Authors: Robert J. Sternberg and Karin Sternberg
Publisher: Cambridge University Press – 299 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

This book has been written for college students, but not only for those taking psychology courses. It is intended generally for any college student seeking to communicate more effectively through speaking and the written word. Specifically, the authors of this book seek to help college students in these and similar ways:

  • Clear up misconceptions about psychology papers
  • Know the rules for writing reviews of literature they have browsed, including experimental papers
  • Learn to use the Internet in research on various topics
  • Study the guidelines on content, language and style
  • Become aware of commonly misused words
  • Present data in a balanced manner
  • Evaluate papers and come to know what standards to use in such tasks
  • Prepare posters
  • Write talks

To give you an overview of what you will find in this highly practical and useful book, we present below the titles of its four Parts and 15 chapters:


  1. Part I. Planning and Formulating Papers
  2. Getting Started
  3. Eight Common Misconceptions About Psychology Papers
  4. How to Generate, Evaluate, and Present Your Ideas for Research and Papers
  5. Literature Research
  6. Writing a Literature Review
  7. Planning and Writing the Experimental Research Paper
  8. Ethics in Research and Writing
  9. Part II. Presenting Your Ideas in Writing
  10. A Word About Content, Language and Style
  11. Commonly Misused Words
  12. American Psychological Association Guidelines for Psychology Papers
  13. Guidelines for Data Presentation
  14. Part III, Writing and Presenting Papers for Journal Publication
  15. Paper Writing 101
  16. How to Make Your Paper Even Better: Proofreading, Revising, and Editing
  17. Part IV. Presenting Yourself to Others
  18. Preparing a Paper Presentation
  19. Writing a Talk


This book contains the latest guidelines of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Sixth Edition, 2009) as well as chapters encompassing the entire research process from doing literature research and planning an experiment to writing a paper.

One of the most important chapters of this book chapter 2, Eight Misconceptions About Psychology Papers. Students should take time to learn these misconceptions at heart and beware that they do not lapse into these thoughts. The eight misconceptions are:

  1. Writing the psychology paper is the most routine, least creative aspect of the scientific enterprise, requiring much time but little imagination.
  2. The most important thing is what you say, not how you say it.
  3. Longer papers are better papers, and more papers are better yet.
  4. The most important purpose of a psychology paper is the presentation of facts
  5. The distinction between scientific writing on the one hand, and advertising or propaganda. On the other hand, is that the purpose of scientific writing is to inform, whereas, the purpose of advertising is to persuade.
  6. A good way to gain acceptance of your ideas is by refuting someone else’s ideas.
  7. Negative results that fail to support the researcher’s hypothesis are every bit as valuable as positive results that do support the researcher’s hypothesis
  8. The logical development of ideas in a psychology paper reflects the historical development of ideas in the psychologist’s field.

Among the important features of this book are the following:

  • Clear writing style and reader-friendly format – allows students to absorb information easily, even when reading chapters selectively, or out of order
  • Numerous up-to-date examples – drawn from career experiences that engage students and help them apply what they’ve learned to forward their own careers
  • Questions – that encourage students to think more deeply about larger issues in the field, preparing them for future research.

This is an excellent book on how to think, talk, and write clearly, on writing papers in psychology, and on the importance of the scientific method as a basis for establishing facts.



Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Human Development at Stanford University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at the University of Heidelberg.

Karin Sternberg is Research Associate in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Heidelberg.