Critical Analysis (PSYL10102)

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Critical Analysis (PSYL10102)


The general aims of the course are:
To facilitate critical reading and analysis of psychological research reports
To show how design principles and statistics are applied in psychological research, and how research is actually done
To encourage careful, deep consideration the value of published research studies

These aims will be achieved principally via tutorials with groups of approximately 12 students. Each tutorial session will be devoted to discussing a single research paper, which will be distributed to all students in advance of the session. The most important thing to do in this course is to read the paper before coming to class!

(Semester 1: Weeks 2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11; Semester 2: Weeks 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10) The tutor will start each tutorial session by providing discussion points, which will draw on the aims and learning outcomes of the course in a manner which is appropriate for the paper under discussion and the stage of the course (i.e., questions will be more generic towards the start of the course and more specific and focused as students gain in analytic skills). The papers will be drawn from the 3rd year lecture courses taking place concurrently with the tutorial sessions and will be suggested by academic staff teaching those courses.
Location to be advised by teaching co-ordinator
Learning Outcomes: 

Review research articles comprehensively and critically
Understand the rationale, logic and purpose of a research project
Identify any hypotheses stated
Describe and assess the suitability of the methods adopted
Assess the soundness of the experimental designs used
Assess the suitability of the statistical treatment of the results
Assess the interpretation of the results and the adequacy of the statistical inferences drawn
Evaluate a paper’s discussion section
Decide whether the conclusions reached are justified
Judge whether a contribution to psychological knowledge has been made
Propose solutions to the shortcomings of published research
Identify alternative ways of answering the research question(s)
Suggest, and potentially design, further research studies to follow up the findings of a published research paper



Barber, P. (2003). Critical analysis of psychological research II: delivering a course for inclusion in the core curriculum for psychology. Psychology Learning and Teaching 3, 15-26.

Meltzoff, J. (1998). Critical Thinking About Research: Psychology And Related Fields. Washington: American Psychological Association.

Girden, E. (2001). Evaluating Research Articles From Start To Finish. California: Sage Publications.

Solso, R.L. & Maclin, M.K. (2007). Experimental Psychology: A Case Approach (8th Edition). Boston: Allyn And Bacon.

Elmes, D.G., Kantowitz, B.H. & Roediger, H.L. (2003). Research Methods In Psychology (7th Edition).Belmont, Ca: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Kantowitz, B.H., Roediger, H.L. & Elmes, D.G. (2005). Experimental Psychology: Understanding Psychological Research (8th Edition). Belmont, Ca: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Theory, Method And Research. London: Sage.

Smith, J.A. & Eatough, V. (2007). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. In: Lyons, E. & Coyle, A. Analysing Qualitative Data In Psychology. London: Sage, pp.35-50.


Additional Information: 

Components of Assessment

1) Within-tutorial MCQ quizzes (20%; a short quiz at the beginning of each of the 12 tutorials; students must complete at least 10 of these, worth 2% each - the best 10 quizzes will count toward the final mark).

2) Short critique of a previously-unseen paper, 1000 words (25%). 

3) Take-home exam (critique of a previously unseen paper, time to return 4 days) end of Semester 2, 1500 words (55%).