Fundamentals of Research

This resource  is meant to be an introduction for quantitative and qualitative research, along with the process for making inferences based upon a controlled experiment. This information can be used for students to gain a better understanding of how to design an experiment based upon the variables of interest, as well as some beginning introduction into statistical tests that are appropriate for the design that you choose.

Please keep in mind that this information is meant to act as a brief introduction to a much larger set of concepts and skills.  A complete and thorough understanding of topics is untenable with these few pages. Such an understanding would only come with rigorous coursework in statistics and research design. But do not despair, for this process is typically reserved for college, which you are all ultimately planning to pursue. These topics are often presented in a series of courses that graduate students (i.e., those working on their Master's and/or their PhDs) would complete.

Questions you must answer to begin the process of experimental design.

  • What is your DATA? What kind of variables are you studying? What output, or response variable, are you interested in understanding? What are the inputs, or explanatory variables, that you hope to manipulate or control in order to find differences or relationships?

  • What type of samples will you use? Do you have a clear understanding of a defined population? Are you comparing samples from different populations? Do you plan to match before and after samples from the same population? How have you ensured that your samples are representative of the population of interest?

  • What is the purpose of your experiment? Are you making a comparison of two or more statistics? Are you looking for a relationship between sample statistics? Are you testing against a hypothesized value (i.e., hypothesis testing, which is non-trivial, and requires a fair amount of foundational knowledge in order to understand)? 

  • How do you choose the most appropriate statistical test for your designed experiment?

Challenges of Statistics - Why do some (or many?) students fear statistics or dislike learning statistics? Here is a nice synopsis from a professor, Dr. Nic Petty, who presents 10 reasons why this occurs, and solutions to overcome it.

Video LinkWhy people hate statistics - with Dr. Nic


Great Internet Resources

  1. Dr Nic's Maths and Stats - Videos from the Statistics learning Centre that help you understand the statistical process associated with experimental design.

  2. StatTrek - This is a  website that provides training and tools to help you solve statistics problems independently

  3. statisticsfun - This is another set of videos that provide explanations and examples of the statistical process.

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