Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

From PSY243 course wiki
Jump to: navigation, search



How do I add my question?

You need to be logged in to edit. Once you've logged in, click 'edit'

I can't log on to the wiki

You may be typing in your username (e.g pca10aa) or password (your date of birth in the form dd/mm/year, e.g. 01/01/1991) wrong. Capitalisation is important, use lower case.

A small minority of students haven't been registered. Sorry about that. If you think this may be you please email - saying which details you are using to try to log in - and he will register you

How do I access the course materials on Google Drive?

You need to be logged in with your University email/google account. Anyone within the University can find and view the Google Drive folder for PSY243, or this link should work.

We cannot share the drive with non-university email addresses, sorry.

I can't access a full copy of one of the papers

The core readings are all on the University Google Drive (if you are logged in with your @sheffield account). This link is also on the front page below the list of papers

Practice answers & feedback

Will you mark my review and provide feedback?

Yes, but only in week 4

Unfortunately I do not have time to do that for everyone every week, and it would be unfair for me to do it for just one individual. However, there are some good alternatives

  • If you formulate a specific question on the discussion forum or on the wiki FAQ, I will provide an answer that everyone can benefit from (but which will also answer your question about this piece of work)
  • I can give feedback in the lecture using your draft as an example, and/or using your piece as an example on the wiki. If you send me your work I will assume this is okay. I will not reveal your name, but may use all or some of your work as examples of good or bad practice in writing reviews (if this is NOT okay, let me know)

It is important that you practice trying to come up with a specific question, or questions, you would like answered, rather than requesting general feedback. Learning to do this is an important general skill and will also help you with this specific course

But I am finding writing the final section really hard, will you give me help with this?

I am sympathetic - it is really hard. Critical analysis is a skill you must practice. It would be unfair for me to sit down with individual students and give them general feedback - both because it would take time away from other students I have to teach on this course and others, and because it would mean I spent more time helping those students who didn't ask specific questions. Getting better at critical analysis - and at learning - means practicing thinking up specific questions you want answers to. I can answer all specific questions here. As well as this meaning everyone can benefit, the other advantage for practicing asking specific questions is that it prepares you for the next stage - which is thinking of the answers to your own questions.

What is the word limit

1000 words, not including references and title

(note for 2015 - this did say "not including headings", so for 2015 only i will extend the word limit by 7 words!)

When do we get our feedback

Soon! Hopefully a week after you have submitted

Peer review exercise

Does this count towards my grade for the course?

No. It is compulsory, so you must take part to pass the course, but it does not contribute towards your grade (which is based entirely on the final assessment)

When is the exact deadline?

Midnight on the day given (e.g. the 12th for the first submission)

Can I submit late?

Unfortunately not. The deadline exists so that that work can be redistributed among all the students for feedback. If you submit late there will be no one to read it

Is a coversheet required


Should I use the four subheadings you've used previously for answers

Yes, always. No alternations on this please.

Do we have to report all their experiments and their findings?

No, if you have having trouble fitting it all in, summarise. Part of the assessment is showing that you have understood which are the essential things to mention.

I'm asking for some advice. I have two assignments in for the 11th of November, one of which counts for 50% of a 20 credit module. I am concerned that I am writing an essay for PSY243 that will not be completed to the best of my ability and, therefore, I won't get accurate and valuable feedback about how I normally complete assignments. I have two questions: What should I do in my situation AND How much time, roughly, should I be putting in for the PSY243 assignment?

Time management is an important part of your degree education. Obviously if you wish to get the highest grades you must prioritise your 20 credit module. If you do not submit a full answer for the PSY243 you will not get the most useful feedback. You should have scheduled five hours a week for PSY243. You must learn to write an answer within that time. My advice is to get the clock and force yourself to spend 50 minutes reading the paper + 50 minutes planning an answer + 50 minutes writing an answer + 50 minutes rewriting your answer. By setting a limit on the time you give yourself you force the work to happen in the time allotted. (note also that this allow you to complete the PSY243 exercise in just over 3 hours, less than you should have allotted).

How do you expect us to write the feedback and what to include

Include your response to the review - there is no one right way to give feedback. Try and be helpful - and follow the review questions provided: Peer review

I may give feedback on someone's work that may not be correct, how can I avoid this.

You can't. The most important thing for this exercise is that you get practice writing feedback. No one has to believe the feedback they get - in fact it is important that they think about it, and deciding whether they believe it will encourage that. You are not here to give perfect answers, just to engage in the process of thinking critically about the work and how to improve your reviews and your fellow students' reviews.

I am in the middle of reviewing an article and it says what single thing would most improve this answer? what if there isn't a single thing, but many little adjustments. Do we add them too?

Try and summarise what is common to these adjustments. For example, could you say "be careful to say exactly what you are referring to" or "check that you have only one idea per sentence" or some other piece of advice that would reflect all the adjustments you are suggesting.?

There is nothing good about the piece I'm reviewing. What do I put as a strength to copy?

There is always something to mention that the student has achieved in submitting their work. You don't have to write a lot, but please do mention something positive about the work you are reviewing even if it is very basic. Things which seem obvious to you (e.g. work formatted in sensible paragraphs) may be worth noting for students who are more fragile in their skills.

Is there a word limit/ minimum for our peer reviews?

The word limit was meant to be a guide: It is important you write something, but not that it is a particular length (just try and be helpful)

How do I access my reviews

Click on Peer Review 2 on MOLE

FINAL Coursework

Do I have to use the sub-headings provided


What is the real world limit?

The word limit is 1000 words, excluding references at the end. You will lose marks for going over this limit. Details here: Coursework

What date do we receive the papers for our real review

11 December, and the deadline is 18 December

What date is the deadline?

18th Dec, noon

If we follow the answer guide strictly are we guaranteed to get a first and is it exhaustive or should we add other things in that aren't on it?

No, it is possible to follow the answer guide strictly and still write nonsense. Also, not all items in the answer guide will be relevant for every paper. To get a first we are looking for you do a thorough critical analysis which balances what the evidence shows, what is reasonable to expect from a single study, what plausible limitations there might be and what the logic of the theoretical arguments proposed are

You say to get a first, use references of other studies but you rarely do this in model answers so is it necessary

You can get a first without referencing any other studies. However, including references which are not cited in the original study is an easy way to show you are aware of background or follow-up work on the topic

Should the registration number be included in the critical review?


Is it good to include other references to support our answer? Or are references not important?

The focus of this assessment is on an analysis of a single paper. You may support any arguments you make with references if you wish, but this is not essential (see also answer above)

How much detail should we be including for the results section? Do we need to actually write out the results of the inferential tests, P values and significance, or can we summarise?

Please summarise. Only include details that are important to your intepretation. For example, if you are arguing that the paper may have made a Type I error (a false alarm), is it relevant that the p value is 0.049. Otherwise, you can just say "the difference was significant".

For the 'facial recognition of emotion' literature I find it the easiest read but in the discussion they list all the points and potential confounds themselves and I feel I cannot add but simply repeat what they have said. I'm a bit confused with how to add to it?

firstly, they do not list all the potential confounds and limitations. There will be others. Secondly, you have to decide if you believe what they say about the limitations/confounds. Which are important, which aren't (this means which change the interpretation, and which don't). If you show you have done this, then you can don't have to think of a new point to get excellent marks, you merely have to show that you have understood the value and limitations of the original work. Finally, please also remember that it is important to add strengths as well

A limitation of the study which I wanted to talk about in my essay has already been mentioned in the literatures own discussion. Am I still able to use this point in my own essay or not?

Yes, see above

In the emotions papers, is the medium emotions experienced group a control group?

Part of the assessment is figuring this out for yourself

Also in this paper when describing statistics they display the 'eta squared' which I haven't seen before. I wondered if this would be worth discussing?

Eta squared is a statistic which indicates effect size (which you do know about). You can find this out by googling it

What does it mean when error bars overlap and should it be criticised?

It depends what kind of error bars they are, and what interpretation the authors are trying to make.

when we reference should we reference from where the source has or find our own? What would award better marks or would it make no difference?

If you copy someone else's references, there is a risk you are citing things that you don't understand. So, in general, read the things you cite. This assessment is not focussed on referencing new things, so it won't make much difference (unless you screw up and say that a reference says something it really doesn't).

There quite a few flaws in the study. I cannot include all of them if I discuss each in depth and provide suggestions. Do you think it is okay to focus on only 2 or 3 limitations? Or I should still mention all the problems I spotted?

You should focus on the most important flaws. These are the ones that change or limit the intepretation the authors provide. You do NOT need to include all flaws. THis would be boring to read and is pointless if you don't connect the flaws to how the affect the inteperatation

The paper about recognising emotion in others seems to make contradicting statements when stating and discussing its result. An ANOVA was carried out on the data, but the authors later talk about an association between variables, and they also do not manipulate the variables themselves. I am slightly confused as how to explain their methodology.

Figuring this out yourself is part of the assessment

I have already submitted my coursework but want to change something, will I get penalised for resubmitting as long as it's before the due date?

No penalty for resubmitting before the due date.

If the review was split into two sections (why, what and findings in one, conclusion, implications and criticisms in the other), how many words would you deem appropriate for each? Would you say it is 50/50, or more like 25% for the first half then 75% for the rest? Obviously it depends on each individual paper, but surely spending 90% of outlining the study and 10% criticising would be bad?

Please refer to the models answers as a guide on this. Please also note that there are four sections to your reviews (as demonstrated in the model answers). The last section is hardest, so is the one which will be largest. It is not helpful to give you a percentage. It is more important that the things you draw upon in your final section are clearly summarised in the first three (and only these things)

In the emotion paper, I'm confused about whether it is a between or within subjects design. It has aspects of both. For within, they all complete the self rating task. For between, they are in different groups. I wasn't sure if it could be both?

Experiments can have both within and between factors. The important thing is to decide if each factor is within or between, not decide about the overall experiment

I have chosen the 'associations between feeling and judging the emotions of hapiness and fear'.. I am finding what to say in the 'findings' section difficult.. I find it confusing and contradictory of what some of the researchers say and then conclude.. am I interpreting the results incorrectly or could I use this as a weakness?

Understanding difficult material is part of the assessment. In general it is not a very interesting criticism if the authors are hard to understand - it is only if they are claiming something which is incoherent that it is worth mentioning

Course Material

What is the textbook?

There is no textbook. You may find it useful to look at textbooks (e.g. on cognitive psychology) to support your understanding of the papers we cover, but no particular book is recommended over any other

will you be writing up model 'critical review' answers for each paper we read weekly?

Yes. They will be available after each lecture

Where can I read the latest cognitive psychology news and analysis?

PSY243 recommends the following blogs

Psychology Topics

What do you do for the "What did these variables operationalise? The relation of the DV to the theory" section of the answer guide

Theories are built out of abstract concepts. Experiments manipulate factors and measure variables. The operationalisation is how the factors and measurements give concrete form to the concepts in the theory.

Example: my theory is that poor sleep will affect exam performance. I need to operationalise "poor sleep" and "exam performance" before I can test this theory. Each concept could be operationalised in many way, and there choice is always somewhat arbitrary. I could choose to define "poor sleep" as scoring 6 or 7 on a 7 point self-report "I slept badly scale". Or I could operationalise it as having less that 4 hours continuous sleep in a night as measured by EEG.

week 2: sleep and memory

The article for week 2 is about offline processing but never explicitly identifies what this is, when I asked Google to define it, I've struggled to find a Psychology related answer, please could you clarify exactly what this is?

Offline is meant to mean something like 'without conscious rehersal, deliberate thought or practice', but you are right to be curious. If it isn't explicitly defined by the authors it may be that they don't have a precise idea in mind (and this could be a problem)

week 5

At the top it says 'short report'. Does this mean it is not the full report?

No, it just means that this paper is one of a series of short reports

should they have used an ANOVA for the analysis of the variables? instead of using three one tailed t-tests?

Arguably, yes! Bonus points for working out precisely what this ANOVA should have been

I am a bit confused as to how to write up the results for a paper in a review. For example in the Referee paper there are 4 different results and 4 t values, do you write up each one and say whether it is significant or not? If so, I am worried about plagiarism as I am finding it difficult to think of different ways to explain the findings. Is there a standard structure of reporting results in a review or does it just depend on the paper.

When writing a lab report, you report all the stats you did (which should be all the tests that are obvious and relevant to check

When writing a review - ie for this course - you can just report the stats that are relevant to your intepretation. You don't need to report them fully, as you do in your own experimental report. See Lecture 5: Model Answer for an example.

I know this is basic Level 1 stats but how do you know whether a finding is significant or not, if it is 0.01 is it always significant? And is 0.05 always non significant? I have looked online and cannot seem to find a basic answer.

The common thing is that anything less that 0.05 is significant (anything more is non-significant, although sometimes people try to claim this is a 'trend', see the week 3 paper). Less than 0.01 is even more significant (often reported 'highly significant'), less than 0.001 an even stronger indication.

Following on from the stats question, I have noticed some authors report the 'P' value as P=.05 and others will report the 'P' value as P<.05. Is there a reason for this? Is it a trick to make the paper seem more significant than it is?

Some report exact p values (i.e. p = f5) some relative (p<0.05). The former is more precise, the latter is easier to understand. Both are acceptable, so it isn't really a trick. When you write a report, you should do as advised on the stats course.

I am finding it quite difficult to read the journal articles and understand how many IVs there and what the difference between an IV and levels of an IV are. Can you give any advise for identifying the IVs?

For this paper, the IV is "colour worn", and the levels are "red" and "blue".

In general, the name of the IV/factor describes what it is, and the levels describe what variations it exist in.

week 6: cycle thieves

It reports the majority of the results using an O.R , what is this?

O.R. is an odds ratio - it means the chance in the probability (e.g. of bike theft) across the conditions (e.g. from a sign vs no sign). So, e.g., if the OR is 1.3, this says that putting up signs makes bike thefts 1.3 x more likely

the only measure of significance that they seem to use is the fishers exact test I am unsure on how to report which differences are statistically significant and the direction they are in for this test as they only provide one output for all of the conditions (p=0.0001).

The problem is not your fault - the way the paper reports the statistics is not as clear as it could be. If they only report 1 p value, they can only be testing one thing

I'm really confused about the statistics, they say there is a significant association between intervention and change in number of thefts but what does this actually mean? Does it mean there is there a Significant association between signs and a decrease in crime in experimental conditions? Or a significant association between signs and an increase in crime in control conditions? Or both?

First off, it is okay to be confused about the statistics - they way they are presented is confusing. I had to look up Fisher's Exact Test to remind myself what it does.

Second, you are doing exactly the right thing to read the paper and assure yourself that you understand - in detail - what statistical test they did and that you understand it. Well done

Finally, I don't think the test distinguishes between an increase in control vs a decrease in the experimental condition - only that there is a significant difference in the four cells. Looking at the graph (Figure 2) this is obviously because the "after" cells diverge. Often you have to look at the graph to intepret a significance test.

is it a good idea to mention research that extended the findings of the Nettle et al paper in the discussion (with regard to what could be done in the future?) for example: Bateson et al found that the "watching eyes effect" works by making people more pro social rather than by making them conform to norms

Yes, this is a very good idea.

Why didn't they use an ANOVA?

Because ANOVAs require variation to calculate the statistics. There is no variation in these numbers, since they are just frequencies (e.g. 39 bikes stolen vs 15 bikes stolen). ANOVAs cannot be done on frequencies alone.

Also could one of the criticisms have been that they suggested that if the university put up signs at all locations at the university that displacement would be reduced- isn't this unwise to suggest? Given the large amount of displacement observed in this study surely this could displace crime to other areas of the community?

That, I think, is an ethical issue beyond the scope of this paper! Arguably, yes, it would be unwise to displace crime 'on to' other people, but maybe if you displace crime everywhere the criminals stop committing it. Who knows

Week 7 - Sight over sound in the judgment of music performance.

How do I describe the study without leaving out vital information? The word count is only 1000 for the critique and I am worried that I have spent too much of my word count describing Tsay's study. Tsay's study I feel is relatively long and complex because of the 7 experiments.

The word length is tight to force you to consider what information is vital. You should include the information that is most important to understanding the critique you offer at the end of your review. For 7 experiments, you will need to summarise the essential similarities

Should we be including information presented in the 'Supporting Information' of the paper (Sight over sound in the judgement of music performance) when we write our critical review, or just stick to reviewing the main paper?

If you can use the information to make an interesting argument about how the paper results should be interpreted, yes. Don't include any details just for the sake of it

Week 9 - brain stimulation and maths

With reference to the bar chart graphs A. Calculation Learning Rate (a) and B. Drill Learning Rate (a), they quantified learning rates using the 'power law function'. The quantitative data they now have displayed on the graphs goes up in 0.1 intervals. What type of data is this and how do we understand what significance it has?

Each individual has a learning curve for the two task (calculation or drill). The steepness of this learning curve is the data plotted in Figures 2A and 2B. Higher scores mean steeper learning curves - i.e. faster learning

That is a greek symbol, alpha, not an 'a', by the way

...and finally

My question isn't in this FAQ

Please add it, then let Tom Stafford know you have added it, and he will answer it