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Research Design Lab

Writing Activity

This year’s writing fellow is “Megan”


She will meet with you four times over the course of the semester. Megan will help you from “beginning to end”… from organizing your paper to preparing a well-written empirical report. These meetings and the work you do with Megan will constitute 12.5% of your final grade in PSY 3415. If you invest the time and effort, you will receive full points. But PLEASE do not think of this as “12.5%”. Better writers get better jobs!

First Contact (Sept. 19-23)   


Megan will meet with each team individually for about 1hour

You will introduce your research topic to her, and show her a preliminary outline of what you will write about in the introduction section of your research report.  Include as many heading levels as reasonably possible. It should be clear to Megan a) why you chose the headings you did and b) why they are in that order. The logic and flow of the headings should make sense even to someone not familiar with your paper.  If the logic and sequence of the headings do not make sense to Megan – then a revision will be necessary.  During this first contact, Megan will review the two purposes the introduction serves, and the basic shape of the intro. At this first and subsequent contacts, Megan will also address any questions you have about plagiarism, APA format, tone, and style.  See example of an outline.

Second Contact (Oct. 3-7)


Three to five days before this contact, each team will email Megan their “fleshed out” (and revised?) outline. It should be very detailed in its content – but still in “note form”.  Under each heading/subheading, cite the papers you plan to use there. Include an APA formatted reference list at the end of the outline. Megan will meet with each team individually for up to one hour to review their progress and point out any “disorganization, ambiguity, repetitiveness, redundancy” or “whatever”. This is also a good time for each team to review any writing concerns they have.

Third Contact (Oct. 24-28)


Five to seven days before this contact, every student in the class will individually email Megan a copy of the section they wrote (approximately 2 pages, double spaced, APA format). Megan will meet with each student individually for approximately 20 minutes to discuss their writing strengths and weaknesses, and make suggestions for improvement. In addition to the “usual suspects” (spelling and grammar), Megan will point out examples of APA errors – format, tone, and style.

Fourth Contact  (Nov. 7-11)


Three to five days before this contact, each team will email Megan a copy of their completed introduction. Before you do this, each team should read their team’s intro to make sure that it flows well and to catch any errors. The weaknesses and errors Megan pointed out during contact 3 must be addressed in this version. Megan will give you final feedback and answer any remaining questions you have.  You are expected to use what you have learned through this process to write the remaining sections of your paper: method (materials, participants, procedure), results, and discussion.  And by now, you should all be pro’s!

Megan will keep track of attendance and participation at every meeting. EACH STUDENT must write a section of their research report's introduction. This will be approximately 2 pages in length (double spaced, APA formatted).* This assignment will be submitted to for the lab (not class). In ONE document (.doc or .docx), include the version you turned in to Megan for review. Then include the improved version you wrote following your meeting with her. End with a one-two paragraph reflection of what you learned through this process (e.g. you could talk about a weakness you have and how to address it).


* Just so we’re clear, your TEAM will end up writing a 8-10 page introduction section. The complete empirical research report will be approximately 15-18 pages, not including title page, abstract, tables & figures, reference list, or appendix.

You are not allowed to use quotes in your research report…
paraphrase instead.

Secondary sources and non-peer reviewed sources are okay but must be kept to a MINIMUM.

Beware of plagiarism. I will have you submit your report to well in advance of the due date. That way, you will know if there are any issues and have time to fix them before the assignment is due.

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