Selecting a Topic
- Browse your textbook, great place to start since it is the first source that you have available.
- Browse articles relating to psychology in the popular press, such as Psychology Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek.
- Listen to the news for reports regarding human and animal behavior.
- Browse psychology related sites such as American Psychology Association at www.apa.org.
- Browse psychology related books (e.g., Encyclopedia of Psychology), and journals.
- Go over your class notes, since your professor and classmates will mention topics during class discussions that you would like to be more educated about.
- Most important, select a topic that is interesting and will keep you motivated to do the research.
Defining a Topic
- Initially, your topic will be TOO BROAD. An example is Post-traumatic stress disorder (ask yourself, what about a topic that you would like to focus on).
- Once you have decided on a topic, do some background reading and this will help you to focus on a specific aspect of the topic.
- As you read more and more about your topic, you will be able to focus on a specific area of interest, which will help with narrowing your topic.
- You may need to modify your topic several times to get it just right.
Narrowing a Topic
Focus on an event: Holocaust, World Trade Centre Disaster, Hurricanes, Iraqi War, Tsunami.
Focus on a specific population: Abused Children, Survivors, Women, Men, Elderly, Rape Victim, Prisoners.
Focus on a specific geographic and demographic areas: Asia, New York, Inner City, Foster Homes, Prison, Concentration Camps.
Focus on time period: Long-Term, Midlife, Neonatal Period, Postnatal Period.
Documentation and Citation of Sources
It is very IMPORTANT to keep correct documentation of the sources used during the research process for the following reasons:
- If the ideas and thoughts are not original yours, you must give credit to the owners of the works, otherwise this will result in plagiarism.
- Using the works of others without giving credit to the owners is also a violation of the copyright law.Proper citations enable your instructor and others to check the cited sources.