Term Paper Guide
Psychology 360
Introduction to Organizational Psychology, University of Michigan

  1. Table of contents
  2. Introduction
  3. How to do well
  4. Deadlines and grading
  5. The Assignment
  6. Hints on getting started

Introduction to the term paper assignment

Good writing skills are essential for success in any academic work. This is particularly true for organizational psychology, where writing is the major way we communicate our ideas. Good writing is a skill that requires practice to perfect. The two steps of your term paper are designed to give you practice at writing and to provide you with critical comments so that you will know how to improve your writing.

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    How to do well.

    While there is no "cookbook" formula for doing well on writing assignments, there are certain norms that lead to success.

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    Deadlines and grading.

    The combined worth of the first and final draft of your paper constitutes 40% of your grade!

    The first draft of your paper is due at the beginning of section during the week of March 10-14, and is worth 10% of your final grade.

    The final draft of your paper is due at the beginning of section during the week of April 14-18, and is worth 30% of your final grade.

    You will be penalized one grade for each day your writing assignments are late, including papers handed in late the day they are due.

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    The Assignment.

    Please choose a familiar organization. Preferably this will be one in which you have recently participated. You may choose a work organization, a service organization, a professional association, and so forth. Since you will be relying solely on your knowledge, make certain you are adequately familiar with the organization you choose.

    In the first draft of the paper, you will be asked to take an initial step toward a critical examination of your chosen organization. You will do this by using relevant organizational psychological theories to explore a research question related to your organization. For example, if you worked in a social service agency last summer, you may have observed that many social workers had little patience with their clients. You might feel that a theory about occupational burnout provides a good model for explaining your observations. Therefore, in your first draft you would want to describe the agency setting, identify your critical research question related to burnout, document research findings relevant to burnout using 10 to 15 citations from the psychological literature, and then show how the research literature addresses the issue of burnout among the social workers at your agency. The first draft should be from 15 to 20 typed pages in length, double spaced, and written according to the Academy of Management guidelines. You will receive written critical comments from us on the first draft, as well as a grade. As much as possible, you should aim to make your first draft a complete statement about your organization and about your research question.

    In the final draft, you will be asked to revise your first draft based upon the comments we will provide and upon additional thoughts you might have as the course progresses.

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    Hints on getting started

    Don't procrastinate! The due date for your first draft will arrive rapidly and it will coincide with other demands in this course, such as the mid-term exam on February 24, as well as demands in your other courses. Use these hints to save effort and contact Professor Finholt or your GSI in office hours if you are stuck.

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    Return to the Introduction to Organizational Psychology Home Page.


    Contact the author via e-mail. Or send \ e-mail to finholt@umich.edu

    Copyright © 1996, The Regents of the University of Michigan, All rights reserved.
    Revised - November 4, 1996