Pick one topic from any field of psychology that you find particularly interesting. The topic can be something we discuss in class, or it can be something else related to psychology. Find at least three sources, at least two of which must be peer-reviewed journal articles, and write a paper that summarizes and discusses the findings related to the topic. Example topics might include “Unilateral Neglect”, “Retrograde and Anterograde Amnesia”, “Interview Techniques for Eyewitness Testimony”, “Narcolepsy”, “Learning during sleep”, “Adolescent brain”, “The Bystander effect”, ”Dissociative Identity Disorder”. Once your paper is ready, post it in the Reply box below. If you want the extra credit (see the last section below), read other students’ papers and respond to one of them by replying underneath their post. 


As stated above, you need to find sources related to the topic for this paper. If our textbook discusses your topic, feel free to use it as one source, but you need AT LEAST 3 sources, and at least TWO of them must be PEER-REVIEWED academic journal articles.  The other sources you use can be journal/magazine/newspaper articles (it’s ok to have a non-academic article as the third source), books, films, interviews, or reliable, academic/scientific online sources (not Wikipedia!). To find peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, you can use the library search and other library resources. You could also try Google Scholar to locate academic sources; however, many peer-reviewed journals are not open access, meaning that you’d have to pay for the full article. Therefore, it’s better to use the library search function, because you can access many journals for free via the library. Don’t pay for article access!

Peer-reviewed academic journals are publications in which researchers publish their new research findings or review research by others. These journals contain articles that have been peer-reviewed by other researchers before being accepted for publication. Examples of academic journals include Nature Neuroscience,Psychological Science, Nature, Science, Developmental Science, Child Development, The LancetNew England Journal of Medicine etc. There are many popular (science) magazines for non-expert audiences that are NOT peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Scientific American, Psychology Today, Discover, Popular Science, Time, etc. These magazines are NOT acceptable as the 2 required peer-reviewed journal articles, but you can use them as additional sources. Sometimes these magazines cite peer-reviewed journal articles, so you can find some primary sources by reading popular magazine articles.  The best method for you for finding peer-reviewed journal articles is to use the library search tools such as Academic Search Premier. If you search for a particular key term (e.g. marijuana), you will usually get a list of journal article abstracts, often with direct links to the actual articles. Peer-reviewed articles typically contain subsections such as an abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion. Sometimes they are “review articles” that review many studies (rather than report the results of an original experiment) and may not include all of these subsections, but you can still recognize them in the library search since they are labeled as an “Academic journal” (rather than “Periodical” which are not peer-reviewed).


Cite the sources in your paper in APA (American Psychological Association) style, and list the sources at the end of the assignment in APA format. There is an APA style guide in the paper assignment module. You need to find the type of source you have from this guide (e.g. journal article, book), and list the source at the end of your paper in the manner shown in the APA guide.  

The only things I require to be in APA format are the in-text citations and the reference list. Otherwise you don’t need any specific format in your paper, or you can pick any format you are familiar with.


Your paper must be IN YOUR OWN WORDS. Every time you use the words and/or ideas of an outside source, you must appropriately cite that source in APA format IN THE TEXT.

When you cite a source in the text of your paper, use the name of the author(s) and publication year in parentheses. If, for example, the author of the source is Nicholson, and the publication year is 2011, you cite like this in the text of your paper: (Nicholson, 2011). If it’s a website with no author, use the title of the website in the in-text citations in place of the author name. If there is no date, use n.d. (no date). Please see the APA guide and other resources in Canvas in the assignment module. There are a lot of links there for how to cite sources in APA style, and how to write a reference list at the end of your paper.  Here are more examples of in-text citations in sentences:

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant (Smith, 2010). Alcohol, on the other hand, is a strong depressant (Zhang & Jones, 2001).


According to Smith (2010), cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant. In contrast, Zhang & Jones (2001) discuss the effects of a strong depressant, alcohol, on the central nervous system.  

WRITE THIS PAPER IN YOUR OWN WORDS. DO NOT USE COPY AND PASTE except in rare cases. If you borrow the direct words from a source, you need to put them in quotation marks! ALWAYS mention the name of the author(s) and year of publication in text when you refer to any source, even when you write the information from the source in your own words. 

Note that your list of references at the end of the paper and your in-text citations MUST MATCH! In other words, if you mention Smith (2010) in text, the source by Smith must be listed in the reference list, and your reference list cannot include sources that you are not mentioning in the text.


The length of your paper is fairly flexible and depends on the extensiveness of your topic, but your paper should be at least about 2.5-3 pages (when double-spaced). There is no upper limit, and quality rather than quantity matters. The spacing and font type are up to you.      

Late assignments without a documented and pre-approved reason are not accepted for grading.


The purpose of this paper assignment is to review, summarize and discuss the findings related to your topic. It can be challenging to read scientific journal articles that sometimes contain many technical details. You don’t have to understand everything about the articles; what is important is that you try to understand what kind of research the scientific community is conducting to explore your topic, and what kinds of conclusions the authors make about the research findings they are discussing.

I will look for the following things:

a)      How you REPORT about the research done about the topic, and whether your sources are relevant to the topic. Keep in mind that a reader who is not familiar with the topic should get a good understanding about the main issues discussed in the scientific community based on your summary. (up to 30 points for this aspect of the paper) 

b)  How do you EVALUATE/INTERPRET the research done about this topic. This means that you need to discuss the implications of the research findings (see an example below). This can include (but does not have to) discussing how you would investigate this issue yourself; e.g. who would be your subjects, how would you go about collecting data. This would not need to be a detailed research plan, just ideas about how you would find out more about the topic, or improve the research already done. (up to 30 points)

Here is an example illustrating REPORTING and EVALUATING research findings:

Let’s say you are writing about the role of hippocampus in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If you find a source that indicates that hippocampus is smaller in people who have PTSD (which is a real finding, by the way!), REPORTING that finding (and citing the relevant source in text in APA style) satisfies a) above. But I don’t want you to just leave it at that. EVALUATING/INTERPRETING that finding [b)] requires that you discuss the implications of it. 


You might mention that hippocampus participates in forming new memories, and perhaps the fact that many PTSD patients have trouble remembering new events is caused by the smaller hippocampal size. You might discuss the possibility that PTSD patients had smaller hippocampi to begin with, which perhaps made them more susceptible to PTSD. You might suggest that to find out whether hippocampus is actually smaller to begin with, or shrinks due to PTSD, longitudinal brain scanning studies could be performed. You could also suggest that hippocampal size could be used to predict PTSD risk in vulnerable populations.

You would not have to discuss ALL of these points, but this example is meant to illustrate that there are many ways you can EVALUATE/INTERPRET the research you report. The important thing is that you try to understand the implications of the research and not just report it without elaborating.

You can but you don’t need to extensively summarize and evaluate ALL of your sources. You can focus on one or a couple of the primary sources, and only briefly mention the other sources (but you do have to mention all of your sources in some context in your paper).

OPTIONAL EXTRA CREDIT: If you respond to another student’s paper with some comments about the content of the paper by WED AUG 3RD BY MIDNIGHT, you will get 6 extra credit points. Your response must actually address something that is talked about in the paper. Simple comments such as “Interesting!” or “I agree” do not receive extra credit. If you want to make such short comments to other students’ papers, you are certainly welcome to do so, but if you want the extra 6 points, make sure that one of your comments is more extensive and shows that you have read the paper. Your comment should be focused on the content of the paper, but if you want to make an additional comment about format (e.g. give advice about APA format), that’s fine, as long as you do so in a respectful and friendly manner. As in all of our discussions, be professional, positive and respectful in your comments.  

Please do the extra credit on a new page at the end of the paper

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