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Summary of Class on Feb 17

Submitted by sbrewer on Mon, 02/20/2017 - 13:56

Some people attended the student strike on Friday. Here's a summary of what we did in class.

As of class time, I had asked everyone to have completed the figure for their methods project, to have finished their methods section, and to have shared the text with me in a google doc by making me (sbrewer@umass.edu) the owner. I noted that not everyone had done this and asked anyone who was not yet matched up to line up after class and to get matched up. We did this so, if you're not matched up, you should contact me ASAP.

For the next class, everyone should have followed the methods the were assigned and uploaded the replicated figure as an "Image" (rather than "Blog Post"). We went through that process in class, although it is also described in the Methods Project description.

We briefly discussed the article I had asked you to read by Jerry Fodor. This article, cast as a conversation with "Granny" tries to reconcile common-sense ideas about observation with the philosophical argument that all observation is dependent on inference. Since this assignment asks you to separate observation from inference, I thought it was important to acknowledge that this is a long-standing philosophical question and provide a pointer into the literature.

Before we began the main activity for the day, I provided a couple of pieces of background: I reminded everyone that the figures created in previous semesters were not modeled on the same requirements that this class used, and so some had more or less panels with different thematic requirements and that this was only to be expected. Second, I pointed out that many students, upon completing this activity, realized many things that they hadn't controlled in writing their own methods — or worried that the methods they had written needed to be corrected somehow. I tried to remind everyone that the grading of this assignment is not based on how close the replicated figure matches their own and that the whole point was to learn what happened when you tried to think through what needed to be controlled and then looked the results.

For the activity, I provided a link to a PDF file that includes examples of pairs of figures from previous semesters of this class. We spent around a half-hour making lists of observations and inferences , trying to separate them, and then trying to organize and connect them. Finally, we discussed how to organize them into separate Results and Discussion sections.

Each section of a paper should be organized according to an internal logic. Most sections should have an introductory paragraph that provides an overview and explains how the section is organized. The Results section should be organized around the differences that were observed. This will probably be structured around how the analysis was conducted with paragraphs about each panel, but might also include paragraphs comparing the overall figures, or the labeling, or other elements that were compared. The Discussion, on the other hand, should be organized around the factors that were identified. In all cases, the factors controlled in the methods, should have been identified in the Introduction. And the differences identified in the Results, should be explained by factors described in the Discussion.

Finally, we spoke about avoiding judgments. The goal of the comparison is to identify differences and factors that caused them. It is not to describe differences as mistakes, rate the severity of differences, assign blame, or predict what would happen if something different had been done or were done in the future. Just describe the differences in simple, dispassionate language, and try to explain how the differences happened.

Next week, you should have your rough draft completed. As I said previously, I will try to make comments on your draft in time for you to use my comments to improve your paper. The more complete your paper is, the better the comments I can make will be. In the next class period, you will be asked to very briefly present the differences you observed and factors you identified. I've also asked you to find the manuscript submission guidelines for a publication and we will discuss what manuscript submission guidelines we should use for our class.

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