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PSY 410 - Quinan: PSY 410

Guide for the literature review paper for Psychology 410

Student Learning Outcomes

This guide and instruction session have the following goals:  By utilizing search methods and materials presented in this LibGuide, students will be able to locate, obtain and evaluate information related to their PSY 410 assignments.

PSY 410 Assignment

Writing a Literature Review Term Paper for Dr. Quinan


     The Department of Psychology uses the American Psychological Association (APA) writing format for all formal papers.  For detailed information about APA writing style, see the following:

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). (2009). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Rosnow, R.L., &  Rosnow, M. (2012) Writing papers in psychololgy. (9h ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage  Learning.

Hairston, M., Ruszkiewicz, J., & Friend, C. (2002). The Scott, Foresman handbook for writers. (6th ed.). New York: Longman.

North Carolina Wesleyan College On-Line Writing Lab


General Considerations

     Choose an interesting topic which is related to the course content.  It should not be too broad or too narrow.  Discuss the topic with Dr. Quinan early in the semester. 

     Papers should be typed, double spaced.  Margins should be approximately 1 inch on all sides.  Pages should be numbered, starting with “1” on the title page.  Pages should be stapled together.

     All formal papers should have a title page, which contains the following information:

  • Title
  • Author’s name
  • Course number and name
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College
  • Date of Submission

     The next page of a formal paper is the Abstract.  The word “Abstract” appears in the center at the top of the page.  The Abstract is a summary of the entire paper, approximately 100 words in length.  It should be written after you have written the rest of the paper.

     “Running heads” are optional.  Sub-headings which divide the major sections of your paper are used at the discretion of the author.  They are recommended since they show the organization of your paper.

     The most important elements in writing a paper are clarity and precision.  Say exactly what you mean to say using Standard English.

      Although you are writing your paper for Dr. Quinan, he is not the “audience” for your paper.  Write your paper so that an intelligent reader who has no formal training in the topic can understand your paper.  Write your paper in plain English.  If you use specialized words or abbreviations (corpus callosum, EEG) clearly explain them to the reader.  Be sure to carefully proofread your paper.  Check the spelling of names and technical terms.

     Use good reference sources.  Your paper should cite at least 10 good sources.  One of these must be a book (such as your textbook).  Other sources should be reference books (the DSM IV, encyclopedias of psychology etc.).  Some of your sources should be primary sources such as journal articles.  There are hundreds of journals which publish articles related to Psychology.  These may be found in the library or though electronic sources such as PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES.  Note:  “Popular” sources such as Psychology Today or Newsweek are not considered to be journal articles.  You may cite other sources of information such as books and reliable internet sources.  You will be asked to turn in an annotated bibliography which describes each of your reference sources as part of the final draft of your term paper.

Citation of Sources in the Body of Your Paper

     In the Abstract and body of the paper, sources are cited by the surnames of the authors and the date of publication, e.g.:

     Nickerson and Adams (1979) studied long term memory for the details of a penny.


     People often do not remember the details of a familiar object (Nickerson & Adams, 1979).

     If there are three or more authors, all surnames must be listed in the first citation.  In subsequent citations, the citation can be abbreviated by listing the name of the first author followed by et al.  For example:

     Bahrick, Hall, and Berger (1996) examined the accuracy of students’ memory for their high school grades.  Students recalled their high grades more accurately than their lower ones (Bahrick et al., 1996).

     You may sometimes use a secondary source.  This means that you read about a study, but you have not read the original published report of the study.  For example, if you read about Hubel and Wiesel’s study in a book by Kalat, you should describe it this way:

     Hubel and Wiesel (cited in Kalat, 2004) found that some cells in the visual cortex responded to a moving line.

     In the Reference section, only cite the reference for Kalat since you did not read Hubel and Wiesel’s publication.

Reference Section

     The Reference section should begin on a new page.  The word “References” should be a centered heading at the top of the page.  The Reference section contains a complete reference for every source cited in the body of the paper and only those sources cited in the body of your paper.  References are not numbered.  They are listed in alphabetical order according to the surname of the first author.  Do not list the authors’ first names, only initials.  Do not list titles (Dr., M.D., etc.).

     Each type of reference source has a form of reference that should be followed.  The sources cited at the beginning of this document provide many examples.  These are a few of the more common forms:

Article in a periodical:

Nickerson, R.S. & Adams, M.J. (1979).  Long-term memory for a common object.

    Cognitive Psychology, 11, 287-307.

Note:  Only the first word of the article title and proper nouns are capitalized.  The major words of the journal title are capitalized.   The volume of the journal is 11, and 287-307 are the page numbers.  If you retrieved this article from the internet, follow the citation with the date the information was retrieved, along with the name and/or address of the source.  For example, Retrieved February 23, 2004 from Expanded Academic ASAP.


Baddeley, A. (1998).  Human memory: Theory and practice.  Needham Heights, MA:

     Allyn & Bacon.

Note:  Only the first word of the book title (and the first word of the second part of the title, if present) should be capitalized.  This is followed by the city where the book was published, the two-letter state abbreviation, and the name of the publisher.

Article in an edited book:

Barclay, C.R. (1986).  Schematization of autobiographical memory.  In D.C. Rubin (Ed.)

     Autobiographical memory.  Cambridge, England:  Cambridge University Press.

Note:  Barclay is the author of the article.  This is followed by the title of the article.  Rubin is the editor of the book, and the book title is in italics.  Include the country for cities outside the U.S.  If you are citing an article from an encyclopedia, and the article has an author, cite each article separately in the reference list using the form for an edited book citation.

Electronic Media:

     References to an Internet source should provide the author of the document, if available, the title or description of the document, the date that the source was updated or retrieved, and the URL.  Test the URL’s in your reference list to be sure that they work!


     Plagiarism “refers to the theft of another person’s ideas or work and passing it off as your own” (Rosnow & Rosnow, 2003, p.64).  If you copy something word for word without using quotation marks or listing the authors, this is plagiarism.  A related problem, often called “lazy writing”, involves using an idea from a source and making a few minor changes in wording as you write the idea.  This is a problem since the ideas and most of the wording are not your own, but you are letting the reader think that the ideas and sentences are your own work.  To avoid these problems, read a reference source, understand the idea you want to talk about, put away the source, write the idea in your own words, then list the author and date of the source that you read.  If you are looking at your source while you are writing, you will be tempted to copy, words, phrases and sentences from it!  Use your own words and cite your sources frequently.  Try to avoid using direct quotations.  If you understand what you are reading, you should be able to say it in your own words.  If you feel the need to quote something directly, such as a definition of a term, quote it accurately (in quotation marks) and list the authors, date, and page number of the source following the quotation.

      Please see Dr. Quinan if you have questions as you write your paper!