Research Methods Proseminar

Psych 5685-002

Fall 2010
M 10:00 - 11:40 -- Muenzinger - D156

Instructor:Eliana Colunga
Office: Muenzinger Room D447-B
Office Phone: 303-492-4282
Office Hours: by appointment

Course Goals

This is the first module of the six-module cognitive psychology proseminar sequence required for all new graduate students in he Cognitive Psychology program. It is also available to graduate students in other programs and other cognitive science departments The main topic of this module is research methods in cognitive psychology. The main goal of this course is to practice the necessary skills to critically evaluate existing research, and to design, conduct, analyze, write up and present original empirical research.


We will meet once a week. Students are expected to prepare for each meeting by reading assigned material (approximately 2-4 articles per week) and completing brief homework assignments. When applicable, assignments should be typed in no more than 2 double-spaced pages.

Each person will be assigned to present 1-2 research papers, briefly presenting the major points of the readings and questions to stimulate discussion. We will have all read the same articles, so there will be no need in walking us through it point by point in detail.

There will be two additional presentations: a) an informal midterm presentation for design workshopping purposes and b) a formal final presentation of your 1st year project proposal.

There will be two papers: a) a midterm paper outlining the theoretical questions and design-related decisions of your 1st year project and b) a final essay take-home exam. Details will be discussed later in class.

Evaluation will thus be as follows:

Letter grades will be assigned as follows.

A+ = 98-100 B+ = 88-89 C+ = 78-79 D+ = 68-69
A = 92-97 B = 82-87 C = 72-77 D = 62-67
A- = 90-91 B- = 80-81 C- = 70-71 D- = 60-61
F < 60


Week 1 Aug. 23 Introduction
Week 2 Aug. 30 Research ideas -- What is interesting research?
Week 3 Sep. 6 Labor Day - No Meeting
Week 4 Sep. 13 From research ideas to hypothesis - Andrew
Week 5 Sep. 20 Research design (methods) - Scott
Week 6 Sep. 27 Research design (more methods) - Nick
ERP: Fabiani et al, 07, Modeling: O'Reilly, 06, Christiansen & Chater, 01
Week 7 Oct. 4 Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data - Daniel
Week 8 Oct. 11 Planning a follow-up study - John
Week 9 Oct. 18 Framing and writing up results - Brian
Week 10 Oct. 25 Workshopping your experimental designs - draft due
John, Nick, Scott
Week 11 Nov. 1 Writing and responding to reviews
Dan, Andrew, Brian
Week 12 Nov. 8 Presenting your work (final write-up due)
Week 13 Nov. 15 Writing grants
Week 14 Nov. 22 Fall Break - No Meeting
Week 15 Nov. 29 Student presentations/Life after grad-school
Andrew, John, Scott
Week 16 Dec. 6 Student presentations/Life after grad-school
Brian, Nick, Dan
due Wed.
Dec. 15

Other information


A grade of incomplete will be given only if (1) all completed work is satisfactory (i.e., C- or better) and (2) there is a valid reason that you cannot complete the course. If you would like to be considered for an incomplete, contact me as soon as you know.

Statement about disabilities

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services (DS) early in the semester so that your needs may be addressed. DS determines accommodations based on documented disabilities (303-492-8671, Willard 322,

Academic dishonesty

Students are expected to adhere to the University of Colorado Student Honor Code for every assignment and exam in this class. Honor code information is at

Classroom behavior policy

The information on classroom behavior policy can be found at However, in addition to not being incredibly disruptive and obnoxious in class, I expect you to be on time for class meetings, not read newspapers or magazines in the classroom, not disrupt the class with conversation, interact with fellow students in a respectful manner during class discussions, ask questions when you don't understand the material, and communicate complaints, criticisms and suggestions either personally or anonymously to the instructor and/or teaching assistant.