Rationale: Writing is an important skill in any profession. In scientific writing, psychologists interpret and draw conclusions based on the research literature from scientific articles. The advantage of this literature is that it is objective, unbiased, and in many cases, provides directions for practical applications. For example, a clear understanding of how children form friendships, and what factors interfere with friendship formation, enables practitioners to develop interventions for children who have problems making friends.

For this assignment you are asked to write a 7-page research paper based on the scientific literature. Specifically, you will synthesize research from the scientific literature, and draw conclusions based on your research. This assignment provides an opportunity for students to explore an area of interest in developmental psychology in greater depth than time allows in our course. Research in the field of developmental psychology has important applications for many areas of child development, including the development of child assessments, interventions, and classroom teaching tools.

Approaches to writing papers: One approach to a research paper is to write an argumentative paper designed to persuade the reader.   Here you present a thesis statement in the introduction that highlights the main point of your paper; for example, “..this report is intended to show that the long-term effects of divorce are much greater than previously thought...”.  Even if you are not writing a strictly argumentative paper, a thesis is still very useful for organizing your paper; for example, “...both community and familial influences may be important in influencing expressed violence towards children...”. A carefully planned paper with a clear focus is a good start to an excellent product. See how the information that you learned in your writing class can apply to writing a scientific paper.

PAPER REQUIREMENTS: Be sure to follow these specifications for a high quality paper.

 1. Length: The paper length will be 7 pages, plus a reference page, double spaced and typed. Margins should be no wider than 1". References are listed on a separate page. Please number your pages. In addition, include a cover sheet with the title of your paper, your name, the class and section, and the current date.
 2. Type and number of references: Your paper should include a minimum of 7 references. Three of those references MUST be research articles from scientific journals (not popular articles from magazines such as Psychology Today, Omni, Time or Newsweek). The rest of your references may include more articles, or peer-reviewed scientific books (but not encyclopedias or textbooks). I want you to use sources that have strong scientific support.  Do not use websites as sources, as they are not peer-reviewed (but you may use on-line journals). You must be able to cite your source in APA style, 4th edition. Appropriate sources may be found in the following indexes:

 -Child Development Abstracts and Bibliography (McGill Library, Ref. Rm Range 6): This index is probably the best source for getting a start on your paper--all of the articles are research or peer-reviewed articles--and all of them have children as the main topic.
 -Psychological Abstracts (McGill Library, Ref. Rm Range 1)
 -APA Journal Articles Direct (online)
 -Social Science Citation Index (McGill Library, Ref. Rm Range 8--online): This index will include both popular and research articles; only use the research articles.

You may use Interlibrary Loan to obtain articles or books for your paper. Please keep in mind that it can take up to 3 weeks to receive your sources, so this service requires early planning. Do not wait till the end and download articles off the internet--they are not always the best articles available for your paper. Choose your articles based on quality, not on availability.

 3. Appearance: All final papers should be stapled, proofread, and easy to read (no fading or smudging of ink).
 4. Number of copies: You must hand in TWO copies of your paper to receive full credit. I keep one of these copies (to use for writing reference letters or developing student projects), and will return a marked copy to you.
 5. Format: Your paper should follow American Psychological Association format, 4th edition. This format dictates the style of your reference citations and bibliography. I have included examples of the format in this handout--for further information, consult an APA manual--there is one on reserve at McGill library.
  6. Guidelines: Follow the guidelines for your paper as described on the attached grading sheet.


 1. Paper Topic: T/TH class, paper topic is due Thursday, Sept 21.

 You should start working on your paper topic immediately. Begin by leafing through your textbook to look for topics that interest you. It often helps to list three research questions that you may want to explore. Then, go to the library and see what references are available. Due to the availability of resources I would prefer that each student chooses a different topic, so be sure to tell me your topic once you have chosen it. I will also be glad to help any student define a good topic area.

 The paper topic should be typed, doublespaced, and 1-2 pages long. It is worth 5% of your paper grade. It should include a(n):

 -title or research question
 -outline or paragraph description of your paper
 -three or more sources, typed in APA style.
 -A brief explanation of each of the articles, and why they are appropriate for your paper.

 2. Paper: Due for T/TH class Tuesday, November 21: I’ll look forward to receiving TWO copies of your paper on this date.


 Academic integrity is a central concept at Westminster.  You are expected to follow all guidelines as cited in your student handbook. Plagiarism includes stealing, borrowing, buying or distributing research papers, creative papers, speeches, etc.

 If you copy your phrasing from any of the articles in your paper, and do not acknowledge that it is a quote, you have committed plagiarism.   Paraphrasing a sentence is a form of plagiarism. Another mistake students make is to use a large number of quotes in a paper--we call this "lazy writing". What I want to see is a paper in your own words, summarizing and integrating the findings you describe.  If you cannot write about the topic "in your own words, then you do not understand it well enough to write about it" (Rosnow & Rosnow, 1992, p.49).

 Any student who is found guilty of plagiarism will receive a possible 0 on their paper and/or an F for a course grade. Discussions will be at three levels: (a) First, you will discuss it with the course instructor, (b) Next, it will be discussed with the chair of the department, (c) Finally, if necessary, the dean of the college. I reserve the right to delay the return of a paper while I am evaluating it for plagiarism. I may also request that a student bring to me all the sources that they have used in their paper.


 I would like you to write this paper following the format of the American Psychological Association. There are specific formats for citing references in the text of your paper, and for listing your references in the reference section. Follow the examples exactly as shown. For further details, please consult the APA manual, 4th edition.

 Citations: You must give credit to the people who have written the articles you use in the body of the paper.  To do so, in psychology we use reference citations in the text of the paper. Use the citations in your textbook as a guide. Some examples are as follows:

Citation appearing as part of a sentence:

 Jaeger, Anthony, and Rosnow (1980) planted a rumor among college students.

Citation entirely in parentheses:

 Lithium carbonate increases the anorectic's intake of fatty foods and thus produces weight gain (Gross, Evert, Goldberg, Nee, & Kaye, 1980).

Multiple citations in parenthesis (names are in alphabetical order): Use multiple citations if several articles come to the same conclusions and/or have the same findings. They must be in alphabetical order, beginning with the first citation:

 Research has also indicated that a clinician's assessment of a particular person is generally not improved by the use of projective assessment techniques (Golden, 1964; Soskin & Anders, 1959).

 References: Include a list of references at the end of your paper.  Be sure to use APA style format in listing your references.  Make sure that your information is complete.  Only use references that you have cited in your paper. Any other references you have read are not included in the reference section. Use the references at the back of your textbook as a guide in referencing your articles.  Some examples are as follows:

A journal article with one author:
    Rogers, C. R. (1964). Toward a modern approach to values. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 68, 160-167.

A journal article with two or more authors:
    Feather, N. T., Johnson, R., & Barber, J. G. (1983). Depressive reactions and unemployment. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 185-195.

A popular article:
    Bettleheim, B. (1982, March 1). Reflections: Freud and the soul. New Yorker, pp. 52-93.

A book:
    Coles, R. (1986). The moral life of children. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press.

An article or chapter in an edited book:
    Rohlen, T. P. (1978). The promise of adulthood in Japan. In E. H. Erikson (Ed.), Adulthood (pp. 129-140). New York: Norton.

On-line journal articles: See the following website, and follow their exact instructions for citing on-line journal articles. Documents


    McKeachie, W. J. (1986). Teaching tips: A guidebook for the beginning college teacher. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath & Co.

    Rosnow, R. L., & Rosnow, M. (1992). Writing papers in psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Psy 221        Name:_______________________
Fall 2000


   1. Introduction:
____ 5 a. Purpose: The purpose, problem, or question to be considered
   is stated clearly.
____ 5 b. Interest: The author convinces the reader that the paper is worth reading in an interesting fashion.
____ 5 c. Preview: The author presents a preview of how the problem
   will be handled.
____ 5 d.  Instructor approval: Paper topic grade.

   2. Body:
____10 a. Analysis: It is clear that an analysis of the literature has been used to support the statements made, and that the assumptions are logical.
____20 b.  Presentation of evidence

_____ 5 c. Suitability of focus: The problem chosen is focused enough to be adequately covered in the space of the
   paper, but not too narrow.
_____ 5 d. Organization: Presentation is easy to follow and well organized.

    3.  Conclusion:
____ 10    a. The author summarizes the findings adequately, and draws appropriate conclusions.
_____ 5    b. Applications of the findings are discussed (ie interventions, assessments, etc.), or suggestions made for future work (i.e. research studies, other areas related to your paper topic, links with work from ours or other classes, etc.)
   FORM: 25%
____ 5  1. Spelling:
____ 5  2. Grammar and use of words correct (not awkward or inappropriate)
____ 5  3. Paragraph form: Topic sentences are used to introduce transitions, and the order of transitions is appropriate.
____ 5  4. Borrowed ideas and statements are given credit (citations used frequently--one or more times in a paragraph--and listed in reference section).
____ 5  5. The citations and reference section are in APA format.