Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
The content of the text sufficiently covers the same material that would typically be found in an introductory research methods textbook from a large publishing house. Many, if not all, of the fundamental concepts in psychological research that a student would be expected to know are presented within text. These include, but are not limited to: the characteristics of a science, the scientific method in psychology, the role of theory and observation in psychology, research ethics, defining and measuring variables, the essential features of experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, descriptive, multivariate, and factorial research designs, how to conduct survey research, the characteristics of case studies and single-subject designs, APA style, and an overview of descriptive and inferential statistics.
Section 9.2 on constructing survey questionnaires, Section 11.2 on writing an APA-style research report, and Section 13.3 on the limitations of null hypothesis testing are particularly noteworthy features of the text. These topics are of considerable importance to novice researchers, but are overlooked in some research methods textbooks.
It should be noted that this text is structured for a research methods course, as opposed to an introduction to statistics course or a yoked research methods and statistics course. While the text does include two chapters on descriptive and inferential statistics, and there are brief discussions of advanced statistical techniques such as multiple regression or factor analysis, the content of these chapters does not reach sufficient depth to warrant using this text to teach statistics for the behavioural sciences.
The text lacks a table of contents, an index, and a glossary, which makes searching for specific concepts somewhat cumbersome. This is a relatively minor limitation, however, as readers could simply use the “find” command that is available in most software.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
In general, the content, diagrams, and computations are accurate, error-free, and without bias. Importantly, the text acknowledges the on-going debate and controversy surrounding null hypothesis testing, and discusses alternatives to the null-hypothesis testing framework.
The formulas for a z-score (Pg. 311), Cohen’s D (Pg. 315), and the F-Ratio
(Pg. 361) are missing the division symbol. For instance, the formula for z should be: z = X – M / SD rather than z = X-MSD. This, however, could be due to a software issue.
The sample calculations for standard deviation in Table 12.3 (Pg. 210) contain a typo. The sum of the squared deviations does not equal 288 but rather 28.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
In general, research methods content remains relatively static compared to other fields of the behavioural sciences. The essential features of most research designs are unlikely to change anytime soon. As such, the main content of the text, by default, is up-to-date.
The text does make an effort to discuss contemporary research in psychology. Examples of important research concepts are often framed using relatively recent studies. Updates could be easily incorporated into the text by simply revising the research examples.
Perhaps the most pressing issue in contemporary research methods is the role of null hypothesis testing. There is now a general consensus among research practitioners that alternatives to null hypothesis testing, statistical power, and effect size should be considered when designing a study and analyzing data. The text adequately presents these issues at level that is suitable for a novice.
Some of the embedded links to websites are no longer valid (e.g. Pg. 12: http://www.psychology.sunysb.edu/eklonsky-/division12; Pg. 59: http://ohsr.od.nih.gov/guidelines/index.html). However, this does not diminish the main content of the text. The links to outside sources are supplementary, and do not affect the meaning of the key concepts in the text
Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The text is written for a novice. It does not assume that the reader has a background in statistics or research methods. New concepts are introduced in a natural and logical manner. For instance, most chapters begin with an engaging description of a research scenario in psychology. The scenario is used to frame the content of that chapter, and new concepts are introduced in reference to that research scenario.
The author makes the effort to clearly and concisely present research findings in psychology without getting lost in the technical details. This has the added benefit of informing students of fascinating findings in psychology, while at the same time, providing an introduction to the fundamentals of research in psychology. Overall, the text is well written and the content is presented in a clear and engaging manner.
Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
The text is internally consistent. It begins with an overview of the characteristics of science, and then proceeds to examine how psychologists integrate these characteristics into their research practice. Once the main characteristics of various research designs have been presented, the text then outlines how to present results and analyze data. Students are also provided with a step-by-step guide on writing an APA-style research report. All of these topics are logically consistent with one another and follow a natural framework for teaching research methods.
Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
Each chapter is largely self-contained, and makes use of logically delineated sub-sections. The chapters could be easily assigned in isolation or re-organized according to the demands of a particular instructor. However, research methods content is hierarchical and cumulative in nature, such that grasping higher level concepts (e.g. factorial designs) depends on understanding lower-level concepts (e.g. experimental research). The text is aware of this fact, and does incorporate an over-arching cumulative structure to the material. For instance, the characteristics of single-factor experimental designs are presented first, followed by more complex factorial designs.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
As mentioned above, the structure of the text follows a clear and logical sequence, beginning with describing science in general, and then the science of psychology in particular. The text makes use of so-called ‘advanced organizers’, such as emphasizing keywords using bold font, beginning each chapter section with a clearly stated learning objectives, and concludes each chapter section with a summary of key points. These features facilitate navigation of the text.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
Some of the text that is embedded in charts, tables, and graphics appears blurry, pixelated, or distorted. For example, the text in Figure 5.1 (Pg. 107) is not as clear as the text in the main paragraphs. Aside from this minor issue, the interface is straightforward and easily accessible. Chapters, chapter sub-sections, learning objects, key takeaways, learning exercises, and suggested readings are clearly delineated, which makes the text easy to navigate.
Interface Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
The reviewer did not find any obvious grammatical errors. If errors are present, they infrequent and minor.
Grammar Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
While the text is not culturally insensitive or offensive, it is written for an American audience. The research examples presented in the text predominantly rely on American populations, and some of the practice questions reference American cultural idiosyncrasies (e.g. SAT scores).
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Overall, this book is an appropriate introductory text to research methods in psychology. The content could easily be adapted to a Canadian context by simply including studies and examples that reflect psychological research in Canada.