Student review: Effective Writing in Psychology: Papers, Posters, and Presentations

November 8, 2012

Authors: Bernard C. Beins and Agatha M. Beins

Edition: Second

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Pages: 292

Price: £16.99

ISBN: 9780470672440

This textbook focuses predominantly on the process of writing up a thesis or research paper during an undergraduate psychology course - a part of the research process that many students find tedious or difficult. When writing psychology papers, there is a plethora of conventions and stylistic and technical rules to adhere to, which can often appear pedantic and fussy.

The authors aim to encourage the writer (in other words, the reader of this book) to consider how best to communicate effectively using two routes: by including accurate, relevant, coherent and interesting information; and by learning how to conform to the stylistic and formatting standards expected by the academic community.

The bulk of the text is aimed at writing a paper suitable to submit as a thesis or to a journal. The layout of the text mirrors the process of writing a paper, from initially identifying a topic or focal question all the way to presenting work to a variety of audiences. This makes it especially useful as a step-by-step guide for new undergraduate psychology students writing their first paper.

The authors use simple and engaging language, frequently explaining the importance of following American Psychological Association (APA) style and choosing sources, planning and writing carefully, while showing how the two skills link together to result in effective communication. Many sources detailing APA formatting standards read more like dry manuals; in contrast, a particular strength of this text is the authors' willingness to explain how following APA style can improve the quality, content and overall effectiveness of written work rather than merely stating the rules to be followed.

Ideas are illustrated throughout with the use of annotated examples and tables of key points, which allows the text to be used as a quick reference tool. There are also detailed instructions on how to format correctly in word processing packages. A further strength of the text is the inclusion of chapters addressing the creation of effective posters, presentations and web pages. These are becoming increasingly more common methods of communicating, and have often been overlooked in writing guides in the past.

Because the authors assume no prior knowledge, this text is suitable for all undergraduates and perhaps even A-level students. More advanced students may find a lot of the information quite basic and consequently may not persevere through the whole text. However, a lot of material is covered here in a relatively concise and engaging manner, and this textbook can certainly serve as a good reminder of best practice for all students.

Who is it for? Undergraduate psychology students, primarily first years.

Presentation: Generic.

Would you recommend it? All first-year students would benefit from this text when writing their first paper, poster and presentation, regardless of their writing background.

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