The overarching point of this article will be to convey that behavioural psychology may be out-of-fashion, but still has many things to contribute to modern psychology.
All science is ultimately born of philosophy (see Pepper, 1942) and therefore there is no reason why this science should play second fiddle to any other. However, in the rat race to make strides in the science of behaviour, principles of science are often discarded in favour of convenience. The dominant school of thought in psychology at present is cognitivism. This school adopts a predominantly top-down approach to psychology. This involves simplifying phenomena into their perceived component parts, in order to study them. This phenomenon may constitute a set back for the way research is conducted and human behavior ultimately conceptualized. Allow me to illustrate why this is a problem.
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I can’t keep secrets. I’m not referring to my friend’s hush-hushes or any information that may harm others in any shape or form. I am talking about lessons and experiences in life that are worth sharing with others. For example, when I made a mistake of choosing an overly complex research question for my dissertation, I decided to write an article to tell everyone about it, so that others won’t make the same mistake as I did. This habit of mine, I suspect, comes from having been immersing myself in the world of scientific research for almost a decade. You see, the very basis of a researcher’s job is to develop new knowledge that contributes towards human’s understanding of the world, and to share these new information with everyone.
Publishing in an APA journal might seem like an unattainable goal for someone who is still an undergraduate or master student. However, if you have good research, and supervisors who support you, there is a great chance you will achieve your goal. I was lucky enough to perform my final year dissertation with two fantastic supervisors, and it was this research that later went on to become the journal article being published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance. However, it was a very long road to travel down which I will re – travel with you in the following paragraphs of this post sharing the experiences I had.
Staying in academia involves writing up research proposals. For some, it starts as early as during their Bachelor’s studies where they have to provide one-page experiment proposal for their supervisors. Then, after several discussions with the supervisor, they may begin their very first research experiment. Later in time, other coursework comes in – where in order to pass the subject – one must carry out an experiment that makes sense. For many students, the last time (or sometimes the first and only time) they wrote something similar to a research proposal is, when they begin their Master’s thesis. At this level, a good outline of the research is unavoidable and usually mounts up to 3-5 pages. Of course, it is possible to slip-through the system without approaching the thesis-writing preparation seriously, but usually such approach ends up in much more negative feelings than simply outlining the strategy and planning for the research.
Throughout the course of our studies, we have all read a lot of literature reviews or scientific papers, those whose methodological standard we could have learned from and improved and others that make us wonder how they ever made it through the peer- review process of the journal. Nevertheless, we have to admit that we all still make mistakes and sometimes submit manuscripts that do not match APA guidelines. In order to improve our general knowledge about how to format papers in our beloved APA style or to refresh our previous knowledge related to it, this post intends to give a brief overview over the structure of a scientific paper and some other crucial APA features your paper should contain.
Sitting in a classroom and being lectured, I often felt a sense that I should not question what I am being taught. This was not due to any fault of the lecturers who mostly were very welcoming of students’ opinions. However, simply knowing that this was an area that they had spent years researching and seeing them sharing at their computers screen, or head in a book every time you look through their office window gave the sense that they must have all the answers and have a justified reason for their opinions whereas mine always felt too subjective to be taken seriously. During my undergraduate degree, my essays became more and more focused on the areas which we had been taught in class and less inclusive of the breath of what were my own opinions. This was simply because having a controversial argument seemed to lead to more frustration in conceiving the lecturer’s than arguing what was the ‘popular’ approach.
Having started my PhD in Psychology just recently, I have been a psychology student for a long time now. Doing a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree has surely given me the chance to observe my own progression as a researcher as well as others. In my experience, a large number of students choose a very specific population of focus when it comes to their major projects. For example, a researcher might be interested to understand how international university students’ anxiety affects their concentration. Generally you might think that such a correlational research project would result in interesting findings – but what if it didn’t?
One of the best advice I have ever received from my lecturer is that the main purpose of major projects is not to publish significant results or to deliver a groundbreaking piece of research (although this is the ideal case scenario); it is to prepare us for the future and to make us good researchers when it counts (i.e. in the ‘real world’). While this is very realistic and somewhat reassuring, I firmly believe that there is one route that a lot of student researchers can take in order to ensure that they come out of the research process with rich, useful and satisfying data (because after all, we all have egos): by using mixed methods! Continue reading
Walking down the corridor of a dark, mysterious medical centre to find the empty waiting room on a cold January evening, I had many burning questions ready and waiting to jump from my notepad that I couldn’t wait to discover the answers to. I was waiting to carry out my first qualitative interview with Dr. Cole* for my undergraduate psychology research; little did I know the exciting journey that I was about to ignite …
You are sitting in front of the computer, staring at one of the thirty browser windows that you have opened as a result of your online search for a research topic. For the past few days, you have been going round in circles, trying to nail down a research problem to work on, but to no avail. In fact, as a last resort to this exasperating quest, you have now decided to Google for “how to find a research topic”. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is not new. If you have the experience of conducting your own study, chances are, at the early stages of your research, you have faced with the difficulty of deciding on a research question and have constantly wondered if you were asking the right question. In truth, the search for a good research question is a daunting task, especially when researchers are often expected to know how to identify or figure out a good research question on their own.
Fortunately, with every problem, there is always a place at which we can use as a starting point that will hopefully lead us to a desirable solution.
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose“
(Zora Neale Hurston)
As psychological researchers we have to ask ourselves the big question of WHY we are conducting research; a question that some might argue may be even more important than questioning HOW we go about it. From starting with a research idea to concluding the research process certainly takes longer than most people would think. However, it does not stop there. While some may say that they are conducting research because it is part of their degree or job, most of you will know that, in an ideal case scenario, we conduct research in order to make the world (or at least the world of psychology) a little richer. This is certainly a privilege that we enjoy when being active in a discipline such as psychology.