Introduction, Method & References

 


This portion of your paper will serve as your research proposal -- something every researcher needs to submit for review. Your professor will read them and check for adherence to ethical guidelines, sufficient review of the literature, theoretical coverage, design, and feasibility. Do not procrastinate; get started immediately. You will probably need to order articles through interlibrary loan and that can take two weeks or longer. Many of the research articles you read will be dense and take a considerable amount of time and effort to read and assimilate. Be sure to consult your APA manual when writing this paper.

Introduction

The introduction section is where you present the specific problem your study addresses. The APA manual suggests considering the following before writing the introduction:

You should be able to answer the above questions in the first paragraph or two. Then review the relevant research in more detail. Only review research that is directly related to your study and any theories associated with it. Avoid reviewing anything that is tangential or peripheral to your study. Avoid nonessential details while summarizing previous research (e.g., the institution where the research was conducted, sample sizes, and detailed description of methodology). Emphasize the findings and how they relate to your study and any theoretical positions. The literature review should be written so a professional audience can understand it.

After you have identified the problem, hypotheses, and theoretical considerations, explicitly state what your study was designed to assess. Mention all independent and dependent variable and what your hypotheses were/are. It is important that you explain the rational behind your predictions. While describing the variables you can give the reader an idea of how the study was or will be conducted. For example, "We measured the effects of time pressure on test anxiety. There were three levels of our independent variable: no time pressure, finish in 10 minutes, and finish in 20 minutes. Test anxiety was the dependent variable and was operationally defined as a score on a self-report anxiety measure".

Method

The method section describes how you will conduct your experiment. A good method section allows the reader to judge the validity of the study and includes enough information for experienced researchers to replicate the study. It also allows for comparison across similar studies. The method section should be broken down into several subsections, including: 1.) participants, 2.) apparatus (or materials), and 3.) procedure.

Participants

The participants section is where you will describe your research participants. Information in this section allows readers to assess the generalizability of the results, replicate the study, and run secondary analyses. The number of participants in each group is reported. In addition, demographic variables that might affect behavior needs to be reported. For example, researchers generally include age, sex, ethnicity, and education level of participants. In some cases researchers also report health status, language preference, socioeconomic status, and other variables that might affect the outcome of the study. Researchers also report how they recruited (or plan to recruit) the participants, whether they were paid and how much. If some participants were dropped from the study report how many and why.

If non-human animal subjects are used, researchers should report the genus, species, strain number, and supplier. The animals' weight, sex, and age should also be reported.

Apparatus (or Materials)

This subsection includes information about any materials or equipment that was or will be used in the study. Specialized equipment should be identified by the model and manufacturer. Materials such as questionnaires and tests should be described in this subsection. After describing materials, refer the reader to an Appendix where they can view them.

Procedure

A step-by-step description of the research is presented in this subsection, including instructions to participants and specific experimental manipulations. Also include information related to randomization, counterbalancing, and other controls. This subsection needs to include enough information so the study could be replicated. However, if an experimental procedure is widely used it doesn’t need to be described in great detail.

References

There are many different ways to reference sources depending on the type of publication, the number of authors, the number of editors, how it was presented or published, the language it was written in, and whether it was translated. See the APA manual for guidance on writing references.