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Discussing your findingsBy Beth Azar You've conducted your research, analyzed your findings and written your results. You're tired and the last thing you want to do is keep writing.

Yet, arguably the most difficult part of writing your dissertation awaits: your discussion, the place where you sew up the various threads of your research into a cohesive narrative.

How to write a lab report | simply psychology

Rather, it's the time to pull back and take a fresh look at your work When you write a psychology paper, you are, above all, writing to convey factual knowledge that is supported Psychology writing can be very dense, with many references to previous research. Writers of psychology in order to conclude that Americans' attitudes toward gay rights have become more liberal, you would .

"Many students reach this stage of their careers having been focused for several years on the 'trees,'" says Yale University cognitive psychology professor Brian Scholl, PhD.

"This section of the dissertation provides an opportunity to revisit the 'forest. '"Fellow students, your adviser and your dissertation committee members can help provide that outside perspective, adds Yale clinical psychology professor Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, who teaches a course on writing in psychology.

And while the discussion should put your research into context and tell a story, say experts, it should not overstate your conclusions. How do you find the balance? Follow these do's and don'ts.

DO: Provide context and explain why people should care. Your discussion should begin with a cogent, one-paragraph summary of the study's key findings, but then go beyond that to put the findings into context, says Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, chair of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. "The point of a discussion, in my view, is to transcend 'just the facts,' and engage in productive speculation," he says.

That means going back to the literature and grappling with what your findings mean, including how they fit in with previous work. If your results differ from others' findings, you should try to explain why, says Nolen-Hoeksema.

For example, a clinical study might discuss how psychologists might apply the findings in a clinical setting or a social psychology project might talk about political implications.

By exploring those kinds of implications, students address what Scholl considers the most important-and often overlooked-purpose of the discussion: to directly explain why others should care about your findings.

"You can't and shouldn't rely on others to intuitively appreciate the beauty and importance of your work," he says The reader should not have to read any of the rest of the paper in order to understand the abstract fully. Its purpose is to allow the reader to decide whether to read the paper or not. A reader who does not want to read the paper should be able to read the abstract instead. When you write an abstract, remember Strunk .

Sounds simple, right? In fact, choosing what to include can be overwhelming, warns sixth-year Yale University social psychology graduate student Aaron Sackett. "It is easy to get caught up in the desire to be extremely comprehensive and to bring up every potential issue, flaw, future direction and tangentially related concept," says Sackett.

"However, this will make your dissertation seem like it has raised more questions than it answers. "Limit your discussion to a handful of the most important points, as Sackett did on the advice of his adviser.

"No reader wants to wade through ten pages of suppositional reasoning," says Roddy Roediger, PhD, chair of psychology at Washington University.

One of the biggest errors students make in their discussion is exaggeration, say experts This guide introduces you to the world of psychological report writing. As part of the specification you should have knowledge of the conventions of reporting conclusions. The next part of the guide aims to examine each section of psychological report writing in detail. In order to understand how each section unfolds, it is .

Speculation is fine as long as you acknowledge that you're speculating and you don't stray too far from your data, say experts. That includes avoiding language that implies causality when your study can only make relational conclusions.

"If your study was not a true experiment, replace verbs that imply causation with words and phrases such as 'correlated with,' 'was associated with' and 'related to,'" write John Cone, PhD, and Sharon Foster, PhD, in a forthcoming revision of "Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish" (APA, 2006). Steven David, PhD, who successfully defended his dissertation in clinical geropsychology at the University of Southern California last May, found this point to be particularly difficult.

When he defended his master's thesis, his committee told him his conclusions went too far out on a limb.

He used more restraint with his dissertation and his committee thought he wasn't positive enough The following set of guidelines provides psychology students at Essex with the basic information for structuring and formatting reports of research in psychology. During your time here this will be an invaluable reference. You are encouraged to refer to this document each time you write a lab report. The writing of laboratory .

"The moral here is to try to find a balance where you set a tone that indeed celebrates interesting findings without too many leaps, while at the same time reporting limitations without being unnecessarily negative," says David.

Ocr a level psychology - student guide: report writing

But avoid beginning the discussion with a long list of study limitations, says Nolen-Hoeksema. "This makes me think 'Then why should I care or believe anything you found,' and want to stop reading right there," she says.

"Limitations should be noted, but after you've discussed your positive results. Along with noting your work's limitations, it's helpful to also suggest follow-up studies.

But don't dwell on the future at the expense of the present,says Scholl.

Writing in the disciplines: psychology - writing a lab report

"Too often I am left excited not by what was in the dissertation, but by what was not in the dissertation Lab reports are a critical aspect of learning to write in psychology, and comprise a large part of the Intro to Psychology lab grade at Richmond. Although they may seem overwhelming to you now, lab reports can be written efficiently and effectively if you follow a formula that optimizes clarity and concision. It's important for .

"Roediger agrees: "Conclude the general discussion with a strong paragraph stating the main point or points again, in somewhat different terms-if possible-than used before.

"Remember, adds Scholl, you want readers to remember you and your work. The discussion section is the place to leave your mark.

So instead of simply summarizing your data and suggesting a few obvious follow-up studies, think about presenting your data in a novel way, showing how the work might resolve an existing controversy in the literature or explaining how it connects to an entirely different literature. By the time readers get to your discussion, they're tired, adds Sackett.

Give them something clear, concise and interesting to read, and they're sure to appreciate it. 10 most common dissertation discussion mistakesStarting with limitations instead of implications.

Going overboard on limitations, leading readers to wonder why they should read on Ask you supervisor for advice, but if in doubt, keep it simple, choose a memory experiment (you don't get extra marks for originality). You will also be likely to write your paper according to APA style. The report should have a thread of argument linking the prediction in the introduction to the content in the discussion..

Failing to acknowledge limitations or dismissing them out of hand. Failing to differentiate between strong and weak results as you make conclusions about them. Lapsing into causal language when your data were correlational.

A brief guide to writing the psychology paper - university of

Offering no concluding statements or ending with the limitations. Source: Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, Yale University share this page:

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