Academic Writing for Psychology Students

This is for the course “Critical Academic Writing” taught, in English, at the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Psychology.

This course is designed to teach first-year MA students in psychology the skills necessary for academic writing in English in order to write a quantitative, high-quality MA thesis.

A high-quality MA thesis presents an argument based on facts and logic and thus has a clear contribution to the discipline and field of study.

The course will highlight important stages of the journey from research idea to MA thesis:

Students will learn how to efficiently and effectively collect, interpret, criticize, and synthesize information from multiple sources.

Class 1. Introduction to Academic Writing

A. Introductions

B. Understanding the audiences and purposes of academic writing; Contributions, i.e. answering, “so what?”

Required: Schimel (2012) Chapter 1
Optional: Schimel (2012) Chapters 2 and 3

C. Structure of empirical research articles in psychology

Required: Schimel (2012) Chapter 4
Optional: Harvard Writing Center “A Brief Guide to Writing the Psychology Paper”

Lecture Notes

Contributions: See “How to write the introduction.”

Philosophy of Writing: See How to think about academic writing in the social sciences


The American Psychological Association provides specific guidelines as to the structure of empirical research articles in psychology:

UC San Diego Psychology also has a good webpage on the structure of psychology articles.

Class 2. Writing Habits, Productivity, and Using AI Assistants

A. Using AI assistants and digital tools to improve your writing (e.g. ChatGPT and Gammarly)


— Watch: “OpenAI CEO Sam Altman | AI for the Next Era”

B. Writing habits and productivity

• “Leadership Lab: The Craft of Writing Effectively,” by Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program

• Smith, Chris. 2018. “Six academic writing habits that will boost productivity.” LSE Impact Blog
• Peterson, Todd C., Sofie R. Kleppner, and Crystal M. Botham. 2018. “Ten simple rules for scientists: Improving your writing productivity” Plos

DUE: Notes on “Leadership Lab: The Craft of Writing Effectively” (ca. 200 words)

Lecture Notes

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Social Scientist

How to use ChatGPT in Social Science Research

Lecture notes for Writing Habits and Writing Strategies

Class 3. Finding, Reading, and Critiquing the Scientific Literature

A. Finding and evaluating sources; Organizing research; Avoiding plagiarism

B. How to choose and read an article efficiently and effectively


Actually, its really useful. Trust me. (except for the advice on index cards, and the offensive music it plays at some point)

Lecture Notes

DUE: AI-assisted concept list and thesis statement, and suggested title (ca. 200 words)

Class 4. Phrasing the Research Question and Crafting a Thesis Statement

A. Phrasing the research question


B. Crafting a thesis statement

Required: Harvard College Writing Center: Developing A Thesis

Lecture Notes

DUE: Literature review, min. 5 academic sources (500 words, plus references)

Class 5. On Writing Well

Writing clear and well-developed paragraphs; Arcs: Connecting point-first paragraphs


Lecture notes

DUE: Knowledge gap statement: “whereas we know this, we do not know that…” (100 words)

Class 6. From Introduction to Critical Literature Review

A. How to write the introduction: Research question, contribution, and thesis statement

B. From critical literature review to theory and hypotheses

Required: Schimel (2012) Chapters 5 and 6

DUE: Critical analysis of an article: Students will write a critical analysis of an article published in a psychology journal (300 words)

Class 7. How to Write the Data and Methods Section


DUE: An introduction to your research (300 words)


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