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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Ivan Chow


Office: PC 235

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21443

Office Hours: Tuesdays 13:30-14:30 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

The course introduces the participants to the main issues in empirical research of language behaviour. Both experimental and non-experimental methodology will be covered. The course prepares participants for future lab courses and provides a basis for critical reading of scientific reports. Although a selection of statistical methods will be discussed, the course is not a statistics course.

Upon completion of the course the students should be aware of fundamental aspects of scientific research, including tenets, objectives and ethics of the scientific method. They will learn how to formulate and test a scientific hypothesis using several methodologies of experimental design, data collection, and statistical analysis common for studies of language. They will also gain experience in searching for scientific literature, as well as preparing own research reports.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Annabel Ness Evans & Bryan J. Rooney (2008). Methods in Psychological Research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Second Edition (2013).

Method of Assessment:

The class meets every week for two sessions. These will be used for lectures at the beginning of the term and tests, tutorials and class-room presentations later on in the term.


Evaluation Criteria:

Students will be required to complete 6-10 quizzes and exercises during the term. Quizzes will test the theoretical knowledge gained by students, while exercises will test their technical skills. There will be one mid-term (Oct 25) exam and one final (date TBA by Registrar) exam, both of the multiple-choice and short-answer formats. Students will be required to submit a short one-page paper (due Oct 11) that will describe a linguistic topic of their interest, as well as state a testable hypothesis that addresses this topic, propose a research design, and identify three papers of relevance in scientific journals. In addition, participants will prepare classroom presentations in small groups. These will describe proposals of potential research projects. A final research proposal based on the group present project is due Nov 25. Clear outlines and marking schemes will be provided for the one-page paper, group presentation and final proposal.


Contributions to the final grade:

Quizzes and exercises 20%

Short paper 15%

Mid-term exam 20%

Final exam 30%

Classroom presentation 15% (graded for each presenting group)


In addition, students are encouraged to complete the “research participation” requirement. The requirement can be met by committing two hours to (a) participating in an experiment conducted at the Department of Linguistics and Languages, (b) “walking-through” such an experiment, i.e. participating in the experiment without actual data being collected; or (c) attending a two-hour lecture with demonstration of experimental techniques (two such lectures will be arranged during the term; their timing will not overlap with the class time). Students will need to register in the departmental experimental pool software at (instructions on the system use will be provided in class). For each hour of research participation completed, students will receive a 1% bonus towards their final grades for the course. Failure to present on an agreed date will result in loss of 20% of mark.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments submitted within 48 hours of the due date are subject to a 25% penalty. Assignments submitted 2 to 7 days after the due date are subject to a 50% penalty. Assignments are not accepted more than 7 days after the due date. Exceptions to due dates and exam dates can be made only if the Office of the Dean of your Faculty grants you a relief for the respective time. To discuss your absence, please contact the Dean`s Office at

Please note that the instructor will not make a judgment whether the reasons for your absence are justifiable or not.

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.

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:




Quiz + exercises (available on the course website)

Other assignments

1. Sept 6





2. Sept 10, 13

Scientific method

Chapter 1



3. Sept 17, 20

Research literature

Chapter 2

#1 (due Sept 20)


4. Sept 24, 27

Ethics of research

Chapter 3

#2 (due Sept 27)


5. Oct 1, 4

Statistical hypothesis testing

Chapter 4

#3 (due Oct 4)


6. Oct 8, 11

Measuring variables

Chapter 5

#4 (due Oct 11)

Short paper (Oct 11)

7. Oct 15, 18

Selecting participants

Chapter 6

#5 (due Oct 18)


8. Oct 22, 25

Independent and dependent groups design

Chapter 7 ,8

#6 (due Oct 25)

Mid-term : Oct 25 (in class)

9. Oct 29





Mid-Term Recess Thursday October 31 - Saturday, November 2

10. Nov 5, 8

Non-experimental research

Chapter 10

#7 (due Nov 8)


11. Nov 12, 15

Data collection methods

Chapter 11

#8 (due Nov 15)

Final Proposal (Nov 15)


12. Nov 19, 22

Data analysis and interpretation

Chapter 13

#9 (due Nov 22)


13. Nov 26, Nov 29

Communicating your research

Chapter 14

#10 (due Nov 29)

Group presentations -1 (in class)

14. Dec 3




Group presentations - 2 (in class)

Final Exam Period: Friday December 6 – Friday December 20

Other Course Information:

In this course we will be using the Avenue to Learn communication system. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.