COGS 14A: Intro to Research Methods

New improved syllabus 10/12/17

Basic information

Time: Tue & Thu 2:00pm-3:20pm
Place: Warren Lecture Hall 2005

Professor: Sarah C. Creel <screel at ucsd dot edu>
Office: Cog Sci 167
Office hours: Tue 12-1, Wed 11-12, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Parla Buyruk <pbuyruk at ucsd dot edu>
Office hours: CSB 235, Fri 11-12 or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Reina Mizrahi <rmizrahi at ucsd dot edu>
Office hours: CSB 237, Wed 5-6 or by appointment

Instructional Assistant: Qi Leng <qleng at ucsd dot edu>
Office hours: CSB 114, Mon 2-3, or by appointment

Instructional Assistant: Lauren Tominac <ltominac ucsd dot edu)>
Office hours: Audrey’s, Tue 3:30-4:30 or by appointment

Lauren Tominac  913245      LA            Mon             11:00a-11:50a         CSB 005
Reina Mizrahi      913246      LA            Wed             1:00p-1:50p             WLH 2207
Qi Leng               913247      LA            Wed             2:00p-2:50p             WLH 2207
Parla Buyruk       913248      LA            Fri                12:00p-12:50p         CSB 004

Final exam:
Thursday  12/14/2017        3:00pm-5:59pm

Schweigert, W. A. (2012). Research methods in psychology: A handbook (3rd ed.). Waveland: Long Grove, IL.

Selected articles to be posted on this web site under Schedule.


Course goals:

  • Understand how research is conducted and evaluated in cognitive science
  • Distinguish experiments vs. observations
  • Understand when you can and can’t infer causality
  • Gain fluency with sources for finding research articles and data resources
  • Grasp basic types of data and how they can be analyzed
  • Be able to identify basic types of research designs
  • Know situations when certain research designs are more/less appropriate
  • Become sensitive to potential pitfalls (confounds, nuisance variables, participant attrition, carryover effects) of different types of research


Course policies:

  • Some assignments will take place during class. Your grade is related to these assignments and you will do much better in the class if you complete them, which means being present and attentive in class.
  • Any assignments are due at the beginning of class. Late work will be penalized.
  • Readings are required. If expense is an issue, please try to find someone to share the book with or take a look for books on reserve in the library.
  • If you have an emergency that prevents you from turning in an assignment, contact Professor Creel as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.
  • Podcasts (if provided) and posted lecture slides are not intended as a substitute for attending lectures and engaging in the class.
  • If you miss a lecture, it is your responsibility to consult one of your fellow students to get notes.
  • Academic honesty is of the greatest importance. See guidelines below.
  • Please refrain from using electronic devices for any non-class purpose. It is disrespectful and distracting to other students to tweet, check Facebook, etc. in the middle of a course (Sana, Weston, & Cepeda, 2013, Computers and Education). If this becomes a persistent problem, expect to be called on to share the contents of your electronic device!



  • Midterm 1: 20%
  • Midterm 2: 20%
  • Final (semi-cumulative): 30%
  • Ten weekly on-line quizzes: 20% (2% each)
  • Participation (class and section): 10%
  • Extra credit (up to 4 points on final grade): SONA–up to 4 exp. hours at 1 point each*

*If you don’t fit criteria for any experiments, see me for an alternate assignment.

 Grades will be assigned as follows:

A         93-100
A-        90-92
B+       86-89
B         83-85
B-        80-82
C+       76-79
C         73-75
C-        70-72
D         60-70
F          0-59


Academic honesty

The crux of academic integrity: Your work should be your own. If you turn in something that is not indicative of your performance, you are doing a disservice to yourself in failing to actually learn the material. Relatedly, if you do someone else’s work for them, you are allowing them not to learn material. At a more practical level, you are doing something that, if caught, instructors are obligated to report to your college. This is not fun for anyone, including the professor and TAs!!

Overall, you should never copy someone else’s ideas or work.

If you’re not sure, it’s better to ask now than to risk trouble later. Just asking won’t get you in trouble.

Examples of things that are permissible:

  • Studying in groups. (In fact, this is often a good strategy!)
  • Talking about articles or class material in groups.
  • Referencing material in the book (or an article) and noting that you have done so.

Examples of things that are NOT permissible:

  • Looking at someone else’s exam.
  • Using materials on an exam that are not permitted.
  • Writing papers in groups. This includes taking someone else’s paper (or parts of it) and quoting verbatim, or changing a small number of words. The work you turn in should be your own interpretation and your own thoughts.
  • Writing a paper for someone else.
  • Copying someone else’s paper.
  • Referencing material in article/book without noting that you have done so.
  • Quoting a large proportion of your paper from the article (more than 5-10% of your paper directly quotes the original author). While you are giving credit to the author, this kind of “quote abuse” (Carver, 2010, personal communication) is counter to the purpose of written assignments, which is to demonstrate that you understand the material by evaluating it in your own words.



Week              Topic                                         Readings          Assignments

Sept 28             Introduction and welcome

Oct 3                 Intro; Research Ethics              Ch. 1-2               Pretest
______________Ethics extras 1 2 3 4

Oct 10               Hypothesis testing;                   Ch. 3-4               Quiz2
______________Research resources

Oct 17              Research resources (cont’d);     Ch. 5                  Quiz3, Midterm 1 (Thu)
______________Statistics in research
______________What’s a theory?

Oct 24             Between-groups designs           Ch. 6                  Quiz4

Oct 31             Within-subjects designs             Ch. 7                  Quiz 5

Nov 7               Factorial designs                        Ch. 9                 Quiz 6

Nov 14             Quasi-experiments                     Ch. 8                 Midterm 2 (Tue), Quiz7

Nov 21             Observation, ethnography          Ch. 10                Quiz8

Nov 28             Single-subject designs               Ch. 12                Quiz9

Dec 5               Big data                                     Ch. 13                Posttest

Dec 14             Final exam, 3-6p                       Review TBA      Final Exam