205: Research Methods in Psychology

Psychology 205: Research Methods in Psychology
Fall, 2016

Instructor Teaching Assistant
William Revelle Larry Cheng
Swift 315
Cresap 109
Cresap 211
Telephone: 491-7700
(312) 772-4364
email: revelle@northwestern.edu
Office Hours T 2-5 (or by appointment) M/W 1-2 (or by appointment)

This course provides an introduction to psychological research techniques and methodology. Topics to be covered include the logic of research, the issues that must be considered in deciding how to study various psychological phenomena, and ways to address the difficulties posed by the limitations of specific studies. Ways for assessing threats to the internal and external validity of studies will be examined. These issues will be illustrated through reference to the examples of research on various topics in psychology. In addition to lectures and readings, students will participate actively in the design and analysis of three research projects. Students will also learn to write research reports in the style used by research psychologists.
Psychology 201 (statistics) or equivalent.
Grades will be based on three laboratory reports, three exams (2 midterms and an optional final) and satisfactory completion of homework.
Leary, M. R. (2011) Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods, Sixth Edition Allyn and Bacon, Needham Heights, MA.
(available used, for 90 day rent, as a 180 day ebook, or for purchase. Prices range from $50 to $202. In addition, the 5th edition overlaps a great deal with the 6th edition and is an alternative option. Implication? Search the web)
Although the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, is frequently suggested for this course but is not necessary. It is probably more useful to follow the rules discussed in 'Doc Scribe's APA Lite' or even some of the APA's own website for what you really need to write papers for this class. See also the APA style blog .
See also the APA style crib sheet available from the Psych Web project of Russ Dewey.
Comment This course is the second in the methodology sequence for the psychology major. It uses the statistical concepts learned in 201 and introduces concepts of experimental design, causal inference, and broad research methods to the study of psychological phenomena. It prepares students for advanced courses in research design applied to particular areas of psychology. Substantive examples will be drawn from all fields of psychology as well as other sciences. The readings will sometimes include reprints of articles in psychological research. These will be used as examples of experimental design and the types of inferences that can be drawn from data. In addition, ethical issues raised in some of the studies will be considered.

The text is used to supplement the examples of research given in class. Although the class lectures are not based upon the text, the readings will form an important part of class discussion and should be completed before class.

Thought problems from the current research and popular literature will be introduced at the beginning of most classes to focus discussion on particular problems of research design and interpretation.

Statistical software

Unlike most of the other sections of 205, we will use the powerful statistical system R for our data analysis. We will not use SPSS. My students and I use R (as do active researchers at many other universities) because it provides access to new development in statistical analysis. We will take advantage of the power of R and the psych package in R which was developed specifically for psychological research.

Laboratory experience in analyzing data will be offered in my lab in Swift/Cresap Hall (Cresap 109). The use of computers in psychological research will be emphasized and students will be able to access supplementary materials available on departmental and off campus file servers. Although prior experience with computers is not necessary, the use of computers will be emphasized, particularly for data analysis.

Class notes and supplementary material

Supplementary material will be available from the detailed outline available on the web.This will include the lecture notes for each class. Note that the links on this outline will change to reflect the specific results for that class day. You should plan on consulting the detailed syllabus before each class.

Papers 1 will be based upon data collected and analyzed in class. Paper 2 will be based upon a computer simulation of an experiment based upon real data that will provide unique data for each student. Paper 3 will be based upon an experiment designed and conducted individually. Before conducting the study 3, you will need to have discussed your proposal with the instructor.

Requirements and methods of evaluation:

William Revelle
Revised September 16, 2016