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Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition

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Description: Psychology, like most other sciences, has its own set of tools to investigate the important research questions of its field. Unlike other sciences, psychology is a relatively new field with methods and practices that are evolving at a rapid rate. With this textbook, we introduce students to the fundamental principles of what it is like to think like a psychology researcher. We also hope to connect with the Canadian audience to show them the fantastic research being generated in Canada as well as provide them with an accurate picture of the Canadian context for ethical human research. This textbook is an adaptation of one written by Paul C. Price (California State University, Fresno). The first Canadian edition (published in 2013) was authored by Rajiv S. Jhangiani (Kwantlen Polytechnic University). This second Canadian edition was co-authored by Rajiv S. Jhangiani (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and I-Chant A. Chiang (Quest University Canada).

Author: Dr. Rajiv S. Jhangiani, Dr. I-Chant A. Chiang, Dr. Paul C. Price

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Creative Commons License
Research Methods in Psychology - 2nd Canadian Edition by Dr. Rajiv S. Jhangiani, Dr. I-Chant A. Chiang, Dr. Paul C. Price is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

1. Reviewed by: Malinda Desjarlais
  • Institution:
  • Title/Position: Associate Professor
  • Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

There is a good balance of breadth and depth for the relevant topics presented. These are major and important concepts to understanding research methods in psychology.

I was impressed by the breadth of topics covered. Information relevant to each stage of the research process is provided, including learning to review literature and formulate a research question, considering ethical principles when designing a study, deciding how to measure the constructs, choosing a research design (experimental, non-experimental, survey, and so on), and writing a research report. In addition, more detailed information regarding statistical analyses (descriptive and inferential statistics) are presented at the end of the textbook. The authors discuss the major areas of consideration when designing and critiquing research that are included in prominent textbooks for purchase – including: reliability, external validity, internal validity (differentiating between mundane and psychological realism), confounds inherent in different experimental and quasi-experimental designs, and psychological measurement.

The authors also take the extra step to by providing links to additional resources so that particular topics could be addressed in more depth (if the instructor or student wishes) without increasing the size of the current textbook.

Despite my excitement surrounding the content of the textbook, I was underwhelmed by the content included in the “Key Takeaways” section at the end of every chapter’s subsection. While I appreciate having a very brief review of the major point presented in the section, the key points are oversimplified. For example, in Chapter 1 (Understanding Science), they mention that Psychology is a science because it takes the scientific approach to understanding human behavior – but there is no description of what the scientific approach is (which is an equally important key point). Key Takeaways would also be enhanced by including a list (if not a short glossary) of the major terms that were bolded in the chapter.

Also, a current topic that should be included but is not discussed in detail is distinguishing between credible and bogus journals. This is topic important for students in research methods to be aware of and be provided with tips when doing a literature review.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

There are no noticeable errors in the content of the information. Concepts are described accurately in text and within the glossary, and the examples provided are effective.

Full references are provided for each citation at the of the chapter subsection (when reading online) or at the bottom of each page (when reading PDF version). This makes it easy to verify the information presented and for readers to obtain more detailed information regarding the research, if needed.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 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

The examples presented are appropriate for illustrating research design principles. In order to ensure that the material was up-to-date, the authors include current controversies and considerations in research methods. For example, the May Labs Replication Project is discussed, a current example of an ethical violation, banning of p-values in some journals, and open science practices (all which are highlighted as the authors’ updates of the second edition of the textbook). Given the organization of the textbook (particularly the subheadings included in each chapter), it appears relatively easy for the authors to make necessary updates to the content in the future.

The examples included are based on interesting classic research or current hot topics within psychology. Being highly cited and in the current spotlight, the topics would most likely be relevant and interesting to students. As a critique, however, most studies focused on social psychology research with very few examples pertaining to biological psychology or neuroscience. The textbook would be better balanced by providing examples throughout that collectively adequately covered major areas in psychology.

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

This is a very easy to read textbook. The language is appropriate for junior university or college students, and is free from too much jargon. Any technical terms are sufficiently defined. Frequently, the authors provide examples to clarify the terminology and concepts which stem from real research (and thus are meaningful for students learning about research methods). In addition, the same research study is used to illustrate concepts throughout the chapter. This consistency makes it easy for students to learn and apply the concepts.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

There is consistency in the language used to present the concepts and terminology. Major terms (that appear in the glossary at the end of the textbook) are presented in bold. As stated in my comments regarding the organization of the chapters, there is consistency regarding their framework.

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.

The textbook is organized in a manner for which instructors (and students) can select smaller sections for reading throughout the course. A variety of subsections are included in each chapter. When reading the textbook online, each subsection appears on its own page. Therefore, when assigning readings an instructor is simply able to indicate which subsections are relevant for students to read – and then when selected from the Table of Contents, only the information within the selected subsection is presented to the user. [As a note, since the online version does not include page numbers, their method of presentation requires that titles of each subsection needs to be included a course outline if the entire chapter is not being assigned for reading.] Furthermore, the subsections that are included in the Table of Contents also are further subdivided into smaller sections. Therefore, there is never large blocks of information in any section.

In addition, this organizational method facilities the re-organization of material to follow the topics presented in any individual course.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Each chapter begins with a brief overview of the chapter’s concepts usually in the context of a research study. Following this, each chapter includes (1) the learning objectives (focusing on defining, describing, or explaining concepts presented in the chapter), (2) the content organized into smaller sections, (3) key takeaways (as a brief review of the major concepts presented), and (4) exercises that will enable students to test their knowledge and to apply their knowledge to novel situations. The learning objectives very closely match the key takeaways. This structure is consistent across all chapters and is efficient in presenting the information in a clear, organized fashion.

For the most part, the headings are appropriate and adequately represent the concept discussed. For example, in Chapter 5, the headings “Implementing the Measure” and “Evaluating the Measure” do not adequately capture the information in the subsections. As the former section discusses reactions of participants to the measures, and the latter section discusses evaluating the measure in the context of your data (not before selecting the measure).

The entire textbook is organized in a fashion that is relatively consistent with the development of a research project: learning to review literature and formulate a research question, considering ethical principles when designing a study, deciding how to measure the constructs, choosing a research design (experimental, nonexperimental, survey, and so on), and writing a research report. Given that this textbook is designed for learning about research methods in psychology, it makes sense that more detailed information regarding statistical analyses (Chapter 12 & 13) are presented at the end as more supplementary information.

I appreciated that the online version of the textbook provides readers with the option of navigating the sections in a linear or nonlinear fashion. First, readers may click the next or previous page arrows. This retains the organization of chapter subsections presented by the authors. Alternatively, a Table of Contents icon is always present and thus readers can jump to other chapters or subsections by choosing one from the drop-down menu provided.

Organization Rating: 5 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

I did not come across any problems related to accessing the links and videos provided within the textbook. The figures and tables included are relatively simple, and serve as sufficient examples of the corresponding concepts.

The textbook does not contain any images or videos that do not directly support the content. Seductive details (or irrelevant images designed simply to increase the interest of readers) were not included in the textbook, and thus, the text is free from distractions.

All images are clear and legible – there were no distortion issues that impacted the content of the images. The only complaint I have is that when clicking on images to enlarge them the figure caption does not appear.

In the heading levels are somewhat unclear. It would enhance the organization (so that readers are clear which are major vs. subordinate headings) if the authors followed APA style.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

There are no noticeable grammatical errors. I noticed one spelling mistake in Chapter 5 (Experiment Basics): “Considerfield” should be “consider field”.

Grammar Rating: 5 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

The text does not include any culturally insensitive or offensive material in any way. The examples of research discussed in the textbook are appropriate.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 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?

Although a working knowledge of statistical procedures is helpful when learning research methods, the textbook does not require that students should have completed a statistics course prior to reading the content. Two chapters cover hypothesis testing, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics for those who wish to incorporate more statistics into their courses. Also, the chapters are written at introductory levels and thus do not require previous knowledge on statistics.

The Canadian Edition includes a discussion of the TCPS2 ethical principles relevant for Canadian research, online data collection using examples of online survey sites hosed in Canada, and spelling corresponding to Canadian conventions. In Chapter 9 (Survey Research), the authors provide a link to the Patriot Act for those interested in using online survey sites hosted in the United States; however, there is a lack of discussion in this chapter regarding similar considerations of using Canadian survey sites.

The following discussion outlines suggestions for modifications that would enhance the textbook:
a. Although there is a detailed Table of Contents included, the textbook would further be enhanced by including an index at the end of the book. Alternatively the authors may consider inserting page numbers or embedded links within the glossary for easy reference to the original discussion of the concept in the textbook. This would be especially beneficial for the PDF print version, since the search option that accompanies the online version is not available.
b. Chapter 8 (Complex Research Designs) introduces the assessment among multiple variables and mentions multiple regression as an appropriate statistical technique. A introduction to multiple regression would be beneficial in Chapter 13 (Inferential Statistics) as a basic null hypothesis test.
c. There is a lack of discussion for when research ethics approval from an IREB is necessary. How does TCPS2 define research, and when is review required?