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RHETORIC IN PSYCHOLOGY

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By Rebekah Espinoza


TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. INTRODUCTION………………………………..3 2. FIELD GUIDE ........................................................8 Field Guide Overview ........................................................................................... ..8 Research Resources………………………………………………………………………………………………..…11 Grant Proposals in Psychology……………………………………….……………………....…15 Formatting in Psychology: APA 101……………………………………………………….……19 The Do’s and Don’ts For Essay Exams…………………………………………………………………………………………………..………23 Top Ten Psychology Facts .................................................................................27

3. PSYCHOLOGY WRITING: AN INVESTIGATION OF GENRE……………………………………...……31 4. A PROPOSAL FOR CHANGE……………………………………….47 5. INSIDE LOOK: AN INTERVIEW…………………………….……...52 6. WORKS CITED ...............................……………55

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INTRODUCTION

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Psychology is an exciting field filled with discovery and knowledge of the brain and human emotion. Psychology majors are introduced to the many different types of psychology they could specialize inclinical psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and more. Though these fields are diverse in their focus and knowledge, they all have one thing in common- writing. Majoring in this field requires knowledge and application of different types of writing. In order to be successful in this field, it is necessary to be fully prepared in each writing genre and execute is successfully. How exactly is this done? How does one with no prior experience become an expert at psychology writing? This portfolio provides answers to all of your questions regarding any type of writing you might come across as a psychology major. First thing you will come across in this writing

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project is the Field Guide. The field guide is made up of five different elements which provide a brief overview of the different genres you will come across in your psychology academic career. There is a compiled list of resources that you can access in order to get detailed and accurate information for your papers. Also provided is a description of grant proposals and how to get them approved for your future case studies and experiments. Next is a guide for properly formatting all of your papers, pictures, authors and anything else you will ever have to cite. After that, the field guide transitions into the Do’s and Don’ts for Essay Exams section, which gives insight on how to make an A-worthy essay answer in the amount of time allotted. Finally, there is a list of ten psychology facts that can encourage your passion for this field and can entice other people to be interested as well. Overall, you should feel that the Field Guide gave

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you a complete overview of the different writing elements you will be asked to do not only in school, but for your future career as well. After being introduced to the different psychology genres in the Field guide, we will have an in-depth investigation on what genre is and how it affects you. We will clearly describe genre theory and define terms that will come up during your future writing. Afterwards, we will look into three types of genres you will definitely come across in your academic career as a psychology major- one in the classroom, one given to students, and one for professionals. After the investigation you should feel like you can identify the key parts in any genre you come across, which will help you successfully execute any assignment quickly and efficiently. After fully preparing you for writing both inside and outside of college, we will discuss a current problem

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and solution in the psychology field. Though writing is very disciplined and taken very seriously, there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of holding psychologists accountable for writing. It is important to understand the dilemmas occurring in the field in order to avoid them, and to be aware of solutions available. After that, we will get an inside look at what professors are looking for from the eyes of a student. The interview will give you an advantage as to what psychology professors are expecting and opportunities available. Overall, this portfolio will present you with the guidelines for each genre you will encounter during your journey, and the proper tools to make your writing efficient, easy to accomplish, and professionally enhanced. I look forward to going through this journey with you!

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FIELD GUIDE OVERVIEW 8


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RESEARCH RESOURCES 11


This is a database through the University of Denver that provides both a general and specific search for psychology information. It gives you access to thousands of journal articles, case studies, books, and more. This collection is most useful for a detailed research or term paper. Because there are is a large amount of material available, it might take some time to sort through the search and find what will work best. library.du.edu under the databases tab. Google scholar is a database designed for research. It provides full text of literature of all kinds, including psychology. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, Google Scholar will help find it for you. There is a lot of different literature that can be difficult to filter out, however Google provides an advanced search so you can identify key words, authors, or themes you want to find. This database will

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work best for detailed, elaborate papers. scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en This website is designed to help people understand health concerns, varying from a normal cough to a rare disorder. If you’re writing a research paper about a specific illness, this website is perfect for providing reliable information in an easy to understand manner. The information works best for health concerns and overviews of disorders. This resource is easy to navigate and understand, but it lacks content you would need for detailed pieces of writing. www.webmd.com The Psychology Department of the University of Denver recommends this website for students looking to define psychology terms in a reliable way. This website, located in DU’s psych department webpage, provides a brief overview of the psychology curriculum and includes brief descriptions of different terms. This is

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extremely helpful when writing a psych paper at DU. This resource only has a brief overview of the field and basic psychology areas of study, so it is not for the in depth paper. This does however provide great information when first beginning to write your piece. Through DU Psychology Department webpage or www.psychwww.com Available exclusively to University of Denver students, this database located through the library website provides a unique search engine to help you find the specific journal article you might be looking for. You can both do a general search or specific guidelines and sift through hundreds of journal articles that are only Psychology related. This is a great tool for a narrowed-down search. The great thing about this is that unlike Google Scholar, this database is specifically for Psychology journals, making it easy to find the ideas and information you are searching for. A potential limitation is that is limited to journals, so you would have to search elsewhere if looking for additional sources.


library.du.edu under databases tab. Psychology today is a magazine which provides current research and information about Psychology. The magazine has an online site where you can access its current issue and search up-to-date information about a specific inquiry. The site also has a psych basics tab which helps provide articles for most searched terms, from dreams to psychoanalysis. This magazine is great for papers about modern research and findings in the field, and a good way to comprehend how the field is today. However, this resource is very limited because it does not have a lot of fact-based sources and literature. www.psychologytoday.com This library provides a specific database search, much like DU’s library, that helps students get their hands on psychology books, articles, and journals. You must have a library card in order to

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get access. You can either visit the library or go on their online site to conduct your search. This library is a great resource because you can connect with a librarian who can assist you firsthand with your writing. However, these books are rented and you might have to return them to the library before your writing piece is finished.

denverlibrary.org

Citing all of your sources in APA format can be a pain. But this website allows a clean and simple way for you to cite your sources efficiently and correctly. Simply click on the APA formatting machine and plug in all the necessary information. This resource is beneficial because it saves a lot of time and is accurately cites journals, books, websites, magazines, and every source possible in the correct format. However, you must have the correct information in order to accurately develop your citation. http://citationmachine.net


GRANT PROPOSALS IN PSYCHOLOGY 15


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STEP ONE: ORGANIZE. Make sure you recognize your objective and how you plan on getting there. Identify obstacles you might encounter and plan your research effectively.

STEP TWO: THE SUMMARY. Start by writing a paragraph about who you are, what your project is, and how much you are asking for.

STEP THREE: FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. Most organizations provide specific details they want to see in a grant proposal. Make sure to do include all the requirements. It helps to make a checklist.

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Give an Exact Amount

Letter of Support

• A budget for $17,298.98 shows that you are serious and have done your research.

• Providing letters from the community, partnerships or other organizations can validate your cause.

Add Value • Make sure you describe how your research will be beneficial to the specific organization you are asking to invest in you.


FORMATTING IN PSYCHOLOGY: APA 101 19


These are guidelines for formatting a general document: Use one-inch margins top, bottom, and sides. Double-space entire manuscript, including references. Manuscript is leftjustified and new paragraphs are indented 57 spaces. Use 12-pt. standard fonts (recommended: Times New Roman or Arial). Although underlining and italicizing serve the same purpose, the Publication Manual of the APA (5th ed.) recommends using italics rather than underlining. Use underlining only if required by your instructor or if your word processing program cannot produce italics. Make sure that you are consistent in your use

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of either italics or underlining. Always include a title page unless advised otherwise by your instructor. The Title page is page 1 of paper (Center title, author’s name and other required information). An abstract (oneparagraph summary of your paper) may be required (check with your instructor). The abstract (if required) is page 2 of paper. Another thing to keep in mind is the way you cite sources in your text. If citing a single author, you can either put the author's name and publication date at the end of your sentence or merge it to your phrase.

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If citing two authors and they appear in the text such as the Brown example, connect them with “and”. If the names come after the phrase, such as in the Williams example, connect with “&”. If working with three or more authors, name them all once, and refer to them as “et al” for the rest of your paper.


A big section of most papers is the reference section. This is where you cite all of the resources used in your paper, making sure to give everyone their credit where it is due. It should be on its own page with the title “References� top and center. Your sources should be alphabetized by the author’s last name and have the same margins, font and size as the rest of the paper. Citing by hand is complicated and can take a lot of time. A great resource to use is the Son of Citation Machine webpage, because it provides an efficient and simple citation. As mentioned in the Resources section, this can be located at citationmachine.net. Be sure to provide all of the information required in order to have an accurate citation.

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THE DO’S AND DON’TS FOR ESSAY EXAMS 23


Odds are, you will have a professor or other professional give you an essay exam. This requires you to comprehend, organize, and develop a paper in a limited amount of time. This can be stressful and overwhelming, but if you know how to plan and execute ideas in a timely fashion it can be a breeze. Psychology essay exams depend on the course, but can be anything from discussing a case study to describing theories. The first thing you need

ask yourself: What to do is

is the question asking you to provide? Common essay questions could be asking for a list, examples, an argument, or an opinion. It is important to identify what type of writing the

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prompt is asking you to do right away so you can present the idea in the structure they are looking for. After figuring out the type of writing, ask

yourself another question: a structure of what? If the prompt is asking for an argument, an argument about what? If the prompt asks for an example, an example of what? After some practice, these two crucial questions should be easy to identify and help give you a clear vision of what the prompt is asking you to do.

The next step is to organize your thoughts. Different people have different ways of quickly drafting their thoughts. Some

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people find it helpful to use diagrams. Others use key words, and others begin with a thesis statement. Find out which method works best for you before exam day.

Most professors recommend creating some sort of written out organization of what you plan to do. This helps sift through your ideas and starts building a writing structure. Writing out some sort of outline can help you remember your thoughts. It can also assist you in quickly fulfilling all you want to say if you realize that you are running out of time.


Speaking of time, it is probably the most important thing when writing an essay exam. You want to make sure you have fulfilled every requirement before time is over. A good way to know how much time to spend is to do a practice question online before the exam. Every student is unique and works differently when under pressure.

Remember not to stress out if you are running out of time or feel pressure to finish because other students are leaving. Take time to make sure you have a little bit of all the elements required if you

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see that you are running out of time.

Some important things NOT to do include writing everything you know about the subject. Remember to stick to the question and what it is asking you to do. Do not put your time and focus on the introduction and conclusion. The most important part are the body paragraphs. The most important thing is not to panic. Take a breather and make sure to not stress yourself out.


TOP TEN PSYCHOLOGY FACTS 27


1.

The average person tells 4 lies a day or about 1,460 a year. This adds up to about 87,600 lies by the age of 60. Most common lie? I’m fine.

2.

. Memories

are actually reconstructed every time we think of them; they’re not stored away in a certain place like a hard drive.

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3. SOME

PEOPLE WANT THEIR LIMBS CUT OFF. Body Integrity

Identity Disorder is a psychological disorder in which the person has a desire to amputate certain limbs. The person feels like one or more limbs do not belong to themselves.

4. LAUGHTER

DENOTES SOCIAL STATUS. Studies

have shown that the higher up on the hierarchy you are in a group, the less you will laugh because you want to seem authoritative and in control of your emotions.

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5. . How many friends do you have on your Facebook profile? 500? 2000? In reality, humans can only have a “strong tie” with about 150 people. This is based on the amount of stable relationships the human brain can maintain successfully.

6. Expectant fathers sometimes experience “sympathetic pregnancy,” where they have symptoms that parallel their pregnant spouse. Symptoms include nausea, weight gain, backaches and strange food cravings.


7. 9.

Your brain can only think of one mental activity at a time, we just switch back and forth really quickly to make us believe we’re multi-tasking. You can however, do a physical and mental think consecutively, like walking and talking.

8. LOSE YOUR

TEETH LATELY? Dreams

of losing teeth can signify many things, including helplessness or some sort of loss in one’s life. It could also mean you’re keeping in a big secret!

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Guys usually fight to solve something, whereas girls fight to vent or make you understand something is wrong.

ART CAN KILL YOU

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Stendhal Syndrome is an illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and even hallucinations when a person is exposed to art. They develop these feelings because the object is “too beautiful” to absorb.


PSYCHOLOGY WRITING: AN INVESTIGATION OF GENRE 31


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In order to evaluate the types of genres effectively, we must first determine what genre is. If we do not have a basic understanding of what genre is, we will never be able to discern why it is important for writing and research in psychology. Genre is a form of writing with a unique structure and purpose developed to fulfill a social action. It is not just limited to books and music; genre is everywhere and in everything we do, from essays, to resumes, to emails, to even Facebook events. Writing is a form of rhetoric, or way of communication. The way we communicate now is much different than the way we communicated back in the day. Rhetoric in the 19th century included writing letters to invite someone to a party. Nowadays, the rhetoric for inviting someone would include tagging them in a Facebook post. How does this change develop? Carolyn Miller argues that genre “emphasizes some social and historical aspects of rhetoric that other perspectives do not” (151). In other words, genres are created to fulfill a social need, a problem which gives people motivation to develop a change in the way we write. This motivation is called exigence. Using the invitation example, people needed a more efficient way to invite people to events and have responses quickly. If you were back in the 19th century, it might have been expected that you hand write a personal invitation to each individual person. People working in social media, such as Facebook, saw the need to display invitations efficiently, and had exigence to change it, developing the “Create an Event” option on social media sites. People see a need, so they fill a need. The needs of people tend to change over the years; which is why we as a species have gone from living outside around a fire to inside with heat, light and plumbing. In everything we do, it is done in order to fix a problem or adapt an idea to the current

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times. Facebook events were created because in today’s world, social media is the most efficient way to reach the maximum amount of people in as little time as possible. When creating an event, you have to consider the rhetorical situation- the context in which your genre is being used. For any genre, there is a certain way you are expected to address the audience wanting to be reached and specific information that needs to be provided in a unique way. Discourse is the type of language you use in the genre, and constraints are the guidelines/format you use to display your information. In the Facebook event example, you are most likely addressing your friends, so the discourse will be casual. Creating an event requires a certain format- constraints- that you should fulfill, including the time, date, and place for the event. The constraints for writing the event include the expectation that the discourse is short and simple to read. You can’t write a five page essay on why you think your friends should come to your party in this genre of writing because Facebook events were invented to help quickly spread the news and establish who is able to attend in order to benefit both you and the invitee. For mostly any genre, there had to have been an example of how to format your type of writing before. This is known as the antecedent, meaning being able to look at past examples of work in the genre and using them to help facilitate your own writing structure. Someone had to create and model the very first Facebook event for the genre to exit, correct? So you can look at other events you have been invited to and observe how their material was structured. When you have fully developed your Facebook event, it is important to take kairos into account. Kairos is presenting your writing in the correct time and place. If you sent the invitation the day before the event, it is not likely that a lot of people will be able to attend due to the short notice. Using kairos and antecedent, you can research when event

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invitations are usually sent with a good turnout, and then be able to know exactly when to send your invitation in order to maximize the amount of people be able to attend. This is a basic overview of genre theory. It starts with an exigence to fill a need, and results in a social action to deliver a timely piece of writing with the appropriate discourse and constraints. Now that we have defined what genre is and how it is generally used, why does it matter? Why is genre theory important? Genre theory is important information for psychology majors because of the multiple writing genres in this major. There are many different types of writing you are going to be asked to use throughout your career. Writing is the manner in which psychologists gather data, describe finding and develop theories that improve people’s lifestyles. You can be asked to produce many different genres, from a case study, to a journal article, to a thesis paper to even just a short answer question. Psychology is filled with writing, and I want to provide you with the tools to be able to master any genre that might come your way. Having the knowledge of how a particular genre is structured, how it has been used before, and the purpose it was composed can help you become a better writer. If you know the exact purpose of a genre, such as a case study, then you can comprehend the constraints and discourse for case studies. By knowing right off the bat the guidelines and language for a case study, you know exactly how to write one. Knowing the genre inside out before being asked to create a piece develops you into a more efficient writer. The more adept you are the easier and more successful your writing will be. Genre theory is the backpack full of tools that can help you climb the mountain, giving you an advantage and making your voyage a lot easier.

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One of the most common classroom produced genres is syllabi. Syllabi are usually given beginning in high school and continue through to any course taken in high school. The social action for the development of syllabi is a document that students can refer to throughout the course containing a general overview of the class and the guidelines they need to follow. Syllabi have a set structure with short, to the point blurbs so that the student can easily access information they might need at a later date. Almost every syllabus has the same constraints, with some variation. They typically start with the title of the course and ways to contact the professor. It provides a list of objectives, requirements, a grading scale and any written assignments/papers. Some syllabi provide a schedule of the class and due assignments while others do not. It is expected that professors/writers of the syllabi separate their protocol in different sections and provide an easy to understand for later access. It seems to be expected that they provide the University’s policy on plagiarism and students with disabilities. The genre is probably drawing from issues and questions students have had in the past. A recurring theme of questions, such as when assignments are due, could have potentially persuaded a specific professor to include a schedule in the syllabus. There is not a real “break� from the genre. I believe that is because a syllabus is so crucial to a class, because it provides

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knowledge on all the materials and rules for the students. The structure of the syllabus seems to be really effective, so no professor really changes it. This genre can basically provide a general idea of other pieces of writing a student may have to do for the course. It gets the students thinking about what to write before actually doing any work. The information provided helps make the reader aware of the grading scale and how to alter their writing in order to receive a good grade for this course. The rhetorical situation is categorized under the beginning of a course/introduction. The intention of this is to describe how the course will work and what is expected of the student. In this situation, the professor is the head of authority laying down the law for his students and his class. The discourse is authoritative because it is a strict set of guidelines students should follow in order to be successful in the class. The structure of a syllabus would be inappropriate for a paper or essay exam because the structure is often just a list of the information demanded, while essays requires a full detailed text including an introduction and conclusion. Though syllabi have a common set of constraints, they can vary depending on the course. For courses that cover more general topics, such as psychology 101, provides an overall description of the major and major topics in the field. Specific courses, however, already assume that you know the customary ideas in the field because general courses are prerequisites. They provide a short description of the course using terminology that you are expected to know. If you do not know the terms, then you probably should not be in the class. The syllabi is the first document you receive for a course, and represents not only the learning and homework the professor is expected to give to you, but the knowledge and work ethic you are expected to return to the professor in order to be successful. The genre of syllabi is a

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crucial part of the knowledge and learning for each student in any major, especially psychology.

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Psychology majors become very accustomed to researching and producing term papers. What exactly are you in for when a professor requires a paper? The social action for student produced papers is so that both the professor and student can evaluate his/her knowledge of a particular course, and provide experience for what the student will do after graduating. Though many students find papers excruciating and boring, there are put into place to help you better grasp a particular topic that you can refer back to at any point in time in your career. The typical term paper has constraints similar to that of other writing papers- a thesis is expected to be introduced, followed by a list of collected evidence, analyzing, and a developed argument. Plagiarism is absolutely not tolerated in the psychology world, and is instilled in students from the start of

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their academic careers in order to avoid any problems in their future professional careers. It is expected that psychology students fulfill every one of the required parts of the prompt, and fully answer the question. Unlike many high schools that require a five-paragraph format when conducting papers, your research and content simply cannot fit that requirement in order to be successful. Many psychology professors encourage their students to branch out of that type of writing and create paragraphs to benefit the amount of research and requirements for your paper. A possible antecedent for this genre is the way psychologists and scientists first expressed their research and case studies. They realized the importance of instilling the requirements for the psychologists of tomorrow, and so instructors began asking that their students display their knowledge and prepare for their future papers. Students do not typically “break” from this genre- they do not use different discourse or constraints because they want to get a good grade. In college, just one bad grade can potentially affect your overall GPA. They do not usually want to take a chance that their professor does not like them not following the prompt/ required content, and so students generally stay within the boundaries provided. The rhetorical situation in this case would be that of the particular professor reading the student’s paper and creating his/her own beliefs of whether the paper provided the required material. The professor hold the power in this sense, because he or she will put their own bias on how the paper should be formatted and carried out, and then draw the conclusion and grade accordingly to whether they believe the student executed the assignment correctly. Adam Lopez is a psychology major at the University of Denver. Being a senior, he has thoroughly experienced in writing term papers and various other works in psychology courses. Adam Lopez sates, “Most of my writing is used to analyze and

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incorporate previous findings of famous researchers and to expand on these findings. I believe professors tend to look for content and accuracy when evaluating writing. I think that any type of writing can be very great so long as it has a concrete citation and evidence that the student did his/her research�. Lopez reiterates the importance of citing every piece of information that you did not come up with on your own when writing papers, because DU is especially anal about plagiarism. Term papers are going to be assigned often during you academic career, so knowing the constraints and structure can save you time and energy when writing.

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After the education stage, you then start your career as a psychologist. Whatever type of psychologist you choose to become, odds are you will have to produce or come across a journal article. This is a type of professional genre in which psychologists can discuss a variety of topics, but the ultimate social action is to display information in a simple way that expands to a wide audience. Audience is the key in this genre. When producing a journal article, it is important for writers to have two audiences in mind- their target audience and a second audience. Writers have to write to the circle of people they wish to target, however with a published journal article there is always a wider audience circle that you might not have intended to reach but still do. Journal articles are widely exposed, and can directly or indirectly be exposed to different types of people who may not be psychologists and do not understand certain terminology. Therefore, it the article is written in something such as a textbook, the audience circle is fairly exclusive and

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psychologist writers can use specific terms and theories that their fellow psychologists can understand easily. However, if the article was to be produced in a health magazine, this widens the circle to a variety of people. The article can be read by either a clinical psychologist in a lab or a college student in a doctor’s office. Even if your target audience was to the clinical psychologist, you have to think about whether the kid in the doctor’s office will be able to know what you mean by using certain vocabulary. You would have to decipher certain terms when writing to effectively display your argument. In order to be successful in journal writing, it is important to keep your specific and potential audience in mind so that your piece can be effective. The genre of journal articles was developed in order to display research findings that reached as many psychologists as possible. The purpose of the articles is to distribute studies in a way that would help other scientists with their research and result in a giant collaboration in the psychology field. Psychologists saw a need to spread information quickly and effectively, and so developing journal articles fulfilled their social action. Journal articles today are structured by their antecedent, which can be traced by through ancient history. The genre can be traced back to Plato and his writings of mental processes. Since then, it has developed constraints that help effectively display the material. It begins with a captivating title that encourages further reading. Journal articles are split up into several sections/paragraphs, and the paragraphs are not very long in length. Another recurring elements is that they begin with a problem or question, discuss the methods and results occurring from the study, and end with a conclusion based on the results of the study. An extremely valuable recurrence is that psychologists always cite their sources. It is imperative that they cite any information that was not their own because plagiarism is

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absolutely not tolerated in the psychology field. It is extremely important that you as a writer always give credit for any paragraphs, sentences, findings, or ideas that you found from another person’s work. This genre is not very easily “broken�, that is that no one really goes outside of the guidelines. This could be because they fear that their findings would not being taken seriously if not well structured. The one difference depends on the writer of the article. The professional genre of journal articles is split among those who practice psychology and those who teach psychology. The two different groups of writers have both similarities and differences in the way they chose to display their journal articles. Those who teach psychology routinely center their articles on a logical explanation of findings with simple discourse. While the target audience is those studying psychology, their articles are published in common magazines, newspapers, and websites that are available to everyone. With experience as a professor guiding these writers, their arguments in journal articles are structured around a mental walk-through of his evidence so that both the psychologist and the stay at home mom can understand it. The structure for journal articles is similar to that of this genre investigation- defining certain terms, describing evidence using the terms, and ending with why knowing these terms and why the conclusions of the argument is important. Psychology writers with a background in teaching have the same set of constraints and the same exigence; however their discourse is similar to that of a lecture. They have a broader audience in mind, and their writing reflects that. Psychology writers whose general focus is case studies and experiments approach journal articles very differently. Their main audience is psychologists and scientists. Their structure remains the same, with a title and multiple sections that result in a conclusion- however their discourse is very terminology heavy,

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and not very public welcoming. Their short paragraphs are to the point with almost no explanation because they assume the audience they have in mind already has knowledge of the terms, theories, and works of other researchers. In this case, the psychology writers tend to seem more prestigious and hold more “power� in the field- because they research on a regular basis, it can seem that their findings hold higher value in the field than those of professors. It is the writings of professors, however that relates to the common man and help distribute information on a wider scale. Whichever way your career leads you, the professional genre of journal articles is the key to maximum exposure for your hard work.

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This investigation depicted the various methods and content of three big genres in psychology- from a professor, to a student, to a professional perspective. Each of the genres explained through this investigation should be able to prepare you for any type of writing you should come across. In a classroom, syllabi are extremely important to keep close and have an intimate knowledge of so that you can be able to refer back to the requirements your professor asks of you and the materials and homework your professor is expected to provide for you. Writing papers in psychology require a vast amount of research that you should be prepared to investigate. In a professional perspective, journal articles are the key for sharing your research to many people, either directly or indirectly, in order to display your hard work in a respected way. All of these genres have their own social action, their own discourse, and their own set of constraints. In psychology, it is not easy to “break� the standing way writing has been established, however if you ever see a need in psychology writing, you will know exactly how to develop a genre of your own.

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A PROPOSAL FOR CHANGE 47


The psychology field is considered by many to be the middle ground between scientific fact and human emotion. Many people from various fields debate whether psychological findings can be considered valid because psychologists add their own personal bias. When conducting research, psychologists often have the opportunity to skew their results in order to achieve their own goals and satisfy their personal needs. This can be dangerous because it puts many participating and future patients at risk. Experiments conducted wrong or against ethics is a big problem in psychology research.

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An example of a biased experiment is David Reimer, who in 1965 was damaged due to a circumcision. Psychologist John Money suggested a sex change, claiming it would be beneficial for the child but he really just wanted to prove that nurture, not nature, determined gender identity. The parents agreed to the sex change surgery and hormone supplements, renamed their child Brenda, and Dr. Money proved his secret experiment a success. Brenda grew up and acted like a stereotypical boy, causing the family to turn to depression and alcoholism. Money, however, failed to report Brenda’s psychological confusion because it conflicted with his results. Brenda was told the truth at 14 and decided to switch back to David. He committed suicide when he was 38 years old. Psychologists have the emotional appeal to hold power over people. Like Reimer’s parents, thousands of people across the world put their trust in psychologists. So how can we tell that they are telling the truth? How can we be

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absolutely sure that their writings are valid and not just written based on their personal opinion and to gain glory? The solution to these questions can be found in one word- accountability. If we can hold psychologists accountable for their procedures and research, we can then guarantee safe and factual written results without any bias or tampering. Holding psychologists responsible for their actions can be achieved through an ethics board. Having a national board with a local station in major psychology locations can help monitor psychological experiments from start to finish. Psychologists provided a written depiction of their purpose and procedure that is reviewed by the board, and then check in different points to ensure that there is no maltreatment or illegal occurrences throughout their process. They then report their findings to the board to provide to close the case. What’s in it for the psychologists? The board can expand the research across the nation, sharing the


psychologist’s hard work fast and efficiently. This way both the psychologists and society can benefit from the research.

argue one thing- it is worth it. An established ethics board has a positive impact on many different levels.

You could be thinking, “Wait, but that’s going to cost so much money and is too hard to coordinate”. Your thinking could be right. After all, today’s economy is not doing so well and money is tight as it is. It will be very difficult to pool in resources to make this all come together. Even if the board could be funded, there is no way that every single psychologist is going to be pleased with additional writing and requirements. This could lead to boycotts, protests, and cause political arguments and basically start a big mess. Then there’s the national coordination. Who knows how much time and money it would take to build buildings, hire ethical people, and design a system to keep track of things on both a regional and national scale. The money, time, and possible negative feedback may make this seem like a well-meaning waste of time.

It helps psychologists maintain their strong ethics and not be swayed throughout their process. The board’s revision ensures the safety of all the participants in the studies and potential patients in the future. Creating a board with regional stations helps get people into the workplace and boosts the local economy. Employees can be hired from construction workers, to building inspectors, to board members, to psychology overseers. The boards careful revisions can foresee warning signs of dangerous situations or unethical medicinal doses based on the writing and evidence psychologists provide prior to and during research. Are there alternative methods for solving this problem? There may be, but this is best solution because an ethics board solves the problem of experiments being mal constructed, but has additional benefits as well.

Yes, there are many problems to this possible solution. However, I would counter-

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The proposal for an ethics board can save many lives


and solve many problems in the future. This must be looked at from a long term perspective. An ethics board provides jobs and safety for the millions of people in the United States. We must act now to prevent incidences like the tragic downfall of David Reimer. Having someone to report to through the process and recommendations can help psychologists make the right decisions and have more accurate results to spread across the nation. Having an ethics board is not preventing psychologists from doing their job but rather spring boarding them towards their ultimate goal- to save people’s lives.

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INSIDE LOOK: AN INTERVIEW 52


Adam Lopez, 4th year Psych major at DU Q:

What types of writing do you do most often for psychology classes?

A:

For most of my writing I tend to research based writing and review/analysis of scholarly psychology papers. Most of my writing is used to analyze and incorporate previous findings of famous researchers and to expand on these findings.

Q:

What do you think professors look for when they evaluate your writing?

A:

I believe professors tend to look for content and accuracy when evaluating writing. I do not believe that they care about spelling. I think that any type of writing can be very great so long as it has a concrete citation and evidence that the student did his/her research.

Q:

What kind of research do you have to do as a Psych major? What do you find most challenging about doing this kind of research?

A:

Most of the research that I have had to do for my major is finding past articles on topics of interest and either critiquing them or incorporating them into my writing. It is very selfexplanatory. Some research calls for not only research papers but also statistical analysis to be included in my writing. The hardest thing about this is that if you are really intrigued in a certain topic that you have never heard about having any work published about, you will mostly find out that there really is no

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research done on the topic so it makes writing a research paper very hard and very hard to follow up on.

Q:

Are you allowed to revise and resubmit your writing in any classes?

A:

As for revising writings, there are some opportunities to do so, but I tend to not do it.

Q:

What advice about writing would you give to a freshman considering becoming a psychologist? What do you wish you knew going in?

A:

For freshman, I would state to follow your topic through when you think there is no research to base your papers off. Chances are you just need to follow through, because the great thing about someone venturing into the social science world is that you never are really wrong, your findings only are misleading. As such you are paving the way for other researchers who may have interest in the same topic but tend to shy away from proceeding with their research because a lack of past research to base their work off of.

Q:

Are there any psych professors you recommend student asking about writing in this major?

A:

As for recommending a psych professor to a student I really can't choose. You have to be a great writer to be in the social sciences...or at least that's my outlook. Thus, the psych professors are all excellent sources for a student looking for aid on a psych research topic they wish to write about.

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WORKS CITED 55


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Rhetoric in Psychology: A Guide to Writing for Psychology Majors