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Presentation on theme: "U24103 – INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS & STATISTICS FOR PSYCHOLOGY WEEK 4 How to write a lab report."— Presentation transcript:


2 Aims for today: Learn how to write with a scientific style. Learn how to structure a lab report. Learn how to present tables and figures in a lab report. Learn how to hand in coursework.


4 Guides

5 The purpose of a lab report To present evidence that will help to answer a research question. Not to prove something. Avoid writing proves or disproves when discussing your results or the results of cited articles - use supports, contradicts, tests, etc. instead. Finding no significant result does not imply failure. To explain: why the research was carried out. what was done. what was found out. what it means.

6 Scientific writing style The audience: Other Psychologists. Assume general knowledge of psychology, but not knowledge of the specific topic of your study. The model for a lab report is an article published in a journal such as the Journal of Experimental Psychology. APA A referencing and editorial style from the American Psychological Association. Guidelines can be found on the resources page.

7 Scientific writing style Lab reports should be: Clear and concise. Keep sentences short. Avoid repetition. Grammatically correct and using complete sentences. Dont use lists (except in the appendices). Objective and detached. Use the past tense and third-person throughout. Each participant was shown the 20 emotional faces is much better than We showed each participant the 20 emotional faces or Show the participants the 20 emotional faces. Never write I or We.

8 Structure Title Abstract Introduction Method Results Discussion References Appendices Supporting Materials

9 Title Includes the IV(s) and the DV(s). Less than 20 words. Enables the reader to determine whether the research is relevant to their interests. Good: The effect of impulse control on susceptibility to persuasion. Not so good: The Star Wars Effect: those were the droids they were looking for.

10 Abstract A summary of main points from introduction, methods, results and discussion. It should include some info from all of these. Should be self-contained. A reader can use it to decide whether the rest of the report is worth reading. Should be less than 200 words. Write it last.

11 Example Abstract Recent research has shown that... This study aimed to… (Introduction) 30 children and 30 adults were asked to… (Method) It was found that… (Results) Results are discussed with reference to… It was concluded that… (Discussion)

12 Introduction Gives a context for the study. Provide enough relevant background literature to support your research question. Start with a general topic and narrow down. How does your study build upon or follow on from current research? End with clear and justified hypotheses/predictions. It was hypothesised that… Dont mention the null hypothesis. Dont describe the methods or results.

13 Method Tells the reader what was done and allows other researchers to replicate the experiment. Split into four sub-sections: Participants. Number, age range, gender split, other relevant characteristics. Materials. Equipment such as questionnaires, specific tests. Nothing trivial, e.g. An HB pencil was used. Not a list. Make reference to appendices if necessary.

14 Method Tells the reader what was done and allows other researchers to replicate the experiment. Split into four sub-sections: Participants. Materials. Design. The IV(s) and DV(s), levels, confounding variables and counterbalancing. Procedure. What happened in your experiment? Any instructions given to participants should be reported here precisely.

15 Method Tells the reader what was done and allows other researchers to replicate the experiment. Split into four sub-sections: Participants. Materials. Design. Procedure. Remember: Be concise!

16 Results Describe what was found without interpretation or discussion. Start with descriptive statistics in a table. Also describe the data in words to give a picture of what has been found. Assumption checking. Normality, etc. Report tests in the usual format. E.g. There was a significant difference between male and female empathising quotient scores (t(38) = 2.54, p =.016), with female participants scoring higher (M = 47.23, S.D. = 8.59) than male participants (M = 42.11, S.D. = 7.10). State the direction of significant results only. Use graphs only if they make the results clearer.

17 Tables and figures Tables and figures should always have titles AND be referred to in the text, e.g. From Table 2 it can be seen that adults correctly labelled more emotional faces than did children. Tables should not have any vertical lines. Graphs should always be in black and white, and are the only thing that you can copy and paste from SPSS output.

18 Reporting t-tests t( df )= t-value, p= p-value E.g. t(48)=5.22, p=.029 or t( df )= t-value, p<.001 E.g. t(49)=8.10, p<.001 Only if SPSS reports p as.000 If SPSS reports p as.001, report p=.001. Never p=< p-value or p<= p-value

19 Discussion Discuss the results with reference to the literature and to your hypotheses. Start with a summary of what has been found. Do not repeat statistics - describe the results in words. What the implications for the research question? How do the results fit with the existing literature? You can introduce new literature in the discussion. Suggest reasons for the results. Critique the current method. What are the wider implications of the results? Suggest a relevant future study. Conclude with a summary of the most important points from the discussion.

20 References Use APA style for reference list and citations in text. Refer to guidelines on the resources pages on how to reference and cite. There are very specific rules for different types of source, number of authors, etc. All references should be in one list, sorted alphabetically by author.

21 Appendices Provide information that cannot be included in the text but is useful for anyone who might wish to replicate the study. Usually materials, e.g. questionnaires, instruction/debrief sheets, examples of stimuli, etc. Anything included must be referred to in the text. E.g. A 40-item questionnaire was used (see Appendix C)...

22 Supporting Materials Not found in journal articles, they are used by the marker as evidence of required tasks such as: Carrying out statistical tests correctly. Assumption checking. A literature search. Usually raw SPSS output (not data) as requested by the lecturer.

23 Formatting The template on the resources page is an outline of a well-formatted lab report. The minimum font size is 12 point. Double space your lines.

24 Handing in Coursework All coursework must have a completed cover sheet. Hand in a hard copy to the coursework box in the printer room by 5pm on the day of the deadline. Upload a copy to Turnitin ( by

25 The coursework box


27 Marking Refer to the marksheets on the resources page. Normally, markers consider the lab report as a whole. For this practice report only, this is not the case. You will receive 20% for passing each of the main sections (introduction, method, results, discussion) and 4% for passing each of the other sections (title, abstract, references, supporting materials, writing style). Markers never start at 0% and add marks for specific details, or start at 100% and deduct marks for each error. Feedback will not be able to show you exactly where you lost each mark.

28 Coursework penalties See the resources page for full details. You will lose 2 marks for every piece of information that is incorrect or missing on your cover sheet, up to a maximum of 5 marks. Includes module reference number, student number, word count, etc. No cover sheet results in a deduction of 5 marks. Late submissions. Late hard copies of coursework will be given a mark of 0 (fail) unless an extension has been requested before the deadline. Penalties for late Turnitin copies increase every day that they are late.

29 Coursework penalties Word count: Must include all the text that it is essential for an assessor to read in order to understand the document fully. Includes the abstract and citations. Excludes all material which appears outside the main body of the coursework. Excludes the main title, tables, table titles, table notes, references, appendices and supporting materials. You will lose 1 mark from your percentage for every 50 words your coursework is above the word limit. Being 3 words over the limit would result in your mark dropping by 1. Being 303 words over the limit would drop your mark by 7.

30 Summary Write with a scientific style (APA format) Structure your report according to the guidelines presented here. Read the resources page articles on APA style, coursework formatting and submission requirements and penalties. Refer to the marksheet while completing any piece of coursework. Check your spelling and grammar before submitting any piece of work.

31 What to do next Finish todays worksheet and submit your answers online. Read the 3 journal articles on the resources page and find at least 2 additional relevant journal articles. Do the analysis of Real Prac Data.sav Independent t-test comparing the effect of group size on mean group score. Paired samples t-test comparing individual vs. group recall. Write up the experiment. Write it as a lab report, using the guidelines presented here and on the resources page. The word limit is 2000 words. The deadline is Friday 4 March at 5 p.m.

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