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PSY 3402: Experimental and Research Methods - McKelvain: 1: Start (Think!)

Specifically for Dr. McKelvain's PSY 3402 classes.

Pick Your Topic

Step 1: Think about it to get started.

You're not just picking a topic, you're finding something you're already interested in, and joining a community of scholars in a conversation about it.  This requires you get to know something about the conversation before you join in so you don't re-do someone else's research. 

However, you're in the unique situation of having your research question planned out for you, so your first step is mostly done.  If it wasn't the example lower left would be one way to go about it.  Your question: "What kinds of study strategies are most effective in improving a academic, workplace, and professional learning in persons 16 years or older?"

Even knowing that, your research question is...more research!  Here's the whole process.  You need to...

  • THINK ABOUT IT: (Done for you - getting an idea of what you want to research.) what you have learned from your courses, textbooks, or other books about psychology that you thought was interesting, and that you think is important.  This is the start of your research question.
  • GET THE BIG PICTURE: get more information!  Review what you've learned about the topic (if anything), and use more general reading to understand it better and know the scholarly language.  This reading may not be "scholarly", but should reference/cite scholarly resources.  (Your readings are provided...Make it Stick and Improving Students' Learning with Effective Learning Techniques.)
  • GO DEEPER: start getting in-depth background to better understand the parts of your topic.  Using what you already know, break down your topic into main ideas (independent and dependent variables) and use dictionaries, encyclopedias, review articles, etc. to find information on each idea.
  • JOIN THE CONVERSATION: find out what other researchers are talking about and researching.  Retrieve articles that were cited in your big picture step and read them.  (They'll make more sense after you've Gone Deeper.)
  • FIND MORE ARTICLES: use the citations from the articles in the last step, or use the scholarly terms you've learned from going deeper and joining the conversation to find more articles about your topic.

*The more you research, the more your research question will change and refine, until your topic is clear and the terminology reflects what is current in the discipline. 

Picking a topic IS research!