Chapter Summary

When starting up a research project, you must first determine what you want to study. You should consider what your interests are, and conduct a literature search to determine what research has already been done in that area. Drawing upon your interests and prior research, you should come up with your own research question, but make sure that you choose clear, testable hypotheses using measurable concepts. You’ll also want to avoid measuring things just for the sake of measurement; instead stick to constructs for which you have clear hypotheses.

Once you’ve decided what you want to test, you should determine how to best go about testing it. This includes the overall design of the study, but also the sample (who you want to study), the materials (what specific scales/measurements you wish to use), and procedure (a detailed, step-by-step plan for how the study should proceed). After these plans are in place, you should obtain ethics approval from your university’s Research Ethics Board. After receiving the go-ahead from the REB, it’s time to collect data.

After data have been collected and analyzed, you need to write up the results. Generally, your honours report will follow the same structure as a peer-reviewed academic journal article, with similar standards regarding quality. Summarizing and synthesizing material in your own words is essential, as is proper citation and referencing in order to avoid plagiarism, which you can even commit unintentionally.

The research report begins with a title, which should capture the general goals and purpose of the paper without being overly descriptive. Immediately following the title is your abstract. The abstract is an approximately 200-word summary of the procedure and findings of the project. Because they are so brief, abstracts can be challenging to write. Following the abstract is the introduction to the paper. This section contains background research obtained from your search of the existing literature and should be structured in a manner and introduces the key ideas behind your study, leading directly into the statement of your research hypothesis or hypotheses.

Once you have laid the theoretical groundwork for your study, you will explain how you went about testing your hypotheses, including the results of these tests. Following the results, you will provide some discussion reiterating the findings of the paper taking into account what these findings mean in the broader picture. You should draw appropriate conclusions from your findings, but also take into account the limitations of the project, as well as unanswered questions that might be considered in subsequent research. Following this discussion you should include all references and an appendix that contains copies of all the measures from your study.

Additional Online Resources

Online APA style help:

Even more detail on how to go about writing up your paper:

Additional writing guide for research in psychology:


Test your knowledge of the keywords and definitions in the chapter.


Interactive Quiz for Chapter 15

Instructions: For each question, click on the radio button beside your answer. When you have completed the entire quiz, click the “Submit my answers” button at the bottom of the page to receive your results.

Question 1:

a) coming up with an idea
b) determining a testable hypothesis
c) reviewing the existing literature
d) obtaining ethics approval

Question 2:

a) hypotheses
b) project goals
c) design
d) procedure

Question 3:

a) is not a big concern is writing up research
b) can occur even when there is no intent to misrepresent one’s work
c) only applies to the literature review or introduction of a research report
d) is impossible to avoid

Question 4:

a) pain or discomfort
b) participant self-esteem
c) invasion of privacy
d) all of the above

Question 5:

a) 100 words
b) 200 words
c) 300 words
d) 500 words

Question 6:

a) directly before your methods section
b) directly before your results section
c) in the middle of your introduction section
d) in the middle of your methods section

Question 7:

a) participants
b) materials
c) procedure
d) all of the above

Question 8:

a) Introduction
b) Method
c) Results
d) Discussion

Question 9:

a) a bibliography includes only papers cited in your project report; a reference list does not
b) a reference list includes only papers cited in your project report; a bibliography does not
c) conceptually they are one in the same, though APA style dictates you use the “reference list” label
d) none of the above

Question 10:

a) summary of findings
b) drawing conclusions
c) talking about future directions
d) copies of your measures