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Research Methods and Design

WISP 2010/2011
Mondays 1600-1730
Wouter de Raad
Office hours: Tuesday 1515-1600, room 422b
Available by appointment
Jasia Pietrzak
Office hours: Tuesday 1200-1400 and 1600-1700, room 314
Course overview
Most courses in your curriculum deal with the content of psychology. The courses you
have had so far may have had titles like social psychology, cognitive psychology, biological
psychology, etc., each focusing on a field or discipline within psychology. Some disciplines
within psychology may seem to be so dissimilar that it may be hard to think of psychology as
a single science. However psychology is a science. Its unity and coherence may be disputed,
but a science it is because of the way knowledge is gathered. In this course we will look at
the scientific method of doing research. We will not look so much at the content of
psychology but focus primarily on the process of psychology.
In accordance with the diversity of the topics of interest and study in psychology there is
multiplicity of ways of conducting research. By looking at the class schedule below you can
get a broad idea of the types of research methods that are common and of some of the issues
that are associated with scientific research. The topics we will treat in this course often deal
with how to gather good data. Having obtained good data is an important step in the
research process, but what to do with it is another. This course is therefore complementary to
the statistics course that you are also enrolled in, where the focus lies on data analysis.
Class organization
The course will be organized as much as possible around case studies. For a large part class
activity will consist of small group discussions alternated with plenary discussions lectures
will be kept to a minimum. In each class we will discuss one or more cases based on common
or prior knowledge. At the end of the discussion our generated ideas will be summarized and
remaining questions will be identified. The readings will provide the answers to those
remaining questions, which we will discuss at the beginning of the next class. Thus, classes
will consist of discussing the answers to the problems and questions connected to the cases of
the previous class and discussing new cases that we will answer in the next class.
Readings will come from different sources like:
Research in Psychology: Methods and Design by C. James Goodwin
How to Think Straight About Psychology by Keith E. Stanovich
Research Methods in Psychology by John J. Shaughnessy
Journal articles

Readings will be made available in a convenient way you will not have to fight for that one
copy of a book in the library. If you would like to buy a book for yourself for later use, you
could buy one of the books on research methods listed above. Also the following titles are
good alternatives:
Introduction to Research Methods & Statistics in Psychology by Ron McQueen
Methods in Behavioral Research by Paul C. Cozby
Most books to a large extent cover more or less the same topics. Some include more
information on statistics, some are from a point of view of going through the whole research
cycle; from generating ideas and doing a literature research to writing it all up in a research
report. Your choice of book may depend on the purposes you would like to use it for in the
Evaluation will be based on 3 kinds of tasks.
20% of your grade will come from (more or less) weekly in-class assignments. Your
score from 10 of these 12 case reports will taken into account for this part of your
During the course there will be 3 quizzes/mini tests in class counting for 10% each.
The final exam will count for 50%. Your final score will be the sum of your scores on
each test.
There will be a required class presentation but no grades will be given for it.
The passing level is 60%. Quizzes/mini tests can only be missed with acceptable/official
Schedule of topics
Oct 11
Class 1

Intro: Psychology and Science

Oct 18

Class 2

What is a good theory and research question?

Oct 25

Class 3

Ethical issues in psychological research

Nov 8

Class 4

Measurement of variables

Nov 15

Class 5

Experiments: Causality

Nov 22

Class 6

Experiments: Validities

Nov 29

Class 7

Experiments: Criticisms

Dec 6

Class 8

Pseudo Experiments

Dec 13

Class 9

Interviews & surveys

Dec 20

Class 10


Jan 3

Class 11

Correlational research: Causation, mediation, moderation

Jan 10

Class 12

Observational research and qualitative research

Jan 17

Class 13

Qualitative research

Jan 24
(double class)

Class 14 &15

Class presentations and review

Jan 31