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Guidelines on Writing a Lab Report for PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics

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Added on  2019-10-18

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This article provides guidelines on how to write a lab report for PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics. It covers the format and content of each section, including the title, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references, and appendices. The article emphasizes the importance of clear communication and avoiding common mistakes.
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PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics Lab ReportGuidelines on how to write a reportThese are brief guidelines that you can follow. A more comprehensive outline can be found in: Field, A & Hole, G (2003). How to design and report experiments. London: Sage. There are several copies of this book in the library. The purpose of a lab report is to communicate to others what you did, why you did it, how you did it, what you found and what you think it means. Practical reports follow a standard format that is intended to correspond to the logic of scientific research (formulation of the problem is followed by investigation then finally interpretation of results). The same format is used in research articles published in most psychological journals.The practical report is composed of a series of separate sections in which specific information is to be reported. Your task in the report is to tell your reader all about the study you conducted. The main sections of the report should be as follows:TitleAbstractIntroductionMethodoDesign oParticipants oApparatus & Materials oProcedure ResultsDiscussionReferencesAppendicesNote: The Title, Abstract and Introduction should be written without using these headings. Allother sections should start with the appropriate heading.As you can see, the method section is composed of a number of sub-sections. There is some disagreement over the precise order in which these sections should appear. The most important thing is that you report the appropriate material in the right way in these sub-sections.
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PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics Lab ReportHINT: You should try to write your report as if the person reading it is intelligent but unknowledgeable about your study and the area of psychology in which it took place. The marker will be checking to see that you have written your report with this sort of reader in mind. TitleThe title should be concise yet clear enough to give the reader an idea of the investigator's central concerns. The most common type of title states only the dependent and independent variables and is often presented as a question. E.g. "The effect of sleep loss on the exploratory behaviour of gerbils" or "Encoding differences in recall and recognition" would besuitable formats for a title. Titles such as "Keeping gerbils awake" or "This study is an experimental investigation of memory" are not appropriate titles since they do not give the reader sufficient information to know what the report is going to be about. HINT: your title will probably be between 10 and 20 words. It should not be more than 20 words except under very unusual circumstances.AbstractAim to write one paragraph (about 100 words). It should include statements about:The aims of the study - Why did you do it? (e.g., “This study addressed thehypothesis derived from gender inequality theory that women are more sensitive toemotions than men”).What was done - How did you do it? (e.g., “Participants rated the emotional meaningof a series of slides of facial expressions relating to anger or fear”)What the results were - What did you find? (e.g., Female participants showedsignificantly greater accuracy in their decoding of emotion than men overall, and thisdifference was especially pronounced when anger rather than fear expressions werejudged)What conclusions did you come to from the evidence of your study? (e.g., “Thesefindings are consistent with the notion that emotion-decoding accuracy develops aspart of a compensation strategy in situations where women experience relatively lesspower than men”) It is not necessary to include details of subject numbers, ages and so on, or number of trials.A brief sentence to describe the type of task employed will suffice. Neither is it appropriate toinclude specific details of your results e.g. mean values, standard deviations etc.
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PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics Lab ReportHINT: the abstract is much easier to write if you make it the last thing that you write even though it appears at the beginning of the write-up.HINT: To keep your Abstract distinct from the Introduction, either present it on a separatepage, or indent it and use a smaller font size (making sure the text is still large enough to belegible).IntroductionThe aim of the Introduction is to provide a clear rationale or explanation for why you did yourstudy. You should stay tightly focused on material that relates to what you actually did inyour study. Provide details only where they help you to explain why you conducted theresearch in the way that you did.Essentially in the introduction to your report you should provide the following information in the following order.1.Review the background material (existing findings and theories) relevant to your study 2.Outline the precise problem you chose to investigate and very briefly the way in which you investigated it 3.Outline the results predicted by your experimental hypothesis (hypotheses) This means that your introduction is effectively in two parts: a discussion of the past research, and a part in which you introduce your own study. You move from the general to the specific. HINT: do not start your introduction with a description of your study.HINT: A precise statement of the experimental hypothesis will say something about both the independent and dependent variables. For example, "it was predicted that people who drankmore than two pints of beer before driving would have more accidents than those who did not drink any alcoholic beverages" captures both the independent variable and the dependent variable. This statement also includes something about the direction of the effect.When you can, it is important to state the direction of the effect that you hope to observe. If
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PSY5021 Research Methods and Statistics Lab Reportyou cannot make such a prediction it is important to state precisely why this prediction cannot be made and what the alternatives are.HINT: do not state the null hypothesis in the introduction. You can assume that the reader knows what a null hypothesis is and is aware that you have one.HINT: As a rough guide to appropriate length, the Introduction and Discussion sections are usually the longest sections of the report, but don’t pad them out if you can convey the necessary information in fewer words. Some studies simply require less explanation than others. If you have justified all the important decisions you made when formulating your research strategy, you have said enough. If not, you have said too little. MethodThere are four sections to the Method in an experimental report:Design, Participants, Apparatus/Materials, Procedure.These are all separate and are each given a sub-title in your report.DesignIn this section, the experimental design should be described. In particular you must state the following.The type of design you used (e.g. between, within or mixed) The independent variables including the conditions you selected to represent different levels of the IVThe dependent variable including details of the units of measurement usedUse succinct language and do not directly state the independent variable was X or thedependent variable was Y etc as is shown in the example below:‘A between-subjects design was employed. The independent variables were the modality of the presentation of the word list, which was manipulated on two levels (verbal presentation and visual presentation) and the time of day, which was manipulated on two levels (morning and evening). A three-minute distractor task was
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