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Instructor-led course

Provided by: Social Sciences Research Methods Centre

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Experimental Methods


This course will constitute a practical introduction to experimental method and design suitable for students from any discipline who have had limited experience of empirical methods but who wish to be able to read and understand the experimental literature or to undertake their own experimental studies. The course includes:

  • A theoretical introduction to the concepts and practices involved in experimental research in the human sciences, including ethical considerations;
  • An introduction to experimental design and to appropriate analytic techniques;
  • A practical component that can be undertaken away from the laboratory; and
  • An introduction to issues involved in writing up results.

At the end of the module, students will be equipped with the fundamental knowledge required to design and evaluate an experiment.

  • Basic statistics as in SSRMC ‘Standard stream’ (Foundations in Applied Statistics; Basic Quantitative Analysis). You should understand measures of central tendency and dispersion (minimally, mean, variance, standard deviation), the concept of statistical significance of differences and of association, and the basics of some of the tests associated with each.
  • Please complete the background reading before each session
Topics covered
  • Groundwork (before Session 1) please read: Gravetter & Forzano chs (3, 5) 6 & 7
  • Common Designs (following Session 1) please read: Handout; Gravetter & Forzano chs 8, 9, 11
  • Methods, Analysis (Session 2) - please read: Handout; Gravetter & Forzano Ch 15
  • Writing up in APA style (Session 3) - please read: Gravetter & Forzano Ch 16; to order APA Manual (or online via Purdue U’s OWL:
  • Basic concepts in Experimental Design (establish group needs: decide whether to discuss individuals’ own research or to design a single experiment as a group (decision affects homework); homework: assigned reading; experimental design issues to be assigned)
  • Application of design concepts to specific experiments
  • Practical tips on designing and running experiments, incl. ethics: examples from students’ own research, or the group experiment, as appropriate
  • Handouts
  • Gravetter, Frederick J. & Forzano, Lori-Ann B. (2009). Research methods in the Behavioral Sciences. Belmont CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN:-13:978-0-495-50978-3; ISBN-10: 0-495-50978-7. (International Student Edition)
  • Howell, D. (2013). Statistical methods for psychology (8th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Sternberg, R.J., & Sternberg, K. (2010). The psychologist’s companion: A guide to writing scientific papers for students and researchers. (5th ed.) Cambridge: CUP
Initial preparation
  • Complete the specified readings
  • Decide if you want specific help with an experiment of your own, and if so, prepare a short presentation (maximum 5 minutes) of the issues.

2 sessions of 2 hours

Elements of Social Science Research

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