Advanced Research Methods in Physical Activity


The course is designed for Ph.D. students, who have had at least one introductory course on research methods (KIN 501 or equivalent) and at least two statistics course at the graduate level (e.g., STAT 401/587: Statistical Methods for Research Workers, STAT 402: Statistical Design and the Analysis of Experiments, STAT 404: Regression for Social and Behavioral Research, or equivalent courses from other institutions). 

Rationale for the course

It has been the observation of several faculty members that graduate students, even at the doctoral level, do not seem comfortable with rather fundamental concepts of research methods, even after having taken several courses in research methods and statistics. As a consequence, they may commit crucial errors in designing studies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting results. Some of these errors, once made, cannot be "undone" by statistical adjustments and can thus have a dramatic impact on the quality of the research.

One likely interpretation for this phenomenon is that typical introductory courses in research methods and statistics are mainly concerned with covering a lot of material within a relatively short period of time. They do so via lecture-style instruction, giving students very limited (if any) opportunity to see the concepts being taught applied in practice and to recognize their function and relevance within the research enterprise. In other words, the concepts remain purely "academic" and are not translated into practical, meaningful, tangible tools. 

KIN 620 was designed to address this limitation. For the most part, the course will not attempt to re-introduce or re-teach fundamental concepts in research methods and statistics. Instead, it will provide students an opportunity to see such concepts used in practice through the critical study and analysis of published research articles. In particular, emphasis is placed on the possible consequences of the misapplication of methodological approaches and statistical techniques, the violation of important assumptions, and the intentional or unintentional misinterpretation of results. By sharpening the students' critical thinking skills, the goal is to permanently embed fundamental methodological and statistical considerations in the processes of (a) reading and evaluating research articles and (b) designing one's own meaningful and impactful research.

Topics include: 

  • Economics of research, replicability crisis
  • Paradigms, interdisciplinarity
  • Publication and authorship ethics
  • Research misconduct, protection of human subjects
  • Assessing research bias
  • Consolidated standards of reporting trials (CONSORT)
  • External validity and the RE-AIM framework
  • Statistical power and effect sizes
  • Type I error inflation and control of alpha
  • Assumptions behind statistical tests
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses