Psychology 80311: Psychological Research Methods

SUNY New Paltz

Spring 2013


Lecture: Mondays and Thursdays, 9:25-10:40

Lab: F, 2:00-4:00

                                                Professor:  Glenn Geher

• Office: JFT 314

• Office hours:

M, 11-1

W, 12:30-2:30*

H, 11-1*

F, 12-2

*for my W and H hours, an appointment via Psych secretary Jane Lehman (; 257.3470) is needed.


And by appointment.

• Office phone number: 257-3091


• E-mail:

• Web address:


Required reading materials:

NO TEXTBOOK is required. Selected readings that relate to the topics are demarcated in the Calendar section of the syllabus (and their references will be added to the online course syllabus in the calendar section – always with enough advance notice). These readings will all be available in the Readings section for the BlackBoard site for this class.

Additional reading materials:

During the course, you will read journal articles, books, and book chapters relevant to your research project.

Course Objectives and Expected Student Learning Outcomes:

Welcome to Psychology 311, Psychological Research Methods.  DO NOT BE AFRAID!  This course should ultimately be one of the most educational, rewarding, and enjoyable courses of your college career; I am not making this stuff up!

Psychology, the science of mind and/or behavior, is very broad.  The questions, “How does mood relate to recall of information in college students in North America?” and “What factors lead to aggressive behavior in male elephant seals?” are both psychological research questions. The ways that psychologists design and conduct research tie the different parts of psychology together. Whether a psychologist is studying sexual behavior in rats or personality traits in humans, the same principles of research methodology apply.

This course is primarily designed to expose you to the core ideas behind research methods in psychology; the major components of designing research in psychology will be addressed. An additional goal of this course is for you to develop the ability to conduct your own research. You will design, conduct, and present an actual research project as part of this course. This part will be very fun!

Additionally, this class is designed for you to develop your ability to speak comfortably and clearly. You will orally present on your research project during the final lab session. This presentation will be informal and low-pressure; it should last approximately 20 minutes.

A further goal is for you to work on your writing skills. You will have to write a lot for this course. Being able to clearly express complex ideas in writing is one of the most valuable skills you can develop in college. I intend to help you develop this skill.

An additional goal is for you to develop a very hands-on, experience-based understanding of research in psychology. Toward this end, in addition to conducting your own research, you will complete several laboratory exercises that will help you really get a feel for the nuts and bolts underlying research in psychology.

A final goal is for you to develop a basic understanding of statistics. You will be exposed to basic statistical reasoning and to the best-available statistical software (SPSS). FUN!

Course Requirements:

1.  Empirical Article Summary (5 points; graded).  You need to summarize an EMPIRICAL (research-based – with original data presented) article that interests you.  You will be responsible for finding the article in the library and making sure it is relevant.  Articles should be from journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, Evolution and Human Behavior, Evolutionary Psychology, etc.  Articles need to be actual scholarly articles. That is, no articles that you use in this course should be from non-scholarly sources on the internet (e.g., Wikipedia).  Our library does NOT have every journal, so make sure you choose an article that we DO have OR order it through inter-library loan very much in advance.  Feel free to check with me regarding whether an article is appropriate.

HINT:  You may choose articles related to your research project.  Full references for many empirical articles are included in textbooks for psychology courses (e.g., you may look up an article that was summarized in your Social Psychology course).  Also, you may use PsycInfo to find an appropriate article.

Summarize the main points of the article you choose.  Also offer some commentary speaking to both the relevance of the article and your opinion of it.  Additionally, make sure to include a photocopy of the abstract of the article.

2.  Final examination (20 points; graded).

This examination will consist of essay and multiple-choice questions.  Possible essays will be given out beforehand. The multiple-choice items will cover material from the entire course (i.e., yes, this examination will be comprehensive).

 3.  Major Research Project.

This project will include several parts. It will ultimately comprise a complete, detailed summary of research you will have conducted on either real humans or non-human animals. For this assignment, you need to choose a specific research question related to something in psychology in which you are especially interested.  Then you need to write an abstract, complete Institutional Review Board (IRB) materials, review literature, collect the data, analyze those data, and, finally, summarize and discuss all this work in an American Psychological Association (APA) style formatted paper.

IMPORTANTLY:  To encourage you to learn relatively sophisticated methodological and statistical procedures, you are REQUIRED to design a study that either requires a factorial ANOVA OR a multiple regression for analysis.  A study that requires a factorial ANOVA has two categorical independent variables and one continuous variable (e.g., a study to see if memorizing words in a calm (versus agitated) environment and temperature of room (hot versus cold) have significant effects on recall of words). Here, one categorical independent variable is the environment (calm vs. agitated) and the other categorical independent variable is temperature (hot vs. cold).  The continuous dependent variable is number of words recalled.

 A study that requires a multiple regression analysis includes two or more continuous predictor variables and one continuous criterion (or outcome) variable.  For instance, suppose you wanted to see if people’s weight and levels of extraversion were significantly predictive of self-esteem.  Here, the continuous criterion variable is self-esteem and the two continuous predictor variables are weight and extraversion.

 Ask me if you are not sure whether your study conforms to this requirement – I can help.

Species-Relevant Options: YOU MAY STUDY EITHER HUMANS OR NON-HUMAN ANIMALS.  These days, animal research is falling by the wayside in psychology.  I’m sad about this fact. Research on non-humans can be as interesting and challenging as research on humans. Note that if you choose to study non-humans (e.g., the Canadian Geese on campus, sunfish in the campus pond, local rabbits, migratory birds of the Hudson Valley, local birds of prey, local deer, insects, etc.), you will need to conduct a CORRELATIONAL and/or QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL study.  You MAY NOT conduct an EXPERIMENT on animals for this class.  Note that if you choose to conduct human research, you need to complete the SUNY New Paltz IRB form whereas if you choose to conduct animal research, you must complete the SUNY Stonybrook Animal Research form (accessible here: SUNY New Paltz IRB materials are found here:

 Your project will include completing the following steps:

A.  Research Question (2 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))

In a few sentences, describe a SPECIFIC research question that interests you.  Make sure that this question (a) clearly relates to some area of psychology, (b) would lend itself to empirical test (i.e., it is a testable question), and (c) would lend itself to a study that would be ethically sound (i.e., no one would get hurt in your attempt to answer this question).  Additionally, given your knowledge of psychology, this question should be a new question that has not been addressed previously.

HINT: You may choose to follow up on previous research that did not address a particularly interesting or relevant question.

This assignment needs to be typed and double-spaced.

For instance, you would hand in something like the following:

Topic: Altering the fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977).

Specific question:

Social psychologists have documented the fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977), people’s tendency to attribute the causes of others’ behavior to internal factors while discounting situational factors.  For instance, when people get cut off while driving, they may think that the other driver is a “jerk” instead of thinking that the other driver may be in a rush for a very good reason.  The proposed research will address whether people can learn to make situational (instead of internal) attributions if they are exposed to social psychological research about the fundamental attribution error.  Additionally, this research will manipulate whether the judgments people make are about others who they know well versus strangers.  It is predicted that participants will be more likely to make internal attributions about strangers than familiar individuals.  It is also predicted that participants who are knowledgeable about social psychology will be less likely to make internal attributions.

B.  Brief Research Proposal (in abstract form); (7 points; graded)

Here you need to briefly describe (a) your primary research question, (b) how you will test this question, (c) results you expect to find, and (d) implications of your research.  As this abstract is a proposal, be sure to use FUTURE TENSE.  The abstract should be no longer than a page; typed and double-spaced.  Your abstract should serve as a brief description of your research.

 C.  Institutional Review Board (IRB) / Animal Research Application materials (PART OF THE LABORATORY COMPONENT OF THIS COURSE (see lab manual)).  Importantly, successful completion of this assignment on time is MANDATORY. You may not start data collection until after you have completed this assignment SUCCESSFULLY and have received feedback from me indicating so.  Subsequent assignments that you miss due to failure to have completed this assignment will be assigned grades of 0.  Not handing in this assignment on time may well lead to you failing this course.

SUNY New Paltz has a campus-wide IRB designed to make sure that research conducted at this institution is ethically sound.  Members of the university community are prohibited from collecting data from human participants before obtaining IRB approval. Given that your project will count as a class project, you will not need to go through the IRB per se. However, as part of this course, you will be required to complete that process adequately. Official IRB materials will be distributed during lab.  Also, they may be obtained from my web site (see ‘resources for undergraduate students’ section of my site). For the purposes of this class, your project will need to fall under either the EXEMPT or EXPEDITED category. Generally, this requirement means that no participants will be hurt (physically or psychologically) during their participation, all data will be confidential and anonymous, all participants will be fully debriefed, and all participants will be over the age of 18.  See IRB materials for specifics.  As the instructor of this course, I will assume the status of IRB reviewer for all materials.

Your IRB materials MUST include informed consent forms, debriefing forms, and all materials that will be distributed to participants in your research.

 If your research is on non-human animals, you will complete the SUNY Stonybrook Animal Research Application Form instead of the New Paltz IRB form. In that case, neither include an informed-consent form nor a debriefing form. Think about it. You may still be asked to include materials depending on what your materials are. I, GG, will serve as the Animal Research Review Board – as with the IRB form, you need to obtain my signed approval before you may proceed with data collection. Remember, animal research for this class may NOT be experimental in nature.

 D.  Reference list (4 points; graded)

You need to provide a reference list IN APA FORMAT including at least 10 scholarly articles, book chapters, or books that you are likely to include in your literature review.  It should look something like the following (but with references pertaining to YOUR topic):


Ainsworth, M.D.S., Blehar, M.C., Waters, E., & Wall, S.  (1978).  Patterns of attachment:  A psychological study of the strange situation.  Hillsdale, NJ:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Aron, R. (1974).  Relationships with opposite-sexed parents and mate choice.  Human Relations, 27, 17-24.

Brown, J.D. (1986).  Evaluations of self and others:  Self-enhancement biases in social judgments.  Social Cognition, 4, 353-376.

Buss, D.  (1988).  The evolution of human intrasexual competition:  Tactics of mate attraction.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 616-628.

Cattell, R.B., & Nesselroade, J.R.  (1967).  Likeness and completeness theories examined by 16 personality factor measures on stably and unstably married couples.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 7, 351-361.

No internet references that are not scholarly in nature (including, for instance, Wikipedia) may be included. All references must be for scholarly journals, books, and book chapters.


E.  Data and Results from SPSS (7 points; graded)

Data collection: After your IRB (or Animal Research) proposal is approved, you will be able to begin data collection. The number of participants for your study will depend on several factors. As a simple rule, you will probably want data from at least 20 participants. These participants may include a variety of people including your friends, family members, other students, etc.

You may be able to use internet survey software (e.g., see to collect data (depending on your research question)).


After the data from your study are collected, they should be entered into an SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) data (.sav) file. You may enter your data on any networked computer across campus (where you can access SPSS). Next, you will need to compute statistics probably including one of the following: correlation, independent means t-test, paired (repeated measures) t-test, chi square, or a One way ANOVA.  Additionally, you will need to compute either a factorial ANOVA or multiple regression to be able to receive an A on your final paper assignment.  The statistics you choose will depend on (a) the nature of your research question and (b) the way your data are set up in the .sav file.

For this assignment, you need to include the following: (1) a printout of the .sav file, (2) a printout of the .spo (output) file, and (3) a brief, typed and double-spaced summary of your results.

F.  Draft (10 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))

This draft of the paper should be a relatively complete version of the project.  The primary purpose of this assignment is for me to be able to provide you with feedback.  The further along the paper is, the more useful my feedback will be.  Your paper should be entirely in APA format.  APA-formatting details are found in the APA Style Manual (found on or at this site:

G.  Final paper (20 points; graded)

You MUST include the rough draft with my comments in addition to the final paper.  To be considered an ‘A’ paper, the paper must be completely in APA format, clearly written, well-thought out, free of standard grammatical errors, and it must clearly reflect comments I made on your draft.


5.  Oral Presentation (5 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%)).

This requirement is designed to provide a low-pressure, informal forum for you to discuss your research project during the last week of lab. You’re encouraged to include a PowerPoint presentation as part of it.

6.  Extra Credit for Research Participation in Psychology Department Human Subject Pool (up to 12 points added to final exam grade).


You can earn up to 12 extra-credit points added to your final exam grade in this class by participating in research conducted through the psychology Department Human Subject Pool.  Each study counts for a certain number of credits.  For every credit you receive, 1 a point will be added to your final grade.  You may obtain up to 12 credits total.

You can sign up for the pool by going to the following website:

Alternatives to research participation exist. For instance, several talks that will part of the Evolutionary Studies Seminar Series will count (see the list of talks at:

7.  Laboratory Component of course (22 points; see separate Lab Manual).

Grading:  Grades for all assignments will be converted to percentages. The following equation will be used to determine your final grade:

 Final grade =

(Article Summary *.05) + (Final Exam *.20) + (Research Question *.02) + (Research Proposal *.07) + (Reference list *.04) + (Data *.07) + (Draft *.10) + (Final Paper*.20) + (Oral Presentation *.05) + (Lab1*.02) + (Lab2*.02) + (Lab3*.02) + (Lab4*.02) + (Lab5*.02) + (Lab6 *.02) + (Lab7*.02) + (Lab8*.02) + (Lab9*.02) + (Lab10*.02).

NOTE: for help with figuring out your grade at a particular point in the semester, please see the following website:

 Your final grade will be on a scale from 0 to 100.  Final grades will be converted to letter grades using the following criteria:


94 – 100 = A

90 – 93  = A-

87 – 89  = B+

84 – 86  = B

80 – 83  = B-

77 – 79  = C+

74 – 76  = C

70 – 73  = C-

67 – 69  = D+

64 – 66  = D

60 – 63  = D-

Below 60 = F

Course Calendar

Date – WEEK OF Topic Reading (accessible via BLACKBOARD site for this course) What’s Due
1.22 Welcome to Class This syllabus
1.29 Psychology and Science Ketelaar, T. & Ellis, B. J. (2000). Are evolutionary explanations unfalsifiable?: Evolutionary psychology and the Lakatosian philosophy of science. (Target Article) Psychological Inquiry, 11, 1-21.
2.4 Eye on the prize- a solid APA-Style Manuscript Glass, D. J., Wilson, D.S., & Geher, G. (2012). Evolutionary training in relation to human affairs is sorely lacking in higher education. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 4(2), 16-22. Empirical Article Summary; Due 2/4 
2.11 Generating Research Hypotheses Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58(2), 203-210.  
M class meets T, 2.19 Ethics, Kinds of Variables, and Psychometrics Zimbardo, P., Maslach, C., & Haney, C. (2000). Reflections on the Stanford prison experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences. In T. Blass (Ed.), Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 

O’Brien, D., Geher, G., Gallup, A. C., Garcia, J. R., & Kaufman, S. B. (2010). Self-perceived mating intelligence predicts sexual behavior in college students: Empirical validation of a theoretical construct. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 29, 341-362.

Research Question; Due 2/19
2.25 Reliability and Validity Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. (2003). Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1147-1158 

Snyder, M. (1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 526-537.

3.4 Correlational, Experimental, and Quasi-Experimental Designs Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 3-11. 

Eron, L. D. (1963). Relationship of television viewing habits and aggressive behavior in children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 193-196.

Research Proposal; Due ¾
3.11 Demand Characteristics and Reactivity Orne, M.T. (1969). Demand characteristics and the concept of quasi-controls. In R. Rosenthal & R. Rosnow (Eds.), Artifact in behavioral research. (pp. 143-179). New York: Academic Press.


Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378.

3.18 Complex ANOVA Designs and Interactions Geher, G., Bauman, K.P.,  Hubbard, S.E.K., & Legare, J. (2002). Self and other obedience estimates: Biases and moderators. The Journal of Social Psychology, 142, 677-689. 

Lyon, D., & Greenberg, J. (1991). Evidence of codependency in women with an alcoholic parent: Helping out Mr. Wrong. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 61(3), 435-439.

Reference List; Due 3/18
4.1 Complex Regression Designs Crosier, B. S. (2010). The validity and structure of mating intelligence. (Unpublished masters thesis). The State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY
4.8 Internal Validity and Ecological Validity Buss, D.M., Larsen, R.J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J.(1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology and psychology. Psychological Science, 3, 251-255 

Daly, M., Wilson, M. & Weghorst, S. J. (1982) Male sexual jealousy. Ethology and Sociobiology, 3, 11-27.

Data and Results; Due 4/8 OR you can hand this in as part of your draft which is due 4/22 – student option. 
4.15 Power, Hypothesis Testing, Effect Size, Type-I and Type-II Error – Statistics Revisted Geher, G., & Hall, S. E. (in press). Statistics: A no-frills approach.New York: Oxford University Press.
4.22 Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Designs; Matched Samples, Case Studies, and Qualitative Analyses Asendorpf, J. B., & Van Aken, M. A. G. (2003). Validity of big five personality judgments in childhood: A 9 year longitudinal study. European Journal of Psychology, 17, 1-17. 

Mandy’s infidelity study

Draft of Paper; Due 4/22
4.29 Factor Analysis, Structural Equation Modeling, and other Advanced Statistics Kruger, D. J., Munsell, M. A., & French-Turner, T. (2011). Using a life history framework to understand the relationship between neighborhood structural deterioration and adverse birth outcomes. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 5(4), 260-274. 

Glass, D. J. (2012). Factor structure of OCD: Toward an evolutionary neuro-cognitive model of obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Unpublished masters thesis). The State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY


5.6 (last day of class) Review for Final Exam Final Paper; Due 5/6
Determined by University Final Exam




Course policies:

1.  Cheating.  DO NOT CHEAT.  Any student caught cheating on an exam will automatically fail that exam and, perhaps, the course.  In addition, his or her name may be reported to the appropriate dean.

2.  Plagiarism.  Plagiarism occurs when material is taken from a source without proper citation.  If you quote something directly (i.e., use the same exact words of someone else), you must use quotation marks.  If you borrow an idea and reword it, you must report your source.  Any student caught plagiarizing will automatically fail the assignment and, perhaps, the course.  In addition, his or her name may be reported to the appropriate dean.  DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.

3.  Missing exams.  Make-up exams will be given if extenuating circumstances exist.  If such circumstances are shown to exist, you may be able to take a make-up exam.  Special arrangements will be made as to the time and place of any make-up exams.

4.  Late Assignments.  No assignments will be accepted after the last day of class (not lab, ‘CLASS’ or ‘lecture’) DURING class.  Late assignments handed in on the last day of class anywhere or time other than during and in class will not be accepted.  Also, note the policy that any late assignments will NOT necessarily be handed back during the semester.

4A.  The following assignments will NOT be accepted (unless compelling evidence of extraordinary circumstances may be demonstrated) if they are not handed in on time (and will be assigned grades of 0):

a.  The ‘Research Question’

b.  The ‘Research Proposal’

c.  The ‘Draft of the Major Paper’

4B.  Late laboratory assignments will unconditionally not be accepted and will be assigned grades of 0.

5.  The ‘Human Subjects Certificate.’ Absolutely no data may be collected by you if you have not provided evidence that you have the certificate required (See lab manual).  If you fail to provide evidence of this certificate and you collect data, you will automatically fail this course.  Note that this criterion, to be fair, pertains to all students, even those who plan to conduct non-human research. Further, if you do not present this certificate when or before it is due, you will not be able to collect data. Subsequent assignments based on data collection will, accordingly, be assigned grades of 0. Not handing in this assignment on time will put you at serious risk of failing this class.


6.  IRB Materials / Animal Research Form.  You may not collect data if you have not completed the IRB materials / Animal Research form AND received approval from me (GG) to collect data (as per the lab manual). If you do not present this certificate to the Teaching Assistant when or before it is due, you will not be able to collect data. Subsequent assignments based on data collection will, accordingly, be assigned grades of 0. Not handing in this assignment on time will put you at serious risk of failing this class. Exceptions to these rules may only be made in cases in which students document extraordinary circumstances that impeded the handing in of the assignment).

7.  Course conflicts.  If you have a regular scheduling conflict with this course (e.g., you will have to leave every class before the end of class because of work or you have another course scheduled that overlaps with this course) you should not take this course.

8.  Your paper for this class may NOT be based on a paper you have written for another class.

9.  Technical Difficulties Statement: At times, students do not hand work in on time due to technical difficulties – often computer-related.  Such difficulties fall under the categories of ‘viruses, servers that are down, disks that lose data, broken printers, etc.’

The primary method for avoiding problems associated with such difficulties is to complete work relatively early.  Note that a “Due Date” is not a “Do Date.” In other words, if something is due on a particular day, you are in no way required to do the work on that same day. If an assignment is due Tuesday, you may do the work for the assignment on Monday (or even earlier). In fact, you are strongly encouraged (by me, GG), to do so! Such a strategy greatly decreases the likelihood that technical difficulties will impede you from handing work in on time.

There are certain conditions under which I will consider a ‘technical difficulties’ appeal regarding late work. Note that given the recommendations (aforementioned) regarding doing your work early, I reserve the right to not accept late papers that are, indeed, late due to technical difficulties. However, if your appeal fits the following criteria, I may consider such an appeal:

A.  You contact me at least one full hour BEFORE the assignment is due.

B.  You can provide some documentation regarding the fact that technical difficulties indeed inhibited you from handing your work in on time.


            As a teacher I feel that my primary role is to help you learn and provide you with guidance, not to grade you.  Accordingly, please feel free to come see me or call me throughout the term if you have any concerns or questions.  I mean it.  Have a great semester.


Writing tips.


No papers with an abundance of the following errors will receive a grade of an ‘A.’


1.  USUALLY affect is a verb and effect is a noun;


e.g., This variable affects several things.

e.g., That other variable produced a very large effect.


2.  If the subject of your sentence is singular, the verb and subsequent pronouns referring to the subject must be also:


e.g., The participant then provided HIS OR HER (NOT “THEIR”) background


e.g.,  The point of these studies WAS (NOT “WERE”) blah, blah, blah … (point is singular).


3.  NEVER use the word “PROVE” in a psychology article.  While psychologists do many things, proving is virtually never one of them.


INCORRECT: These results prove that Schmedley’s hypothesis was correct.

BETTER: These results support Schmedley’s hypothesis.

BETTER STILL: These results support the hypothesis that Schmedley should change his name … just kidding.


4.  BE SUCCINCT.  Do not use a lot of words to make a point if you can make the same point with fewer words.  If two papers make the same points, the one with fewer words is, by my definition, better.


BAD:  Asch’s research on conformity is very interesting because it includes interesting research and has important ideas that are very meaningful.


BETTER: Asch’s research on conformity is interesting for several reasons.


5.  AVOID 1st person and, especially, opinions (unless they are asked for).


BAD: I am writing a paper on conformity.  In this paper, I will talk about how social psychologists have studied conformity and why I am so interested in this interesting topic.


BETTER: This paper will address conformity as it has been studied in social psychology.




BAD: Subjects were asked if they’d administer an electric shock.

BETTER:  Subjects were asked if they would administer an electric shock.


7.         It’s means it is (but you should not be using contractions anyway).


            Its is a possessive pronoun referring to a noun that possesses something.

e.g., The frog grabbed the fly with its tongue.   (here its means the frog’s)


8.  Punctuation marks go INSIDE quotation marks (when at the end of the sentence).


BAD:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy”.

BETTER:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy.”

BETTER STILL:  Then the experimenter said, “Golly!”


9.  Always follow the word “this” with a specific noun.  Otherwise, your writing will be unclear.


BAD: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this will be enormous.

BETTER: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this restructuring will be enormous.


10.  i.e., means “in other words.”  e.g., means “for example.”


e.g., These people are thought to be cerebral in nature (i.e., they tend to think a lot).

e.g., Their diet includes several kinds of flowers (e.g., roses).


11.  Here are some helpful word substitutions for you:


Change from                                    to

looked at                                examined

got                                           obtained

did                                           conducted


12.  Only use the word “correlation” if you are referring to a specific relationship between two different variables.  Do not just throw this word around because it sounds good.


GOOD: A positive correlation was observed between number of hamburgers eaten and the size of one’s bellyache.

BAD: A correlation between these different ideas can be found.  (This sentence simply does not mean anything).