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Psychology Research Paper Topics: 50+ Great Ideas
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Are you searching for a great topic for your psychology paper ? Sometimes it seems like coming up with a good idea for a paper is more challenging than the actual research and writing. Fortunately, there are plenty of great places to find inspiration and the following list contains just a few ideas to help get you started.
Finding a solid topic is one of the most important steps when writing any type of paper. It can be particularly important when you are writing a psychology research paper or essay. Psychology is such a broad topic, so you want to find a topic that allows you to adequately cover the subject without becoming overwhelmed with information.
In some cases, such as in a general psychology class, you might have had the option to select any topic from within psychology's broad reaches. Other instances, such as in an abnormal psychology course, might require you to write your paper on a specific subject such as a psychological disorder.
As you begin your search for a topic for your psychology paper, it is first important to consider the guidelines established by your instructor.
Focus on a Topic Within a Particular Branch of Psychology
The key to selecting a good topic for your psychology paper is to select something that is narrow enough to allow you to really focus on the subject, but not so narrow that it is difficult to find sources or information to write about.
One approach is to narrow your focus down to a subject within a specific branch of psychology. For example, you might start by deciding that you want to write a paper on some sort of social psychology topic. Next, you might narrow your focus down to how persuasion can be used to influence behavior.
Other social psychology topics you might consider include:
- Prejudice and discrimination (i.e., homophobia, sexism, racism)
- Social cognition
- Person perception
- Social control and cults
- Persuasion , propaganda, and marketing
- Attraction, romance, and love
- Nonverbal communication
- Prosocial behavior
Write About a Disorder or Type of Therapy
Exploring a psychological disorder or a specific treatment modality can also be a good topic for a psychology paper. Some potential abnormal psychology topics include specific psychological disorders or particular treatment modalities, including:
- Eating disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Profile a type of therapy (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychoanalytic therapy)
Choose a Topic Related to Human Cognition
Some of the possible topics you might explore in this area include thinking, language, intelligence, and decision-making. Other ideas might include:
- False memories
- Speech disorders
Consider a Topic Related to Human Development
In this area, you might opt to focus on issues pertinent to early childhood such as language development, social learning, or childhood attachment or you might instead opt to concentrate on issues that affect older adults such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Some other topics you might consider include:
- Language acquisition
- Media violence and children
- Learning disabilities
- Gender roles
- Child abuse
- Prenatal development
- Parenting styles
- Aspects of the aging process
Critique a Book or Academic Journal Article
One option is to consider writing a psychology critique paper of a published psychology book or academic journal article. For example, you might write a critical analysis of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams or you might evaluate a more recent book such as Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil .
Professional and academic journals are also a great place to find materials for a critique paper. Browse through the collection at your university library to find titles devoted to the subject that you are most interested in, then look through recent articles until you find what that grabs your attention.
Analyze a Famous Experiment
There have been many fascinating and groundbreaking experiments throughout the history of psychology, providing ample material for students looking for an interesting term paper topic. In your paper, you might choose to summarize the experiment, analyze the ethics of the research, or evaluate the implications of the study. Possible experiments that you might consider include:
- The Milgram Obedience Experiment
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
- The Little Albert Experiment
- Pavlov's Conditioning Experiments
- The Asch Conformity Experiment
- Harlow's Rhesus Monkey Experiments
Write a Paper About a Historical Figure
One of the simplest ways to find a great topic is to choose an interesting person in the history of psychology and write a paper about them. Your paper might focus on many different elements of the individual's life, such as their biography, professional history, theories, or influence on psychology.
While this type of paper may be historical in nature, there is no need for this assignment to be dry or boring. Psychology is full of fascinating figures rife with intriguing stories and anecdotes. Consider such famous individuals as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Harry Harlow, or one of the many other eminent psychologists .
Write About a Specific Psychology Career
Another possible topic, depending on the course in which you are enrolled, is to write about specific career paths within the field of psychology . This type of paper is especially appropriate if you are exploring different subtopics or considering which area interests you the most.
In your paper, you might opt to explore the typical duties of a psychologist, how much people working in these fields typically earn, and different employment options that are available.
Create a Case Study of an Individual or Group of People
One potentially interesting idea is to write a psychology case study of a particular individual or group of people. In this type of paper, you will provide an in depth analysis of your subject, including a thorough biography.
Generally, you will also assess the person, often using a major psychological theory such as Piaget's stages of cognitive development or Erikson's eight-stage theory of human development . It is also important to note that your paper doesn't necessarily have to be about someone you know personally.
In fact, many professors encourage students to write case studies on historical figures or fictional characters from books, television programs, or films.
Conduct a Literature Review
Another possibility that would work well for a number of psychology courses is to do a literature review of a specific topic within psychology. A literature review involves finding a variety of sources on a particular subject, then summarizing and reporting on what these sources have to say about the topic.
Literature reviews are generally found in the introduction of journal articles and other psychology papers , but this type of analysis also works well for a full-scale psychology term paper.
Design a Study or Perform an Experiment
Many psychology courses require students to design an actual psychological study or perform some type of experiment. In some cases, students simply devise the study and then imagine the possible results that might occur. In other situations, you may actually have the opportunity to collect data, analyze your findings, and write up your results.
Finding a topic for your study can be difficult, but there are plenty of great ways to come up with intriguing ideas. Start by considering your own interests as well subjects you have studied in the past.
Online sources, newspaper articles, books , journal articles, and even your own class textbook are all great places to start searching for topics for your experiments and psychology term papers. Before you begin, learn more about how to conduct a psychology experiment .
A Word From Verywell
After looking at this brief list of possible topics for psychology papers, it is easy to see that psychology is a very broad and diverse subject. While this variety makes it possible to find a topic that really catches your interest, it can sometimes make it very difficult for some students to select a good topic.
If you are still stumped by your assignment, ask your instructor for suggestions and consider a few from this list for inspiration.
- Hockenbury, SE & Nolan, SA. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers; 2014.
- Santrock, JW. A Topical Approach to Lifespan Development. New York: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.
By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
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Writing Research Papers
- Research Paper Structure
Whether you are writing a B.S. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style.
Major Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style
A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. 1 Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices. These sections are detailed as follows (for a more in-depth guide, please refer to " How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style ”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller). 2
What is this paper called and who wrote it? – the first page of the paper; this includes the name of the paper, a “running head”, authors, and institutional affiliation of the authors. The institutional affiliation is usually listed in an Author Note that is placed towards the bottom of the title page. In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acknowledgment of any funding support and of any individuals that assisted with the research project.
One-paragraph summary of the entire study – typically no more than 250 words in length (and in many cases it is well shorter than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.
What is the topic and why is it worth studying? – the first major section of text in the paper, the Introduction commonly describes the topic under investigation, summarizes or discusses relevant prior research (for related details, please see the Writing Literature Reviews section of this website), identifies unresolved issues that the current research will address, and provides an overview of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the sections to follow.
What did you do? – a section which details how the research was performed. It typically features a description of the participants/subjects that were involved, the study design, the materials that were used, and the study procedure. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Methods section. A rule of thumb is that the Methods section should be sufficiently detailed for another researcher to duplicate your research.
What did you find? – a section which describes the data that was collected and the results of any statistical tests that were performed. It may also be prefaced by a description of the analysis procedure that was used. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Results section.
What is the significance of your results? – the final major section of text in the paper. The Discussion commonly features a summary of the results that were obtained in the study, describes how those results address the topic under investigation and/or the issues that the research was designed to address, and may expand upon the implications of those findings. Limitations and directions for future research are also commonly addressed.
List of articles and any books cited – an alphabetized list of the sources that are cited in the paper (by last name of the first author of each source). Each reference should follow specific APA guidelines regarding author names, dates, article titles, journal titles, journal volume numbers, page numbers, book publishers, publisher locations, websites, and so on (for more information, please see the Citing References in APA Style page of this website).
Tables and Figures
Graphs and data (optional in some cases) – depending on the type of research being performed, there may be Tables and/or Figures (however, in some cases, there may be neither). In APA style, each Table and each Figure is placed on a separate page and all Tables and Figures are included after the References. Tables are included first, followed by Figures. However, for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis), Tables and Figures may be embedded in the text (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for more details, see "Deviations from APA Style" below).
Supplementary information (optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not critical to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code, is provided. This is often placed in an Appendix.
Variations of Research Papers in APA Style
Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern. These variations include:
- Literature reviews – when a paper is reviewing prior published research and not presenting new empirical research itself (such as in a review article, and particularly a qualitative review), then the authors may forgo any Methods and Results sections. Instead, there is a different structure such as an Introduction section followed by sections for each of the different aspects of the body of research being reviewed, and then perhaps a Discussion section.
- Multi-experiment papers – when there are multiple experiments, it is common to follow the Introduction with an Experiment 1 section, itself containing Methods, Results, and Discussion subsections. Then there is an Experiment 2 section with a similar structure, an Experiment 3 section with a similar structure, and so on until all experiments are covered. Towards the end of the paper there is a General Discussion section followed by References. Additionally, in multi-experiment papers, it is common for the Results and Discussion subsections for individual experiments to be combined into single “Results and Discussion” sections.
Departures from APA Style
In some cases, official APA style might not be followed (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Such deviations may include:
- Placement of Tables and Figures – in some cases, to make reading through the paper easier, Tables and/or Figures are embedded in the text (for example, having a bar graph placed in the relevant Results section). The embedding of Tables and/or Figures in the text is one of the most common deviations from APA style (and is commonly allowed in B.S. Degree Research Papers and Honors Theses; however you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first).
- Incomplete research – sometimes a B.S. Degree Research Paper in this department is written about research that is currently being planned or is in progress. In those circumstances, sometimes only an Introduction and Methods section, followed by References, is included (that is, in cases where the research itself has not formally begun). In other cases, preliminary results are presented and noted as such in the Results section (such as in cases where the study is underway but not complete), and the Discussion section includes caveats about the in-progress nature of the research. Again, you should check with your instructor, supervisor, or editor first.
- Class assignments – in some classes in this department, an assignment must be written in APA style but is not exactly a traditional research paper (for instance, a student asked to write about an article that they read, and to write that report in APA style). In that case, the structure of the paper might approximate the typical sections of a research paper in APA style, but not entirely. You should check with your instructor for further guidelines.
Workshops and Downloadable Resources
- For in-person discussion of the process of writing research papers, please consider attending this department’s “Writing Research Papers” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – empirical research) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
APA Journal Article Reporting Guidelines
- Appelbaum, M., Cooper, H., Kline, R. B., Mayo-Wilson, E., Nezu, A. M., & Rao, S. M. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for quantitative research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 3.
- Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D. M., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report . American Psychologist , 73 (1), 26.
- Formatting APA Style Papers in Microsoft Word
- How to Write an APA Style Research Paper from Hamilton University
- WikiHow Guide to Writing APA Research Papers
- Sample APA Formatted Paper with Comments
- Sample APA Formatted Paper
- Tips for Writing a Paper in APA Style
1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 41-60). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
2 geller, e. (2018). how to write an apa-style research report . [instructional materials]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
Back to top
- Formatting Research Papers
- Using Databases and Finding References
- What Types of References Are Appropriate?
- Evaluating References and Taking Notes
- Citing References
- Writing a Literature Review
- Writing Process and Revising
- Improving Scientific Writing
- Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Writing Research Papers Videos
How to Write a Psychology Research Paper
Table of Contents
How to Write a Good Psychology Research Paper
Writing on psychology is always fascinating and self-educational, with new insights into not only the subject of your inquiry but also your own motivations, aspirations, and behavior.
However, the task of completing a well-written, A-grade psychology research paper is not manageable for all students as it is often too hard to structure the found material, identify the flaws in your writing, and polish the paper comprehensively.
Thus, we have prepared a guide to help you improve the research paper writing skill, including:
- Comprehensive psychology research paper guidelines.
- Instructions on pre-writing work.
- Structuring recommendations.
- Tips on the content to be included in all parts of the assignment.
- Outlining tips and examples.
Study the guide attentively to hone your psychology research paper writing skills and succeed in your studies. But if you still feel unsure about your ability to compose a top-rated paper, keep in mind that you always have an alternative.
If you’re short of time, lack writing skills, or don’t understand the topic well, it’s time to turn to our professionals for assistance. You’ll get a well-researched, perfectly written research paper in no time, saving your psychology grades and ensuring a stable performance at college.
What Is a Psychology Research Paper
Let’s begin with the fundamentals, which is the definition of a psychology research paper. This academic assignment is typically larger than a standard essay, taking 5-10 pages in length (sometimes even more). The key difference is in the depth of insight and breadth of research required from the student.
Here, you have a wonderful possibility to examine the subject of your interest and produce some academically valuable insights and conclusions, which is usually unattainable in a simple essay.
How to Start a Psychology Research Paper
The beginning of every academic work is the topic formulation and preliminary research. As the field of psychology is quite extensive, you need to narrow down your focus to some specific area of specialization. Maybe you are interested in mental healthcare policies, clinical guidelines, diagnosis and treatment of depressive disorders, substance use problems, the mental health side of gambling, or the psychological side of adolescent deviance? Whatever your topic is, make sure that it is interesting, current, and manageable in terms of available professional literature.
Once you have identified the topic of interest, conduct some preliminary research to collect some credible, authoritative sources on the subject. At this point, you will have some initial understanding of where research takes you, and with that preliminary data at hand, you can proceed to structure the draft version of your psychology research paper.
How to Structure a Psychology Research Paper
When it comes to structuring, your psychology research paper may take different forms depending on the content required by your professor. Make sure to follow their instructions to the dot to get a high grade; negligence of the academic requirements may cause a serious reduction of your points.
But notwithstanding the task you get from a tutor regarding the internal content of the psychology research paper, as a rule, it still follows a universal three-component format mandatory for all academic writing pieces:
- An introduction setting the context and clarifying what your subject of interest is.
- A body of the paper containing all your major arguments and evidence supporting them.
- A conclusion reiterating your key points and restating the thesis.
Once you keep this structure in mind, you already have a correct roadmap for psychology research paper completion.
How to End a Psychology Research Paper
Once you’re done with writing, it’s time to take a fresh look at your brainchild and polish it to perfection. It is vital to be as objective and detached at the post-writing stage as possible to see all the potential flaws in the content cohesion, flow, and mechanics of the text, such as grammar and spelling.
Make sure to read the text attentively several hours after its completion so that some details and wording are a bit erased from your memory. In this way, you’ll be able to approach the text critically and remove some sentences or words without regretting your time and effort.
Psychology Research Paper Outline
Now let’s illustrate everything we have just discussed with a handy example of a psychology research paper outline. It will help you design your own one every time you’re tasked with such an assignment.
We have chosen the topic of “effective PTSD therapies” for this sample. Here is the tentative structure we recommend.
Definition of PTSD and adverse consequences it produces on people’s lives. A brief introduction to PTSD causes and symptoms. Statistics on affected Americans. Thesis statement: given the adverse, pervasive impact of PTSD on people’s life quality, it is essential to consider effective PTSD therapies.
Body of the Paper
Paragraph #1 – A discussion of PTSD in a bit more detail (when an official diagnosis was formulated, who the major affected population is, how their lives change as a result of PTSD), a transition sentence to the need to provide PTSD patients with effective therapies
Paragraph #2 – review of available therapies (pharmacological and behavioral). The difference between therapy types, empirical research on their effectiveness.
Paragraph #3 – review of emerging therapies (art therapy, CBT, AR/VR-assisted therapies). Their potential and clinical research results suggesting their effectiveness.
A summary of effective existing and developing therapies for PTSD. A reference to a broader context: the importance of treating PTSD as a contribution to people’s mental well-being and public health improvement.
Now let’s see how this outline can take the shape of a well-written research paper. We present several paragraph samples in the following sections.
Psychology Research Paper Introduction
As we have already discussed, the introductory part should set the general context, introduce the central concept we’re analyzing, and end with a concise thesis statement.
Here is an example of how the introduction can be written:
“ Previously considered a mental health disorder of war veterans, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is taking new forms and affecting broader population categories. Today, people who fell victims of street or domestic violence, acts of terror, or intense negative stress can develop PTSD as well. According to CDC (2021), 5 million of Americans are currently affected with PTSD, with the incidence rate rising every year. PTSD patients experience serious deterioration of their life quality, with traumatic flashbacks, chronic stress, panic attacks, and sleep disorders hindering their productivity, family life, and social relationships. With such a pervasive impact of PTSD on the human life quality, the need for seeking effective therapies is imperative. In this paper, the researcher considers available and developing PTSD therapies to present an evidence-based review of what works well for PTSD patients .”
Those wondering how to write a psychology research paper in APA format should take the CDC (2021) reference as an example of APA citation. Study the APA guide and make sure to follow the author-date citation method to have your paper properly cited and plagiarism-free.
Psychology Research Paper Body
Now, coming to the body of your psychology research paper, look at the tutor’s instructions and develop meaningful blocks of information.
For example, in this study, we would recommend developing paragraphs dedicated to:
- A more detailed review of PTSD as a disease (its mechanisms, symptoms, and impact on human health and productivity).
- Pharmacological treatments for PTSD (efficiency, side effects, precautions, strengths, and drawbacks).
- Non-pharmacological treatments for PTSD.
- Emerging treatments (art therapy, the use of AR/VR).
Depending on your psychology research paper’s word count, you can make the blocks larger or smaller to meet the needed size.
Psychology Research Paper Conclusion
When coming to the concluding part, you will already have many empirical data at hand. In the final section, you should summarize the study findings to conclude what the best treatment method is, what promising treatment directions are currently developed, and what implications this progress has on the lives of people with PTSD.
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Explore Our Top Cultural Research Paper Topics
Updated 10 Nov 2022
Culture is a broad term that covers an endless number of possibilities for crafting research topics. You can view it as a global aspect and write a research paper about culture inherent in all of humanity.
On the other hand, you may focus on answering some particular research questions about culture for a specific state or region, e.g., the local community you live in. Another possibility is to compare two cultures and learn about beautiful ethnic differences.
Whichever the case, writing a cultural research paper will open a unique world for us where we can view humanity on a more in-depth level and decipher what is inherent in each culture. Since the options for cultural research paper topics are numerous, it’s essential to choose the one that will catch the reader’s attention.
If the topic is too broad or too narrow, the reader will either get lost in the process of reading or end up lacking crucial information regarding your topic. Therefore, to be sure that we satisfy our readers, we must pay close attention to choosing the right topic. Let’s see how.
How to Choose Interesting Cultural Research Paper Topics
Here are a couple of tips on how to choose an interesting topic. Before the writing process, you should consider the following:
- Consult people from your surrounding. Is there someone native from the culture you want to write about you can reach out to? Bear in mind that the most accurate information comes from culture bearers.
- Make a profound research about the topic you’re intended to write about. Nothing is random in culture - each tradition, habit, style, and background have a specific goal and a purpose.
- Try to place yourself in the shoes of a culture’s representative.
- Always be accepting and tolerant. Try not to involve emotions in the choice of topics and write accurately about them.
List of Culture Research Topics
Here’s a list of 20 interesting and somewhat general topics about culture everyone can find something suitable from:
- The development of culture, definition, and analysis of the term
- Are only humans capable of having a culture? Is there an animal culture?
- Is there something common for all cultures?
- Globalizations and local cultures
- How are politics and culture intertwined?
- Culture and nationalism - differences and similarities
- Does religion have an impact on culture, and to what extent?
- Is culture equally important to the young and the old?
- Gender and gender roles in culture
- How do different cultures view sex?
- To what extent does the law influence culture?
- Is there a global culture? The definition of the term
- Different cultures and languages
- To what extent does culture make an impact on human psychology?
- The American culture and the African-American culture as its part
- What are multicultural communities?
- What is a female culture, and how does it appear in closed communities?
- The culture depicted as a political and business tool
- Culture and advertisement
- Isolated communities and their culture
Essay Examples Relevant to Culture
- American Culture
- National Culture
Cultural Diversity Research Paper Topics
The more people, countries and religions are on the planet, the greater the diversity. When choosing a title from this list, make sure to look wider.
- Mixed origins of people — do they have their own culture?
- How do different cultures view death?
- Different cultures and their various forms of segregation
- Natives and colonizers — the cultural clashes
- What are alien cultures? How do the film and literature define them?
- Cultural diversity — is it essential to preserve it?
- Foreign cultures and the assimilation of people in them
- The differences between my culture and the culture of other communities
- Ethics and morals among different cultures
- Cultural diversity — the definition of the term and analysis
Save your time with free essay samples on Cultural Diversity
Cultural anthropology research paper topics.
Here, you’ll find a list of 10 ideas for research paper about culture that are concentrated on anthropological aspect:
- The cultural anthropology of our modern times — an evaluation
- Cultural anthropology and its effects on the missionary
- Modern society and women’s role in it
- The Zulu community and the peculiarities of this African culture
- Different religious practices in America
- The English language — impact on the American culture
- Long-term consequences of exploration of physical labor
- STD - what efforts can stop it
- How does African culture view death?
- Development of the USA from an anthropological perspective
Subculture Research Ideas
- Subcultures and marketing strategies
- Social norms — are they dangerous?
- The Amish — why do they stand out?
- Cybersport — does America benefit from it?
- Subcultures and clothes
- The Anime community — why is it worldwide?
- How does a social group emerge?
- The impact of mass media on cultural lifestyles
- How does society benefit from subcultures?
- Hipsters and their influence on fashion trends
Essay Examples Relevant to Subculture
- Cultural Identity
Pop Culture Research Topics
- Mass media and pop culture
- Michael Jackson and his impact on pop culture
- Feminism and sexism in the culture
- Pop culture and its impact on the imbalance of genders
- Eradicating terrorism and the influence of pop culture on it
- Community practices and pop culture
- Promoting women rights through pop culture
- Impact of pop culture on the personality
- Can pop culture promote social change?
- Pop culture and its ethical issues
Essay Examples Relevant to Pop Culture
- Pop Culture
Socio-Cultural Essay Topics
Here are ten exciting socio-cultural ideas. If you’re interested in comparing a community’s social and moral aspects, choose one title from this list as a basis.
- Emotional and social development — how does culture impact it?
- Language and culture — compare and contrast of features
- Social organization and its impact on culture
- Why do people from a particular culture find their cultural behavior normal?
- Socio-cultural communication
- Accents and dialects and their impact on international communication
- The socio-linguistic tool — description
- The development of character in a particular culture
- Does the environment of culture impact human nature?
- Culture and non-verbal communication
Essay Examples Relevant to Socio-Cultural
- Intercultural Communication
- Organizational Culture
Cultural Phenomena Topics
- Sexism in different cultures
- Black Lives Matter and the view on racism in America
- Why do female cultures emerge mostly in closed communities?
- Foreign cultures and reasons for cultural assimilation in them
- Do cultural studies demystify misconceptions and myths
- Children and grandparents — a special bond in culture
- Why do some people hate when a foreigner moves to their country?
- What are cultural phenomena?
- Different phenomena across cultures
- How does culture impact the way we think?
Essay Examples Relevant to Cultural Phenomena
- Black Lives Matter
Cultural Psychology Research Topics
- Filial piety and personality in the UK
- Human developments in the USA from a cross-cultural perspective
- Red Indians in America and their social behavior
- Cross-cultural psychology and factors that can influence it
- Cultural psychology and its implication on diversity
- What do graduates in the UK expect after college in their careers?
- Autistic children and parenting stress
- Gender stereotypes — a comparative analysis
- Famous artists and their impact on culture
- Cultural psychology — evolution
Western Civilization Essay Topics
- Ancient Britain and its architecture
- Christianity in Europe
- Olympic Games — the entire history
- The Roman Empire and its heritage
- Greek Myths and philosophers
- The impact of the Great Plague on western culture
- The Enlightenment period — analysis
- The Renaissance period — analysis
- The Protestant Reformation and its impact on German culture
- African culture — The Colonization
Essay Examples Relevant to Western Civilization
- Western Culture
- Greek Mythology
- Protestant Reformation
- Olympic Games
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- Research paper
Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide
Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 29, 2022.
The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your topic and get the reader interested
- Provide background or summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.
Table of contents
Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.
The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.
The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.
For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:
A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:
Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.
This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.
In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.
Argumentative paper: Background information
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.
Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .
Empirical paper: Describing previous research
For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.
This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.
Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.
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The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.
Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance
In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.
Empirical paper: Relate to the literature
In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:
- What research gap is your work intended to fill?
- What limitations in previous work does it address?
- What contribution to knowledge does it make?
You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.
Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.
The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).
Argumentative paper: Thesis statement
The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.
Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis
The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.
Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.
A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.
- This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
- We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.
If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.
For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:
The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.
In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.
If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.
- This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
- This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …
Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.
- Argumentative paper
- Empirical paper
Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.
The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.
The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:
- A hook to catch the reader’s interest
- Relevant background on the topic
- Details of your research problem
and your problem statement
- A thesis statement or research question
- Sometimes an overview of the paper
Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.
This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .
The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .
A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.
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Step 1: Introduce your topic. The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook. The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic.