A Personal Essay + Research Paper = Experiment #3

My experiment #3 may sound a little unconventional… but I want to combine two genres (is this allowed?). My Genre X for experiment 3 will look partially like a psychological research paper, but also including some personal experience. Since my origin piece was already a personal narrative, I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already done. Instead, I want to build on my own personal experience with complicated sibling relationships with some backup from the world of Psychology.

As a psych major, I’m already interested in everything about social relationships: how they develop, change, manifest in distinct personality types and distinct situations. So, I’d like to do a little psychoanalysis of my own relationship with my two brothers. I’ve noticed with my last two experiments that I have too many unanswered questions. With this next experiment, I want to actually begin answering the question: why are sibling relationships the way they are?

After experiment 2, it is clear that I can’t answer a question this extensive merely with my own personal stories, I need to do some real content research. I think by combining forces with psychology, I will be able to create a much more well-rounded piece, that will also perfectly combine my interests of psychology and writing.

As far as defining these two genres, I’ve discovered a few things. According to UW Madison’s writing center to begin content research for an essay I should:


  • Try to find a topic that truly interests you
  • Try writing your way to a topic
  • Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
  • Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved


You will need to look at the following types of sources:

  • library catalog, periodical indexes, bibliographies, suggestions from your instructor
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journals, books, other documents


The following systems will help keep you organized:

  • a system for noting sources on bibliography cards
  • a system for organizing material according to its relative importance
  • a system for taking notes

Well, step 1 is complete. I have the topic that interests me, but I will definitely be using these pointers to begin content research for my paper.

On the other hand, I looked at some characteristics of personal essays. According to ThoughtCo, there are 6 simple steps to writing the perfect personal essay…

  1. Find Inspiration and Ideas (CHECK!)
  2. Understand the composition of the essay (intro, body, conclusion… yeah, yeah tell me something I don’t know)
  3. Use appropriate voice of essay and verbs (I’m not sure I need a grammar lesson but voice will definitely be important..)
  4. Be consistent with point of view and tense (but how consistent???)
  5. Use your own vocabulary (that’s a given)
  6. Edit, Edit, Edit (yep!)

In order to combine these two different genres, I plan on maintaining my voice in the essay and incorporating personal anecdotes to establish why I’m writing this and why anyone should care. However, I will also be including some outside research, so that the reader can learn something from reading my piece. I can’t tell you why sibling relationships are the way they are, but me, myself, and a little help from psychology can certainly try.

2 thoughts to “A Personal Essay + Research Paper = Experiment #3”

  1. I think it is really cool how you are planning on combining two genres for this final experiment. It is clear that you are passionate about your psychology major and the ties that this knowledge can have with your origin piece. I think you will be able to withhold a good balance between research and personal narrative in this experiment. I agree in that it would be helpful and set up a good foundation for this experiment if you begin by answering the question “why are sibling relationships the way they are?” Maybe even consider doing some research to find examples of outsiders (either random people or well known people) in your research and include that in your essay or maybe even take the time to interview some of your friends who have sibling dynamics similar to yours to get different perspectives in your essay! I am excited to see what you do with this experiment!

  2. This sounds very similar to a “reported essay” which Angelina did last time and I am now currently attempting. I’m left wondering if you will try to pair down your research to just brother-sister relationships or make the distinction between older/younger that you started to touch on in your letter for your second experiment?

Leave a Reply