Your introduction should serve four main purposes:
1. State the topic that your paper is exploring.
2. Explain why it is a topic that is important to psychology.
3. Set up an explicit hypothesis in the form of either a thesis statement (i.e.,something that you will set out to prove or disprove through the paper) OR a question (something that you will try to answer with the research that you are reviewing in the paper). So, you might state, for example, “This paper will explore each of several factors that contribute to eating disorders, and will show that the media is the most significant factor.” OR you might pose a question, as in, “What are the factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders?” or “Which of the factors that contribute to eating disorders has the greatest impact?”
4. Establish a mini-outline, or a direction for the paper. This should guide the reader through the coming paragraphs, and should correspond to sub-headings if you decide to use them. So, for example, after one of the hypothesis statements above, you could say something like, “This paper will start by looking at the impact that parents have on eating disorders, then it will examine the influence of peers. Finally, it will look at the contribution of the media, and will demonstrate that the media is the most significant factor in the development of eating disorders.” Your subsequent sections could then be headed “Parents,” “Peers,” and “Media.” To make it even easier, your transitions would be sentences like, “The first contributing factor…” (and, within that topic, “One way that parents influence…” and “Another way…”), and then “The second/ next/ Another influential factor…” etc.
Organization of the main body of the paper
You should organize your paper in a way that makes clear sense to both you and to the reader. Assume that your Professor is your main reader, but your paper should be written so that any one of your classmates or friends could read it and understand it without extensive knowledge in psychology.
Make sure it is easy to follow from beginning to end.
Using the mini-outline that you write in your Introduction (see above) will help in providing some structure and organization for your paper; make sure you follow it throughout.
Use transitions (each paragraph should follow clearly from the one(s) preceding it…they often explicitly refer to those that came before, e.g., if the previous paragraph talks about the cause “x,” a good transition would be: “In addition to x…”). Establishing a mini-outline in your Introduction (as described above) can help a great deal with the flow of your paper.
Try not to describe each study one at a time, and in order (so Study 1, then Study 2, then Study 3)… Instead, find common themes that run through the research articles that you’ve found, and then cite them as you come to each topic. For example, let’s say the topic of your paper was the causes of eating disorders. Rather than talking about what Study 1 found about the causes, then Study 2, then Study 3, you should talk about the different types of causes in turn, for example, family, then peers, then media, or whatever you find. Within the section that you talk about each topic, you can cite the research that shows that those causes apply.
Your conclusion should also serve four main purposes:
1. Briefly summarize the research that you have talked about in your paper. Include the
2. Discuss some of the criticisms of the studies you talked about (they were done a long time ago, the sample sizes were small or not random, the methods included self-report and/ or may be biased, etc). These can be a shorter form of what you used in your critical evaluations (plus a new list for the new article(s)), and/ or can also include new criticisms that you may have thought of since. You should also make suggestions for future studies/ details that future research needs to explore further with regard to your topic.
3. Refer back to the hypothesis: was it correct/ incorrect/ partially correct? Or answer your initial question (e.g., what are the causes, or which is most important?)
4. Remind the reader why your topic is important, and, more specifically, why the citations (again) for the information you present in this summary.information that you found in the paper is important. What does it imply (e.g., for psychologists/ children/ parents/ teachers/ educators/ society/ governments)? How can we use this information (e.g., now that we know the causes of eating disorders, we can use this information to develop more effective treatments…)?