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
“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.
Today, much of the world of scientific writing and publishing revolves around making sure the standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (or more commonly known as “APA style”) are being met. Every undergraduate has gone through one or more courses about it, and every student pursuing a career in research sure as to know it from back to back. It can even be remarkably challenging to imagine the scientific enterprise without the existence of the Publication Manual.
APA style has come to refer to this well-developed system of writing conventions that includes guidelines on how to organize empirical reports, how to reference other published works, and how to solve a dozen other problems that arise in the preparation of a manuscript. But the reach of APA style doesn’t end in the settings in which manuscripts are prepared. Indeed, APA style has become common even in disciplines outside psychology, such as nursing, education and anthropology. Contemporary English textbooks present APA style as an established standard on a par with the revered “MLA style” (Achtert & Gibaldi, 1985).
But when something is so pervasive in a certain context we have to stop and ponder: what are the consequences of having such a fixed set of standards regulating most of scientific publishing in the social sciences?
There are so many obstacles you have to face when doing your own research: After finding a suitable field, conducting your research and writing it down on paper, your supervisor might end up tearing it into pieces should they find shortcomings in your methodology or results section. In contrast to the widespread procedure, the authors of the study presented below have failed not only to discuss methodological issues, but they have made up a complete study that got published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Has the entire review process failed for this study? What does this case teach you?
There is nothing as dull in a student’s life as badly made PowerPoint presentations. Using PowerPoint has become a rule, whenever you present something in an university setting or otherwise. Everybody does it. And even when you follow all the hints on ‘how to make a good presentations’, like the ones Maris talked about in our last post at the JEPS Bulletin, you end up with just a PowerPoint presentation. How to change that and spice things up?
Presenting your research results might be the highlight in your undergraduate degree. This is your chance to tell the audience why your findings are relevant. What would make a good presentation? Naturally, the one that convinces them – your work has its place in the pool of knowledge. What’s the formula to make people listen (and follow your story)?
If you ever attended even the most basic statistics class, you have been warned about data manipulation. Even more so,if somebody mentions data manipulation and statistics, your mind inevitably leads you to the media. Reporting on scientific results derived from statistics, reporters often omit the warnings and precautions the authors themselves expressed on any far-reaching conclusions based on their results. But a cautious, scientifically sound conclusion does not cut it as a headline. Despite this being a serious issue, especially for psychologists, what better way to illustrate it than with a joke?
How to format tables in APA Style?
Before formatting tables you have created to support the existing data in your article, you should consider checking the following questions to ensure whether embedding tables is necessary or whether it the data could be presented otherwise:
- Is the table necessary?
- Is the entire table single or double-spaced (including the title, headings, and notes)?
- Are all comparable tables presented consistently?
- Is the title brief but explanatory?
- Does every column have a column heading?
- Are all abbreviations; special use of italics, parentheses, and dashes; and special symbols explained?
- Are the notes organized according to the convention of general, specific, probability?
- Are all vertical rules eliminated?
- If the table or its data are from another source, is the source properly cited?
- Is the table referred to in the text?
Whether we like it or not, science mainly exists in English. Sadly, scientists whose mother tongue it happens to be, have a distinct advantage to get their work published. There are many reasons why this may be, but thats not the topic of this post. One thing for sure, the better you’re able to express yourself in English, the more likely is your manuscript read through when you submit it, regardless if it’s to be published or to be evaluated by your prof. How to beat the language barrier and write outstanding professional texts? Here are some tips and sites to help you.