Social Research Methods (Psy 460/560)                                     Fall, 1997

Dr. John Edwards         Moreland 134         phone: 737-1370         email:
Office hours: Wednesday 1-2, Thursdays, 10-11 or by appointment

I. Course Description

This course covers experimental research methods in Social Psychology (and, to some extent, related disciplines). Research design, data collection, analysis, validity, and report writing will all be covered. The course satisfies both the laboratory requirement for psychology majors and the WIC requirement. Because this is a WIC course, a substantial part of the course requirements are written (see attached sheet of WIC course requirements). The format of the course will be mixture of lecture and discussion, writing, and demonstrations.

II. Course Objectives

III. Text

    Graziano, A. M., & Raulin, M. L. (1997). Research methods: A process of inquiry. New York: Longman.

Also Useful:
    American Psychological Association (1994). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (4th Ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

    Rosnow, R. L., & Rosnow, M. (1995). Writing papers in psychology. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.

Sternberg & Parrott also have books on writing psychology papers.

IV. Grading
The final grade is based on 200 total possible points: 30 points for the midterm, 60 for the final exam, 16 for the questions about the readings (2 points X 8 questions), 28 points for the short papers (7 points X 4 papers), 6 points for the peer reviews (3 points X 2 reviews), and 60 points for the term paper.

Grade distributions will be based on the performance of all the students in the class (i.e., grades are curved). The class average grade will be equivalent to a B- (that is, a person whose point total is at or close to the class average will get a B- for the class). Grades above the class average will be equivalent to a B or better; grades below the class average will be equivalent to a C+ or worse. Graduate students will not be included in the curve for undergraduates (i.e., undergraduates do not have to compete against graduate students), but will be graded relative to the undergraduate curve. If the curve falls too far off of a normal distribution, I will make allowances for this (e.g., if everybody's point totals are bunched together).

V. Class Attendance
Class attendence is the student's responsibility (i.e., not mine). Students are responsible for everything covered in class. This includes details about the tests or paper, changes, etc. Students are also responsible for the activities we do in class; including graded activities. If you miss them, you miss the points. Therefore, I strongly advise class attendence. If you have to miss a class, be sure to get any lecture notes from another class member (i.e., not from me). Please help each other out!

Make-up tests and exams are rarely given and are difficult. DOCUMENTED problems should be discussed with the instructor PRIOR to the test, or, in the extremely rare case of an emergency which prevents contacting the instructor prior to the test, as soon as possible. I intend to be quite strict about this. Note that having other assignments, tests, or exams due, friends in town, vacation plans, hangovers and the like do not constitute acceptible excuses, neither for missing nor rescheduling a test, paper, or the exam. I will not move the test or exam times for individuals for any reason. This EXPRESSLY includes vacation/holiday plans. You have prior warning!

VI. Topics, reading assignments, paper assignments

(Note that questions about the readings are due on each Tuesday & the papers are due Thursday)

WeekTopics ReadingShort Paper Other (in class)
1. Sept. 30, Oct. 2Introduction (none)
2. Oct. 7 & 9Scientific Method Chs. 1, 2, & 3

(through p. 64)

Observation paper
3. Oct. 14 & 16Measurement


Ch. 4 & 6(none)
4. Oct. 21 & 23Correlational Methods Ch. 7social question paper peer reviews
5. Oct. 28 & 30Validity Chs. 8 & 9(none) Midterm (10/30)
6. Nov. 4 & 6Experiments Chs. 10, 11, 12(none)
7. Nov. 11 & 13Field Research Ch. 13Term Paper Proposal
8. Nov. 18 & 20Analysis Ch. 5Experiment paper peer reviews
  1. Nov. 25

(NO CLASS 11/27)

Ethicspp. 65-71(none)
10. Dec. 2 & 4Wrap Up Term paper

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2 PM - Final Exam

VII. Written assignments (I reserve the right to make changes to these as the term progresses):

As per WIC requirements, students will have frequent opportunities to write. Students will write questions about the reading assignments, several short papers, do peer reviews of other students' essays, and write a longer term paper. Students should identify themselves on all assignments in this class ONLY using their social security number. No names should be put on any of the written assignments (or the tests).

The papers are due in class on the dates noted on the syllabus. No extensions. I intend to take off the following number of points per assignment for every 24 hour period after the time the paper is due (which starts at the beginning of class, the day its due):

Questions about the readings - 2 pts
Short Papers - 3 1/2 pts
Peer reviews - 3 pts
Term Paper - 10 pts

In other words, if I get your short paper at 4PM instead of 2PM on the day its due, you lose 3 1/2 of the 7 pts. After 2 PM the next day, you lose all 7 pts. I advise you to try to finish assignments early to avoid possible printer problems, flat tires, etc. I will take them early if you want to give them to me early. If you have to miss class on the day an assignment is due, get the assignment to my box in the Psychology office before class time. I might be willing to accept electronic submission (i.e., via email), so long as I get it shows up prior to the due time.

The written assignments are as follows:

1) Questions about the reading assignments - At the start of each Tuesday class, students will turn in an informed question pertaining to the readings for that week. The students and I will attempt to address at least some of these during class. These will be graded as check (you turned it in & addressed the assignment) or 0 (you didn't turn it in or didn't really attempt the assignment in a meaningful way). A check gets you 2 points and a 0 gets you 0 points. Obviously, this means you have to get the readings assigned for a week done by the 1st class meeting of that week (i.e., the readings for week 2 have to be done by Oct. 7).

2) Short papers - on the Thursdays noted below, students will turn in a short (between 1 and 2 pages) paper (typed, double-spaced). These will be graded check (7 points) or 0 (no points), using the standards described under #1 above. The assignments & the dates they are due are:

* Oct. 9 - Come up with two general, abstract questions about human behavior that you would like answered.  Then, observe the people around you, think, and see if you can answer your question.  Describe what you observed and how that answered your question.

*Oct. 23 - Come up with a big, socially important question that is currently being discussed in our society. For ideas, you might want to take a look at the bills that have been considered by Congress, social programs or problems, issues discussed in the media, etc. Discuss, in general terms, some hypothetical studies that should be conducted to answer the question (i.e., to provide evidence bearing on the question). (These will be peer reviewed.)

*Nov. 13 - Term Paper proposal. Write a detailed proposal, including references to key sources you intend to use, which outlines your term paper topic (see below for term paper requirements). This means you should know what your hypothesis is, and have already done some library research relevant to it. You should also have a general idea of your methods. I will give you feedback on this.

*Nov. 20 - Make up and briefly describe an experiment of your own design (i.e., don't copy the methods from another source) that tests a hypothesis related to social psychology. This should be a different experiment and hypothesis than the one you use for your term paper. You must manipulate something in this study (e.g., no demographic I.V.s like gender or age). Be sure to describe your hypothesis and the rationale underlying it, the methods you will use (including concrete descriptions of the independent and dependent variables), and your expected results. (These will be peer reviewed.)
    Note:  Graduate students have to do a little more on this paper, so that the class meets university requirements for graduate students.  Grad students (only) should, for the experiment paper, use more detail and write a 3-4 page paper.  Also, your experiment should be on a topic in your particular area.

3) Peer Reviews - For two of the above assignments, students will critique another person's paper. This will involve reading the paper, rating the paper on several scales, and writing constructive comments about the paper's strengths and weaknesses. I will give you a form for this. These comments will be given to the author. The reviews will be graded on the check (3 pts), 0 pts system. (These will be done in class)

4) Term Paper - Students will do a term paper of between 10 and 15 pages (typed, double-spaced). This is due Dec. 4. The paper should describe, in detail, a hypothetical experiment (other than the one you did for your short paper or one from another source). The hypothesis should be controversial in the sense that one could reasonably predict more than one outcome on the basis of prior psychological theory/research (which you should describe in your paper). Also, no demographic I.V.s. The paper should be in APA format.  This includes citatin format, use of headers, inclusion of an abstract, etc.  It should include an Introduction, in which you describe your hypothesis and the psychological literature relevant to it, a Methods section, which describes your experimental procedures in detail, a Results section, in which you make up some expected results (simple statistics are desirable, but complicated ones are unnecessary), and a Discussion section in which you discuss the ramifications of your experiment. The term paper is worth 60 possible points. A rough guide to the way I will grade these papers is as follows. (This is simply designed to give you some idea of my priorities. It is neither a complete nor an precise list.)

Failure to cite the source of an idea -2 (per occurrence)

Copying material word-for-word from a source w/out appropriate citation:
        up to two sentences                                                                                   -5 per instance
        a larger section                                                                                          -40
        most or all of a paper                                                                                 course failure at best
Vague or incomprehensible explanation/desciption                                              -3 (per occurrence)
Incorrect or absent  lit review                                                                             -10
Failure to attempt to design an experiment as per the assignment                          -40
Attempt to but fail to design an experiment                                                          -30
Experiment doesn't test the hypothesis                                                                 -20
Lack of precision in the methods section
    (e.g., you don't explain your operationalization, etc.)                                         -15
Inadequate explanation (you leave something important out)                                 -3
Unintelligeable sentence                                                                                       -1
Technical errors (lapses from APA style, spelling errors
    that could have been spell-checked on your computer, bad grammer etc.)           -1 per occurrence

VII. Tests
There will be a midterm worth 30 pts (Oct. 30) and a final worth 60 pts (Dec. 10, 2 PM).