Category Archives: Research Methodology

A Psychologist’s Guide to Reading a Neuroimaging Paper

Psychological research is benefiting from advances in neuroimaging techniques. This has been achieved through the validation and falsification of established hypothesis in psychological science (Cacioppo, Berntson, & Nusbaum, 2008). It has also helped nurture links with neuroscience, leading to more comprehensive explanations of established theories. Positron Emission Tomography (PET), functional MRI (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and numerous other lesser-known neuroimaging techniques can provide information complimentary to behavioural data (Wager, 2006). With these modalities of research becoming more prevalent, ranging from investigating the neural effects of mindfulness training to neuro-degeneration, it is worth taking a moment to highlight some points to help discern what may be good or poor research. Like any other methodology, neuroimaging is a great tool that can be used poorly. As with all areas of science, one must exercise a good degree of caution when reading neuroimaging papers. Continue reading

Niall Bourke

Niall Bourke is a psychology graduate from Ireland. Having gained experience working with individuals that have acquired brain injuries, he moved to London to complete a MSc. in Neuroimaging at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN). He now works as a research worker at the IoPPN, and as a visiting researcher at the University of Southampton on a developmental neuropsychology project.

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Bayesian Statistics: What is it and Why do we Need it?

prlipohellThere is a revolution in statistics happening: The Bayesian revolution. Psychology students who are interested in research methods (which I hope everyone is!) should know what this revolution is about. Gaining this knowledge now instead of later might spare you lots of misconceptions about statistics as it is usually instructed in psychology, and it might help you gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of statistics. To make sure that you can try out everything you learn immediately, I conducted analysis in the free statistics software R (www.r-project.org; click HERE for a tutorial how to get started with R, and install RStudio for an enhanced R-experience) and I provide the syntax for the analysis directly in the article so you can easily try them out. So let’s jump in: What is “Bayesian Statistics”, and why do we need it? Continue reading

Peter Edelsbrunner

Peter Edelsbrunner

Peter is currently doctoral student at the section for learning and instruction research of ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He graduated from Psychology at the University of Graz in Austria. Peter is interested in conceptual knowledge development and the application of flexible mixture models to developmental research. Since 2011 he has been active in the EFPSA European Summer School and related activities.

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Ethics – The Science of Morals, Rules and Behaviour

 

ethicsEthical boards are in place to evaluate the ethical feasibility of a study by weighing the possible negative effects against the possible positive effects of the research project (Barret, 2006). When designing your research project, it could be that you need to apply for ethical approval. This is a challenging task as there are strict guidelines to abide to when drawing up a proposal. This is where your supervisor can help – with their experience, they have a clear idea of what would be accepted for someone applying for ethical approval for an undergraduate or master study. There is a great importance to abiding by ethics, in research and in practice.The importance lies in the fact that care is taken for the participant, researcher and wider society. It creates a filter for good standard of research with as minimal harm being done as possible. Continue reading

Elena Felice

Elena Felice

Currently Elena is reading for an MA in Gestalt Psychotherapy and works as a Psychology Assistant at the Maltese general Hospital. Her main areas are in Perinatal Mental Health and Staff Support. Her research interests include Mental Health, Perinatal Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Health Psychology amongst others.

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Bias in Conducting Research: Guidelines for Young Researchers Regarding Gender Differences

Every scientific discipline is determined by the object of measurement and the selection of appropriate methods of data collection and statistical analysis. Faulty methodology can lead to incorrect information in the results, without the researcher being aware of this. Taking incorrect knowledge as correct into account while conducting further research has far-reaching negative consequences. One of these errors present, to some degree, in every single research is bias. It is a particularly dangerous one, because it usually goes undetected by the researcher. But if you are aware of its threat there are ways to avoid it.  In research, it occurs when systematic error is introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others. It comes in numerous ways and forms. The rest of this post will focus on causes of bias in the field of gender studies.

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Nina Jelić

Nina Jelić

Nina Jelić is a graduate psychology student at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Her fields of interest are social and clinical psychology.

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How to Collect Data Effectively? An Overview of the Best Online Survey Providers

survey-2

This post will talk about the pros and cons of a few selected providers of online survey services and may help you find the best survey service provider for your research purposes. With the information given in this post, your future data collections will become much easier due to the overview of survey providers for quantitative research you will receive. After giving you an insight into the diversity of survey tools and the general features they provide, four of the best featured and most frequently used survey tool providers will be presented in greater detail.

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Sina Scherer

Sina Scherer

Sina Scherer, studying at University of Münster, Germany, and University of Padova, Italy. I have previously worked as JEPS Bulletin Editor and am active in a NMUN project simulating the political work of the United Nations as voluntary work. I am interested in cognitive neuroscience and intercultural psychology, anthropology and organizational psychology (aspects of work-life balance, expatriation).

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Are the Methods of Psychology to Blame for its Unscientific Image? The Basis of Public Perceptions of ‘Scientific’ Research

Crystal-ball2Psychology is defined to students as the scientific study of human behaviour. However, when the American Psychological Association surveyed 1,000 adult members of the public, 70% did not agree with the statement, ‘psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research’ (Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, 2008, p. 29). Lay people deny, what is to those within psychology, an undeniable fact: that psychology aims to test theory-grounded hypotheses in an objective, replicable and empirical manner – and is therefore scientific. Recently, psychologists have investigated the reasons for such a divide between expert and novice views of the field. In doing so, they have uncovered how lay people evaluate whether a subject deserves the scientific stamp of approval. Continue reading

Robert Blakey

Robert Blakey

Robert Blakey is a third year undergraduate student of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and was a member of the 2012-2013 cohort of EFPSA's Junior Researcher Programme. He is currently carrying out a research project on the effect of interaction on estimation accuracy and writing a dissertation on consumer neuroscience. He is also interested in social cognition and specifically, public perceptions of influences on behaviour.

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Crowdsourcing (Gathering Data Online): Cutting Cost & Time

networkImagine a task that is simple for a human and difficult for a computer. For example, recognizing if a photograph contains a cat or a dog is a straightforward task even for a few months old child (Quinn & Eimas, 1996), but extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a computer  (Shotton et al., 2006) because the two are quite similar in terms of shape. In order to capitalize on human’s superiority over computers in some kind of tasks, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) came up with a platform called Amazon Mechanical Turk (https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome), where it is possible to ask human workers to complete HITs – Human Intelligence Tasks.

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Peter Lewinski

Peter Lewinski

Peter Lewinski is Marie Curie Research Fellow in The CONsumer COmpetence Research Training (CONCORT) and in Vicarious Perception Technologies B.V. He is a PhD candidate (2012-2015) in Persuasive Communication at Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) - University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He studies facial expressions and advertisements. He was at the EFPSA Executive Board and Board of Management in 2011-2013.

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Hunting For Significant Results: Don’t Do It

40175006Many psychology students find themselves in a situation where their research did not yield any significant results. This can be immensely frustrating since they have put a lot of time and effort into designing the study, as well as in collecting and analyzing the data. In some cases, be it out of desperation or pressure to publish interesting findings, certain students will effectively “hunt” for results by conducting statistical tests on all possible variable combinations. For instance, after noticing that a hypothesized correlation between two variables proved to be non-significant, a student might create a correlation matrix of all continuous variables of her study and hope for at least one pair to be significantly related to each other. Other students might include one, two, or even more covariates in their analysis of variance (turning it into an ANCOVA), thereby hoping that the interaction they initially hypothesized between their key factors will become significant.

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Ezra Bottequin

Ezra Bottequin

Ezra Bottequin is a Master's student in affective and social psychology at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of European Psychology Students.

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On the Importance of Behavioural Research

The overarching point of this article will be to convey that behavioural psychology may be out-of-fashion, but still has many things to contribute to modern psychology.

All science is ultimately born of philosophy (see Pepper, 1942) and therefore there is no reason why this science should play second fiddle to any other. However, in the rat race to make strides in the science of behaviour, principles of science are often discarded in favour of convenience. The dominant school of thought in psychology at present is cognitivism. This school adopts a predominantly top-down approach to psychology. This involves simplifying phenomena into their perceived component parts, in order to study them. This phenomenon may constitute a set back for the way research is conducted and human behavior ultimately conceptualized.  Allow me to illustrate why this is a problem.

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Shane McLoughlin

Shane McLoughlin

Shane McLoughlin is a graduate of the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, who awarded him with a B.Sc. in Applied Psychology in 2012. He is currently researching and writing on the modern behavioural science of Relational Frame Theory, an approach to language and cognition. His research interests are rooted in the philosophy of science, particularly applied to the study of effective thinking and fallacies which lead to ineffective thinking.

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A Change of View: Using Visual Methods to Explore Experience in Qualitative Research

creative-brain

The topic of this bulletin arose from a talk given by Dr. Anna Bagnoli, who had used a variety of visual methods in addition to verbal interviews in order to holistically study young people’s identities.  Intrigued by the question of how such data could be collected and analysed to contribute to understandings of psychological topics, the author of this post recently carried out an interview with Dr. Bagnoli on behalf of the Open University Psychological Society (Rouse, 2013).  In this bulletin post the author will share what she has learnt from this interview and by researching the use of visual methods to explore experience and meaning.

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Lorna Rouse

Lorna Rouse

Lorna graduated from the Open University in 2009 with a BSc (honours) in psychology and is currently studying for an MSc in Psychological Research Methods at Anglia Ruskin University. Lorna has worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Cambridge, providing support for studies investigating recovery from traumatic brain injury. In her spare time she organises events for the Cambridge branch of the Open University Psychological Society. She is particularly interested in qualitative research methods and intellectual disabilities.

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