Research Paper: Submission Instructions
The research paper is designed to provide you with an opportunity to fully appreciate how learning principles can be applied to an issue or psychological disorder that is of interest to you in terms of your vocation or thesis research. Together with the article review forms, this assignment will also guide you through the process of interpreting and evaluating primary sources. You will have an opportunity to go beyond summarizing what you have learned to formulating your own ideas about future research.
The paper will discuss an area of applied research that relies heavily on learning principles. The introduction portion of the paper will include a general discussion of the area of applied research and why it is important. This section will also discuss the learning principles and methods used in this area of research. Be sure to cite the papers that originally proposed a theory or model and papers that originally applied a learning principle to an applied area of research. For example, if the topic of the paper is “relapse among drug addicted individuals,” then the introduction would include a discussion of spontaneous recovery of operant behavior and how this learning principle has been applied to drug addiction research. Be sure to also make a strong case for why the issue, to which the learning principle is being applied, is important (e.g. how many people does it affect, how much money does it cost society). Most importantly, the introduction should also clearly state the hypothesis of the paper. The hypothesis will become a touchstone that you continually draw the reader’s attention back to throughout the paper (e.g. “These findings support the hypothesis that…” or “These findings are inconsistent with the hypothesis that…”).
The next section of the paper will start with a short review of the theoretical literature pertaining to the learning principle in question. This should be followed by a much more detailed discussion of the current literature in your chosen area of applied research. Try to select articles that are along similar lines of inquiry in order to tell a coherent story about the research. For example, if your topic is the role of second order conditioning in anxiety, then you could discuss a series of experiments that were designed to determine the critical variables that determine when and how a second order conditioned stimuli comes to elicit a stress response (i.e. anxiety). The paper could also be organized to present two different theories about your topic. In this case you would discuss the differences in their hypotheses, methods, results, and interpretations. Avoid discussing a paper from a single lab, as this will not give an accurate picture of the literature as a whole. This section of the paper should discuss at least 6 different peer-reviewed journal articles. Discuss the rationale, methods, results, interpretation, and your critique of each article. The critique of the article can include a discussion of the lack of an important control group or alternatively, the strength of the findings, owing to the fact that the investigators controlled for alternative explanations for the findings. There should also be a clear, logical flow from one study to the next. Avoid the impression that the paper is just a list of papers. There should be logical progression from study to study.
The discussion section should start with a summary of all of the relevant findings. There should not be any new information in the summary statements. The next section should focus on recommendations and implications of your findings. Reflect on why these findings are important and who would benefit from them. Based on the current state of the literature in this field, what should be the focus of future research? This may be obvious, but more likely it will require a great deal of thought and reflection. It may be helpful to keep this question in mind as you are reading through each article. The final section of the paper will recap the importance of the topic. Put your findings in the context of your thesis statement. Did your findings support your thesis or were they inconsistent with your thesis/hypothesis.
This section of the paper is intended to give you an opportunity to reflect on your writing process. What works for you and what does not? Which parts of the assignment were helpful and why? Did you find the article reviews helpful? More generally, what have you personally taken away from this assignment? Finally, how is this assignment going to impact your career goals?
Steps to complete your paper:
1. Pick an area of research that uses learning principles.
2. Find a recent review article and other basic information to use for background. These may also lead you to important journal articles that you will want to discuss in your paper.
3. Find peer-reviewed empirical journal articles (papers that include methods and results sections).
a. PsycNet will only allow you to view peer-reviewed articles.
4. Write an outline of your paper.
5. Expand the outline into a PowerPoint presentation.
6. Write the paper.
1. Current APA style title page.
2. Current APA style abstract.
3. Current APA style reference page.
4. The paper must be at least 10 pages (not including a cover page, abstract, or references).
5. All current APA formatting guidelines must be adhered to.
a. Any fact that is not common knowledge must have a reference.
b. Any idea or conclusion which is not your own must be accompanied by a citation—give credit to the person who had the idea.
c. APA formatted section headers are required in your paper. They should clearly describe the contents of each section.
6. A minimum of 10 peer-reviewed journal articles must be cited. Some of the articles can be used for background information, but at least 6 studies must be discussed and critiqued in detail. Do not use textbooks, websites, or blogs.
7. Attach the first page (including the abstract) of each of the 6 articles you discuss to the end of your paper for the instructor’s reference.
A. State your topic. (e.g. “This paper will examine the roles of spontaneous reinstatement of operant behavior in drug addiction.”)
1. State why this topic is important (e.g. “More than 80% of individuals who go through substance abuse treatment will relapse within 5 years.”)
2. State your initial research questions (e.g. “What are the critical variables that contribute to spontaneous recovery of operant responding for drugs of abuse?”)
B. Background information about the issue
1. Learning principle (e.g. “Spontaneous recovery was first reported by _______. Later research revealed that _____,_______, and ______ influence spontaneous recovery in animal studies”.)
2. Principle’s application to the problem or issue (e.g. “______ initially suggested that drug relapse may work through a similar mechanism. The methods used to study spontaneous recovery of drug seeking behavior are…”)
C. State your hypothesis. Your hypothesis is the main focus of the paper (e.g. “While stress is a critical factor in the reinstatement of operant behavior for drugs of abuse, its effects can be mitigated by an enriched environment”). Everything discussed in the paper should be related back to the hypothesis. Does a study support or contradict your hypothesis.
1. Define all terms in your hypothesis, referencing appropriate sources
2. Discuss any points of clarification
a) Point 1
b) Point 2
(1) … (as needed)
II. Literature Review
A. Theoretical literature pertaining to the learning principle
1. Overview and summary of each theory or explanation
2. Relevance of each theory/explanation to the issue
3. Application of the theoretical findings to the issue
B. Applied literature—Repeat for each study
1. Rationale of the study
2. Overview of the study
3. Methodology (key elements)
4. Key findings related to your hypothesis
5. Critique of the study
b) Appropriate methods?
c) How do the findings relate to your hypothesis/thesis?
1. Summary of all of relative findings
1. What can be learned from this research?
2. What are the implications?
3. To whom are these recommendations relevant and why? (e.g. parents, government agencies, organizations, educational institutions, mental health professionals)
C. Future Research
1. Recap the importance of your topic (no new information)
2. Revisit your thesis statement (did you find support or no support?)
3. Conclusion based on information derived from the literature
IV. Assessment of Research Paper Writing Process (this section is based on your process)
A. How your process worked (evaluate your own writing process)
2. PowerPoint presentation
3. Article review assignment
B. What have you learned
C. How is this assignment going to impact your career goals
A. Reference 1
B. Reference 2
C. Reference 3
D. Reference 4
E. Reference 5
F. Continue as needed
VI. Article abstracts
A. Abstract 1
B. Abstract 2
C. Abstract 3
D. Abstract 4
E. Abstract 5
F. Abstract 6