Writing A Psychology Research Paper Methods Section Properly

When writing your psychology research paper, you will most likely be using APA style format. The APA manual clearly describes that the methods section must be written in great detail. This means including everything that could logically be expected to influence the final results. You must provide enough information so the reader could replicate your experiment.

The methods section must also be concise. This means that even though you will be writing it in great detail, you must only include those parts that are directly related to the understanding of the experiment. All other details can be covered in another section of your psychology research paper.

Three parts of the methods section

Typically, there would be three parts included under the methods heading. They are as follows:

  1. Participants.
    • Who participated in your study
    • What was the population the participants were drawn from
    • If there were any restrictions regarding the nature of your group of participants
    • The way they were selected
    • If they are a good representation of the general group
    • How were they assigned?
  2. Apparatus and materials.
    • Label and describe what was used to run your experiment
    • Try to distinguish between apparatus and materials
    • Describe in general terms only how each was used in the experiment
    • Why was each tool important
    • Details of usage belong in the procedures section
    • If you made some of the equipment, it should be labelled as custom equipment
    • Why tools are important to generate your data
  3. Procedures
    • This is a summary of each step that was executed in order to complete the research
    • Be precise, concise as well as logical
    • Provide enough information so the reader could conduct the same experiment and get similar results
    • If any specific manipulations were necessary in operating the equipment
    • Details of control features
    • A description of the design
    • An explanation of how counterbalancing or control measures were used

The methods section for your psychology research paper must follow the template and expectations laid out by your educational institution. If you are required to follow APA style, which is most common, you can follow the instructions in the manual. Always keep in mind the needs of the reader. You want them to have enough detail that they can sufficiently follow the workings of your research, yet not so much excess detail they get lost in it and can’t understand how it all relates together.