Authors: Randolph A. Smith and Stephen F. Davis
Publisher: Pearson – 456 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

This book has been written in simple daily-use language instead of in academic terms so that anyone can read and enjoy it.

The authors – Randolph A. Smith and Stephen F. Davis – point out that research in psychology is like a detective case: a problem is found; we discover clues; we need to evaluate them if they’re pieces of evidence pointing to our theory (of who stole something, for example) and why; or why the evidence does not prove our assumption and we throw it away.

Detective cases are interesting when viewed in the movies or on television. The authors asked themselves how to make psychological research – the subject of this book – be viewed as detective cases and make solving them as stimulating endeavor for students?

“Our goal is to attract students to psychological research because of its inherent interest,” they write in the Preface of this book. So they use the following teaching features in this text

  • To provide a sense of relevance and continuity, the theme of ‘psychologist as detective’ runs throughout the text.
  • Interactive Style of Writing
  • The Psychological Detective Feature
  • Margin Definitions
  • Review Summaries
  • Check Your Progress

Smith and Davis have encouraged students to undertake research projects because such activity is like being detectives to find solutions to cases. This is the theme used throughout the book. They point out that the findings of student research projects are making valuable contributions to the field of psychological research.

Two important resources for instructors and students are provided with this book:

  • An Instructor’s Manual with Tests – is available to adopting instructors. It contains suggested Activities and Assignments. The Test Bank, available through the Pearson MyTest computerized test generator at, includes multiple choice and short answers/essay questions.
  • MySearchLab with eText available on can be packaged with th9is text by ordering ISBN 0-2-5-86179-2, or purchased separately online. MySearchLab includes the full eText, glossary flashcards, chapters quizzes that report directly to an instructor gradebook, a full suite of writing and research tools, access to a variety of academic journals, census data, Associated Press newsfeeds, and discipline-specific readings. This website also provides a set of online experiment simulations to show students research in action.
  • Operation ARA (Acquiring Research Acumen) – an online smart game that teaches critical thinking and research methods skills, is available within MySearchLab, as well as standalone ( This simulation features a “save the world” plot that requires students to learn and apply critical-thinking skills and scientific principles to uncover and foil an extraterrestrial plot to colonize Earth.
  • Research Methods Laboratory Manual (ISBN 0-205-741703-3) – authored by Barney Beins and Jeffrey Holmes, both of Ithaca College, contains lab activities that are similar to a number of published psychological studies.

One of the most important aspects of psychological research is the research process itself, a tool that enables us to gather usable data when finding solutions to a problem. The Research Process is detailed in Chapter 1, and it consists of these parts:

  • Problem
  • Literature Review
  • Theoretical Considerations
  • Hypothesis
  • Research Plan
  • Conducting the Project
  • Analysis of Research Findings
  • Decisions in Terms of Past Research and Theory
  • Preparation of the Research Report
  • Sharing Your Results: Presentation and Publication
  • Finding a New Problem


Randolph A. Smith is affiliated with Lamar University.

Stephen F. David is affiliated with Morningside College.