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Introduction To Psychology Bibliography Format

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

An annotation is NOT the same thing as an abstract.  Annotations are more than just summaries, they also include a CRITICAL evaluation of the work as well.  For information on how to critically evaluate the credentials and the content of an article please visit Cornell's Critically Analyzing Information Sources page.

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Olin Library Reference
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Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA


Complete the following information for each journal article you read.  Complete the information for each section of the article before reading the next section; it will help you understand the sections that follow.  Use bullets, sentences, or paragraphs, whatever is your preferred note taking style.

Start by typing the complete reference – in APA style – for this study.

First, identify the general area(s) being investigated.  Then, for each research study discussed, identify the purpose or hypotheses of the research, what the authors did (their participants, method, and design), what they found (results), and what they concluded.  If later studies in the introduction have similar procedures and findings just say that.

Summarize, in your own words, the hypotheses being tested in the research study you are reading.  What were the authors attempting to show?  What are the independent variables (IVs) and dependent variables (DVs) of this study?


Who were the participants – describe appropriate characteristics.  For example, it may not be important to the study to know where participants are from – skip this information if this is the case.

What was/were the DVs?  What tests, scales or instruments were used to operationally define each DV?

Describe, in your own words, what was done to collect data.  You should be able to do this in a just a few sentences.  Describe any attempts made to control confounds or extraneous variables.

Don’t use numbers here but summarize in words what the authors found.  What were the major results? Did they find support for their hypotheses?  How do the results relate to the other studies cited in the introduction?  How did the researchers interpret the results; what are their overall conclusions?  Did they offer any big “whoops” statements – something that went wrong that makes them (or you) hesitate with their conclusions?  Do they offer suggestions for future research?  Do you have any other interpretations or suggestions for future research?

In 2-3 sentences, in your own words, what did this study tell you?  What were the important conclusions that you might use later?  Add anything else that you think is important to know about this research.

In a final few sentences, describe if and how you will use this study in your proposal.  How does this study relate to other studies you have read? What authors did they cite in this paper that you could follow-up on?   Be as specific as you can at this point.


Complete the following information for each review article or chapter you read.  You can use sentence, paragraph, or bullet format, whatever is most comfortable and useful for you.

Summaries of review articles or chapters in books are similar to the summaries you complete for background information in the Introduction section of a research article. A major difference is that in reviews, you do not always get detailed information about the research methodology; the information usually focuses on results and implications. 

  • First identify the overall goal or purpose of the review.
  • Next, identify the main or key points or subsections of the review.  For each key point, identify the claims made and the research evidence used as support for the claims (ID the authors cited), and the overall interpretations or conclusions about the key point or claim.
  • Next, do your own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the article.  How credible was the information presented?  What were the weak points and strengths?  Was there sufficient evidence presented for the claims made? What questions still remain? Make any other comments you thinks will help you later.
  • Finally, discuss if and how you can use this article/chapter in your term paper.  If you plan to use it, where do you see it fitting into your overall organization?   How does this article relate to others you have read? Identify any authors or research studies cited that would be important to follow-up on for your paper.  Give the article and overall rating in terms of usefulness for your paper. 

Writing the Experimental Report: Overview, Introductions, and Literature Reviews


Written for undergraduate students and new graduate students in psychology (experimental), this handout provides information on writing in psychology and on experimental report and experimental article writing.

Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Aleksandra Kasztalska
Last Edited: 2013-03-11 09:54:55

Experimental reports (also known as "lab reports") are reports of empirical research conducted by their authors. You should think of an experimental report as a "story" of your research in which you lead your readers through your experiment. As you are telling this story, you are crafting an argument about both the validity and reliability of your research, what your results mean, and how they fit into other previous work.

These next two sections provide an overview of the experimental report in APA format. Always check with your instructor, advisor, or journal editor for specific formatting guidelines. 

General-specific-general format

Experimental reports follow a general to specific to general pattern. Your report will start off broadly in your introduction and discussion of the literature; the report narrows as it leads up to your specific hypotheses, methods, and results. Your discussion transitions from talking about your specific results to more general ramifications, future work, and trends relating to your research.

Title page

Experimental reports in APA format have a title page. Title page formatting is as follows:

  • A running head and page number in the upper right corner (right aligned)
  • A definition of running head in IN ALL CAPS below the running head (left aligned)
  • Vertically and horizontally centered paper title, followed by author and affiliation

Please see our sample APA title page.

Crafting your story

Before you begin to write, carefully consider your purpose in writing: what is it that you discovered, would like to share, or would like to argue? You can see report writing as crafting a story about your research and your findings. Consider the following.

  • What is the story you would like to tell?
  • What literature best speaks to that story?
  • How do your results tell the story?
  • How can you discuss the story in broad terms?

During each section of your paper, you should be focusing on your story. Consider how each sentence, each paragraph, and each section contributes to your overall purpose in writing. Here is a description of one student's process.

Briel is writing an experimental report on her results from her experimental psychology lab class. She was interested in looking at the role gender plays in persuading individuals to take financial risks. After her data analysis, she finds that men are more easily persuaded by women to take financial risks and that men are generally willing to take more financial risks.

When Briel begins to write, she focuses her introduction on financial risk taking and gender, focusing on male behaviors. She then presents relevant literature on financial risk taking and gender that help illuminate her own study, but also help demonstrate the need for her own work. Her introduction ends with a study overview that directly leads from the literature review. Because she has already broadly introduced her study through her introduction and literature review, her readers can anticipate where she is going when she gets to her study overview. Her methods and results continue that story. Finally, her discussion concludes that story, discussing her findings, implications of her work, and the need for more research in the area of gender and financial risk taking.


The abstract gives a concise summary of the contents of the report.

  • Abstracts should be brief (about 100 words)
  • Abstracts should be self-contained and provide a complete picture of what the study is about
  • Abstracts should be organized just like your experimental report—introduction, literature review, methods, results and discussion
  • Abstracts should be written last during your drafting stage


The introduction in an experimental article should follow a general to specific pattern, where you first introduce the problem generally and then provide a short overview of your own study. The introduction includes three parts: opening statements, literature review, and study overview.

Opening statements: Define the problem broadly in plain English and then lead into the literature review (this is the "general" part of the introduction). Your opening statements should already be setting the stage for the story you are going to tell.

Literature review: Discusses literature (previous studies) relevant to your current study in a concise manner. Keep your story in mind as you organize your lit review and as you choose what literature to include. The following are tips when writing your literature review.

  • You should discuss studies that are directly related to your problem at hand and that logically lead to your own hypotheses.
  • You do not need to provide a complete historical overview nor provide literature that is peripheral to your own study.
  • Studies should be presented based on themes or concepts relevant to your research, not in a chronological format.
  • You should also consider what gap in the literature your own research fills. What hasn't been examined? What does your work do that others have not?

Study overview: The literature review should lead directly into the last section of the introduction—your study overview. Your short overview should provide your hypotheses and briefly describe your method. The study overview functions as a transition to your methods section.

You should always give good, descriptive names to your hypotheses that you use consistently throughout your study. When you number hypotheses, readers must go back to your introduction to find them, which makes your piece more difficult to read. Using descriptive names reminds readers what your hypotheses were and allows for better overall flow.


In our example above, Briel had three different hypotheses based on previous literature. Her first hypothesis, the "masculine risk-taking hypothesis" was that men would be more willing to take financial risks overall. She clearly named her hypothesis in the study overview, and then referred back to it in her results and discussion sections.


Thais and Sanford (2000) recommend the following organization for introductions.

  • Provide an introduction to your topic
  • Provide a very concise overview of the literature
  • State your hypotheses and how they connect to the literature
  • Provide an overview of the methods for investigation used in your research

Bem (2006) provides the following rules of thumb for writing introductions.

  • Write in plain English
  • Take the time and space to introduce readers to your problem step-by-step; do not plunge them into the middle of the problem without an introduction
  • Use examples to illustrate difficult or unfamiliar theories or concepts. The more complicated the concept or theory, the more important it is to have clear examples
  • Open with a discussion about people and their behavior, not about psychologists and their research

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