COGS 14A: Intro to Research Methods

Syllabus COGS14A SP2017

Basic information

Time: MWF 11:00-11:50am
Place: Pepper Canyon Hall 106

Professor: Sarah C. Creel (email: sçreél at
Office: Cog Sci 167
Office hours: Tue 12-1, Wed 10-11, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Josh Davis <jdd001 åt ü>
Office hours: Wed 2-3pm in CSB 223 or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Eric Morgan <e1mørgan åt ü>
Office hours: Mon 3-4 in CSB 225 or by appointment

Instructional Assistant: Charles Dupont <cadupønt åt ü>
Office hours: Thu 10-11am at coffee cart outside Mandeville Hall, or by appointment

Instructional Assistant: Cailin Liu <cål112 åt ü>
Office hours: Thu 11:15-12:15 Peet’s Coffee or by appointment

901273            LA        A01 M    10:00a-10:50a         CSB 004                  Charles Dupont
901275            LA        A02 W    3:00p-3:50p            CSB 004                  Josh Davis
901276            LA        A03 F      9:00a-9:50a            CSB 004                  Eric Morgan
901277            LA        A04 F      2:00p-2:50p            WLH 2207               Cailin Liu

Final exam:
Friday  6/16/2017        11:30am-2:29pm

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:

  • 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.

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

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

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

Apr 17              Research resources (cont’d);     Ch. 5                  Quiz3
______________Statistics in research
______________What’s a theory?

Apr 24              Between-groups designs           Ch. 6                  Midterm 1 (Mon), Quiz4

May 1               Within-subjects designs             Ch. 7                  Quiz 5

May 8               Factorial designs                        Ch. 9                  Quiz 6

May 15             Quasi-experiments                     Ch. 8                  Midterm 2 (Mon), Quiz7

May 22             Observation, ethnography          Ch. 10                Quiz8

May 29             Single-subject designs               Ch. 12                Quiz9

Jun 5                Big data                                     Ch. 13                Posttest

June 16            Final exam, 11:30-2:30              Review TBA      Final Exam