Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Research Paper

One way to become familiar with classic and contemporary psychological research is by doing some independent reading and writing a paper about it. The purpose of the reading is to acquaint students with current psychological research as it appears in written form. By completing the paper, you will have the opportunity to learn and write about how psychologists present hypothesis, methods, and results.

If you choose this option, you must first select a topic from an area of psychology that you would like to examine. You can select one of the topics that appear below or you are welcome to select your own topic. If you select your own topic, you need to have your selection approved by your PSY 301 teaching assistant (TA).

Next, you need to find three to five articles from psychological journals. An easy way to locate articles is to use PsycINFO, available on the UT library website under Databases and Indexes to Articles. PsycINFO is a searchable database with links to articles and abstracts published in psychology. Many of the journal articles that are listed in PsycINFO can be located online or in the libraries on campus. You should look for journals such as, The Journal of Experimental Psychology, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Child Development, etc. Another helpful resource is the Psychology Resource Guide, also on the UT library site.

If you have a question regarding whether a particular journal will be acceptable, please check with the teaching assistant. Articles from Psychology Today, Reader's Digest, and Redbook, etc., are not acceptable. Your references MUST come from psychological journals.

Finally, you must write a paper based on your readings. At a minimum, you should summarize the work you have read. You can present the material as a simple summary, or you could compare or contrast the hypotheses, methodological procedures, statistical procedures, or results. The following rules apply to each paper submitted to satisfy the requirement; however, your professor may have additional requirements:

  1. Typewritten in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced with one-inch margins, and the body of the paper must be at least 1,700 words in length.
  2. You must attach a reference list and include in-text citations to these references using APA formatting. A helpful resource for reviewing APA guidelines is Purdue OWL: APA Formatting and Style Guide.
  3. You must attach a cover sheet with your name, UT EID, unique number, and the semester and year.
  4. It must be your own work. Do not copy articles. Discuss the text in your own words.
  5. You may only reference one website in your paper (not including journal articles available online).
  6. The paper is due on the final Friday of the semester at 4:59pm. Please be sure your paper is uploaded to the Canvas assignment called "Optional Research Paper" before the deadline. If you have problems uploading your paper, you may email it to BEFORE the deadline. You are welcome to submit your paper early, but late papers will not be accepted for any reason.

Possible Topics

The topics listed below are broad areas you may consider when planning your research paper, but it is advisable that you choose a fairly narrow topic to adequately address the subject within the required guidelines. For example, if the broad area of "Therapy for Depression" is of interest, you could consider writing your paper on any of the following: "CBT for childhood depression," "Behavioral Activation treatment for depressed teens," "Interpersonal Therapy for depression," "Managing depression in cancer survivors," "Family therapy for depression when a child has Cystic Fibrosis," "Treatment for postpartum depression," or "Therapy for depression in elderly adults." The possibilities are endless and students typically enjoy reading and writing more about a specific topic than a general one. If you are interested in a general area on the list below but need help narrowing it down, please do not hesitate to reach out to your TA or the psychology librarian.

Therapy for Depression, Mid-life Crisis, Achievement Motivation, Creativity, Biochemistry of Schizophrenia, Suicidal Behaviors, Death and Dying, Child Abuse, Effects of Noise on Hearing, Synaptic Transmission, RNA and Memory, Attachment in Infants, Drug Use Motivation, Test Anxiety, Development of Self-esteem, Acquisition of Morality, Types of Personal Space, Music Therapy, Psychological Aspects of Pain, Violence and Aggression, Sex-role typing, Stages of Sleep, Behavior Problems of Children, Biochemistry of Bipolar Disorder, Neurological Effects of Meditation, and Dance Therapy, any topic discussed in PSY 301 assigned readings.

If you have any questions, please contact your class TA or the research coordinator via e-mail at

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    SEA 4.208
    108 E. Dean Keeton Stop A8000
    Austin, TX 78712-1043