have more than ten words. The topic sentence should show the reader what your essay discusses. Having a long topic sentence confuses the reader as they cannot pick out the theme to be discussed.
2. Psychology essay tips on thesis writing
- The thesis is the main point of the piece. Choose a topic that is relevant and has a case study to back up your theory.
- The thesis question and statement should not be too broad for you to cover. Narrow down on a particular topic to ensure quality work in research. The thesis statement should be well thought out to elude knowledge and mastery of content.
- Try as much as possible to paraphrase and not copy and paste the thesis from the internet from a pre-written essay on psychology. If researching, rephrase it to avoid plagiarism. Most people are tempted to copy directly from the web.
3. Tips on writing the body (length, paragraphs, and transitions)
- The body carries the weight of the thesis. Have knowledge and understanding of your topic- do not write a subject that you will have no content on. Show that you understand all specifics of your research question and can relate them to real-life situations.
- Have critical evaluation- your assumptions should have relevant evidence both in theory and application. It requires insightful and independent thinking. When mentioning any theory, ensure that you have a case to defend how to apply the theory. The body should be well written. When writing an essay on psychology, the body, and language is crucial.
- Avoid using too much jargon in your writing. In case you do use some technical terms, explain them. Complexities in essay writing make the reader bored. Explain your themes in well laid out independent paragraphs. Each section should carry a point or two. Ensure that the points do not run over to the next paragraph.
4. Tips on how to conclude a psychology essay
Like all other essays. How you write the psychology essay conclusion is critical.
- Introduce the conclusion in a unique manner.
- Avoid using words like ‘to conclude.’
- Your conclusion for a psychology essay sums up your arguments. Give the consequences of your study concerning your research.
- Do not introduce new concepts.
- Make sure that you cover all the topics in the body so as not to defend them in the conclusion.
5. Sources for psychology essay
There are so many materials where the student can gather essay questions:
- Books on psychology are useful in getting the concepts.
- The internet provides various themes and psychology essay guides.
- Brainstorming from a general topic and narrowing it down.
- A literature review is also a valuable source for ideas and other psychology essay writing help that you may need.
- Try to interact with teachers for more information and psychology essay writing guides.
6. Finalizing the essay
The final step of writing an article is proofreading. Proofread to correct spelling, punctuation, and other grammatical errors. Ensure you check out for plagiarism. Your work should be original and creative. Use citations and proper referencing of sources. There are different referencing styles like Harvard, Chicago, or APA. The writer can also give out the written copy to friends for feedback. Be prepared to get both negative and positive criticism . Finally, ensure that you have a glossary of technical terms well defined for the reader to understand. The psychology essay outlining should be done as required.
7. Tips on topic choice
- Research widely on different disciplines before settling for a topic.
- Pick an area that you have an interest in as this is a high motivation for research.
- Refer to other items to find out the outline.
- Be flexible that is, allow yourself to have room for change. After writing the body, your arguments might end up defending a different topic
- Have a list of keywords you intend to use
- Ensure you have the available material for your topic
Below is a list of available topics for a psychology essay prepared by the team at our online essay writing service that the student can pick from for their psychology essay writing.
List of topics for psychology essay
- What are the different types of personalities?
- Discuss the relationship between dreams and reality
- Eating disorders
- Depression and stress management
- Attitude and attitude change
- Mental health
- Perception and the knowledge process
- Hypnosis and psychological unconscious
A Complete Guide On How to Write a Psychology Essay
It is seen as more interesting to write an essay on psychology than other forms of essays. The way such an essay is created is the same as other academic essays. First, one has to prepare in detail the entire operation. Second, you have to study the chosen subject, and the collected information is thoroughly analyzed.
You will continue to create an outline arising from the writing of the essay until you have collected enough material. Once your work is done for a while, you will need to update this. Here, we mention a brief explanation of how to write a psychology essay in this article.
Table of Contents
What constitutes a good psychology essay?
There are several essential features:
1 A systemic arrange-
Structure of the content in such a form that a coherent sequence of ideas can include in the essay. Its predecessor should sensitively follow each paragraph/statement. The essay ought to be in a proper ‘flow.’ All should have linked to each other such as introduction, main body, and conclusion.
Every section should include the main theme developed and illustrated through several points (backed by proof).
2 Understanding and awareness-
consider, remember, and illustrate knowledge on a variety of scientific content that adequately represents the key theoretical perspectives.
3 Significant analysis-
Appropriate proof and literature theory will support the arguments, such as evidence of autonomous reasoning, perspective, and knowledge evaluation.
4 The efficiency of Written material-
Writing simply and concisely, using paragraphs, spelling, and grammar correctly. All references correctly cited and in accordance with APA guidelines.
Do you know about psychology?
If you know it in detail, then it’s great. If no, then before understanding how to write a psychology essay, you should know about psychology.
Psychology analyzes the human mind and its working principles. It also analyzes how different types of environments affect our behavior. There are so many different areas in this science that you can always pick something exciting for your essay. There is typically no issue with the studies as different resources are available online that you can use in your research and in writing an essay.
Guide to Psychology Essays
Before you sit down to write an essay on psychology, you should make sure you read the question thoroughly, and understand what you need. Before editing the paper, you must know what’s being asked or expected of you. The simple way to understand the question requirements is to mark and identify the keywords (such as evaluating, discussing, etc.) as they will lead and remind you as you write.
You probably know the subject as a student already studying psychology, but it is necessary to develop it through articles in some journals, news, the internet, textbooks, etc.
Some serious research involves writing about psychology. To improve in studies, a student should be able to analyze the knowledge gathered about the current study content objectively. For a student taking other courses, it’s challenging to do psychology essay writing because they don’t understand the human mind and how it functions.
How to write a psychology essay
Following are the steps you should follow while writing a psychology essay
1 Prepare the strategy of essay writing
Preplanning starts with carefully read about the question of the essay.
Note that careful study of your professor’s instructions is necessary to understand what is demanded from you. You won’t be able to explore each of the facets of the given subject if you just look at them. You should also discover the amount of time needed to do the research and write it at this stage.
2 Researching and evaluating data
The library that relates to your educational institution is the most suitable spot to start your research. Most educational institutions have access to various databases. Therefore it should not be challenging for you to gather material. It would help if you also browsed the Net, as it offers several websites giving data on various topics in Psychology. You will find useful articles, manuscripts, and excerpts from journals and other types of publications related to psychology when surfing the internet. Also, some sources may present links to other sources that contain the matter related to your question.
It would be easier for you to organize quotes when making your essay if you use the papers from certain journals, excerpts, or even the phrases from other publications. Additionally, you won’t find it challenging to organize references at the end of your work with such information at hand.
3 Blueprint: should it be created?
You could skip this stage if you are an experienced writer. However, when writing a college essay, a blueprint will help you discover the direction you should move in. Also, it will be easier to structure your writing project by following an outline and covering all aspects of your topic. In other words, writing a good paper with a detailed overview at hand doesn’t seem challenging. The blueprint helps you in solving your question of how to write a psychology essay.
4 Write your essay
It has previously mentioned that a blueprint plays an essential role in the production of academic essays since it helps to retain the information flow smoothly. If you have no outline, then you still need to make your essay consistent. The papers are usually composed of the following structural components:
You must start your essay with an introduction to ensure a consistent flow of thoughts. It is your paper’s very first section, and is relatively short, comprising 3-5 sentences. It doesn’t mean this section is the easiest one. Therefore, after finishing the whole essay, we suggest writing this section to understand better what to include here. The introduction explains your essay topic and focuses on the attention of your readers. It thus serves functions both informative and rhetorical. Another essential purpose of the introduction is to present your thesis statement, which will be an essential component of the essay.
b) Body paragraph
An essay on psychology will be slightly comparable to expository essays. Your essay must have a body of 3-8 paragraphs. Each body paragraph is composed of various sentences dedicated to several ideas. Each concept must have a connection to your statement of the thesis.
The paragraph structure reads as follows
- The first sentence which introduces this paragraph ‘s principal idea;
- Proof quotes, facts, and references which support the paragraph idea;
- A concise conclusion and development to the next paragraph.
Once you start writing an essay, collect enough details to be able to choose from a lot of facts about your subject. You need to know your question well and include all the information understandably so that even an audience who has never heard about psychology can know what you’re writing.
The last thing you need to do is to put down a conclusion. You have to compile what you’ve said and remembered your point about your statement of the thesis. What’s important to note is that you need to rewrite it. Do not copy it from the introduction, word-for -word. You might want to move the focus slightly to a broader context, so you’ll leave something to your readers to consider. Don’t create your conclusion too long because you summarize all the points of your essay.
5 Edit and proofread your piece of writing
All essays must be thoroughly edited, even if highly experienced writers write them. You should use modern spell and grammar checkers to make sure your writing project doesn’t contain any flaws. Once the above edit is done, you can reread your paper to make sure it is clear and reflects the essence of the subject correctly.
The above points clear your doubt about the question of how to write a psychology essay. Follow the above steps and create a memorable psychology essay.
Effective psychology essay topics
Picking a topic is notably vital because it enables you to keep the focus properly and follow your professor’s directions. Let’s view some exciting ideas for essay topics in psychology
- How does sleeplessness negatively influence the thinking state of a person?
- Why do kids require to play?
- Can a person’s mental well-being problems be resolved or developed by activities?
- Is there any relationship between old age and decline in mental health?
- How is task achievement affected by stress?
- How a minor got molested can have a constant impact on their following lives.
- The science behind long-lasting wedlocks.
- Fast food obsession.
The significance of flow in the essay
How you write is important, but how you express your ideas/arguments has a huge effect on your overall score. Many students will have similar content or information in their essays, but more skilled students can concisely and articulately express this material.
When you’ve finished your essay’s first draft, you need to check if it’s ‘flows.’ It is an essential aspect of contact efficiently (along with grammar and spelling). With the help of flow, you get to know how to write a psychology essay.
It means the paragraphs (like the chapters in a novel) follow a logical order. Have a global formation that arranges themes in a way that provides a logical flow of thoughts. If they do not seem to fit in with the essay structure, you might want to rearrange (cut and paste) paragraphs to a different position in your essay.
Assure that the last sentence of one paragraph connects to the first sentence of the next paragraph to boost your essay’s flow. It will support the flow of the article and make reading easier.
Finally, repeat references only when it is not clear which theory or study you are talking about. Unnecessarily repeating references disrupts an essay’s flow.
Tips for how to write a psychology essay
1 incorporate the correct mindset;.
And when it gets difficult, maintain a positive attitude. It is important to get yourself into the right mindset before you start writing. You can experience panic feelings, feel as though you don’t have enough time, and you can’t. You could feel defeated before you even started. However, to be successful, you need to banish those negative feelings.
Being optimistic, trying to enjoy the challenge, and embracing a ‘can-do’ mentality is important. If it helps, imagine that’s a fight you’ll win. Give yourself an energy talk, and keep in mind the end goal: you will do a fabulous job and impress your professor. You must prove to yourself that you can take this challenge on board, enjoy it, and write an essay in record time. Take deep breathing, stay calm, and start a systematic and logical attack on the work.
2 Don’t use the phone and social networking sites
When you have just a few hours to prepare an essay, the last thing you get distracted by your phone or social networks. They have the habit of taking away your time without you even knowing it.
At this late stage, procrastination is not an option, so it’s a moment to prevent yourself from your phone, Twitter, Facebook, iPlayer, WhatsApp, YouTube, and anything else you consider might mislead you. Sit calm somewhere and place a do not disturb sign at the entry. Download a full-screen text editor, such as Darkroom, on your computer, if it helps, and allow yourself to read your essay and only your essay. You can also purchase a browser application that will keep you off your social networks for a time of your choice.
3 Frequently take short breaks
When you’re pushed for time, it sounds contradictory, but taking small breaks from time to time will prevent you from going out of energy and keep you focused. For example, if you have two hours to write the essay, take a break for five minutes after you’ve been working for an hour. If you’re really ‘in the area’ and work efficiently and don’t feel you require a break, just work straight ahead and take benefit of your productivity span as long as it serves.
4 Stay healthy and hydrated
Be sure that you drink lots of water when writing an essay, as this will help keep you alert. You may want to provide yourself with some snacks to keep you going because that will make it more bearable to write an essay and support your metabolism.
5 Keep the conclusion and introduction for last
When you know the path of how to write a psychology essay, you can do a better job of introduction and conclusion.
Possibly unexpectedly, an essay’s introduction and conclusion are always the hardest writable pieces. So, save for the final. The job of writing the introduction and a brief conclusion will be much simpler by the time you’ve written the essay’s core because you’re going to have invested a lot of time in your case, and you’re going to be very familiar with it.
6 Do not allow yourself to copy and paste
Avoid plagiarism – it is immoral, and the possibility of it returning to worry you is too high.
The internet is overflowing with resources that match what you are continuing to write about, so when you’re in a rush, there may be a strong urge to copy and paste valuable articles into your essay.
Should not do this anyway! Not only is plagiarism unethical, but it also ensures you won’t understand the subject in as much detail – so the entire purpose of writing an essay is to summarize what you’ve learned so train you properly for potential exams. Teachers may even use Google if they think you have stolen someone else’s work by copying or pasting something from the internet.
All they need to do is enter one of Google’s ‘your’ sentences and find out where you took it from immediately. Copied work is usually easy to find because it would be different from the rest of the article. It’s just not worth the risk, because you will lose the confidence of your teacher.
7 Don’t over-quote
A typical technique pushed for time by students is to use various quotes or very lengthy sections from other people (sources, scholars, and so on) to sustain the count of words and decrease the amount of writing they have to do.
Seek to stop doing that if you can; it’s a simple technique, and it means you haven’t mastered the subject yourself completely, so you have to resort to hiding behind other people’s expressions. The vast majority of the essay ‘s writing will be yours. Short quotations now and then, followed by your reflection on them, are good; not many long quotes, with little clarification from you, take up most of the essay.
8 Retain concise style
You won’t have time for wordy sentences, so keep your written style as brief as you can. There is nothing wrong with being brief and in your sentences to the point, given it accurately conveys what you want to express in the essay. Being careful with words can ensure you explain yourself effectively and save time, so it’s a good all-round idea.
9 Try a Scene Change
A change of scene will create a difference in everything.
If you are struggling to focus on writing your essay in your usual workspace, just what you need to focus on your mind by a change of scene. You usually work at home, try going to the library or a nearby coffee shop and see if there’s anything more natural and work there. If you’re disturbed by noise at home, try some noise-canceling headphones or just put some music on.
10 Type your essay, instead of writing it by hand
The average person can type in more quickly than they can write.
These days, most young people type faster than they write by hand, so, unless you have been asked to write your essay, type it in. It will make editing what you’ve written and turned things around a lot simpler, and you’ll quickly get more words by typing.
Your instructor would probably also find it easier to read a handwritten text than your handwriting, so you won’t suffer from an achy arm that might slow you down, so that’s a bonus.
11 Motivate yourself
Provide yourself anything that looks ahead to after the essay you have completed because that will help inspire you to finish it. It could be a candy bar, an evening out with friends, or a pledge to watch an episode of your preferred television series, which will provide enough motivation to finish your thesis. You worked hard and have a brilliant essay to show for it, and you deserve a reward!
Now you know how to write a psychology essay, so go ahead and finish it as an expert!
Your essay on psychology is supposed to be a nice picture; all the colors slowly complement and combine each detail, each detail should be mentioned in its place, and the overall artistic expression must be flawless. Make sure you follow every move and don’t worry; some resources can help you write your essay on psychology.
The above discussion solves your question of how to write a psychology essay. The steps and tips help you in writing an essay effectively. Study both in detail then starts writing the essay. By following both, you can make a spectacular psychology essay.
If you still find difficulty in writing an essay, then you can take essay help from our experienced writers. They will guide you in writing an essay. We are available every time for your support.
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Home / Essay Samples / Life / Profession / Dream Career
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Career research: psychologist, the tasks of the psychologist, the reasons why i want to be a psychologist, the disadvantages of being a psychologist, my plan of action to be a psychologist.
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