Psychology as a Science

Psychology as a science

Dr. Alana Siegel


Course #1662.1604.03

Fall Semester

2 credits

Mondays: October 15, 2018 – January 7, 2019

12:00-14:00, Room TBC

Office Hours: By appointment


Course objectives

To sharpen students’ skills to find, read, evaluate and understand existing research literature, as found in academic journals, governmental reports, media, and non-profit publications.

For students to learn how to conduct their own research.  Students will learn about how to design a research study, to write a basic proposal, formulate hypotheses, and complete IRB submissions.  Students will have the opportunity to work on their academic writing skills.



Course Assessment

Class participation and attendance (10% of final course grade): It is expected that all students will complete assigned readings and be active participants in class discussions.  All class readings can be found on the course Moodle.


Assignment #1: Literature search (10% of final course grade): Dr. Siegel will provide a variety of research questions, and students will have to select one question, perform a literature search, and then submit a bibliography list of 20 citations. 


Assignment #2: Literature Summary (30% of final course grade): Please select one topic of your choice and write a 2 page literature review.


Midterm multiple-choice exam (19% of final course grade): Students will be asked to complete a multiple choice and short answer exam.


Final Research Project Outline (31% of final course grade): Please submit a suggested research study (may be on humans or animals) with 2 research hypotheses, an abstract, a literature review, an outline of the research design, and a bibliography. 8 pages, bibliography not included.

Please note:

All citations must be in APA format. See here for examples of how to cite:


*** All assignments must be in Times New Roman, 12-point font, 1” margins, and double-spaced. ***




Attendance is mandatory. Students are permitted a maximum of three unexcused absences without penalty. Any additional absences will affect the final grade and may result in failure of the course.


Academic conduct:

Plagiarism is taken extremely seriously. Any instance of academic misconduct which includes: submitting someone else’s work as your own; failure to accurately cite sources; taking words from another source without using quotation marks; submission of work for which you have previously received credit; working in a group for individual assignments; using unauthorized materials in an exam and sharing your work with other students, will result in failure of the assignment and will likely lead to further disciplinary measures.


In-class behavior:

Should students be found to be text messaging, using their cell phone, or Internet surfing will be asked to leave class.




American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Cozby, P. & Bates, S. (2015).  Methods in behavioral research: Twelfth edition. New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Morling, B. (2015). Research methods in psychology: Evaluating a world of information (2nd ed.). New York: Norton & Company.

Strunk, W., Jr., & White, E. B. (2000). The elements of style (4th ed.). New York: Longman.

Willig, C. (2008).  Introducing qualitative research in psychology: Adventures in theory and method (second edition).  New York: Open University Press.



Week      Date                 Reading

1          October 15       An overview and history of the scientific method

 Reading: Morling, Chapter 1


2          October 22       How to generate a research hypothesis and how to conduct a literature search.


How to conduct a literature review:

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: The Literature Review:


3          October 29       Ethics in research and writing; informed consent; working with human subjects; and submitting an IRB

Assignment #1 is due.

Readings: Morling, pages 90-111

APA. Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.  Section 8 “Research and Publication”


The Belmont Report:



4          November 5     How to read a research article, an introduction to writing a research proposal.

Explanation of assignment #2.


Bem, D. (2002). Writing the empirical journal article.  In Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (Eds). The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

APA Manual:

  • Chapter 2: Manuscript Structure and Content 
  • Chapter 3: Writing Clearly and Concisely 


5          November 12   **Dr. Siegel will be away at a conference on this day.  There will be a guest lecturer.**

How to write a descriptive statistics section and how to read graphs

Readings: APA Manual, Chapter 5: Displaying results


6          November 19   Surveys, observations, and samplings

Assignment #2 is due

Readings: Morling, Chapters 6 and 7

                 Cozby & Bates, Chapter 7 (optional)


7          November 26   Mid-term exam


8          December 3     Measurement Concepts

Readings: Cozby & Bates, Chapter 5


9          December 10   Conducting Experiments

Readings: Cozby & Bates, Chapter 9


10        December 17   Qualitative vs. quantitative research

Readings: Willig, Chapter 2

               Cozby & Bates, Chapter 6

Optional:  Willig Chapters 3 and 4


11        December 24   Reliability and validity, and threats to internal validity, replicability

Readings: Morling, Chapter 5 and Chapter 14


12        December 31   Independent and dependent variables, within-group and independent-group designs

Reading: Morling, Chapter 10


13        January 7         Quasi-experimental designs; longitudinal vs. cross-sectional designs

Readings: Cozby & Bates, Chapter 11




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