Written By Rashi S.
Before beginning, feel free to check out how to tackle IB Psychology Paper 1 and Paper 2 if you have not yet and/or are interested!
Paper 3 (P3) is only for HL students, focusing on the research methods in psychology. It consists of 3 parts, all of which must be answered (no choice of questions). A research scenario is presented and students answer questions related to the methods and conclusions of it.
Question (Q) 1 consists of 3 parts, all of which must be answered for a total of 3 marks each, 9 marks in total.
1. (a) Identify the research method used and outline two characteristics of the method.
I do not recommend using bullet points for this question; nevertheless, ensure that your answer is clear for the examiner. Generally, the IB requires that the number of maximum marks you can gain on a question is the number of points that you need to make. In this case, you need to make three points as the question is worth three marks; one mark for identifying the correct research method and two marks for stating its two correct characteristics. Additionally, I would recommend mentioning an additional point to the two points that you are already made, to ensure that you maximize the number of marks you earn (i.e. in case the point you make is not on the mark scheme or a point made is ambiguous).
- The research method used is semi-structured interviews. Some characteristics of it are that the interviewer pre-determines topics or themes to explore. Moreover, it contains both open-ended and close-ended questions; whilst the former allows the respondents to elaborate, the latter invites brief and precise answers. Lastly, semi-structured interviews are informal and conversational, facilitating a rapport between the interviewer and the interviewee.
(b) Describe the sampling method used in the study.
The strategy to employ for tackling this question is the same as the one used in 1(a). This question requires that you correctly identify the sampling method used in the study (1 mark), and state two correct characteristics of the sampling method (2 marks). I do not recommend using bullet points for this question as well and recommend mentioning an additional point to the two points that you have already made.
- The sampling method used is purposive sampling. Participants are chosen because they possess characteristics salient to the research study, in this case, those who have some experience with taking drugs. Participants are recruited through advertising in places where those with the selected criteria can be found. In this case, in school magazines, for instance. Finally, purposive sampling may include snowball sampling.
(c) Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice.
For this question, I recommend suggesting an additional research method instead of an alternative one. This is because it is suggesting an additional research method is easier to justify instead of arguing for using an alternative method.
- An additional research method is to utilize a quantitative survey, in which objective questions are used to gain insights from respondents. Subsequently, interviews can be conducted with some randomly selected participants to gain deeper insight into their cultural identity. The survey would enable the researchers to design questions to elicit the required data. Moreover, it can be quantified to make comparisons and enables larger samples size compared to only 19 participants, as in the study.
N.B. Connect your answer to the stimulus material presented when you can.
Q2 on the exam can be on any ONE of the two prompts (no choice) for a total of 6 marks.
1. Describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and explain if further ethical considerations could be applied.
- You are required to write about six different ethical considerations (because question = 6 marks maximum)
- The question is divided into two parts: first, students need to write about the three ethical considerations that were taken in the study, and second, you must explain three additional ethical considerations that can be accounted for. Although the question mentions “if further ethical considerations could be applied,” it is, in fact, not asking that. Instead, think of it as “how further ethical considerations could be applied”
- Thus, this requires you to explain three additional ethical considerations which were not mentioned/taken in the stimulus material.
- Ethical considerations can refer to any of the following, for example:
- Informed consent or parental consent (if the participant is a minor)
- Right to withdraw before the study, during the study, or after the study
- Any use of concealment or deception is justified
- Approval from an ethics review board
- Coercion (is there any pressure to participate?)
2.Describe the ethical considerations in reporting the results and explain additional ethical considerations that could be taken into account when applying the findings of the study.
- This question is different from the first one in that it specifically asks students to refer to ethical considerations that could be taken into account when applying the findings of the study and not general additional ethical considerations.
- Your answer can refer to any of the following:
- Anonymity/pseudo anonymization: involves removing names or using fake names respectively for the publication of results
- Right to withdraw
- Informed consent/parental consent: informing people how their data will be used
- Debriefing: informing people how the results will be reported/published
N.B. Connect your answer to the stimulus material presented, at least once.
Q3 on the exam is on any ONE of the three prompts (no choice) for a total of 9 marks.
However, before discussing the questions and how to answer them, it is salient to note that the top most markband for P3 Q3 mentions the following:
- 7 – 9: The question is understood and answered in a focused and effective manner with an accurate argument that addresses the requirements of the question. The response contains accurate references to approaches to research with regard to the question, describing their strengths and limitations. The response makes effective use of the stimulus material.
From my research, there seems to be ambiguity regarding how exactly to earn the 9 points in Q3 and it is not as clear-cut as it is for the previous questions. Therefore, from a quality answer key from Pamoja online IB psychology, I mention the principle characteristics of two answers for two prompts and direct you to a sample answer for the third one:
1.Discuss how a researcher could ensure that the results of the study are credible.
- Begin by defining “credibility”
- Moreover, you can discuss the internal validity, member checking, peer debriefing, and triangulation. Provide a definition for each of this concept before discussing it and relating it to the stimulus material.
2.Discuss how the researcher in the study could avoid bias.
- Start by defining “bias”
- Moreover, you can discuss sampling bias, researcher bias, participant bias, and triagulation. Similar to above, provide a definition for each of this concept before discussing it and relating it to the stimulus material.
3.Discuss the possibility of generalizing/transfering the findings of the study. The relevant term, generalizing or transferability is used in exams depending on whether the question relates to a quantitative or qualitative study.
- When I was in the IB DP, Dixon’s IB psychology website and youtube videos were of huge help; hence, I suggest utilizing this resource. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to see an example answer for this question.
P3 is one hour. Thus, I recommended using 10 mins for Q1, 20 mins for Q2, and 25 mins for Q3, leaving the last 5 mins to proofread.