STEMskiller: Skill Set Map for Mentors of Early Career Researchers


Understanding elements of research design


Early career researchers may not yet have had coursework in quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research design and may not be able to distinguish between the different forms of research. Mentors should ideally familiarize mentees with differences in research methods and, for quantitative studies, ensure mentees understand how to identify strengths and weaknesses in research related to statistical issues (e.g., bias, sample size, randomization, and experimental control).

Useful resources on Understanding elements of research design :

Carpi, A., & Egger, A.E. (2008). Statistics in Science.

Concise overview article that discusses current use of statistics in science and includes a quiz and links to additional reading. Includes: What is statistics; statistics in research design; statistics in data analysis; and limitations, misconceptions, and the misuse of statistics.

Creswell, J.W., & Creswell, J.D. (2017). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. (NOTE: This book is not open access, so please check with your library to see if they have a copy or if they can order one via interlibrary loan).

Clear, thorough textbook that equips readers with a basic understanding of the different types of research design and key elements to include in the different kinds of studies. Online accompanying resources include a checklist for research proposals together with samples for each kind of research at:

UC Museum of Paleontology at the University of Berkeley. (2007). Understanding Science: Fair tests: A do-it-yourself guide.

Provides a concise, clear overview of how to design “fair tests”:

Designing a fair test of an idea—in formal science or in everyday life—means deciding what results you'll be comparing, controlling variables, avoiding bias, and figuring out a way to distinguish chance differences from meaningful ones.[1]

The resource provides examples in three areas (medicine, fossil record, and physics).

[1] UC Museum of Paleontology at the University of Berkeley. (2007). Understanding Science: Fair tests: A do-it-yourself guide.

Tags: IPS IA; IPS QL; IPS PS; IAL IntL; CompQ; CompTS

Peer Review: None

Table of contents:

1.5.1. Understanding elements of research design


Author: Stephanie Krueger

Peer Reviewer(s): None

Last Updated: October 26, 2021


Editor: Stephanie Krueger Last modified: 26.10. 2021 16:10