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PSY 101 Fall 2021

Guide for Psychology 101 Students

Getting Started

dog at computer with caption "I have no idea what I'm doing"

You: Before Today

You: After Today




This LibGuide and your class instruction on September 6 will:

  • Introduce you to PsycINFO, the premier research database in psychology.
  • Share search strategies to get more accurate, relevant results.
  • Examine the components of a primary research paper, which you will evaluate in your writing assignments.

Writing Assignment Details

Make sure to review the assignment instructions carefully.  Ask Dr. Rhodes if you aren't sure about any of these expectations, and contact your librarian (John) if you need help finding sources or how to use them!


Writing Assignments (25 points each, 100 points): The goal of these writing assignments is to practice critically reviewing scientific literature. You will complete FOUR writing assignments over the course of the semester. You will choose a topic covered in class and/or the text and locate ONE primary source (i.e. peer-reviewed empirical article) relevant to that topic. Class time will be devoted to strategies to find appropriate sources. Students will then complete a short review of the article. Your paper should include a review of:

  1. Introduction/Background of the study (5 points)
    1. Why are they doing this study?
    2. What have previous studies found?
    3. Why is this study important to do?
    4. What are the authors’ hypotheses (What do they think is going to happen?)
  2. Methods (5 points)
    1. What did the authors do?
    2. What is the experimental design used?
    3. Identify any independent and dependent variables.
    4. Can you think of a possible confound?
  3. Results (5 points)
    1. What did they find?
    2. Did the findings support the hypothesis?
  4. The authors’ conclusions (5 points)
    1. What do the authors think the findings mean?
    2. How do they think their findings will impact future research?
    3. What are the strengths and limitations that the authors report?
  5. Your critical review of the study (5 points)
    1. What do YOU think are the strengths and weaknesses?
      1. Is the experimental design appropriate for the hypothesis?
      2. Are there any possible confounds not noted by the authors?
      3. Are there any ethical or legal considerations not addressed by the authors?
    2. What would YOU do differently?
    3. How do YOU think future research should proceed?

Writing assignments are not to exceed TWO pages (double-spaced, 12 pt. font). Writing assignments will be turned in on D2L at the start of each class they are due (see tentative schedule). Students should take this opportunity to delve into the literature and explore a topic they find intrinsically interesting.