Report structure - rules and common mistakes

This section is consistent with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition (2001). Refer to the Manual, or any good "writing in psychology" guide for more detailed information on report writing.

Why are psychological reports so specific in structure?

A range of types of articles are published in psychological journals, including theoretical articles, review articles, case studies and reports of empirical studies (psychological reports).

Unlike a theoretical article (i.e. an "essay" - discussing theoretical matters only), the purpose of a psychological report is the presentation of an original empirical study/experiment to the scientific community. This is achieved by presenting a description of the literature surrounding the topic being investigated by the study, the rationale for the particular methodology used, a detailed description of that methodology, the results of the study, and then an analysis and discussion of those results showing how they link back into the literature.

Having a standardised structure for the layout of this information enables any reader to find any specific piece of information about the study quickly and easily. It also ensures that the author includes the full detail of all components of the study. Doing so enables other researchers to replicate the study, enabling confirmation of the study's findings.