Many psychology students find themselves in a situation where their research did not yield any significant results. This can be immensely frustrating since they have put a lot of time and effort into designing the study, as well as in collecting and analyzing the data. In some cases, be it out of desperation or pressure to publish interesting findings, certain students will effectively “hunt” for results by conducting statistical tests on all possible variable combinations. For instance, after noticing that a hypothesized correlation between two variables proved to be non-significant, a student might create a correlation matrix of all continuous variables of her study and hope for at least one pair to be significantly related to each other. Other students might include one, two, or even more covariates in their analysis of variance (turning it into an ANCOVA), thereby hoping that the interaction they initially hypothesized between their key factors will become significant.
Graphics and figures we design are the first thing editors and other readers look at when browsing through our paper. Hence, it is prominent to be efficient in conveying complex information so the included data would be more concise and clear than the descriptive text itself. If you do it right, not only your chances for publication will increase, but it will as well help your audience to understand your ideas, objectives and results in a better way. So, in short, keep them interested. Want to know how to do it? I bet that the answer is yes. So, follow me! Continue reading
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.
In April 2012, at the conference of the Austrian Society for Psychology (ÖGP) at the University of Graz, Robert Kail – experienced researcher and editor for one of the flagship journals in Psychology, Psychological Science – gave an insightful presentation and discussion targeted to give advice about manuscript preparation and the submission process to junior researchers in psychology. His presentation was organized around several key questions taken from a survey that students of the association for psychological science (APSSC) had conducted. The following main topics of his presentation will be discussed in this post: turning a thesis into a paper, writing a clear introduction, choosing the right title for a paper, and what to consider during the submission phase.
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.
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.
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?
Regardless of whether you’re writing a short course paper or your thesis, you’re expected to have an overview of pretty much everything published in that particular field. The internet is vast and there are several databases and search engines to find literature. Still, how to reach the right articles and books and to be sure not to miss out on something relevant? Here’s what you can do to ensure you know the most important and recent findings in your field.
A recent article summarizing previous data from 110 manuscripts submitted to the Research in the Schools journal (Onwuegbuzie, Combs, Slate, & Frels, 2010) shows that APA style deviations related to the use of abbreviations and acronyms were found in 41.82% of the manuscripts. Perhaps because using abbreviations in writing comes so intuitively to us, a lot of people don’t give much thought to the fact that the publication manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009) has some specific requirements when it comes to abbreviations. And while the rules governing the use of abbreviations may seem like just another bunch of the innumerable guidelines in the manual, it doesn’t take long to realize that they are actually logical and easy to follow.
As psychologists and, more importantly, as psychology students, we heavily rely on the peer-review process. When conducting an online search for journal articles that shall inform our next research project or assignment, we expect to find high-quality research right then and there. The peer-review process saves us time; we approach our search with the assumption that a large amount of articles that we find (at least those published in peer-reviewed journals) provide us with valuable insights into the area we are focussing on, even by just reading through the abstract. The reviewer is our friend! In this post I will offer some insight into my personal experiences regarding the peer-review process from the standpoint of the reviewer. More specifically I will highlight how I have systematically approached manuscripts that I was asked to review.