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UCD: Psychology Research » Paper Option

About the Written Alternative to Research

Please read through everything on this page before beginning the paper option, as it will help you avoid common mistakes.

Link to list of papers

What is the paper option?

If for any reason you cannot or do not want to participate in six hours’ worth of research studies, you may write brief research papers instead. These papers are based on reviewing one or more research articles written by faculty members in the Psychology Department. The idea behind this assignment is that you can learn about the research done by the department either by participating in studies yourself (and receiving brief explanations of them at the time) or by reading articles about them.

When is the paper due?

The deadline for turning in papers is 5 pm on Thursday, September 11. However, it is recommended you turn in your paper(s) early in case there are revisions needed.

What papers can I write about?

You can receive two research credits for writing a 1000-1500 word summary and commentary on any article included on this list. Articles not on this list will not be accepted. These papers are all written by UCD faculty members, and represent the diversity of research that takes place in the Psychology Department. 

How many credits are each paper worth? 

One paper counts as 2 research hours.

Can I write papers and still be in studies?

Yes, though not if you are under 18. If you are under 18, you will need to submit 3 papers to get your 6 credits. However, if you are over 18, you can combine your papers with actual experiments. As long as your final total is 6 credits, you will have met the requirement.

I only need 1 more credit, is there a shorter version I can do?

This is the only option, and these papers are graded Pass/Fail. So even if you only need one more credit, you can't simply write half of the paper as your paper will be rejected. Youu need to fully complete the assignment in order to avoid an Incomplete.

What exactly should I write in my paper?

Instructions for writing a summary/commentary are provided
Be sure to follow the prompts carefully, as failure to do so may lead to your paper being rejected. See below for a list of common errors that students make with this paper.

What happens if my paper is rejected?

Typically, you are given a chance to edit your paper and make any necessary changes to make it acceptable. However, if you turn your paper in on the final due day, you will not have time to make these changes before the deadline and you may receive an Incomplete. So be sure to turn in your papers well in advance of the due date to leave time to make any changes.

When is the paper due? And when will I find out if it's been accepted or not?

Papers can be submitted at any point during the quarter. The final deadline for paper options is 5 pm on the last day of instruction for the regular school year. (For summer sessions, the deadline is 5 pm on the day before the last day of instruction for summer sessions). The exact date can be found here

Papers will typically be graded within 48 business hours, but towards the end of the quarter this may be as long as 4 days due the increased number of submissions. Again, this is why you are encouraged to turn in your papers early: You want to have time to fix any errors to avoid receiving an Incomplete. 

How do I submit my paper?

Save your paper as either a Word Document or PDF file; no other formats will be accepted. Include in your file name your name and the last name of the Davis faculty member whose paper you read. For example, if you are John Smith and you read Dr. Sherman's paper, you would title your file something like "John Smith-Sherman Summary" or even "Smith-Sherman". Each paper should be saved separately; that is, do not submit one big file that has all three summaries.

You will send these files as an attachment to
 the Subject Pool Coordinator, Sue Hobbs, at If you are attaching more than one file, mention in the body of your email that you are including 2 or 3 attachments to make sure they are not missed.

I wrote papers for PSC 1, can I reuse them for PSC 41?

Each summary/commentary must be written on a different article. We do have a record of what papers you've summarized already; if you can't remember which ones you read please ask us.

Note: The article list was updated as of January 2013 to include some newer articles. If you previously summarized an article by a specific faculty member and there is now a new paper from that faculty member, you are free to summarize this new paper.

What can I do to make sure my paper isn't rejected?

Avoid these common errors to ensure that your paper is accepted:
1) Paper is not long enough: Your paper needs to be at least 1000 words. This does not include headings or references. It also does not include author names- some articles have over 6 authors with long last names, and listing them all seem to be an easy way to pad out your paper. However, these will not be included in your word count. Be sure to cite the paper according to the instructions here

2) Direct quotes in the paper: You must summarize the findings in your own words; you can't copy & paste how the researchers described their results, even if you cite it. 

3) Paper is plagiarized:
 Plagiarism WILL NOT be tolerated in these essays.  Here is a document published by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs regarding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

4) Part IV/"Reaction" isn't long enough: This needs to be a FULL 3 to 5 paragraphs, and should be the biggest section of your paper. A "full" paragraph is not 3 short sentences so make sure you write enough here- this is by far the most common error.

5) Part IV/"Reaction" contains wrong information: This section is supposed to be your reaction, and so it should be hard to get wrong: you liked it, you didn't like it, it reminded you of xyz that you learned in class, etc. Do not simply restate the results here. You also should not be too broad and say something like, "It applies to what I learned in class because it is psychology and an experiment." We're looking for specificity here, as well as your personal opinion and thoughts regarding the paper. 

6) Paper is unreadable: One or two typos are forgivable, but please proofread your paper. If you have incomplete or incoherent sentences, too many words spelled wrong, etc., your paper will be rejected.