Identifying the Contents of a Psychological Research Report

By Martin Dempster, Donncha Hanna

Part of Research Methods in Psychology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you are preparing a psychology research report, you want to make sure you include all of the essential items. A research report usually contains the following elements:

  • Title: keep this concise (15 words or less)

  • Abstract: a short summary of the research report (usually 100–250 words)

  • Introduction: comprised of a number of elements:

    • Overview of the problem: the opening paragraph of the ‘Introduction’ section

    • Review of the literature: provides the reader with an indication of current knowledge in your chosen research area

    • Rationale: provides the reason for doing the study

  • Research questions or hypotheses: tells the reader exactly what your research study is investigating

  • Method: includes information about the study design, research participants, any materials used in the study, what exactly happened to the research participants and (usually) what type of analyses you did

  • Results: focuses on answering the research questions/hypotheses using appropriate analyses

  • Discussion: summarises your findings and considers the implications of your findings for previous and future research; also acknowledges the limitations of your findings

  • References: ensure that these are in a consistent format (usually American Psychological Association style) and that the in-text citations align with the your references