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Research Paper and Poster Session

For this assignment you should:

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  • prepare and write a unique methodological research paper;
  • create and analyze some fictional data to test your research hypothesis;
  • present your findings from your fictional data in a poster that could be used at a psychological conference; and
  • and, if possible, send your research paper to another student in the class for peer review and review that other student’s research paper. Students who do this tend to do better than those who do not – another set of eyes on your paper is always a good thing.

Guidelines for preparing the research paper

The research paper is the major assignment for this course, worth 25% of your final grade. It should be in APA format, between seven and ten pages in length (i.e., you double-spaced in APA). This page limit includes the title and reference page. Thus the title page is page 1 and the reference page will be either page 7, 8, 9, or 10.

The following steps, which you should have become familiar with during the term, will help you complete and do well on this assignment.

Step 1.       Use the library and other sources to search the literature (e.g., PsycINFO) for research on a topic of interest to you.

Step 2.       Find and read the “primary” references or primary research material in the psychology journals on your topic.

Step 3.       Organize, summarize, and draw conclusions regarding the information in the primary references.

Step 4.       Think critically about the information in the primary references. Were there any problems with the research? What needs/should to be done next?

Step 5.       From the critical thinking in step 4, develop a specific hypothesis regarding your primary references.

Step 6.       Design a methodologically sound study to answer your specific hypothesis.  Remember, the focus of this research paper is on methodology.  Thus you should write the methodological part of the paper first.  This will ensure that you have the correct focus.  Once the method section is complete, write a 2-3 page introduction to your topic that logically leads the reader to your detailed methodology.  The final paragraph in your introduction should include a testable hypothesis.  The methodological section should be followed by a brief results section (just a sentence or two outlining the major statistical technique used and the main finding of your study – e.g., mean group differences or correlation).  Once you report the main results, you will need a discussion/conclusion section and finally the reference section.  The fictional data and statistical analysis that you will perform to test your hypothesis are to be presented in more detail in the poster component of this assignment (i.e., showcase/graph group differences, correlations, etc.).

Step 7.       Reread your background research and proposed methodology again and again.  It should end up being a very logical report that uses APA format (see Appendix A in your textbook).

Note: An example of a paper and poster can be found on the course site in Appendix C. Please note that this example paper and poster was written by a PSYC 2250 student using an earlier version of APA format, so some of the APA formatting will be different than the APA format outlined in your textbook.  If there’s a discrepancy, please follow the APA formatting outlined in your textbook.  Also note that although the student who wrote this paper did exceptionally well – an A+ – the paper does contain some errors and remember that things can always be improved upon!


Guidelines for preparing the poster session

Create some fictional data for your proposed methodology in your research paper. Use a minimum of 30 subjects. Analyze it using SPSS (i.e., find the means of your groups and graph them; produce a scatterplot, or showcase your interaction, etc.). Prepare a poster that you would use at a psychological conference to present your research. A poster normally consists of a number of 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper attached to a piece of poster board. Obviously we will do it electronically – so PowerPoint may be a useful tool to consider.

The poster should include the following:

  • Title of the poster, your name, and your research affiliation (e.g., University of Manitoba)
  • Abstract
  • Introduction (brief and bulleted)
  • Method (detailed and bulleted; flowcharts are nice)
  • Results (detailed and bulleted; graphs, charts, and tables with captions are nice and required)
  • Conclusions (brief and bulleted)
  • References

Presentation style guidelines:

  • Use font large enough so that people will be able to read it from approximately two metres away (12-point font will NOT do).
  • Use bullets. Only provide the necessary details!
  • Limit the amount of text to just what you need to get your point across. The text for most sections (except possibly the results section), should be succinct enough to fit on one or two pages at most.
  • Use tables and figures to present the results of each group from your fictitious data.
  • Don’t forget to number and include captions that describe your figures/tables.


Again an example of the paper and poster can be found on the course site in Appendix C. It would make a lot of sense to review this poster before you begin creating yours!


The marks are assigned as follows for this research paper and poster:

      Percent of course


Research paper

Content of the paper 15%
  Primary reference coverage 3%  
  Conceptual organization of primary references: clear hypotheses. 6%  
  Proposed methodology and discussion 6%  
Writing style 5%
  Spelling, grammar, etc. 1%  
  Use of APA format 4% ______
Total research paper 20%
Poster presentation 5%
Grand Total (paper + poster) 25%

Paper writing pointers

  • Pick a topic you are interested in – read some articles and take notes (see below).
  • To get full marks on Primary Reference Coverage (above) you should have at least five primary references, and the majority of these references should not be more than ten years old. All the references you refer to in your paper must be cited in the reference section of your paper in APA format.  A few secondary references are okay too, but the majority of your references need to be primary.
  • Be sure to follow APA guidelines. Review Appendix A in your textbook.  Please, do not throw away marks for NOT following a specific format.
  • When writing your introduction, try to tell me a research story that logically leads me to your testable hypotheses. Try to integrate the ideas from each reference and present them in a logical fashion. Try to avoid summarizing each paper one by one—but that said, summarizing each paper one by one may be beneficial in the first draft of your paper.
  • Since this is a course on methodology, the introduction section of your paper should include brief descriptions of the researcher’s methodology, experimental techniques, and experimental results. Do not just report the conclusions of each reference.
  • Be sure to make notes as you read each primary reference. This will help you to organize the information being presented in each article. Only begin writing the paper when you believe you have a good grasp of the research arena you are exploring.
  • Do not be afraid to use subsections in your paper. This will help to organize the information.
  • Write clearly. Have a parent or friend or classmate read it. If they understand it—great, if not, it might be time for a few revisions. Another strategy is to read your paper aloud to yourself—try it, you will see what I mean.
  • I have included a sample marking key below that we have used in the past to grade your papers. I am not saying this will be the exact key we will be using—things change—but it is a template from which you can structure your paper.
  • Having trouble getting started? This is often the toughest part. If you have an Introduction to Psychology text – flip through it to see if anything jumps out at you. Use a search engine with the key words psychology and hot topics or current trends.


Sample Marking Key: PSYC 2250 Research Paper and Poster


APA Usage (-0.25 for each error)

Are the following in APA: title page / abstract / referencing / reference page / page numbers

*If some correct APA is used correctly, may obtain 0.5 marks.                                                            /4


Grammar and Readability

1/1     Excellent use of grammar and very readable.

0.75    Good use of grammar and readability: minor violations.

0.5      Adequate use of grammar: hard to read in places – needs work.

0.25    Poor use of grammar and poor readability. You need to start writing

and reviewing your work more closely.  Practice, Practice, Practice!

0          It took too long to decipher what you were trying to say.

You need to practice your formal writing skills much more.                                                       /1



Primary Reference Coverage                                   

Are there sufficient primary references? Are they current and/or appropriate?                                                /3


Conceptual Organization of Primary References (Introduction)                    

– Is each paragraph organized (i.e., do most have an intro, method, results, & conclusion sentence)?

– Are the references organized logically? Do they tell a research story that leads to testable hypothesis?

– Are the transitions between references smooth?

Are the conclusions accurate?

– Are the references linked/integrated in some fashion?

– Are/Is the hypotheses testable?                                                                                                                  /6


Proposed Methodology                                                               

– Is method section organized properly according to APA (i.e., headings and subheadings)?

– Are the sampling methodology and participants sufficiently described?

– Is the design type named and described? Does it effectively test the hypothesis?

– Are there statements related to ethical standards?

– Are the measurement tools described and operationally defined?  Are they reliable/valid?

– Is the procedure clear and clean (i.e., no confounds)?

– Results: Is main result reported? *Only a sentence or two.  Detailed results to be in poster.

– Discussion: Are the results summarized? Are results compared/contrasted with other research findings?

– Is the designed critiqued (pros and cons of current design)? Speculate on future research?

/6                                                                                                                                        Total Paper Portion                          /20


Poster Presentation

Organization and Clarity

– Are all the components present (i.e., title page: name, institution, abstract; Intro, Method,

Results, Discussion, References)?

– Is the Font large enough (i.e., can it be read from 6 feet (2 metres) away?)                                      /2



– Are the bullet points clear, logical and informative?                                                                              /3

– Is a flowchart used to describe sampling or method (i.e., randomness)?

– Are there figures/graphs/charts/tables that showcase the results?

– Are the figure/graph/chart/table captions succinct, correct, & valid?

Total Poster Portion                         /5



Grand Total                                                                                                                        /25



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