PSY304 - Early Socioemotional Development - Research Paper Outline
The research paper should review a topic in early socioemotional development that is of particular interest to you. For this assignment, you are to go to the library and seek out at least 10 empirical articles on the topic. By empirical, I mean that these should be articles that report one study apiece, rather than review articles that may summarize many studies. These articles should have been published in recognized psychological journals (e.g., Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Early Childhood Reserch Quarterly, etc.).
Narrowing the Topic
After you have selected a topic of interest to you, an important task will be to narrow that topic. Probably the most common mistake in writing a review paper (besides procrastination) is to try to write about a topic that is too broad. For example, the topic of nonparental care has generated a multitude of studies. These studies cover a range of issues in cognitive, social, and emotional development. To try to write a 10-page review paper about any one of these areas, let alone all of them, would be next to impossible. It would be better to narrow this topic to make it more manageable. For example:
The narrowing of your topic can be achieved by developing an idea that can serve as your thesis. A thesis is not a fact, which can be immediately verified by data, but an assertion worth discussing, an argument with more than one possible conclusion. The thesis sentence will appear in the introduction of your paper and expresses the task or goal you intend to accomplish. Thus, the thesis informs the reader (me) of your goal, and helps you to narrow in your own mind the focus of your paper. For example, an initial working thesis for nonparental care and emotional development might be:
Nonparental care experience can have a negative impact on emotional development.
The problem with this thesis is that it is too broad, and a fairly general statement. It would be better to narrow your working thesis as follows:
Nonparental care experience can have a negative impact on emotional development because of the reduced time spent between parent and child.
This thesis is a bit narrower, but it could still be improved upon. For example:
Nonparental care experience can have a negative impact on emotional development because the reduced time spent between parent and child may affect the quality of the attachment relationship.
This thesis narrows the focus of your paper and presents an arguable assertion or hypothesis. It tells the reader what to expect, and tells you exactly what you need to do in your paper (e.g., find studies that examine quality of attachment in children with nonparental care experience to see whether the proportion of children with insecure attachments differs significantly from children who have been raised in the home).
The Literature Search
After you have formulated your thesis, you need to track down research articles. There are a number of ways to do this. One way might be to simply go through recent issues (say, the past year) of a journal such as Developmental Psychology and look for an article with key words (say, attachment and day care) in the title. After finding that article, you might look through the reference section and find earlier articles that address your topic. However, the most efficient way to find research articles is to use PsychInfo., a computerized data bank, that allows you to look up articles by topic, author, or using other key terms. PsychInfo. is available online through the Feinberg Library electronic search services.
Your next task will be to write an outline (see example below). Outlining your paper will help you gain a better understanding of your ideas by arranging them according to their interrelationships. If, in this planning stage, you carefully arrange your ideas, it will provide a basic structure for the body of your paper, and make the job of writing your paper much easier.
Research Paper Length and Format
The research paper should be at least10 pages, and should be written according to the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. These guidelines can be obtained from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Additional information about APA style can be obtained at the APA Style Resources page.
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