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Essay 1 Assignment
(This individual essay is 15% of your overall grade)
Overall Guidelines

Your first essay will be divided in two parts. The first part will discuss the personal relevance or reason you chose to investigate your topic while the second part will report your findings. Make sure you use the content headings as I describe them next in your essay so that I can grade it appropriately.
Headings and Content of your Essay

Part 1. Personal Relevance
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 750 WORDS):

Why was this topic interesting to you?
What is the particular relevance in your personal life?
What did you hope to get by investigating this topic?
How might you apply what you learned in your personal life?
How was the experience of researching scientific papers like? Was there something that you found particularly enjoyable or particularly challenging?

Part 2. Research
2.1 Motivation and Research Questions
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 500 WORDS):

Introduce your topic
What are the key research questions relating to this topic?
Why are these questions important (i.e., if we knew the answers to these questions we could…)?

2.2 Literature Review and Methods
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 1,000 WORDS):

List the key papers that you read here. Make sure you reference the papers appropriately (see formatting guidelines).
What methods have these papers used (conceptual only, conceptual and experimental-survey, interviews, experiments, other)? Although conceptual models are important, for positive psychology research to be practical, it needs to be guided in experimental methods, so your research must include papers that use experimental methods. Be specific and describe a couple of key studies that you found in your research. How (under what conditions) were the subjects tested or questioned? Make sure you identify which paper used which method by appropriately referencing the paper.
What specific scales did each paper use? This is very important since different researchers will measure happiness or wellbeing or both with different scales.

Example of an appropriate discussion you can include in this section:
“Authors X and Y (2011) surveyed 25 people in Denmark, using the Life Satisfaction Scale to investigate how life satisfaction relates to stress. The above authors measured the stress level of participants using a self-reported stress scale. Author Z (2012) used a laboratory experiment to investigate the relationship of positive affect and stress. They divided participants in a test and control group, subjected the test group to certain conditions [add detail] and then measured their happiness levels using the positive to negative affect scale. The positive to negative affect scale is based on 10 questions, each on a 10-point Likert scale (as developed by Author W, 1999).
2.3 Findings
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 1,000 WORDS):

What are the main findings from the research you reviewed above? Did all researchers reach the same conclusion, or were there disagreements among researchers? Are there several questions that remain unanswered? Which ones?

Example of an appropriate discussion you can include in this section:
“Results are inconclusive. Author X and Y (2011) found that there is a weak but positive correlation between happiness and stress while Author Z (2012)’s experiment revealed a weak but negative correlation. The majority of researchers, however, (as stated by Author G et al., 2000) have found a negative relationship between happiness and stress”.
2.4 Limitations and Future Research
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 500 WORDS):

What are the limitations of the research you reviewed? Has this research been replicated in many different studies from independent authors? Were the sample sizes (i.e., the number of people participating in the study) too small? Were the measures used valid? Were results based on only self-reported scales?

Example of an appropriate discussion you can include in this section:
“Author X and Y (2011)’s was based on a small sample, while Author’s Z (2012) work was conducted in a laboratory setting with undergraduate students, and thus it is not clear if the results can be generalized for the general population. Similar studies need to be conducted with higher sample study and with more scales to derive more clear conclusions”.
2.5 Implications and Conclusions
Discuss the following here (NO MORE THAN 500 WORDS):

What is the bottom line and key conclusions from this research? Given the findings and limitations you discussed above, how would you summarize what you learned? What else would you like to know that was not addressed in the papers you read?
If you were a researcher how might you expand existing studies or design a new study to address the unanswered questions?

2.6 References

Include the references here. Reference format (e.g., MLA, or APA) does not matter as long as you are consistent.
Make sure you list at least 5 papers published in peer reviewed journals.
Also make sure that at least some of your references are recent (within the last 5 years). So not a good idea to only cite “old” papers form the 1980s or 1990s.
Refer to papers within the body of your essay appropriately, as in the examples I provided above and according to the following guidelines:
For papers with one or two authors reference them as

Last name of author 1 and Last name of author 2, (publication year)
Example: Clifton and Anderson, (2002)  

For papers with more than two co-authors, reference them as

Last name of first author followed by “et al.,” (publication year).
Example: Linley et al., (2010)

If you want to include many studies within a parenthesis in your essay, then you do not need to include parentheses for each publication year

Example: (Clifton and Anderson, 2002, Diener, 2008, and Linley et al, 2010)


Our Library’s databases should be the primary source for getting full text papers. Click on the Research tab, and then DataBases A-Z

ProQuest Social Science Journals
Sage Sociology Full-text collection

are good starting points. If you cannot find an article, ask one of our excellent

Google scholar at https://scholar.google.com/ can allow you to do quick searches on topics and sometimes get full-text academic papers. It also allows you to see how many citations an article has had. Many citations mean that this paper has attracted a lot of interest.
No matter what database you use, make sure you click on the “Cited by” link for papers highly relevant to your topic; this is a great way to find the most recent articles on your topic.
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ This website has many great articles-almost all research based- and ideas of positive psychology topics, which you can then explore further with Bentley’s databases.
https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/category/experts-scientists/ Browse through this website to find great summaries and ideas of positive psychology topics, which you can then explore further with Bentley’s databases.

Submission and Formatting Instructions

·         Please include the headings within your essay to make grading easier

Please stay within the word count limit for every sub-section
Please refer to papers appropriately in your essay, as explained above
Please include at least 5 scientific references here.
Quality is better than quantity. The number of words in stated above are upper bounds. Do not feel that you have to keep typing just to reach that bound. Rather aim to present your research in a clear and concise way.
Your Essay must be 11point font size (Calibri font preferable), and no more than 1.15 spacing. Insert Page Numbers. A Blank document can be found in Blackboard that you can use as a starting point.
Title page is optional, but make sure you include your name somewhere in your document.

By Thursday 2/18, please submit a printed copy of your proposal of your research topic in class (a half-a-page summary of the topic you are planning on writing about). Include on the same page some of the references of peer-reviewed article(s) that will inform your essay.
On Thursday 3/10, please submit your essay as follows:

TURN-IT-IN – Submit your essay via the TURN-IT-IN tab in Blackboard before coming to class the day the essay is due.
Handout – Hand in a paper copy of your essay, in class the day the essay is due.

GRADING RUBRIC FOR ESSAY 1.   NAME____________________________


Part 1.

1. Personal Relevance

Part 2.

2.1 Motivation and Research Questions

2.2 Literature Review and Methods

2.3 Findings

2.4 Limitations and Future Research

2.5 Implications and Conclusions

2.6 References (>= 5 peer reviewed papers)

Overall Formatting and Adherence to Submission Guidelines


Weighted Average

Other Criteria




FINAL GRADE                     ____________

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