Your Undergraduate Psychology Project , 2nd Edition
May 2013, ©2011
Your Undergraduate Psychology Project: A Student Guide has been designed with the needs of the student in mind. Packed with hints and tips, and written in a simple, informal style, this ‘second supervisor’ is designed to ease students further into the world of research.
The second edition has been completely revised and updated with new material on focus groups and ethics and a new section entitled How to Lose Marks Instantly.
1. Planning Research 1
Choosing a Research Topic 1
The textbook method 2
The television method 3
The pub chat or coffee bar method 4
The internet method 5
The lecturer method 5
Think again! 5
Replication versus Novelty 7
Pure versus Applied Research 8
Researching the Project: Finding Literature 9
Using internet search engines 10
Snowballing and searching via citations 10
Using electronic databases 12
Boolean operators 12
Narrowing searches 13
How many references? 15
Statistics on the internet 16
Choosing a Method 16
Single-case designs 17
Case studies 17
Choosing qualitative methods 18
Differences or relationships? 21
Primary or secondary data? 22
Observational methods 23
Protocol analysis 24
Multiple methods 25
Control Groups 25
Matching Methods to Analysis 26
Power Analysis 27
To Pilot or Not to Pilot 28
Developing Materials 29
Experimental stimuli 29
Looking professional 35
Cross-cultural studies and translation of materials 39
‘Borrowing’ Materials 40
The Internet as a Research Tool 40
Managing Time: Keeping on Track 42
Start early 42
Match the project to the time available 42
Plan B 43
Response rates 45
Your supervisor’s time 46
Project milestones 46
Tips on managing time 47
Writing a Proposal 51
Research Ethics 52
Informed consent 53
Undue pressure 55
Protection of participants from harm and ‘acceptable’ risk 55
Personal safety 57
Obtaining Ethical Clearance 58
Getting Started 59
2. Doing Research: Collecting Data 61
Student–Supervisor Relations 62
Pilot Studies 65
Dealing with People 66
Being an ambassador 67
Working with participants 70
When participants don’t understand or make mistakes 75
Conducting Interviews: The Practicalities 76
Focus Groups 77
Observational Studies 78
Relying on Equipment 81
Making Back-ups 81
Adjusting Your Project Milestones 82
Taking Part Yourself 82
Revisiting Data 83
Transcribing Interviews 84
The Paper Trail 85
Knowing When to Stop 86
Data Preparation 86
Conducting Statistical Analyses 87
3. Writing Up Research 91
An Overview 92
Notes on Style 93
A Note on Plagiarism 94
Section by Section 96
Generalising your findings 123
Qualitative Reports 129
The first person 129
First, Second and Third Drafts 132
Common Mistakes 133
Affect and effect 134
Experiment and study 134
Joining words together 134
Incorrect apostrophes 135
Incorrect sentences 136
Latin phrases and other borrowings 137
Number and amount 137
Presenting numbers 139
Reporting probabilities 140
Separating words 140
Significant diff erences 141
Spelling IV and DV 141
When It’s All Over 143
4. How To Lose Marks Instantly 145
List of Things NOT to do! 145
Go it alone and ignore your supervisor’s advice 145
Be precious about your work 146
Ignore the required format 146
Conduct research with no point to it 146
Bite off more than you can chew 147
Ignore relevant literature, or fail to look hard enough for it 147
Run out of time 147
Use the wrong reference format 148
Argue yourself out of a perfectly good result 148
Conduct the wrong analysis 149
Collect data without ethical approval 149
Set out the entire project with a massive design flaw in it 150
The Moral of the Tale 150
Further Reading 153
Mark Forshaw is Director of Endpoint Development and Outcomes Assessment at Adelphi Values, UK, having previously been a Principal Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Centre for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University. He is Chair of the BPS Membership Standards Board, and a Trustee of the BPS, and the winner of the BPS Division of Health Psychology Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Health Psychology 2011. He is the author of many books, including Critical Thinking for Psychology: A Student Guide (Wiley, 2012).
- New material on focus groups and ethics.
- New section entitled, How to Lose Marks Instantly.
- Structured chronologically around planning a project, carrying it out, and then writing it up.
- Gives practical advice on how to deal with day-to-day problems such as software failures or uncommunicative interviewees.
- Written in consultation with a number of experienced academics and students of psychology.
"This book provides an accessible and informative
introduction which will be invaluable to undergraduate students
carrying out their final year projects. From finding a
research topic, to planning, right the way through to writing up,
the book offers practical advice on how to avoid common pitfalls
and how to produce a project that not only succeeds in terms of
good marks, but also facilitates the student in carrying out a
worthwhile and original piece of research".
DR JULIE HULME, Discipline Lead for Psychology, The Higher Education Academy, UK
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