Advanced Research Methods
Spring, 2011
10:20-11:15 MWF, PH 204


Instructor:  Dr. William Langston
Office:  JH 348
Phone:  898-5489 (office)
Office Hours:  12-1 T, 3-4 W, drop in anytime, calling first is a good idea, email for appointments.
[Text] [Description] [Responsibilities] [Grading] [Policies] [Calendar]
Recommended: Langston, W.  (2011).  Research Methods Laboratory Manual for Psychology (3rd Ed.).   Pacific Grove, CA:  Wadsworth.
(This will be a good resource for independent project ideas if you don't have one of your own.)

Recommended: Ray, W.J.  (2009).  Methods Toward a Science of Behavior and Experience (9th Ed.).  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth.
Options to purchase eBook or chapters:
(We will discuss recommended chapters in class.)

Required: Each week we will discuss articles related to the class. You need to keep up with the reading.
Course Description:
In this course we will  go beyond the basic course in research methods.  There are three big components to this.  First, you will complete a project and present it at a conference.  The project will be your idea and will be entirely under your control.  Second, we will cover "the next 30 minutes" of the regular research methods class.  The content is a little more advanced, but only in the sense that we actually get to go over things completely.  Third, you will get to interact with the material in a more direct way.  We'll read some research papers, think more about how science works, and we will have more class discussions and activities that allow you to apply what you are learning.
Course Responsibilities:
1.  Quizzes/Homeworks/In-class Presentations:  We will have routine quizzes and homeworks.  The quizzes are diagnostic and let me know what you are learning.  The homeworks will relate to the project and will serve as concrete milestones to keep you on track.  The presentations will be opportunities for your peers to give you feedback.  These assignments are worth 10 pts. each, I will count your best 10.
4.  Research report:  You will write one APA formatted report based on the project.
5.  Presentation:  You will present your work at MTPA on April 16th.  This will be an oral presentation using PowerPoint.
Assignments: Description: Points:
10 @ 10 each
Research report


Intangibles (attendance, class participation, etc.)



Your grade will be based on the number of points earned.  Totals:

>360 = A; >348 = B+; >332 = B; >320 = B-; >308 = C+; >292 = C; >280 = C-; >268 = D+; >252 = D; > 240 = D-; >0 = F.
General Policies:
1.  Attendance:  Attendance is mandatory.  I will pass around a sign-up sheet every day.  Only people with perfect attendance will be allowed to take advantage of extra credit opportunities.
2.  Late policy:  Complete assignments on time.
 Type of assignment: Penalty
Not accepted after Friday of the week they’re due
No make-ups offered 

     Late, but doesn't inconvenience me 
No penalty
     Some level of inconvenience 10% - 100%
*Papers turned in before I start grading are not late, regardless of the due date.
3.  Grading guarantee (my late policy):  Papers will be returned within two weeks of the final due date.  Bonus points will be awarded at the rate of five points per incomplete paper per day until they are graded.  Bonus points will be divided equally amongst all assignments turned in to me on time, for anyone with perfect attendance.
4.  Missed assignments:  If you know in advance, notify me to make arrangements.
5.  Course notes are available on the web at  Also, the regular research methods page has some important information at
6.  Drop deadlines:  The last day to drop without a grade is January 26.  The last day to drop is March 25 (you will receive some sort of grade).  If you stay in the class after March 25, you will not be able to drop unless you experience a major tragedy or emergency.  I am not the person who makes that determination.  Incompletes will only be given if you have successfully completed the majority of the coursework and were prevented from finishing by a major tragedy or emergency.
7.  Any student engaging in any form of academic misconduct will lose credit for the relevant assignment and will be subjected to the appropriate university judicial proceedings.
8.  If you experience problems in the course, see me.  You’re welcome in my office anytime.
9.  Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities:  If you require assistance or accommodation (e.g., testing, note-taking, etc.) due to a disability, or you have questions related to such accommodations, speak to me as soon as possible.  Also, the office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783) can provide information about such accommodations.
10. Lottery scholarship statement: Rather than reproduce inaccurate or outdated information here, I am linking you to the well-concealed information about maintaining your lottery scholarship from the financial aid site: Read it and pay careful attention to it.
Schedule of events:
Week of:  Topic: Read: 
Course introduction

1/17 H O L I D A Y Monday, 1/17

Science--How do we know things?
Longino (1990)--E-Reserve

Snook, B., Cullen, R. M., Bennell, C., Taylor, P. J., & Gendreau, P. (2008). The criminal profiling illusion: What's behind the smoke and mirrors? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35, 1257-1276. doi: 10.1177/0093854808321528

Nickell, J. (2006). Ghost hunters. Skeptical Inquirer, 30.

Research goal: Form team, choose project topic

1/24 What is science?
Science versus pseudoscience and risky predictions: Popper, K. R. (1962). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. New York: Basic Books. (Chapter 1)
For more on Popper and problems with using risky prediction as the basis of the difference between science and pseudoscience (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

Langmuir, I., & Hall, R. N. (1989). Pathological Science. Physics Today, 42, 36-48. doi:10.1063/1.881205

Park, R. L. (2003). The seven warning signs of bogus science. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 49, B20. Retrieved from

Research goal: Project design

Methodological concerns
Why single blind? Rosenthal, R., Kohn, P., Greenfield, P. M., & Carota, N. (1966). Data desirability, experimenter expectancy, and the results of psychological research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 20-27. doi:10.1037/h0022604

Demand characteristics: Orne, M. T. (1962). On the social psychology of the psychological experiment: With particular reference to demand characteristics and their implications. American Psychologist, 17, 776-783. doi:10.1037/h0043424

"The truth wears off" issue. Does our standard practice cause us to make mistakes?

Presentation: Present project design to class, 22-2/4

Methodological concerns in action
King, R. N., & Koehler, D. J. (2000). Illusory correlations in graphological inference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6, 336-348. doi:10.1037/1076-898X.6.4.336

Rozin, P., Millman, L., & Nemeroff, C. (1986). Operation of the laws of sympathetic magic in disgust and other domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 703-712. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.50.4.703

Violation of the scientific attitude (and the harm it can do):

Research goal: IRB draft

Catch up time

Research goal: Submit IRB

Putting cause in a box
Campbell, D. T., & Stanley, J. C. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company.

Haydon, T., Mancil, G. R., & Van Loan, C. (2009). Using opportunities to respond in a general education classroom: A case study. Education and Treatment of Children, 32, 267-278. doi: 10.1353/etc.0.0052

Weisberg, R. W. (1994). Genius and madness? A quasi-experimental test of the hypothesis that manic-depression increases creativity. Psychological Science, 5, 361-367. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1994.tb00286.x

Presentation: Literature review/project foundation, 2/23-2/25

Kinds of design I
Coover, J. E. (1913). “The feeling of being stared at”: Experimental. The American Journal of Psychology, 24, 570-575. doi: 10.2307/1413454

Bressan, P. (2002). The connection between random sequences, everyday coincidences, and belief in the paranormal. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16, 17-34. doi: 10.1002/acp.754

Research goal: Begin data collection (if approved)

3/7 S P R I N G  B R E A K

Kinds of design II
Markovsky, B., & Thye, S. R. (2001). Social influence on paranormal beliefs. Sociological Perspectives, 44, 21-44. doi: 10.1525/sop.2001.44.1.21

Foertsch, J., & Gernsbacher, M. A. (1997). In search of gender neutrality: Is singular they a cognitively efficient substitute for generic he? Psychological Science, 8, 106-111. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1997.tb00691.x

Research goal: Continue data collection

Catch up time

Research goal: Complete data collection

More complicated issues Crafts, L. W., Schneirla, T. C., Robinson, E. E., & Gilbert, R. W. (1950). The perception of obstacles by the blind in Recent Experiments in Psychology, pp.137-169. The book is online, you will need to go to Chapter IX, starting on p. 137.

Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L., III. (2008). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. Science, 319, 966-968. doi:10.1126/science.1152408

Coren, S. (1986). An efferent component in the visual perception of direction and extent. Psychological Review, 93, 391-410. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.93.4.391

Research goal: Data analysis

Individual meetings

Research goal: Finalize data analysis, draft of presentation


MTPA, Saturday, April 16th, 8:30 AM, MTSU
MTPA debrief

Catch up time

Final thoughts on science and method

Please note:  Some due dates and topics may shift to later dates.  In no event will due dates be moved to an earlier date.

Research Methods Syllabus
Will Langston
Back to Langston's Research Methods Page