Psychology 242; Research in Psychology
Dr. David J. McKirnan

The University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Psychology


Welcome to Research in Psychology

This course reviews scientific method in Psychology. It is meant for Psychology majors or students with a clear interest in research. We will discuss how science "works", how scientific reasoning differs from other ways of thinking, and what we can and cannot learn from the different research strategies Psychologists use.

Students will understand the virtues - and problems - of measurement or correlation studies, "true" experiments, and the "quasi"-experiments (or field studies) often used in Psychology. Students will also be introduced to statistical reasoning in science, and to basic statistics.

    This course is centered on the class web site. Get comfortable using this and other web sites.

  • Please e-mail me ASAP if you find a broken or incorrect link!

  • Each week has its own web page with key terms, discussion group assignments, and links to the PowerPoint notes I will be using in lecture.
  • Best approach to lectures: print the lecture notes, bring them to class and annotate them. To print PowerPoint slides:

    • Click File on the menu bar at the top of the screen (do not click on the printer image) then Print.

    • In the print menu, under Print What ask for handouts, and 3 slides per page.

    • Now click "Page Setup" at the lower left of the print window. Click to make both "Slides" and "Notes" print portrait style.

    • If you have "Show Quick Preview" checked you will be able to see what the pages look like before you print.


The class is CRN 14661; we meet Monday & Wednesday, 9:00 to 10:00, D4 Lecture Center.

You are expected to attend every lecture: all course materials and the content of your exams will be provided there.

Course content is in PowerPoint lecture slides, and assigned readings / media I provide on the web site. You will also have textbook readings each week.

On the sidebar of each web page I provide "bonus" readings / media if you want to pursue a topic further. I always welcome suggestions for articles or other media that illustrate course topics!

Your grade is determined by three exams, discussion group attendance, lecture attendance, a term paper, and participation in a research ethics training. Details are given below.

Go to Schedule for key dates & assignments.

I do not allow any electronic devices in lectures, for any reason

I do not require a text book, but I strongly recommend you get one for background reading. I provide articles or other media each week, and course content is given in the PowerPoint slide sets. However, to really understand many concepts a text chapter can be very helpful.

Find the cheapest used behavioral research methods text you can find to use as a reference; students who do this find it very helpful. Each week I will post the topic you can look up in whatever book you get.

I recommend any edition (they are all the same) of Ray, W.J., Methods: Toward a Science of Behavior and Experience, Belmont, CA., Wadsworth. However, any text covering research methods in Psychology will be fine. For book comparisons, the Ray chapters are given here.

We will use the i>clicker system. Either version of the I>clicker is fine. Clickers are available new or used in the bookstore, or from Amazon. You cannot share clickers - each student must have his/her own. Bring these to every lecture. You are responsible for your lecture credit - if you do not bring your clicker to class I cannot give you credit for attendance.

You will get credit for a lecture only if you answer at least 50% of the clicker questions correctly.

You must register your clicker twice.  The first is on the i>Clicker site, at: http://www1.iclicker.com/register-an-iclicker. Second, register on the course Blackboard site. Register with your UIC Net ID (your UIC e-mail address).  If you fail to register on both sites by the last day of classes you will not get points.

Clicker number rubbed off? If you have registered on the clicker web site by entering your name and UIC ID and have "clicked" in class at least once, go here to find your clicker number. Instructions for your i>clicker are posted here

Plato's Cave

Lectures, Class Materials & Grading

All your grades will be posted on Blackboard. I do not grade on a curve.
Grading Schema

The first two exams cover the first and second thirds of the course. The final exam is cumulative, but emphasizes material covered since the second exam. Exam items are a mixture of short answer, 'fill in the blank', and multiple choice. There are NO make up exams.

What will be on the exams? Primarily material from lectures, including weekly readings. During most lectures I announce exam topics, so attend lectures (and ask questions!), then use your annotated Power Point notes to study.  Examples of exam items are Here. 

Study guides are available for Exam 1, Exam 2, and Exam 3.

Term paper:
Your term paper is a practice research project, due in class or directly to your TA by noon Wednesday, April 20 (the 14th week). Papers must be formatted in American Psychological Association style. Many discussion groups will be devoted to the development of this paper. Complete instructions are given in paper assignment. Use these web pages to write your paper, and for links to other paper resources.

Submit your paper in both paper and electronic forms by 4/20. Submit a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) text file to Safe Assignment (on the course Blackboard site). The electronic form should only contain the body of the text. Do not include references, informed consent documents, your calculations, or any other add-on (see paper assignment).

If you want comments on your paper please note that on the cover page of the hard copy of your paper; only students who request comments will get them. Late papers lose 5 grade points (out of 30) per day.

Discussion Groups:
To get credit for discussion group you must both attend the group and complete the discussion group assignment. We do not accept discussion group assignments late or by e-mail. If you are not there with your assignment in hand you will not get credit.

Your research paper will be developed in these groups, so attend and pay attention.  Discussion group assignments are given in the class schedule, for the week they are due

You can earn extra credit by submitting really good assignments; you should particularly think about this for your research paper assignments. The comments about plagiarism below apply to your discussion group assignments as well as the research paper.

Discussion Group Assignments
Call #
Day & Time
Teaching Assistant
  Friday, 10:00 311 Addams Hall Lindsay Bynum, lbynum2@uic.edu
14651 Friday, 11:00 2217 Education ... Social Work Lindsay Bynum
14652 Friday, 12:00 215 Behavioral Sciences Bldg. (BSB) Hillary Rowe, hrowe2@uic.edu

Lecture attendance and comprehension will be assessed via your I>clicker. Each lecture I will ask a series of questions about the lecture material; you must get at least half correct to get credit.

You are responsible for bringing your I>clicker to class, making sure it is set to the correct frequency for this course ('AA'), and registering it. You cannot get credit for a lecture if you forget your I>clicker.

TAs, Office Hours & Communication
My office hours (1058b BSB) are Monday and Wednesday, from 10:00 to 1:30, Tuesday after 11:30, or by appointment. Please e-mail me with questions, comments, or to make appointments.

You are always welcome to drop by my office: Bring your course questions or stop by to discuss your interests in Psychology or research generally.

E-mail your TA for an appointment, or show up during office hours.

Academic Honesty:
The great majority of students are honest; I rarely have to take action on cheating in this class.  However, in fairness to other students I will not tolerate cheating.  If you cheat on any test or assignment you will receive a '0' on that assignment or test, and may fail the entire class.  If I feel it appropriate I will notify the Dean of Students, who will place a notice about the incident in your permanent record. There are no exceptions to this policy. 

Cheating includes, but is not limited to, looking on others' tests or letting them look on yours, using paper or electronic "cheat sheets" in an exam, copying or giving others test answers, and plagiarism.  Plagiarism includes copying the words of a fellow student or author in your papers. You cannot copy even short phrases from any written work unless you show it as a quote and cite it properly.

You cannot hand in work that you have submitted for another class, or papers you have gotten from the internet or other students.

If you have any concerns about this policy or about cheating in the class, please contact me directly to discuss it.

Students with Disabilities:
Please inform me right away if you need accommodations. If you do require accommodations please register with the Office of Disability Services. Contact them at 312/413-2183 (voice) or 312/413-0123 (TTY).

Exam Conflicts.
The exam schedule is designed to prevent conflicts. But just in case, here is what happens if you have an exam conflict:

  1. Any course listed second in the online Schedule of Classes has precedence.  Thus, if Psychology is listed second (e.g., it comes after Chemistry, Anthropology, Political Science, etc.), then you need to arrange a make-up with the other instructor, not me.
  2. A student with an exam conflict is responsible for arranging a makeup exam with his or her instructor.

A student having more than two examinations in a day.
No student will be required to take more than two final examinations in one day. Any student having more than two final examinations scheduled in one day is entitled to rescheduling. Students must notify the instructor by November 1 in the fall semester and April 1 in the spring semester to be eligible for rescheduling.

To resolve this conflict, the student will be required to take the first two examinations scheduled (according to the posted examinations schedule) in any given day. Any third, fourth or additional final examinations that are scheduled on the same day must be rescheduled and taken on another day within finals week.