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Psychology Research Guide

A starting assistance to students and faculty for the research in Psychology area.

Step 1: Find a topic

When you get an assignment, the first task you may need to do is to find a good topic.

If your instructor already gave you a topic or a range of topics, that is great. If not, you can find your own topic by browsing the text book, or picking an interesting psychology-related news.

I also recommend to read the Annual Reviews of Psychology or Clinical Psychology, which critically reviews the most significant primary research literature in psychology areas by leading scientists. The article for a topic in Annual Reviews typically has such sections:

  • - Why the topic is important to research
  • - What kinds of researches have been conducted, what have been found
  • - what questions for the topic still need researchers to study in the future

To find basic and background information about a topic, you can use some encyclopedias in our library:

Step 2: Analyze your topic

Once you have your topic, before doing any searches in Catalog or article databases, please analyze your topic.

Please remember, you cannot write everything about depression or abnomal behavior -- try to focus on some specific topics, such as depression with a specific group of people, or specific treatment for depression, etc.

To analyze your topic, you need to draw the key concepts from your topic. See this example.

Topic: Is play therapy helpful for children with separation distress?

The concepts drawn from this topic are: play therapy and  separation distress


I encourage you to analyze your topic first, because you may not be lucky to find a book or article use the exact sentence as your topic. But once you know what concepts you are looking for, it will be very easy to search the concepts as keywords when you use the library catalog or article databases to find what you want.