Spring 2010
Volume 3, Issue 2
Eye on the Future Research Focus
Writing A-grade Term Papers: The Art Behind the Science of Scholarly Writing
By Saira Qureshi
The City University of New York and State University of New York

To write term papers in psychology, you must define your research questions very clearly. Parsimony, which is being simple and succinct, is the key here.
  1. Start with describing the problem or research question. Explicitly state it in one to three sentences.
  2. Give a precise background as to why you think this particular research question should be explored further in your area of study, given the current state of the literature.
  3. Identify the sample of your experiment: Who are the people that you will include in your research study and what are their demographic characteristics? How you will include them in your study?
  4. Define the variables in your hypothesis. Both independent and dependent variables must be stated as clearly as possible.
  5. Describe the method, experimental design, or procedure of your study in a coherent step-wise fashion.
  6. When data analysis is done, and all the figures, graphs, and charts or tables are created, placing them in the right order in the Results section of the paper or at its end is a judgment call. You are writing your paper, so only you know where best to place a given chart, table, graph, or other items.
  7. Be very careful in creating these tools for your paper. Your tables or figures must be visually appealing and make sense in the way they are created. Numbers and the labels of tables and charts must make it clear to the reader what the data really mean.
  8. In a term paper of 6 to 10 pages, 3 pages for charts, tables, and figures is enough. Clearly labeled tabulations are required and very helpful in saving time and space and making your data more clear.
  9. Discuss the results and relate them to the findings of research done earlier. How did your particular research bring about new observations? What are some of the implications of these new findings, and how do you think they may benefit future avenues of research?
  10. If you have used a literature review to back up your results, follow the APA style manual guidelines and include a correctly-formatted References page at the end of the paper.
  11. Print a copy, and see how it looks. Read your draft of the paper. Make sure the pagination and labels are all correct.
  12. Finally, make sure you do proofread your product as many times as you can, in order to eliminate all chances of minor typos and blunders.
People who follow these few guidelines should find writing and finishing term papers a much easier endeavor. Furthermore, these guidelines should guide those who seriously want to write in an effective manner and present their scholarly research effectively.

Suggested Readings:

American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bem, D. J. (1995). Writing a review article for Psychological Bulletin. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 172-177.

Huff, A. S. (1999). Writing for scholarly publication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pechenik, J. A. (1996). A short guide to writing about biology (3rd ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Perrin R. (2009). Pocket guide to APA style (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

UConn Writing Center

Author Note:

Saira Qureshi has been an Adjunct Faculty member with CUNY and SUNY campuses in NY since 2004. She has taught Psychology and Applied Education coursework to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Editor's Note:

Saira's writing has previously been featured in the APS Observer. Some of her articles and letters can be accessed here and here.
Editor: Kimberly Lowe - Associate Editor: Mandi White-Ajmani