Module 17: Sharing Your Plan via an APA Formatted Research Paper

Module Overview

Now that you have completed your behavior modification project, it is time to share what you found in an APA formatted research paper which will include an abstract and four main sections: Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion.


Module Outline

  • 17.1. Overview of an APA Formatted Paper
  • 17.2. Final Paper Template and Rubric


Module Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the major sections of a research article.
  • Develop your final paper based on the template as provided.


17.1. Overview of an APA Formatted Paper


Section Learning Objectives

  • Identify and describe the major components of a research article.


In scientific research, it is common practice to communicate the findings of our investigation. By reporting what we found in our study other researchers can critique our methodology and address our limitations. Publishing allows psychology to grow its knowledge base about human behavior. We can also see where gaps still exist. We move it into the public domain so others can read and comment on it. Scientists can also replicate what we did and possibly extend our work if it is published. This is as true of behavior modification studies as it is of social, developmental, clinical, etc. psychology.

There are several ways to communicate our findings. We can do so at conferences in the form of posters or oral presentations, through newsletters from APA itself or one of its many divisions or other organizations, or through research journals and specifically scientific research articles. Published journal articles represent a form of communication between scientists and in them, the researchers describe how their work relates to previous research, how it replicates and/or extends this work, and what their work might mean theoretically.

Research articles begin with an abstract or a 150-250 word summary of the entire article. The purpose is to describe the experiment and allows the reader to make a decision about whether he or she wants to read it further. The abstract provides a statement of purpose, overview of the methods, main results, and a brief statement of the conclusion. Key words are also given that allow for students and other researchers alike to find the article when doing a search.

The abstract is followed by four major sections as described:

  • Introduction – The first section is designed to provide a summary of the current literature as it relates to your topic. It helps the reader to see how you arrived at your hypothesis and the design of your study. Essentially, it gives the logic behind the decisions you made. You also state the purpose and share your predictions or hypothesis.
  • Method – Since replication is a required element of science, we must have a way to share information on our design and sample with readers. This is the essence of the method section and covers three major aspects of your study – your participants, materials or apparatus, and procedure. The reader needs to know who was in your study so that limitations related to generalizability of your findings can be identified and investigated in the future. You will also state your operational definition, describe any groups you used, random sampling or assignment procedures, information about how a scale was scored, etc. Think of the Method section as a cookbook. The participants are your ingredients, the materials or apparatus are whatever tools you will need, and the procedure is the instructions for how to bake the cake.
  • Results – In this section you state the outcome of your experiment and whether they were statistically significant or not. You can also present tables and figures.
  • Discussion – In this section you start by restating the main findings and hypothesis of the study. Next, you offer an interpretation of the findings and what their significance might be. Finally, you state strengths and limitations of the study which will allow you to propose future directions.

Following these sections will be your appendix (ces) and reference section. All references, as well as the rest of the paper, will be in APA format. No exceptions. You are expected to use APA format correctly in this paper or any other you write in your psychology classes. If you have not had any formal training on APA yet in your classes, you will need to do your best. In the template that follows, I have provided most of the formatting you will need. If you need additional help, check out Purdue OWL’s website at:

            If you feel you are not a strong writer, it is my recommendation you visit your university’s Writing Center early and often. Also, check out this webpage from APA that may be helpful:


17.2. Final Paper Template and Rubric

Section Learning Objectives

  • Compose your final paper.


Attached are Word and PDF files for the Proposal and a PDF version of the Rubric.


Module Recap

In Module 17, I described how to write the final paper which describes and summarizes for the reader how your behavior modification project came to fruition, was implement, and how well it worked. You also described next steps and did all this in an APA formatted paper. Your paper will likely be 20-30 pages which includes the title page, abstract, and all appendices, in addition to the four main sections. Congratulations. This is a major accomplishment.

Our final step is to prepare for the final exam. Module 18 will help you with this.

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