For student papers that are not being submitted for publication—including theses—author notes are generally not necessary. It is the second page of the manuscript and is headed with the word Abstract. The abstract presents the research question, a summary of the method, the basic results, and the most important conclusions.
Because the abstract is usually limited to about 200 words, it can be a challenge to write a good one.
Immediately after the opening comes the literature review, which describes relevant previous research on the topic and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages in length.
However, the literature review is not simply a list of past studies.
Here we consider each of these sections in detail, including what information it contains, how that information is formatted and organized, and tips for writing each section.
At the end of this section is a sample APA-style research report that illustrates many of these principles.
In some areas of psychology, the titles of many empirical research reports are informal in a way that is perhaps best described as “cute.” They usually take the form of a play on words or a well-known expression that relates to the topic under study.
Here are some examples from recent issues of the Journal Psychological Science.
The opening, which is usually a paragraph or two in length, introduces the research question and explains why it is interesting.
To capture the reader’s attention, researcher Daryl Bem recommends starting with general observations about the topic under study, expressed in ordinary language (not technical jargon)—observations that are about people and their behaviour (not about researchers or their research; Bem, 2003). According to Bem, this would be a poor way to begin a research report: Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance received a great deal of attention during the latter part of the 20th century (p.