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LINGUIST 4EL3 Experimental Linguistics Lab (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Elisabet Service


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 505

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21352

Office Hours: By appointment in TSH-505

Course Objectives:

The objective is to develop skills for asking ethically acceptable experimental questions about language cognition based on research literature and conducting experiments to answer them. This will contribute to the following program learning objectives:

1) Understanding the principles of scientific reasoning as they apply to language science and cognitive science, 2) critically evaluating theories, 3) generating hypotheses and formulating research questions about language processing and cognition, 4) gathering data to test hypotheses about language processing and cognition, 5) using appropriate methods to analyse data to answer research questions, and 6) using clear and effective prose to report on research and to argue for a particular theoretical account.

By the end of the course, students should know how to find research literature in a specific area, how to generate a research hypothesis using a specific experimental method, how to apply for ethical clearance for a study, how to describe the hypothesis in a research plan, how to collect data from a sample of participants, how to summarize and statistically analyze the data, and  how to write a report in article format describing the results.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

There are no textbooks. Poster printing is included.

Method of Assessment:

Aided by the instructor, students will collaborate to form groups to plan, apply for ethical clearance of, carry out, statistically analyse and present an experiment addressing a cognitive aspect of language processing. The class will meet for a seminar and group-wise tutorials to help students plan and carry out experimental work, including the testing of each other and other human participants. The results will be presented as group posters in class and for a departmental audience on Student Research Day April 10, 2019. Students are also expected to write individual reports.

Grading of all evaluation components will be on a scale of 0 to 12, corresponding to letter marks. Students will first be acquainted with experimental software. They will then work in small groups using literature to develop research proposals for an oral presentation in class. The proposal presentations by the groups are weighted 20% of the class grade. Groups will then fill out draft application forms for ethical clearance of their planned study. The ethics forms will be worth 20% of the grade. The proposed experiments will be run and the results presented in a poster session of group posters (group mark contributes 20%) as well as in individually written reports, contributing 40%.  All evaluations are on a 12-point scale (equivalent to letter marks). The final grade is a weighted average of the different grading components with the percentages as weights. A bonus of 0.5 grade points on the 12-point scale is available for research participation of 2 hours (1 hour will not change the final mark). Due dates will be announced in the first class.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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. A+ becomes A). Being late more than 48 hours results in a grade of zero for the assignment.

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 tentative syllabus will be published on Avenue on the day of the first class.