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STRUCTURE OF QUANTITATIVE

INVESTIGATIONS IN STAGE 2
PSYCHOLOGY 2019

THE BASICS
Assessment Type: Investigation Practical Report
Proposal Word Count: 250 maximum
Report Word Count: 1,500 words excluding the proposal

THE STRUCTURE
1. Title Page
2. Contents page (optional)
3. Work Log
4. Proposal
5. Introduction
6. Results
7. Discussion
8. Conclusion
9. Appendix
10. Bibliography

1. TITLE PAGE
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 Needs to include your name, SACE ID and a title that represents your hypothesis and IV and DV. It
should not be identical to your hypothesis.

2. CONTENTS PAGE
 This is entirely optional and does not contribute to the word count. However if you do it, make sure
it is clear, well presented and the correct page numbers correspond with each section of your
discussion.

3. WORK LOG
 You must provide evidence of collaborating with other students on your proposal and hypothesis
choice. The easiest way to do this is to write at least two journal entries summarising the
collaboration you did with your fellow group members, the progress you made on your own
proposal/hypothesis and any suggestions made between the groups. These journal entries need to
have dates as headings and be on a separate page.
 NOTE: Your hypothesis should not be IDENTICAL to your group members.

4. PROPOSAL
 250 words maximum.
 Put your hypothesis in the header of the proposal (it should not be in the header of any other page in
the investigation).

Outline of issue
What is the research topic about? Why are you interested in researching this topic?
What is your hypothesis?
Formulate your hypothesis and make sure it has an IV and DV.
Explanation of Research design to be used and why it is so e.g.
Experimental because participants are randomly assigned to two groups – control and experimental
Quantitative Observational, because participants characteristics of...were pre-existing and required
no manipulation
Explanation of Assessment method to be used e.g.
Objective Quantitative (behavioural counts, physiological responses, standardised test scores)
Subjective Quantitative (subjective questionnaires, rating scales, self-report inventory)
Explain how you intend to use the data to address the question (i.e. how will it be analysed?)
Explain the steps you will take to convert the raw data into a meaningful form.
Comparing mean/median/standard deviation scores...statistical analysis of data should be restricted
to these types of comparisons
Summarised data will be converted into a .....graph

5. INTRODUCTION
 Begins on a new page. This section does NOT have a title.
 Begin with an interesting fact/statistic/quote relating to your hypothesis. ‘WOW’ statement. This
allows the reader to be aware of your chosen area in an interesting way.
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 Provide some background information as to why this hypothesis was chosen. Justify why this study
should be done.
 Repeat your chosen hypothesis from your proposal.
 Explain how the data was used to address the hypothesis. For quantitative data, making comparisons
between mean, median, standard deviation scores etc. bar graphs, scatterplots etc. What should the
data show?
 DO NOT SIMPLY COPY AND PASTE FROM PROPOSAL. Your proposal and introduction will be
similar, but should not be identical.
 Do not waste words on the procedure of the experiment – does not warrant any marks and not a part
of the performance standards.

6. RESULTS
 Results need to be presented effectively and in direct relation to your hypothesis.
 Can calculate mean/median/standard deviation/percentages to illustrate your variables but you DO
NOT need to do all of these – often it is better to have less!
 What you present in your results section MUST be discussed in your discussion section.

TABLES
 Titles for tables go above the table
 Titles are in the format ‘Table 1, Table 2 etc.’
 You should include a brief summary of what data is in the table. You need to write very concisely in
your results captions. You only report and describe that data, you do NOT interpret what they mean
here – save that for your discussion section
 All numbers in tables must be rounded to two decimal places.

GRAPHS
 Experimental Design = comparison between two groups = bar graph
 Quantitative Observational Design = how two separately measured variables relate to each other =
scatterplot
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 Titles for graphs go below the graph. All graphs need a clear title describing what is being shown.
 Graph labels should be referred to as ‘Figure A’, ‘Figure B’ etc.
 You should include a brief summary of what data is in the graph. You need to write very concisely in
your results captions. You only report and describe that data, you do NOT interpret what they mean
here – save that for your discussion section.
 Make sure your x-axis and y-axis are labelled clearly and correctly.
 Make sure that your graphs start at zero.
 Keep decimal places to a maximum of two.
 Use the correct scale (the appropriate min and max values on the axes according to the data
collected).
 Two graphs per page is often a good size visually.

SOME HELPFUL POINTS ON RESULTS SECTIONS

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 DO NOT put raw data in your results section.
 A table should not show the same information as the graph.
 Label all graphs, tables and figures, refer to them by name in your text
 Do not refer to theory in this section
 Do not imply causation unless it is experimental
 Avoid words like ‘significant’, ‘valid’ or ‘prove’
 ALWAYS describe the relationship/correlation you have shown in a table or graph.
 DO NOT suggest possible explanations here. These belong in the Discussion.

7. DISCUSSION
 This section is labelled ‘Discussion’. It has two sub headings and each section is clearly split into
clearly defined paragraphs.
 The discussion section is made up of eight clearly identifiable paragraphs of roughly equal length.

PARAGRAPH 1: SUMMARY OF RESULTS

 SUB-HEADING: Interpretation
 Summary of results (using numbers) and statement of whether results support the original
hypothesis.
 Include as many relevant numbers/descriptive statistics as you can in this paragraph. If numbers
appear in your table in your results section, you should also explain their impact on results here in
this paragraph of your discussion.
 You then MUST interpret what your results suggest about your hypothesis – What did the results
suggest? Is there a difference between the groups? No differences? Data is too close together? E.g. (a
mean difference of 5 hours sleep indicates that listening to white noise does in fact increase hours of
sleep over the week.

PARAGRAPH 2: GENERAL BACKGROUND INFO

 What are the implications of these results?


 Talk about some general theories about your topic of interest (you could include referencing here )
 These theories/this info will be similar to those stated/briefly discussed in your proposal/introduction
sections.
 You MUST then link these theories back to your results. Are your results consistent with this past
research/theories? If not, why not? If they are, explain the link to your reader. Only one sentence
should be about past research – the rest needs to be explaining the meaning of your own findings
 State how your study has added to the broader body of knowledge in this area of Psychology (if at
all).
 REMEMBER: this is NOT a research task, it is an APPLICATION task

PARAGRAPH 3: REPRESENTATIVENESS OF SAMPLE

 Paragraph about representativeness and sample size (or lack thereof).

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 Make sure you focus on YOUR hypothesis here – if you looked at experimental, you discuss the
sample used for that. If you looked at quantitative observational, discuss the sample used for that.
 Will your results be the same for every single person in the world? Generally, no – so you need to tell
your reader about this.
 Explicitly discuss whether or not your results can be generalised to: Both genders, all age groups, all
cultures, vulnerable groups (sleep disorder patients, young children etc.)
 If they cannot be generalised, explain why using specific examples your sample/design/hypothesis.

PARAGRAPH 4: STRENGTHS OF STUDY

 SUB-HEADING: Evaluation
 What are some good aspects of this design?
(try to avoid ethics type discussion, as you will talk about this in your ethics paragraph)
 Only talk about strength relating to YOUR design and method. So if you do experimental, talk about
benefits of having done an experimental design and how that helped the results. If you did subjective
quantitative, discuss the positives of why this was useful to the results etc.
 Need three well explained strengths that apply to your hypothesis/variables.

PARAGRAPH 5: LIMITATIONS OF STUDY

 Did all participants complete the data collection at the same time under the same conditions with the
exact same instructions?
 How appropriate were the measures used?
 Was the research design appropriate for what you wanted to measure?
 Participant availability (recruits)? Can all of the results be verified? Why? Why not?
 Causation or merely generalisations?
 Replication?
 Applicability to real-world?
 Control over extraneous variables?
(if no to these things – it is a limitation)
 Need three well explained limitations that apply to your hypothesis/variables.

PARAGRAPH 6: VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY

Validity:
External validity:
Can the results be generalised beyond this study or not? Explain why: Gender and age bias? Randomness in
selection? Structured or non-structured in design?
Internal validity:
Did the investigation actually measure what it says it is measuring? How can you be sure? Talk about the
handouts/tasks/etc.
Are there any other possible extraneous variables that could have been measured instead of your IV?
Reliability:
Would measures vary if circumstances changed? Why? Why not?
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Would the results be the same if repeated under similar conditions at another time? Why/why not?

PARAGRAPH 7: IMPROVEMENTS

 Look at what you discussed in your limitations section


 Suggest ways to improve the investigation to overcome these limitations – be ruthless here! Change
design, change method, different tasks/handouts etc. Be specific.
 What is the next step you could take to go further with this investigation?
 What would this allow you to do that the current investigation design does not?

PARAGRAPH 8: ETHICS

 MUST discuss at least three to show broad/range depth. It is important that you are specific to this
investigation, and not general in this paragraph i.e. do not just define what informed consent is –
apply it to our investigation (if necessary).

 Only discuss the obvious ethical issues/dilemmas that apply to your variables/hypothesis. Discussing
all of them generally is not clear, thorough or concise.

8. CONCLUSION
 Your conclusion section begins on a new page and is titled ‘Conclusion’
In your conclusion:
 Re-state what the aim of the experiment was
 Summarise the results (using numbers)
 State whether the results support he original hypothesis or not
 Summarise whether your results were consistent with past research or not
 Conclude with a sentence explaining that further research is still needed in this field (or something
similar)

9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
NOTE: this is an ‘application task’ not a ‘research task’. You are not assessed on your research skills or
referencing and will get no extra marks for this and will not lose marks if you do not research or reference…
however if you do – make sure you do it correctly.

10. APPENDICES
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 Appendices are referred to as ‘Appendix A, Appendix B’ etc.

 Your appendices must each be clearly labeled at the back of your investigation, and also can be referred
to somewhere within your report e.g. (See Appendix A)
 The purpose of an appendix is for you to include any information/resources that one may need if they
wanted to replicate your study (e.g. raw data/handouts etc.)

IMPORTANT NOTES ON THE TERMINOLOGY –


HIGHER GRADE BANDS
 Use as many Psychological terms as possible throughout your report.

 Make sure you are referring to the labels on your graphs appropriately when discussing your results
in your discussion paragraph.

 Think about what terms your teacher has used in teaching this topic. How can you try to weave some
of them into your own paragraphs?

 Often you will lose marks if you try to explain something in ‘a round about’ way, when instead could
have simply stated the facts with a Psychological term.

 Be straightforward and to the point!

 Anyone should be able to pick up your report and understand what you are talking about (whether
they know anything about Psychology or not)

 Try not to sound ‘chatty’. You need to write using formal scientific language.

 Never use the word PROVE

 For an experimental design, refer to it as an ‘experiment’. For a quantitative observational design,


refer to it as an ‘investigation’.

 Avoid using bold statements or descriptive language

 DO NOT use ‘I’, ‘My’, ‘our’ etc. except for the work log. Always write in 3rd Person. (except the
work log)

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