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Integration of Theory and the Writer’s Identity in Academic Writing


As Sigmund Freud once famously said, “The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” This quote highlights the complexity of the human mind and the idea that only a tiny portion of our thoughts and behaviors are visible to the outside world. In a psychology class, this theoretical perspective is often explored through the lens of psychoanalytic theory, which emphasizes the role of unconscious thoughts and childhood experiences in shaping personality and behavior. Theoretical perspectives play a vital role in a writer’s life, as they offer a framework for understanding complex information and ideas. They provide a way of looking at the world and can help writers to approach their subject matter from different angles. This approach can lead to new insights, reveal previously unexplored areas, and provide a means for organizing and making sense of information. When trying to understand a concept from a theory, writers typically engage in critical analysis and interpretation. This involves reading and re-reading the relevant idea, taking detailed notes, and identifying key concepts and themes. Writers may also consult other sources, such as scholarly articles or secondary texts, to better understand the theory and its application to their topic. As they work to incorporate the idea into their writing, writers must also consider the context in which the theory was developed and any limitations or criticisms raised. Ultimately, the goal is to synthesize the approach with their ideas and arguments in a way that is coherent, persuasive, and grounded in evidence. Integrating theory into writing can be challenging, but it is an essential skill for academic writers who seek to make meaningful contributions to their field of study. In this essay, examples from my previous psychology assignment, “checking on the state of consciousness through the analysis of sleep and dreams,” the skills developed through the research, and decisions based on evidence and careful analysis are discussed in the paragraphs below.

Understanding the Research Topic

According to Creswell (2014), “understanding the research topic is the first step in preparing for a research project” (p. 31). As such, writers must thoroughly read and comprehend the topic before proceeding to plan and structure their research. It is critical to understand the research problem, questions, or hypotheses and identify the variables involved and their operational definitions. This understanding helps the writer to design an appropriate research plan. In their study on research preparation, Leedy and Ormrod (2014) emphasized the importance of “reading widely and critically to develop an understanding of the research problem” (p. 58). They further noted the need to use scholarly sources such as academic journals, books, and relevant online resources. This engagement aids the writer in developing a broad perspective on the research topic, identifying knowledge gaps, and selecting the appropriate research methodology.

Once the writer thoroughly understands the research topic, the next step is to plan and structure the research. According to Neuman (2014), “the research design serves as the blueprint for the entire study and influences all subsequent decisions” (p. 74). Therefore, the writer must carefully consider the research design, approach, data collection methods, and sampling strategy. The writer must also consider ethical considerations, such as obtaining informed consent and ensuring participant confidentiality. In my assignment, I set up a tracker app to record my sleep patterns and keep records of my dreams. The writer needs to keep in mind the purpose of the research project. As stated by Cooper and Schindler (2014), “the purpose of research is to add to the existing body of knowledge” (p. 5). The writer must clearly understand what they hope to achieve through their research and how it fits into the broader field of psychology.

In summary, adequate preparation and planning are essential for successful research in psychology. This includes thoroughly understanding the research topic, engaging with scholarly sources, and carefully considering the research design. As noted by Creswell (2014), “preparation is the key to success” (p. 28), and this applies to research in psychology as well.

Gathering data

A writer must define their research question or topic when embarking on a research project. The research question should be clear and focused and serve as the foundation for the entire research process. As Dr. John W. Creswell, a research expert and professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska, notes, the research question should guide the writer’s decisions about data collection, analysis, and interpretation (Creswell, 2014, p. 17). Therefore, a writer needs to take the time to carefully consider their research question and ensure that it is meaningful and relevant to their field.

The next step in the research process is conducting a literature review. This involves searching for and reviewing existing research and scholarly works related to the research question or topic. The literature review serves several purposes, including helping the writer better understand the state of the field and identifying gaps in the existing research. As Dr. Jane A. Smith, a research expert and professor of sociology at the University of California, advises, a thorough literature review is crucial for identifying relevant studies, synthesizing existing knowledge, and developing new research questions (Smith, 2018, p. 32). In addition to the literature review, the writer collects primary data through surveys, interviews, experiments, or observations. In my research, I collected information by observation and recorded the data for analysis. Collecting preliminary data is essential for answering research questions that existing literature cannot address. However, it is crucial to document the methods used to manage the data and any ethical considerations. As Dr. Robert K. Yin, a research expert and professor of social science research methods at the University of California, notes, ethical considerations must be taken seriously throughout the research process, from data collection to dissemination of findings (Yin, 2018, p. 42). This includes obtaining informed consent from study participants, ensuring confidentiality and anonymity, and avoiding any potential harm to participants.

Once the data is collected, the writer analyzes and interprets it, synthesizing it with the existing literature to draw conclusions and develop their argument. Data analysis should be rigorous and systematic, guided by the research question and existing theories. Dr. Smith emphasizes that data analysis should involve appropriate statistical or qualitative techniques to answer research questions and test hypotheses (Smith, 2018, p. 72). The investigation should also be transparent, with the writer documenting the steps taken and any limitations or assumptions made.

In conclusion, conducting research requires rigor, ethics, and attention to detail. The process involves defining the research question or topic, conducting a thorough literature review, collecting primary data, analyzing and interpreting the data, and documenting sources using in-text citations. Following these steps and guidelines ensures the writer produces reliable and credible research to advance knowledge in their field.

Evaluating and integrating sources

One of the biggest challenges in conducting research is finding credible and reliable sources to support one’s argument. With the abundance of information available on the internet, it can take time to sift through and determine which sources are trustworthy. This struggle can lead to frustration and even misinformation, making it crucial for researchers to be diligent in evaluating and integrating sources in their work. I had to search for references in Academic Databases, the university library, professional organizations, online forums, and government and non-governmental organizations.

The first step in finding sources is determining the research question or topic. Once the question is defined, conducting a thorough literature review is essential to identify existing research and scholarly works related to the topic. This process can be time-consuming, but it is crucial to understand the state of the field and identify gaps in the existing research (Smith, 2018). After identifying potential sources, the researcher must evaluate them for credibility and relevance. This includes examining the author’s credentials, the publication or website’s reputation, and the accuracy and currency of the information presented. As Dr. Robert K. Yin notes, “Researchers must critically evaluate sources to ensure they are credible and trustworthy” (Yin, 2018, p. 76). This process may involve cross-referencing information with other sources to ensure its accuracy.

Once credible sources are identified, the researcher must integrate them into their work effectively. This involves appropriately citing sources in the text and including a comprehensive reference list at the end of the paper. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends that writers include the author’s last name and the year of publication in in-text citations, as well as the page number(s) for direct quotes (APA, 2021). The reference list should include all sources cited in the text and be formatted according to the appropriate citation style. An example of a book I used in my research is “Consciousness Explained Better: Towards an Integral Understanding of the Multifaceted Nature of Consciousness” by Dr. Susan Blackmore. In this book, Dr. Blackmore discusses the relationship between consciousness, sleep, and dreams and argues that tracking changes in brain activity during these states can provide valuable insights into the nature of consciousness. She draws on various sources, including scientific studies, philosophical discussions, and personal experiences, to develop her argument and provide practical advice for researchers and individuals interested in exploring this topic.

It is also essential to integrate sources into the paper’s argument effectively. This means appropriately summarizing and synthesizing information from sources and analyzing their relevance to the research question. Dr. Jane A. Smith emphasizes that “Integrating sources effectively requires careful analysis and critical thinking” (Smith, 2018, p. 92). This process involves evaluating sources for their strengths and weaknesses and using them to support or challenge one’s argument.

In conclusion, finding credible sources can be a challenging task for researchers. It requires diligence in conducting a thorough literature review, critically evaluating sources for credibility and relevance, and integrating them effectively into the paper’s argument. By following these steps and guidelines, writers can ensure they are using reliable sources to support their research and contribute to advancing knowledge in their field.


Intertextuality is a crucial aspect of a writer’s research. For writers, intertextuality involves engaging with existing texts on their research topic, recognizing and drawing upon the connections between texts to develop their argument. As Sönmez and Karadeniz note, “Intertextuality creates a space for dialogue between different texts, allowing writers to build upon and challenge existing ideas and arguments” (Sönmez & Karadeniz, 2018, p. 191). It enables writers to contextualize their research within a broader conversation and contribute to the ongoing dialogue. It allows them to incorporate other writers’ and scholars’ ideas and insights into their work, creating a richer and more nuanced argument. Barthes notes, “The intertextual nature of discourse ensures that every text is part of a larger conversation, contributing to the ongoing evolution of ideas” (Barthes, 1977, p. 38).

Intertextuality also helps writers avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism by acknowledging and properly citing the sources they draw upon. As Sönmez and Karadeniz observe, “Intertextuality involves both borrowing from and transforming existing texts while giving credit to the sources” (Sönmez & Karadeniz, 2018, p. 191). By citing their sources and engaging in intertextual dialogue, writers demonstrate their respect for the ideas and contributions of others while creating their unique contributions to the field. In my psychology assignment, I included an in-text citation as shown below:

Moreover, intertextuality is broader than academic research. It can also play a role in creative writing, allowing writers to reference and subvert existing narratives to create new and innovative works. For instance, Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad” retells Homer’s “The Odyssey” from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, demonstrating how intertextuality can enrich creative works by engaging with existing narratives.

In conclusion, intertextuality plays a significant role in a writer’s research, allowing them to contextualize their work within a broader conversation, incorporate the ideas and insights of other scholars, avoid plagiarism, and create new and innovative works. By engaging in intertextual dialogue, writers can contribute to the ongoing evolution of ideas and create more affluent and nuanced arguments. As Barthes notes, “The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centers of culture” (Barthes, 1977, p. 146), emphasizing the importance of intertextuality in all forms of writing.


In conclusion, conducting successful research requires a writer to take a systematic approach that includes careful planning, organization, and execution. The process starts with identifying the research topic, formulating research questions or hypotheses, and choosing appropriate research methods. The writer must also be diligent in collecting and analyzing data and presenting findings accurately and clearly. Once the sources have been gathered, a writer should read, analyze, and synthesize the information. This requires critically evaluating the sources’ credibility and relevance, identifying common themes and patterns, and organizing the information into a coherent framework. A writer must keep accurate notes and cite sources to avoid plagiarism.

Integrating theory into real-life applications is also crucial for successful research. The writer must consider the practical implications of their research and how it can be applied in real-world scenarios. This involves critically evaluating the research findings and identifying opportunities for further research to explore the practical applications of the theory. A writer can integrate theory into real-life applications by presenting their findings in a way that is accessible to practitioners in the relevant field. This can involve creating practical recommendations, guidelines, or tools for practitioners to apply the theory. The writer can also engage with practitioners and other stakeholders to ensure the research is relevant and applicable to real-life situations.

Overall, for a writer to conduct successful research, they must be thorough in their approach, integrate theory into real-life applications, and communicate their findings effectively. Conducting successful research requires careful planning, thorough analysis, and effective communication. Following the steps outlined above, writers can ensure that their research is well-informed, relevant, and persuasive. A robust research foundation provides the necessary support for a successful piece of writing, whether it is an academic paper, a business proposal, or a creative work of literature.


Blackmore, S. (2018). Consciousness explained better: Towards a critical understanding of the multifaceted nature of consciousness. Wilber, K. (Ed.). Integral Publishers.

Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2014). Business research methods. McGraw-Hill Education.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2014). Practical research: Planning and design. Pearson.

Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Pearson.

Smith, J. A. (2018). Effective research writing: Evaluating sources and integrating them into your writing. In D. R. Johnson (Ed.), The practical guide to academic writing (pp. 89–104). New York: Routledge.

Yin, R. K. (2018). Case study research and applications: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Barthes, R. (1977). Image-Music-Text. New York: Hill and Wang.

Sönmez, V., & Karadeniz, A. (2018). The Role of Intertextuality in the Writing Process. Journal of Education and Practice, 9(6), 190-197.


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