Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.


Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Elisabet Service


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 505

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21352

Office Hours: By appointment

Course Objectives:

The course introduces the participants to research methods relevant for language research with examples mainly from study of second language acquisition. Central concepts in empirical research design are covered and the associated terminology is introduced in the context of specific research areas. The course prepares participants for future lab courses and provides a basis for critical reading of scientific reports. Although the logic and selection of statistical methods will be discussed, the course is not a statistics course.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Alison Mackey and Susan M. Gass (Eds.): Research Methods in Second Language Acquisition. A Practical Guide.  Wiley-Blackwell. There are also an electronic versions of this book and it is available from the Wiley Online Library. Students may also like to get a more traditional research methods book for reference. However, no specific book is required or recommended.

Method of Assessment:

There will be two mid-term exams (October 28 and November 18), both of the multiple-choice/short-answer format. Only the better of the two mid-term tests will be counted. In addition, participants will develop research proposals in small groups. Slides for these presentations will be posted on Avenue. Individuals in the groups will also fill out separate forms for ethical approval of these proposed research projects. The research ideas will be discussed in class.

All marks will be on a letter grade (12-point) scale. These will be weighted by different percentage weights to make up the final grade. The better of the two mid-term examinations will contribute 40%, the slides for the planned research project (graded for each presenting group) 20%, individually completed ethics forms 20% to the final grade. The remaining 20% will come from classroom participation and written homework assignments. The number of assignments will be adjusted to classroom progress.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Being late less than 48 hours on an assignment results in a reduction of one point on the 12-point scale of the assignment grade (e.g. an A+ becomes A). Being late more than 48 hours results in a grade of zero for the assignment. A missed mid-term exam results in the other mid-term automatically being counted towards the grade

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

A syllabus will be posted and regularly updated on Avenue.

Other Course Information:

The class meets every week for two sessions. Readings and questions are assigned beforehand. Some of the questions require the students to find answers on their own using whatever material they choose. Class time will be used partly for lectures and partly in an interactive way for covering textbook topics, assignments and for developing research ideas in groups. 

Experience of research outside the class for 2 hours is required in this course. Students can choose to participate in research in three ways: (i) as participants in an experiment or survey conducted by Linguistics & Languages researchers; (ii) as “walk-through” observers; and (iii) by attending a two-hour class on techniques of experimental research. Option (i) implies that the student signs up for one or more experimental studies using the online Sona System, shows up for these studies, signs the consent form and receives the post-experiment debriefing, and generates data by following the experimenter’s written and/or oral instructions and allows his/her behaviour to be recorded.