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Rough Guide: Psychology

Here are a few areas you may wish to focus on as you begin your studies in Psychology. Explore these materials and bookmark them so that you can refer to them when you need to.

Academic approach

You will find advice and samples of student writing under the Writing tab in the Language and Learning Online site.

  • There is also specific advice for writing in Psychology with a sample first year assignment and skills-building tutorials at.
  • There is also specific sample of writing for students of Psychological Medicine, which also considers the Case Study format

The Research students' site has material devoted specifically to the needs of students undertaking postgraduate research.

A useful guide for Writing a Psychology Literature Review Opens in a new window can be found at the University of Washington site

For an example of what a psychological assessment report (in this case an Educational Psychometric report) should contain, try page 30 of: Opening All Options II Opens in a new window. There is also an electronic resource Essentials of assessment report writing ( Hoboken , 2004) available through the Monash Library.

The Department of Psychology has prepared an Example Lab Report which should be available on your subjects' MUSO sites.

Self-help resources

Try our recommendations for resources available from the Library including digitised sample chapters.


Check the guide to using the APA Opens in a new window style of referencing in the Library's

Good luck!!

The Learning support team

Building your repertoire: interdisciplinary awareness

Each discipline has a unique perspective and understandings which inform its academic expectations. As you undertake units in diverse disciplines, pay conscious attention to what the 'customs' are for referencing, developing arguments, presenting assignments, and discussing ideas.

Some initial questions you might ask yourself:

What unique language is expected?

For example, in Psychology, the writer tends to refer to the subjects in studies as participants rather than 'subjects' or 'people'. In Nursing, people who are undergoing some medical treatment could be referred to as 'clients' or 'patients'.

How is the work of others acknowledged?

Psychology, for example, uses the APA (American Psychological Association) referencing style; other disciplines may recommend APA but be happy with Harvard. The whole BusEco faculty has nominated the referencing style of the Student Q Manual. In each of these cases, page numbers are provided for direct quotations. In Sociology, however, the convention to supply a page number for all citations (with some exceptions!)

How objective must you be?

In Education, for example, where writers are often asked to reflect on their practice, the use of 'I' is expected and so is personal experience. In contrast, for Management in BusEco, for example, the convention is to avoid the use of personal references. So, for that discipline, the following sentence would need to be amended:

In my experience, talking directly with staff is an important component of successful change management. I argue, therefore, that relying on general emails to communicate with staff is largely unsuccessful.

As Scully's study (2005) concluded, talking directly with staff is an important component of successful change management. Relying on general emails, therefore, to communicate with staff is largely unsuccessful.

What assessment format is expected?

Your lecturer will usually indicate if an essay or report format, for example, is required. There are, however, established understandings about how an essay will be presented in Psychology, for example, which will be quite different for Sociology.

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