Abnormal Child & Adolescent Psychology

Resources for Introduction to Abnormal Child & Adolescent Psychology (4th edition)

3. Research Methods with Children & Families

Learning Objectives
Use five principles of scientific thinking to differentiate scientific research from pseudoscience.
Identify the four goals of scientific research with children and adolescents: (1) description, (2) prediction, (3) explanation, and (4) replication.
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various research designs commonly used with children such as correlational, experimental, and quasi-experimental studies.
Explain the importance of ethics when conducting research with children and families in need.

Note: The number before each objective shows its corresponding module in the text.


Facilitated Communication

Many of the features of pseudo-scientific thinking can be seen in the practice of facilitated communication. See how psychologists used science to debunk this practice.

Therapeutic Touch

Eleven-year-old Emily Rosa used critical thinking to discredit the practice of therapeutic touch. In this video, you can see the research study that Rosa and her colleagues conducted and her participants' reactions to her results.

Illusory Correlation 

The first signs of autism typically emerge between 6 and 24 months of life, about the same time children are vaccinated. However, just because two events occur together in time does not mean they are causally related.

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Center for Open Science (COS)

The COS envisions a future scholarly community in which the process, content, and outcomes of research are openly accessible to everyone. All scholarly work is preserved and shared so that science can advance and researchers can replicate the work of others. The COS website provides an excellent introduction to students and faculty interested in participating in the Open Science Initiative.


The Mayfield Clinic (Cincinnati) provides a nice overview of commonly-used neuroimaging techniques including MRI, fMRI, and DTI. The images on their site allows you to compare the images and note the different types of information they provide to clinicians and researchers.  


Meta-analysis is a way researchers can combine the results of many studies to obtain a single, quantitative estimate of the effect of an intervention. In randomized controlled studies of medication or psychotherapy, the effect size reflects the difference between the treatment group and the control group at the end of the study. This short article provides a conceptual introduction to meta-analysis and discusses some of its limitations.

Research Ethics

The American Psychological Association's (2017) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct provides standards that psychologists must follow in their professional activities. Most of the ethics code concerns clinical practice. Section 8 addresses ethical issues in research.