Group Project STEP 3: Background Research (Multiple Deadlines)

Once a potential research question is identified, it is time to do some background research to see if other researchers have addressed your question before, what methods have been used, and what were the findings. Previous studies will help you to formulate your question in a more practical and specific way, and will even give you some ideas on how to go about designing an experiment. They will also make you aware of some of the issues to consider to avoid pitfalls. It is quite common for an experimental study to be modeled on a previous study, extending it in some modest way. This is a good strategy to make sure your methods are reliable and that your work is immediately relevant to the field.

Posting your research question on your group project homepage:

Before embarking on the background research proper, I would like you to take some time to re-formulate your research question, using the various issues that were raised during the class and the follow-up discussions. This task should be completed as soon as possible, so that the background research work can be divided in some logical way between group members.

Doing background research on your question:

1. Find at least 3-4 articles (1-2 per group member) that are directly relevant to your research question and the experimental study you will conduct to address this question. Some recommended databases to get started are: RILM, PsycArticles, and Google Scholar (J-STOR is a great place to get articles, but not so good for searches). Recommended journals for a more focused search: Music Perception (this is the top journal in this field), Empirical Musicology Review, and Psychology of Music (for a more detailed listing, see

2. Post the bibliographic references and abstracts on your group page as well as a link to the original source (if available electronically), and a comment on how this article will inform your experimental study. You may also include figures or any other materials from the articles that you think will be helpful to your project. (You should also add these two citations and the abstract to the Virtual Lab’s bibliography, for reference.) These references should be posted no later than Thursday, October 16, 11:30 AM.

3. Review the materials posted by your group members, and post comments/questions as needed in preparation for the in-class report and discussion (see below).

4. During class on Tuesday, October 21, each group will do a brief report to the class (about 10 minutes).  Each report will be followed by a brief open discussion, the main goal of which will be to start moving toward operationalization (i.e., defining the rhythmic element to be examined in such a way that it will be measurable, identifying the variables, and formulating a hypothesis). The report should include: (1) a clear statement of the research question, theory, and hypothesis; (2) some background information about state of research and paradigms previously used; and (3) how you intend to pursue your research. Michael Lorello, who will be providing us with technical support for the sound production part of the experimental design, will be present and will meet with each team following the presentations.

Three guiding questions for this task:

  • Based on your literature review, what is the research context in which your question or “problem” is situated?
  • What contribution to knowledge and understanding do you expect to make?
  • And, in preparation for the next step (experimental design), what methods (task, procedure, stimuli, measures) are suggested by this research?

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  1. Pingback: Upcoming Assignments, Tuesday & Thursday, October 28 & 30 | Virtual Lab

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