Western Oregon University

Research Methods (Psy 301)

TR 8:00-9:50

HSS 110B


Professor:  Dr. Robert Winningham

Office:  Todd Hall 322

Phone Number: (503) 838-8297

Office Hours: M 10-11am, M 2-3pm, W 10am-12pm, R 10-11am and by appointment

E-mail Address: winninr @wou.edu

Web Site: www.wou.edu/psych/winningham or http://www.wou.edu/las/psychology/winningham/coursefeeder.html





            This course will provide an introduction to research methodology and a basic framework to critically evaluate social and behavioral science research. You will be exposed to and tested on the major concepts and methods for generating hypotheses and designing a research project. This course should enable you to evaluate more critically the claims of “experts” in the popular press as well as in the scientific literature.  You will apply your knowledge by conducting a psychological experiment, writing an APA style paper, and presenting the results.



            Ray, W. J. (2003).  Methods: Toward understanding a science of behavior and experience (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

            American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.



Š      Students will understand and apply the scientific method in developing an independent research project.

Š      Students will develop an ability to design, conduct and critique research.

Š      Students will develop an understanding of how ethical principles relate to scientific inquiries and develop a project that meets ethical guidelines.

Š      Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to apply the basic principles and techniques employed in the scientific method.

Š      Students will demonstrate proficiency in writing scientific reports, which adhere to guidelines set forth by the American Psychological Association.

Š      Students will establish an appreciation for the benefits as well as the limitations of social and behavioral science research.

Š      Students will further develop project management skills, and the ability to work within groups.



            It is recommended that you read the appropriate material prior to class. Then, after each chapter is covered in class, thoroughly re-read the chapter.  Attendance, preparation, and participation are essential for success in this course.



            I expect academic honesty. Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on tests and plagiarism. I will not hesitate to apply the appropriate instructor options in the case of scholastic dishonesty, ranging from a warning for minor offenses to a "ZERO" on tests, papers, or other assignments.  Students are expected to do their own work. I expect this provision to be unnecessary.




Student researchers are expected to assume responsibility for conducting research projects in a professional manner. In the event that a researcher must cancel a scheduled research or testing session for any reason, the researcher is expected to a) contact participants through email or phone if such information is available to notify them of the cancellation, and b) the researcher must post notice of cancellation at the research site prior to the testing session time or c) the researcher must contact the research site, at least 30 minutes in advance, to ask that notice of study cancellation be posted. To cancel a study in Hamersly Library contact the front desk at 503 838-8899. To cancel a study in WUC contact the front desk at 503 838-8261. To cancel a study in Todd 106 contact Linda Kunze at 503 838-8334. Additionally student researchers are expected to provide a list of the names of participants eligible to receive extra credit for the canceled study to Linda Kunze in Todd Hall 325 within 2 days of the cancelled study. NOTE: Such cancellations should only be made under emergency circumstances and not for the simple convenience of researchers. Failure to follow this procedure may result in having points deducted from your final paper grade at a rate of 10 points per incident.



            EXAMS: Two exams will be given as indicated on the Course Outline.  Exams will cover material presented in class as well as assigned readings from the textbook.  Exams will have short answer, multiple choice, and essay portions.  No exam grades will be dropped, and exams may not be taken over.


            NO MAKE-UP EXAMS: You can not make-up exams unless you have a note from a doctor stating that you could not attend class due to a medical condition.


            LATE ASSIGNMENTS: Throughout the quarter, various portions of your research project will be due.  These assignments are due at the beginning of class.  Remember Murphy’s Law “If something can go wrong it will go wrong.”  Computer crashes, lost data, and printers that malfunction at the last minute can be very annoying.  Be sure to finish your well in advance and make sure each team member has a copy of important information (e.g., materials and raw data) and be sure to make electronic back-ups of all important assignments (e.g., paper drafts).

            Assignments turned in late will have points automatically deducted from the number of points possible at a rate of 10% per day.  Hand in late assignments in person to your professor’s office (TH 322) or to the Psychology Division Secretary in TH325.


            EXTRA-CREDIT POINTS: Students can earn extra credit by making flash cards.  For every 30 flash cards a student makes they will receive up to 2 points towards their final grade.  Students need to turn the flash cards in when exams are given; flashcards can not be turned in late.  Students can earn a maximum of 2 extra credit points per exam.  A student must turn in at least 30 handwritten flashcards with a question on the front and the answer on the back.  No points will be given if less than 30 flashcards are turned in.  The content of the questions should reflect material covered since the beginning of the course for the first exam and since the midterm for the final exam.  In addition, students can participate in up to 3 psychology experiments and they will receive 2 extra credit points per experiment.

            Students can also participate in psychology experiments for extra credit points.  Students can earn 2 extra credit points for each experiment in which they participate.  The maximum number of extra credit experiment points is 10.  Be sure to get an extra credit verification card from the experimenter.  These cards need to be turned in to the professor at the beginning of the poster session, during finals week.  There is an alternative extra credit option for people who choose not to do experiments.  You can earn 2 points for each one-page (150-250 words) summary.  The summaries must be from a peer-reviewed psychology journal published in the past two years and unrelated to your research project.  Include a copy of the original article with your summary and hand them in before the poster session (see our class website for more information about the alternative extra credit option).


            FINAL COURSE GRADE: A student's final grade in this course will be determined by the number of points accumulated during the course. 


Point Values Associated with Each Requirement

                        Participation                                        30        points

                        Exam 1                                                60        points

                        Exam 2                                                50        points

                        Topic and Partner ID Form                 5          points

                        PsycInfo Assignment                          30        points

                        Lab Assignments                                35        points

                        2006 Showcase Summaries                20        points

                        Introduction w/ References                 35        points

                        Revised Introduction, Method,

                        References, and Appendices               35        points

                        Final Paper                                          100      points

                        Poster Presentation                              50        points

                                                                                    450 points


The number of points earned will be divided by the number of possible points; this will yield a percentage that will determine your letter grade.


Final Point Values Associated with Each Letter Grade

                        A         93% - 100%    (450-419 points)

                        A-        90% - 92.9%   (405-418 points)

                        B+       87% - 89.9%   (392-404 points)

                        B         83% - 86.9%   (374-391 points)

                        B-        80% - 82.9%   (360-373 points)

                        C+       77% - 79.9%   (347-359 points)

                        C         73% - 76.9%   (329-347 points)

                        C-        70% - 73.9%   (315-328 points)

                        D+       67% - 69.9%   (301-314 points)

                        D         63% - 66.9%   (283-300 points)

                        D-        60% - 62.9%   (270-282 points)

                        F          Below 60%     (below 270 points)




Date     Day     Class Activity                          Should Have Read:     To Do/Assignment Due:        

4/4       T          Introduction/                                                                Find Partner/Choose Topic/

                        What is Science                                                           Print out Web Materials

4/6       R         Library Databases                   Ch. 1                           Find Partner/Choose Topic

                        Meet in HL 108                                                          Topic and Partner Identification

                                                                                                            Form is due

4/11     T          Methods of Science/                Ch.2                            Begin the PsycInfo Assignment


4/13     R         No class – Library Research Day                                Work on PsycInfo Assignment

4/18     T          Methods of Science                 Ch. 2

4/20     R         Developing the Hypothesis     Ch. 3                           PsycInfo Assignment is Due

4/25     T          Description of Behavior/         Ch. 4, 15

APA Style

4/27     R         Inferential Statistics                 Ch. 5

5/2       T          Testing the Hypothesis            Ch. 6                           Introduction, Method, and

                                                                                                            References Due

5/4       R         In-Class Exam Review            Ch. 14

& Ethics/IRB Application                                           Bring Questions for Review

5/9       T          Exam 1

5/11     R         Discuss Exam 1

5/16     T          Questionnaires                                    Ch. 13                         Revised Draft with all Materials

                                                                                    and IRB Form is Due

5/18     R         Control/Between-Subjects       Ch. 7 & 8


5/23     T          No class – Library Research Day       

5/25     T          Between-Subjects Designs/     Ch. 9

                        Within-Subjects Design

5/30     T          Ecology of experimentation     Ch. 10                        

6/1       R         More Designs                         Ch 11 (only read pages 232-241 and 251-259)

6/6       T          Exam 2

6/8       R         How to Make Posters

6/13     M        Poster Session                                                                        Final Draft Due at 8:00 a.m.

*This course outline and syllabus may be modified at the discretion of the professor.

Psychology 301

Topic and Partner Identification Form

Due: April 6th at 8am

Partner Names:





What topic would you like to research?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


What is an alternate topic you would like to research?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Note that it is your responsibility to make sure the proposed research is acceptable by discussing it with your professor during his office hours or another prearranged time (i.e., not during class).  Do this as soon as possible so you and your partner do not waste time researching a project that is not feasible.


Psychology 301

PsycInfo Assignment

Due: April 18th at 8am

The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience conducting a literature review, using PsycInfo, and obtaining journal articles.  You will use the information you collect to write the Introduction Section of your research paper.  You can work together with your partner on this project, as the information learned will help both of you conduct a good literature review.  However, the content of the assignment (e.g., research articles and photocopied pages from Part 4) need to be different.  Follow directions as listed below.


1. Identify a specific area of research in which you are interested (i.e., your topic idea).  For example, you might be interested in whether aromatherapy can reduce stress.  The more specific and clear you are with this topic, the easier your research will be.  Take your topic and turn it into a research question (e.g., Does smelling lavender reduce stress?)





2. Identify the key variables in the above statement and write them below.  You must have at least two variables (e.g., aromatherapy and stress).





3. Sometimes relevant research is not found in databases because people do not know the appropriate keywords for a search.  This next part of the assignment will help you expand the list of keywords you can use in your database searches.  First, get into PsycInfo (1984 to present).  At the main search page, select the "tools" icon.  Type in the name of one of your variables on the subject line (e.g., stress) and select thesaurus.  This should give you a list of all the possible names that psychologists use for this variable.  Look through the list.  In the space provided below, write down any narrower, broader, or related terms that may assist you in your search.  If you are not sure of a term, select its "Scope Note" for more information.  After you have done this for one of your variables, repeat the process for the other variable you listed in Part 2.


Variable 1                                                        Variable 2                                                                   






4. Using the terms identified in #3, consult the psychological encyclopedias, handbooks, or dictionaries discussed in our library presentations (e.g., Encyclopedia of Psychology, survey of Social Sciences, Dictionary of Behavioral Sciences, and the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychology) and locate general background information on your key terms.  Focus on how variables are defined or measured by psychologists, and what theories are associated with these variables.  Photocopy the pages that correspond with your key terms and variables and staple them to this handout.  Be sure to write down the complete reference of each source and include the reference on the photocopied pages.





5. Get into PsycInfo (1984 - present) to search for current journal articles or book chapters related to your topic.  Search for one variable (e.g., aromatherapy) first then the other variable (e.g., stress).  Then use the combine function to narrow down your list of articles that include both variables.  If you still have many hundreds or even thousands of "hits", try adding another variable and recombine your results.  If you can not find many or any articles related to your variables, then use broader key terms.


Skim through the abstracts for each article and, on a separate sheet of paper provide the following information about 5 journal articles (1984-present) or book chapters.  Be sure to answer to answer each of the questions for each of the five articles you choose.  Do not simply highlight the abstract printouts.  Do not include any articles that are written in a foreign language or are dissertations.  For each article/ book chapter, include the type following information on a separate piece of paper and attach it to this handout.


1.     Full reference using APA style.

2.     Purpose of the article/book chapter or specific hypothesis.

3.     Brief summary of results (did they support their hypothesis?)

4.     Does WOU library carry this journal?  (Use WOLF to determine this)

Introduction, Method & References

Due: April 27th at 8am

            This portion of your paper will serve as your research proposal -- something every researcher needs to submit for review.  Your professor will read them and check for adherence to ethical guidelines, sufficient review of the literature, theoretical coverage, design, and feasibility.  Do not procrastinate; get started immediately.  You will probably need to order articles through interlibrary loan and that can take two weeks or longer.  Many of the research articles you read will be dense and take a considerable amount of time and effort to read and assimilate.  Be sure to consult your APA manual when writing this paper.



            The introduction section is where you present the specific problem your study addresses.  The APA manual suggests considering the following before writing the introduction:

Š      What is the point of the study?

Š      How do the hypothesis and experimental design relate to the problem?

Š      What are the theoretical implications of the study, and how does the study relate to previous work in the area?

Š      What are the theoretical propositions tested, and how were they derived? (p. 11)


            You should be able to answer the above questions in the first paragraph or two.  Then review the relevant research in more detail.  Only review research that is directly related to your study and any theories associated with it.  Avoid reviewing anything that is tangential or peripheral to your study.  Avoid nonessential details while summarizing previous research (e.g., the institution where the research was conducted, sample sizes, and detailed description of methodology).  Emphasize the findings and how they relate to your study and any theoretical positions.  The literature review should be written so a professional audience can understand it.

            After you have identified the problem, hypotheses, and theoretical considerations, explicitly state what your study was designed to assess.  Mention all independent and dependent variable and what your hypotheses were/are.  It is important that you explain the rational behind your predictions.  While describing the variables you can give the reader an idea of how the study was or will be conducted.  For example, “We measured the effects of time pressure on test anxiety.  There were three levels of our independent variable: no time pressure, finish in 10 minutes, and finish in 20 minutes.  Test anxiety was the dependent variable and was operationally defined as a score on a self-report anxiety measure”.



            The method section describes how you will conduct your experiment.  A good method section allows the reader to judge the validity of the study and includes enough information for experienced researchers to replicate the study.  It also allows for comparison across similar studies.  The method section should be broken down into several subsections, including: 1.) participants, 2.) apparatus (or materials), and 3.) procedure.


            The participants section is where you will describe your research participants.  Information in this section allows readers to assess the generalizability of the results, replicate the study, and run secondary analyses.  The number of participants in each group is reported.  In addition, demographic variables that might affect behavior needs to be reported.  For example, researchers generally include age, sex, ethnicity, and education level of participants.  In some cases researchers also report health status, language preference, socioeconomic status, and other variables that might affect the outcome of the study.  Researchers also report how they recruited (or plan to recruit) the participants, whether they were paid and how much.  If some participants were dropped from the study report how many and why.

            If non-human animal subjects are used, researchers should report the genus, species, strain number, and supplier.  The animals' weight, sex, and age should also be reported.

Apparatus (or Materials)

            This subsection includes information about any materials or equipment that was or will be used in the study.  Specialized equipment should be identified by the model and manufacturer.  Materials such as questionnaires and tests should be described in this subsection.  After describing materials, refer the reader to an Appendix where they can view them.


            A step-by-step description of the research is presented in this subsection, including instructions to participants and specific experimental manipulations.  Also include information related to randomization, counterbalancing, and other controls.  This subsection needs to include enough information so the study could be replicated.  However, if an experimental procedure is widely used it doesn’t need to be described in great detail.



            There are many different ways to reference sources depending on the type of publication, the number of authors, the number of editors, how it was presented or published, the language it was written in, and whether it was translated.  See the APA manual for guidance on writing references.

Revised Introduction, Methods,

References, and Appendices

Due: May 11th at 8am

            Include a copy of the original introduction, methods, and references that was graded by the paper (i.e., copy it after it has been graded).  Make all possible corrections and add or delete areas that needed work.  Include all materials (e.g., tests used to measure the constructs you've chosen).  Also, include a completed IRB Form with your paper.



Final Paper Scoring Guidelines

Due: At the Beginning of the Poster Session.

Section                                                                        Possible Points                        Points Earned

Title Page                                                                    2                                                         

Abstract                                                                       3                                                         


            Literature Review                                            14                                                       

            Theoretical Considerations                              7                                                         

            Study Overview                                              4                                                         

            Predictions                                                      5                                                         


            Participants                                                      4                                                         

            Materials/Apparatus                                        3                                                         

            Procedures                                                      6                                                         


            Descriptive Statistics                                       5                                                         

            Graphs, Tables, and Figures                           5                                                         

            Inferential Statistics                                         5                                                         


            Overview of the Findings                               6                                                         

            Theoretical Considerations/Conclusions         6                                                         

            Implications and Future Research                   6                                                         


            APA Style                                                       8                                                         

            Grammar and Spelling                                    6                                                         

            References                                                       5                                                         


Attach this sheet of paper to the end of your final paper.