Publishing and Presenting Your Psychology Research

By Martin Dempster, Donncha Hanna

Reporting your research is an important topic in psychology: after all, why conduct research if you don’t disseminate your findings? You usually report your psychology course research through a written report, a research poster or an oral presentation. Hopefully, you’ll produce good pieces of work that satisfy your course requirements – but it doesn’t have to end there.

If you conduct a robust and defensible study, you may want to consider disseminating your work to a wider audience by publishing your research report or presenting your work at a conference. If you’re thinking of applying for a postgraduate course or working in applied psychology, having published or presented work to your name certainly gives you extra brownie points in the application process. It’s also rewarding to have your work acknowledged by the wider psychological community.

Publishing your research

Many of the studies you read about in psychology journals may have taken a team of researchers months or years to plan, conduct, analyse and write up. Undergraduate research projects tend to be smaller in scale (phew!), so aim to submit your report to a journal that specialises in publishing student work, for example:

  • Modern Psychological Studies, based at The University of Tennessee, is a journal that has been publishing undergraduate research articles since 1992.

  • The Journal of European Psychology Students is a student-run open-access journal that publishes student research articles. (Note: It charges a publication fee of €250 if your article is accepted.)

  • Translational Issues in Psychological Science is an American Psychological Association (APA) journal that publishes student work. (Note: Published work is normally postgraduate-level research.)

  • The Psychologist is a monthly magazine from the British Psychological Society (BPS) that publishes short articles, letters and viewpoints. It welcomes new voices and student contributions.

Postgraduate projects tend to be grander in scale than undergraduate research studies. If you want to publish your postgraduate work, start by looking at the journal articles you review in the literature review section of your report. If your research builds upon previous studies that were published in a certain journal, this journal may be interested in your findings too.

Each journal has its own set of formatting and submission instructions on its website. When you submit your report, several people review it, and after a couple of months, you receive a decision from the journal’s editor. The editor usually either accepts your report for publication with no corrections, asks you to make some amendments or changes before it can be published (this is the most common response), or rejects it (in which case you can try another journal).

Presenting your research

You can also present your research at a conference, either by preparing a research poster or making an oral presentation. You may find it easier to get accepted to present at a conference than to get your research published in a journal. However, most conferences require you to submit a summary of what you plan to present several months before the date of the conference, so it requires forward planning. If you’re accepted to present your research, you’ll have to pay conference fees, but students can usually pay a reduced-rate fee.

Check the website of your national psychology organisation to find the dates and locations of upcoming psychology conferences.