PSMB002 Critical study of scientific literature

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2019
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 3 credit(s). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
Mgr. Tatiana Malatincová, Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
Mgr. Tatiana Malatincová, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Jarmila Valchářová
Supplier department: Department of Psychology - Faculty of Arts
Thu 14:00–15:40 C42
! PS_BB047 Crit. study of scientific lit. &&! PSBB025
This is an advanced methodology course in psychology. The course requires solid basic knowledge of research methodology in psychology and understanding of basic statistical tests. It is NOT recommended that students take this course before completing their basic statistics courses.
Students' proficiency in English language must be sufficient to allow them to participate in critical discussions on scientific topics and write critical responses to scientific texts/arguments. Students should be able to understand psychological scientific texts without too much difficulty.
This course PSMB002 is offered to students of Master's Degree Psychology at the Faculty of Arts. If you are a Bachelor's Degree Psychology student at the Faculty of Arts, an international student, or a student from another faculty or programme, please register for PS_BB047 instead (same course, different code).
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 10 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 7/10, only registered: 0/10, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/10
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
Throughout the course, students will gradually develop skills necessary for employing a critical approach in searching, studying and using scientific sources in psychology.
Learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Identify arguments in scientific texts;
- Use basic theoretical and methodological knowledge to evaluate evidence provided by authors;
- Compare and contrast different points of view, clearly identify points of conflict or controversy, and verify cited sources of information/evidence;
- Be more sensitive to the difference between facts and interpretations, to misinterpretations, and to contextual factors that might have an impact on how ideas are presented in literature (time, trends and current concerns, journal policies, authors’ backgrounds, current views of psychological science, etc.);
- Demonstrate basic skills in using available information to form their own perspectives of various debatable issues and in providing logically coherent arguments for their opinions, as well as consistent and well-based counter-arguments against ideas they disagree with.
  • FIRST PART OF THE SEMESTER - General issues:
  • 1. Course introduction. What is a critical approach? Critical approach v. dismissive / black-and-white thinking.
  • 2. "Bad logic": Cognitive biases and errors in critical thinking.
  • 3. A revision of basic principles of scientific thinking and statistical reasoning.
  • 4. Principles of scientific reporting and writing: What makes a scientific study a "good" study? Quality of theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence. Identifying arguments in the text.
  • 5. Research and publishing ethics. Research context and publishing context - social, political and other aspects of scientific publishing. Sources of publication bias. Types of and reasons for "bad research practices".
  • 6. Published research evaluation and criticism: Critical review and meta-analysis - basic principles.
  • SECOND PART OF THE SEMESTER - a case study:
  • The “Ego depletion” debate (the topic might change if students and teachers find this appropriate): Supervised analysis of published studies and criticism – theoretical arguments, methodology, conclusions, and context.
  • Weekly readings (published scientific articles) will be assigned based on the discussed topic.
  • GIRDEN, Ellen R. and Robert KABACOFF. Evaluating research articles : from start to finish. Third edition. Los Angeles: Sage, 2011. xvi, 399. ISBN 9781412974462. info
  • MELTZOFF, Julian. Critical thinking about research : psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998. xvi, 297. ISBN 9781557984555. info
  • Sinnott-Armstrong, W., & Fogelin, R. J. (2014). Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, 9th ed. Cengage Learning.
  • MORROW, D. R., & WESTON, A. (2011) A workbook for arguments: A complete course in critical thinking. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.
  • WESTON, Anthony. A rulebook for arguments. 4th ed. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009. xiv, 88. ISBN 9780872209558. info
  • Critical thinking in psychology. Edited by Henry L. Roediger - Robert J. Sternberg - Diane F. Halpern. 1st pub. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. xii, 340. ISBN 9780521845892. info
  • LEVY, David A. Tools of critical thinking : metathoughts for psychology. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press, 2003. x, 262. ISBN 1577663160. info
Teaching methods
Instruction and practical exercises on argument identification and formulation. Critical classroom and electronic forum discussions on general topics regarding critical perspective on published psychological concepts as well as topics concerning specific controversial/debatable concepts in psychological science. Weekly reading assignments – published studies and/or critical comments on specific topics. Weekly written assignments – structured responses to the provided materials (argument identification, identification and evaluation of evidence, etc.). Final assignment: Formulation of a critical response to a debatable topic in psychology. Classroom debate.
The course is an experimental implementation of a scaffolding-based ‘spiral curriculum’ designed for the development and enhancement of academic competences (rather than declarative knowledge). This means that the complexity of tasks will increase throughout the semester so that students can develop their skills starting from guided application of basic principles up to independent argumentation to a specific topic.
Assessment methods
Students are required to do weekly assignments and readings in time, so they can participate in classroom discussions. Late homework submissions (response papers) are penalized by additional assignments.
The final (colloquium) assignment involves two parts. In the first part, students submit a critical response (1,000-1,500 words /4-6 normal pages excluding references) to a pre-selected psychological scientific issue, in which they present and defend their own conclusions based on a critical reading of key publications. In the second part, each student will respond critically to the submission (arguments) of another student. Students may either agree on the topic among themselves or they can choose from topics offered by the course instructor.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught annually.
Teacher's information
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2018.
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