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PSYC 3980: Research Design

Guide supporting PSYC 3980 classes, but may be useful for any psychology or interdisciplinary research.

2023 Topic Development

Topic Development Directions


Topic Design Assignment Worksheet (check with instructor)

Research proposal paper criteria (previous sections - check with instructor)


  • For this research proposal, you will review the literature and form an original hypothesis based on the review. Near the end of your essay, you will write a couple of sentences about your design, describing how you will test your hypothesis, but you are not expected to include much detail about the design and procedure.
  • State your variables: Independent and Dependent if you are making a causal claim and predictor and outcome variables if you are making a correlation claim.


  • At least three (Empirical) journal articles
  • One book OR a review article
    • Use primarily psychological journals. There are many great interdisciplinary journals, but you want to focus on psychology.
    • Exclude replication studies


Where to look for articles?

  • Psychology databases
    • PsycINFO
    • PsycARTICLES
    • Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection
  • Social science databases (carefully!)
    • SSCI

Where to look for books?

  • GIL-Find (library catalog)

Find scientific studies in popular media or new

Scientific studies are often quoted in the popular press, but sometimes incompletely or inadequately.You may need to:

  • Find the original study mentioned in a new report
  • Compare popular coverage of research to that in peer-reviewed journals
  • Find studies which contradict or support a popular position -- ex: "coffee is good for you" or "coffee is bad for you"


  • Work from the popular press item to the study
  • If you find a link to a study available for purchase, don't immediately buy it! Check with UGA Libraries first. We can often provide you with free access through our subscription databases, or can get it for you via interlibrary loan. 
  • You can use Google to find popular press items by limiting to a reputable news site. You can use a unique phrase from the study, or just browse with a general term, such as "study finds." The search might look like these:
    • "study finds" psychological
    • "study finds" mental
    • "mental health" study
  • Use Google Advanced Search settings for a date range

Image of Google search for study finds phrase

Sometimes you'll find full text on a journal's website.

Image of The Lancet site search

Sometimes the text will not be accessible, or there will be paywall. Try searching UGA's access.

UGA Libraries eJournal search box

Or try asking a librarian for assistance,

Chat with a Librarian logo - online chat reference