Paper Assignment - Psychology C120 / CogSci C100...

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Unformatted text preview: Psychology C120 / CogSci C100 Paper Assignment Basics Purpose. Throughout the course, we have been both exploring different topics in cognitive psychology, and considering these topics relative to three major course questions and three major conceptual themes. The purpose of this paper is to allow you to learn more about a specific topic in cognitive psychology, and to consider that topic relative to the course’s central questions and concepts. Content. For your paper, you will pick a topic relevant to cognitive psychology, and find 3–5 papers about that topic. You will then write a paper that describes the theories about your topic, summarizes the methods used in the papers that you read, and evaluates the evidence in these papers to reach a specific conclusion about the topic at hand. Length. Your paper should be no more than five, double ­spaced pages, not including any figures or tables, and not including your cover sheet and references. Your margins should be one inch all around, and your font should be Times or Times New Roman, 12 ­point. References. You must cite between three and five peer ­reviewed journal articles. No more than one of these articles may be a review paper—the rest must be studies reporting original research. You should cite these sources in your paper and provide a bibliography, again using APA format. Deadlines. The paper is due in ­class on August 5. I will collect the papers at the beginning of class. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade (10% of the assignment’s value) for each 24 ­hour period after that point. No paper will be accepted after the beginning of class on Monday, August 8. Exceptions will be made only in unusual circumstances, and will require documentation. Additionally, I would like you to choose your topic by Sunday, July 24 at 11:59 PM. You will turn in a brief description of your topic via bSpace. I will review what you’ve turned in and let you know if I have any concerns about its suitability as a topic. Policy on Plagiarism. This paper should be your own, original work. Cheating, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated. Plagiarism on the final paper will result in an “F” for the course. Any breaches in academic honesty will be reported to Student Judicial Affairs, which may administer additional punishment. If you have any uncertainty about whether an action constitutes academic dishonesty, please see me. Choosing a Topic You may write your paper on any topic, so long as it has a clear relation to cognitive psychology. You should choose something that is interesting and relevant to you. For instance, you may have found one of the chapters from the book particularly interesting, in which case you might choose one of the phenomena in that chapter to write your paper about. Or, you may choose to address a topic that has more relation to your everyday life, such as whether multitasking leads to more or less efficiency, or how video games affect attention. You can also choose a topic that is typically studied in another area of psychology, so long a you can tie it back to cognitive psychology. For instance, though prejudice and stereotyping are typically considered part of social psychology, you may choose to write about how cognitive research on categorization can help us understand stereotyping. Picking a Thesis You should come up with a specific thesis (i.e., position or point of view) to defend in your paper. For instance, your thesis might be that driving while talking on the phone is dangerous, regardless of whether you use a hands ­free device like a headset. If your topic is less applied in nature, then your thesis will probably be about a theoretical controversy. For example, the attention chapter in your book discusses the early disagreements about whether performance in the dichotic listening experiment was consistent with early or late selection. You might choose a (much more contemporary!) debate to discuss in your paper. After you have chosen a debate, you must decide whether you think there is more evidence for one side than the other, or whether you think that the evidence is inconclusive. In either case, make sure that you accurately represent the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence for either side. Make sure that you are clear about why the evidence favors one side, or about why the evidence so far is not sufficient to make a conclusion. Relating Your Topic to the Course Questions and Concepts Though you do not need to explicitly mention the course questions and concepts in your paper, you should think about your topic relative to them. Because you will be reading empirical research, you will definitely be able to speak to the second course question, “How can we study cognitive processes without directly observing what the brain is doing?” You will answer this question by describing the similarities and differences among the empirical methods used in the papers you read, and by discussing the theories about the cognitive processes at play in this research. You should also be able to consider at least one of the other questions. For instance, if your paper is about how talking on the cell phone while driving impacts your ability to pay attention to the road, then that relates to the “How good are we at the cognitive tasks that we undertake?” question. Sometimes you may be able to mention a core concept explicitly. For example, if your topic concerns a cognitive mistake, then be sure to consider people’s performance in the experiments using correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic criteria. Or, if your topic is to compare different theories of memory retrieval, then you can discuss these relative to the cognition as contextualized information processing metaphor. How to Find References The best place to find references is using PsycInfo, which will be covered in class. PsycInfo will indicate which papers come from peer ­reviewed journals. It also provides information about where to access articles online or in the library. You should read the abstracts for several papers in order to get a sense for what has been written before you narrow down your topic and references and begin to read papers more closely. Google and scholar.google.com are also good places to start when exploring a new topic and looking for references. However, you are likely to find many papers that are not related to cognitive psychology and that are not from peer ­reviewed journals, so you will need to be more careful about which leads you follow. Notes About Writing Your Paper As this is scientific writing, you should write as clearly and directly as possible. You may use the first person (e.g., “In this paper, I will discuss …”), but should avoid stating opinions that cannot be supported by evidence (e.g., “…, though I think that the second theory is better.”). Also, rather than surprising your reader by saving your conclusion for the end, you should state your thesis at the beginning, and use the rest of the paper to defend it. Having clear headings will also improve your paper’s readability. A typical paper in psychology will have clearly ­defined introduction and conclusions sections. In between these sections, you might find it helpful to provide sections providing theoretical background, discussing the empirical methods used, and then evaluating the evidence you encountered. However, if some other way of organizing your paper helps you make your argument more clearly, then that is fine—provided that you clearly discuss the theories and methods in the papers you read, and you clearly evaluate the evidence. Your paper should have a separate title page, and your references should be on the start of a new page. For more information about APA style, please see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/. Note that you should NOT include an abstract. ...
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