Psychology 2800E-002

Research Methods in Psychology

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


Using selected examples, this course will introduce students to the variety of ways to conduct research in psychology. Topics to be covered include: the scientific approach; ethical issues in human and animal research; designing, running, analyzing and writing up a research project; experimental, observational and correlational research strategies.


Antirequisites: Psychology 2855F/G and 2856F/G, 2820E, 2840F/G


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisite: At least 60% in a 1000 level Psychology course

2 lecture hours and 2 laboratory hours, 1.0 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


         Instructor:                                                                    Dr. Patrick Brown

         Office and Phone Number:                                   SSC 7328 / ext. 84680

         Office Hours:                                                               Wednesday 1:30 – 3:30



         Teaching Assistant:                                                   Announced in first lab meeting

         Office:                                                                            TBA

         Office Hours:                                                               TBA

         Email:                                                                              TBA


         Time and Location of Classes:                               Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 / SSC-2036

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


White, T.L. & McBurney, D.H. (2013). Research Methods (9th edition). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning


Stanovich, K.E. (2013). How to Think Straight about Psychology (10th edition). Pearson Education Inc.



This course introduces the ways in which research is conducted in psychology. We shall consider a wide range of alternative research methods, including observation, archival research, questionnaire surveys, case studies, and experimentation. We’ll also consider topics closely allied to research design, such as ethics, report writing, and data presentation. In addition to providing training in research techniques needed for third- and fourth-year psychology courses (e.g., Psychology 4850), it is expected that Psychology 2800E will contribute significantly to the development of scientific thinking skills that students can apply to their future careers and in everyday life.



Although this is a course in research design rather than statistical analysis, you will analyze data collected in the laboratory component of the course, and that requires an understanding of fundamental statistical concepts. If you do not have credit in Psychology 2810, it is recommended that you read Chapter 15 of the White text early in the school year.



Students should note that lectures are complements for text chapters, not substitutes. Some material appearing in the text will not be covered in lectures. Equally, some material covered in lectures will not be found in the text. Students are responsible for understanding all course material, presented in lab, lecture, and the texts.




Access, interpret, and critically evaluate appropriate research in psychology

Lab assignments – experiment proposal; correlation study and experiment study reports

Evaluate the appropriateness of different methodological approaches to address a specific psychological question

Exam essay questions; Lab assignments – experiment proposal and ethics review

Formulate a research hypothesis to address a psychological question and design a research project to test that hypothesis

Lab assignments – correlation study written report; experiment proposal and written report, especially Introduction and Method sections

Apply ethical standards to the practice of their own research

Research proposal and ethics review form are graded

Apply relevant quantitative skills to the analysis and interpretation of psychological phenomena


Analysis of correlation study data and of experiment study data, evaluated in the form of Results sections for both papers

Use evidence to support claims


Exam essay questions; Lab assignments – correlation study and experiment reports, particularly Discussion sections

Communicate in writing accurately, clearly and logically, using the discourse of the discipline of psychology

Lab assignment – Written reports on two research projects (correlation study and experiment); Exam short answer and essay questions; Essay exam questions

Communicate orally accurately, clearly and logically, using the discourse of the discipline of psychology

Lab assignment – oral presentation of experiment project results and conclusions




The course requirements, along with relative weightings in the determination of final grades, are:


Midterm #1                                        10%

Mid-year Exam                                 15%

Midterm #2                                        10%

Final Exam                                           15%

Laboratory Component                                 50% (see lab outline for details)


All tests and exams will be based on both the textbook and lecture material. The November and March mid-term exams will contain essay and multiple-choice questions. The Mid-year (December) and Final (April) exams will contain multiple choice questions only. The Mid-Year Exam will cover the entire first term’s material. The Final Exam will cover the entire second term’s material.


Important Note: the lab component counts as the essay component of the course. It is a formal policy of the university that students must pass the essay component of a course to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments in the lab must be at least 50% for you to pass the course.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Fall midterm (during class in regular classroom)                  November 2, 2017

Mid-year exam Scheduled by Registrar                                  During exam period: December 10 – 21, 2017

Winter midterm (during class in regular classroom)          March 1, 2018

Final exam Scheduled by Registrar                                           During exam period: April 14 – 30, 2018


Date                      Topic                                                                                     White                    Stanovich


Sept 13                                 Introduction – Psychology as a science                   1                              1

Sept 20                 Characteristics of the scientific method                 1                              2

Sept 27                 Ethics in research                                                             3

Oct 4                      Ethics in research                                                             3

Oct 11                   Reading Week – no class

Oct 18                   Developing a research question                                                2

Oct 25                   Communicating in Science                                           4                              4

Nov 1                    Surveys                                                                                                9*                           5*

*These chapters will be tested on the Midyear Exam


Nov 8 Fall Midterm – Chapters: White 1, 2, 3, 4 / Stanovich 1, 2, 4 + corresponding lectures


Nov 15                  Variables                                                                             5                              3

Nov 22                  Tables & graphs                                                                                14

Nov 29                  Validity of argument (1)                                                                6                              11

Dec 6                     Validity of argument (2)                                                                6                              11

Dec 7                     Review session – 1:30 – 3:30 in SSC 2032


Mid-year exam – Scheduled by registrar for Midyear Exam period (December 10-21) – Chapters: White 1 – 6, 9, 14 / Stanovich 1 – 5, 11 + corresponding lectures

Date                      Topic                                                                                     White                    Stanovich


Jan 10                    Control                                                                                 7                              6

Jan 17                    Non-experimental approaches                                  8                              7

Jan 24                    True experiments – One variable Designs             10                           8

Jan 31                    True experiments – One variable Designs             10

Feb 7                     True experiments – One variable Designs             10

Feb 14                   True experiments – Factorial Designs (1)                               11*

Feb 21                   Reading Week – no class

*This chapter will be tested on the Final Exam


Feb 28   Winter Midterm – Chapters: White 7, 8, 10 / Stanovich 6, 7, 8 + corresponding lectures


March7                 True experiments – Factorial Designs (1)                               11                           9

March 14             N = 1 experiments                                                           12                           10

March 21             Case studies                                                                       12

March 28             Program evaluation                                                        13

April 4                   Quasi-experiments                                                         13                           12

April 6                   Review – SSC 2032 1:30 – 3:30 pm            


Final exam – Scheduled by Registrar for Final Exam period (April 14-30) – Chapters: White 7, 8, 10 – 13 / Stanovich 6 – 10, 12 + corresponding lectures


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.