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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

Research questions and hypotheses



Here we will approach the following questions. You may already have answers for some!

  • What data will you collect?
  • How will you collect it?
  • Where from?
  • How will you record it?

Both quantitative and qualitative data can be split into the further categories below. Each part of your research might include a different category (I think my thesis will include all five!).

Remember back to section 2b: Before you go ahead with data collection, make sure you do a pilot study (also called pre-testing or rehearsal) to practice your method and overcome any unforeseen issues.


Making sense of your data

If you remember only one thing from this course, I urge it to be this: decide how you are going to process your data before you start collecting it. This will direct you towards what you need to answer your research question, i.e., how many variables? Repeated measures or individual data?

Have your spreadsheets with columns and headings (or equivalent) ready before you start.

Will you be running statistical analysis? Decide on it now (see resources in the next subsection). Find some example data, or generate your own, and practice it. Try out making figures from this example data. Know exactly how you will proceed before you start collecting your data.

From this, if it is not working out the way you expected, now is a great time to chat with your supervisor or other researchers about how to straighten it out. If you wait to do this after you have already collected data, you may have to reformat everything, or at worst… the data itself may be unusable. Getting prepared with stats and analysis before you start is a superb way of mitigating this.

Resource Link


Simplistic research design flowcharts and templates


Free to download and editable in Microsoft Word


Agile Gantt Chart template on Microsoft Excel


Available on university computers


Research Design and Statistical Analysis

By Jerome L. Myers, Arnold D. Well, Robert F. Lorch Jr

Available via university VPN


Qualitative research design PowerPoint presentation template


Free; useful if you need to present your research design


Research Design (in: Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods) by Sema A. Kalaian Available via university VPN


Guide for creating and using surveys.


Surveys by Neil J. Salkind. In: Encyclopedia of Research Design




Designing a Qualitative Study by John W Cresswell and Cheryl N Poth (includes exercises)


Designing a Qualitative Study by JA Maxwell (includes exercises)


Researching Across Cultures: Issues of Ethics and Power by Anne Marshall & Suzanne Batten


Accountability by Lisa M. Given. In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods


Better Safe than Sorry: Planning for Safe and Successful Fieldwork by Lori D. Daniels and Suzie Lavallee


Writing Field Notes and Using Them to Prompt Scholarly Writing by Raul Pacheco-Vega


The Future of Field Notes (for biologists) by Patrick Cooney


Basic Biology, Good Field Notes, and Synthesizing across Your Career by William Matthews



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