PSYCH 018 Index > Observation Research Paper

Observation Research Project

Read everything before doing anything!

This is one of the two research papers you will be writing in this course. You may work in groups of two, but each of you must write your own paper. The paper must contain all the parts of a research paper:

Title Page
This must be in APA style. Don’t use the words “A Study of” or “An Observation of” in the title.
A very brief summary of the contents of your article. This should be no more than 150 words (the APA style guide recommends 120).
The introduction gives the background of the problem you are investigating. This is where you summarize previous research in the area. You must have at least two three references in your paper. Don’t go into excessive detail about the references; as the APA guide says, “Assume that the reader is knowledgeable about the basic problem and does not require a complete accounting of its history.” (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 28)

After the historical review, explain the purpose of your observation, and give your main hypothesis and any alternate hypotheses.

This can be broken into subsections that talk about the participants, apparatus (if you need any), and procedure. Write this section in the past tense. This doesn’t mean you have to wait until the observation is finished to start writing; you can plan out your method (in fact, you’d better do that before you start observing!) and write it down as if it had already occurred. After all, when you finish the observation, it will have.
Evaluate your results in words (e.g., “The general trend shows that depressed people show more symptoms during the evening than during the day, but the results were not significant.”) Do significance testing on your results and report them in APA style. For a χ2 statistic, either describe the frequencies in words or in a table, but not both. For Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, and t tests, you do not need a table.
Evaluate your results in light of your hypothesis or hypotheses. Begin with a clear statement of the support or rejection of your original hypothesis. You may wish to compare your results to previous results in the field.
These must be in APA style. You may not, under any circumstances, use any paper by Milgram, Skinner, Zimbardo, Asch, Festinger, or Bandura as a reference, nor may they be the topic of your reference. Yes, they did groundbreaking work, but much has been done since. You must have at least three references from peer-reviewed journals or books.


Before you start your observations, you will write part of the abstract, introduction (your area of research and your hypotheses), the method section of your paper, and the references. Obviously, you can’t include information about the number of participants, nor the results that you obtained, as you haven’t done the observing yet. This pre-review material will be due on the date shown on the main index page.. During lab that day, another student will assess your paper using this scale
Peer Review
The first draft of your observation and paper must be complete by the date showno n the index page. Another student will assess your paper using this scale, and return the assessment to me on that same day. (This will take longer; there’s more to read than in the pre-review.)
Presentations / Final Version
Presentations will start on 6 November 2014. Presentations must a minimum of three minutes and a maximum of five minutes. Each presentation will be followed by a maximum of five minutes of discussion. We will use lab time during those class sessions. I will use this scale to assess your presentations.
Final Version of Paper
The final version of the paper is due on 6 November 2014. Upload the word processing document and Excel spreadsheet with your raw data to Moodle. The word processing documents must have a name of the form observation????.doc (or .docx, or .odt if you’re using LibreOffice) and the spreadsheet must have a name of the form observation????.xls, or .xlsx, where ???? is your four-digit identifier. If you are using LibreOffice, the file name will end with .ods.

I will use the same scale as the peer review to grade your papers, with the following additonal penalties:

Error Penalty
Citation of direct quote without page number 2%
Incorrect citation format


Incorrect heading


Incorrect reference format (penalty depends on
how severe the error is)

Up to 8%

Use of MLA format in reference


Incorrect page break


These penalties are for each occurrence, so if you have three incorrect citations, you lose 15%. If you have two incorrect page breaks, you lose 4%.


American Psychological Association (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) Washington, DC: Author.

Sample Papers

Here are some sample papers from previous semesters. All of them except one are fairly good.

Note: Some of these were written using the older APA manual, and not all of them follow the APA manual precisely. Do not blindly follow these examples. Instead, if you are in doubt as to the proper way to place a heading or indent a reference, look in the APA manual!