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How to Write a Good Psychology Research Proposal

When it comes to writing a psychology research proposal one must have to select a solid and engaging topic so it can contribute to the existing literature interestingly. The aim of writing any research proposal is to draw a framework for the entire research. Writing a research proposal is the midway point between planning an experiment/study and administering that experiment/study to ensure the need to address the problem/issue that is under consideration. Research proposal investigates several aspects of the study before it has conducted like whether the research is ethical and practicable, available possible resources to conduct the study and the convenience of the investigator and the subjects of the experiment regarding any harm. A research proposal includes a complete plan of the study including the time frame, population, sample, research method, the strategy to analyze results and methods to collect data, etc. Moreover, a research proposal aims to help the researcher to be focused, disciplined and provide a direction or indication though as the research progress, alternation can be done by the researcher according to per conditions.

Before start writing a psychology research proposal, you must have to consider the guideline given by your supervisor/instructor.

The Structure and Parts of a Psychology Research Paper

Following are the main parts of a Psychology research proposal, yet each of them can be reshaped as per demand/instructions from the respective department/instructor;

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Method
  • Design/Instrumentation/Material
  • References
  • Appendices


For a psychology research proposal, there is a separate title page including the student’s name, date of submission, the course title and the name of the instructor along with the name of the respective department. The title should be very clear, precise and it should represent what you are going to discuss in this research or experiment. Your title should not be too lengthy and it should not contain abbreviations or short forms.


Following is a research title from a study conducted by Volkman (2016) which represents a clear and precise research title;

“Spelling and scaffolds in preschool: Does a movable alphabet improve spelling performance?”

APA Format

Title (not more than 12 words)

Auther’s name

Institutional affiliation

Alignment: Center

Running Head>Title in Caps>up to 50 characters

How to Write a Good Psychology Research Proposal


The abstract will start from a new page, it represents a concise summary of the entire research including your title, problem statement, research method, sample size, results, and conclusion. Try to summarize your abstract in a single paragraph with a normal length between 150-250 words.

APA Format

Abstract>Centralized>12-point Times New Roman

Running head>Continue

Paragraph>Double spaced>single paragraph>Do not indent the first line of the paragraph

150-250 words


After writing the abstract your first paragraph should begin with a new page consisting of an introduction about your research plan. Briefly describe your topic, title and convince your readers that the subject of your research is engaging and significant to be addressed. The section of introduction is a body of your research proposal, it should contain the problem statement, key points, Research objectives, general significance and a brief background of your research topic. Your research proposal writing should be very clear and plagiarism free, use formal academic language and try to deliver a clear statement why are you conducting this inquiry and how it will contribute to the society and the existing literature?.

APA Format

New page>Left aligned>12 regular, Times New Roman> 0.5 indents (use tab key for this purpose)


Your beginning should focus on the general issue. Let’s have a look of the study by Volkman (2016);

“Understanding young children’s spelling abilities may provide both unique insights into their overall linguistic development and identify children at risk for reading difficulties in ways that typical reading assessments cannot (Clemens, Oslund, Simmons, & Simmons, 2014; McBride-Chang, 1998)”

One can easily observe that the author is dealing with linguistics problems among children. It represents how your introduction’s opening sentence would look like; it should grab the attention of the reader and let them know what you are going to talk about in this paper/proposal.

Research Objectives

Write down the aim and objectives of your study in a very smooth manner. Using bullets to enlist your objectives will make it clear to the reader about the targeted goal of your study.

Significance of the Study

Research significance is a concise part of the psychology research proposal defining your key ideas along with the problem statement or hypothesis and why there is a need to discuss the present problem statement or hypothesis. Highlight the importance of your study in light of existing research evidence.

Literature Review

A review of the literature provides a defense or justification for your hypothesis that is under investigation. By formatting, a theoretical framework of your research relates it to real life and cites the relevant previous research evidence along with their reliable sources. Critically analyze the past researches, draft conclusions and relate them with your study. Make it clear how’s your study is going to fill the spaces left by the past literature evidence and how will you contribute to the existing literature.

  • Citation Guide

You have to give citations of the researches included in your study, without mentioning reference or citation it is illegal and unethical to state someone else’s research contributions. There are two ways to cite a resource;

  1. At the start or within the sentence like “Volkman (2016) researched Spelling and scaffolds in preschool: Does a movable alphabet improve spelling”.
  2. At the end of the sentence like “An investigation was made to analyze the Spelling and scaffolds in preschool: Does a movable alphabet improve spelling. (Volkman,2016).

For complete citation and reference guide follow the APA manual.


A hypothesis is a possible supposed statement or explanation to investigate an experiment or phenomenon based on insufficient or limited past evidence. Your hypothesis should be concise, clear and distinct.

  1. Sample

The hypotheses in Volkman’s study are;

  1. Preschoolers will score higher on a movable alphabet assessment than on a handwritten assessment.
  2. Movable alphabet spelling scores will be a better predictor of phonemic awareness and letter knowledge than handwritten spelling scores.


When you are writing a psychology research proposal, in the section of method your first paragraph will include the key point and hypothesis of your research. You have to describe in detail what are you going to do in this study? How it would be done? What will be the population and sample? What will be the age group of your sample? Which research method you have selected? Which type of analysis you have decided to investigate your findings? What will be the strategy, nature and sampling technique? What will be the inclusion and exclusion criteria? (Characteristics set by the researcher to include or exclude the subjects from the experiment based on some specific factors e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status) etc. Include the statement of significance that how your research will contribute to the existing limited literature along with the statement about the spaces left by the past researches. The section of the methodology includes;

  • Participants

Describe the information about your research participants; who will participate in the study, how you will select a specific sample from a large population, the expected total number of sample, how many men, women or children will take part in the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria and the details about demographic information e.g. gender, age, qualification, number of siblings, birth order, occupation, socio-economic status and so on.

  • Design/Instrumentation/Material

A piece of detailed, in-depth information about the measurement tools. If the researchers planned to use their self-developed assessment tools, complete information about the measurement instruments will be required; how it developed? The reliability and validity of the instrument? How the researcher investigates the reliability and validity of the self-developed tool? If the researcher using existing material they will have to describe each and every detail of the instrument; the number of items, sub-scales (if any), response categories, scoring method, reliability and validity of the measurement tool along with the reference of the author. Detailed information about the demographic sheet and consent form will also be discussed.

    • Consent Form

In psychology research, a consent form is highly significant it consists of the information regarding the aim and significance of the study, the rights of participants to leave the research at any stage, and the information regarding the confidentiality of the participants.

    • Data Collection Planning/Procedure

Discuss in detail how and where the data will be collected? state the name of institutions/organizations/hospitals from which you are planning to collect research data. Explain the expected number and details of the participants along with the sampling strategy and the experimental manipulations.

    • Data Analysis Procedure

After the data collection plan demonstrate the method you have selected to investigate your research findings, for instance; for a quantitative research statistical analysis can be done by using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Moreover, describe the analysis you will use to investigate your findings e.g. Pearson product-moment correlation, Analysis of variance, Chi-square, etc.


Last but not least you have to enlist all the sources that are cited in your research proposal, all the references will arrange alphabetically.

  • APA Sample

Volkman, J. (2016). Proposal for a Thesis In the Field of Psychology In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for The Master of Liberal Arts Degree (Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University).


It will include all the measurement tools, demographic sheet, consent form and any other document you are going to use in your research.

Psychology Research Paper Topic Examples

  1. Impact of childhood bullying on health in adulthood
  2. Correlation among broken family and health risks in adulthood
  3. Conflict resolution and masturbation
  4. Supportive parenting and neurology
  5. Aging and memory
  6. Comparison between IQ and EQ
  7. Self-control and aggression
  8. Violence and video games
  9. Self-mastery and suicidal attempts
  10. Jail prisoners and their mental health
  11. Intimacy and life quality
  12. Does overthinking leads to dementia in old age?
  13. Culture and decision science
  14. Need of psychologists in educational institutions
  15. A comparison of real and ideal self
  16. Interpretation of life events and experiences
  17. Stress and linguistic
  18. Antisocial behavior of child and maternal attitude during pregnancy
  19. Chronic health problems and emotional management
  20. Retaining the attention and self-motivation among elementary school students
  21. Parenting and emotional dependency in adulthood
  22. Child attitude towards group activities
  23. Correlation between higher IQ and decision making
  24. Creative workers and drug dependency
  25. Inferiority complex and bullying attitude towards others


Thinking about writing a psychology research paper? Here is the guideline “How to write a Psychology research paper?”

  • Clemens, N. H., Oslund, E. L., Simmons, L. E., & Simmons, D. (2014). Assessing spelling in kindergarten: Further comparison of scoring metrics and their relation to reading skills. Journal of School Psychology, 52(1), 49-61.
  • McBride-Chang, C. (1998). The development of invented spelling. Early Education and Development, 9(2), 147-160.
  • Volkman, J. (2016). Proposal for a Thesis In the Field of Psychology In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for The Master of Liberal Arts Degree (Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University).

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