Experimental Design Workshop (1/28/15)

Things to do for Monday (2/2/15):

Proposals! Remember, 500 words and great. Details shamelessly lifted from Kendra’s blog post as follows:

  • Proposal structure:
    1. Selling title
    2. Introduction including broader “big picture” concept — A conceptual basis or background for the question, how the project addresses this conceptual basis. Should include at least 3 citations.
    3. Questions and/or hypothesis
    4. Methods – A specific field site and study organism(s). Key factor, response variable(s), techniques used.
    5. Expected results – The potential outcome(s). Could be supported by a graph.

      These proposals will be graded on four things:

      • Originality (is this a novel contribution to the field of study?)
      • Importance (justification of the study)
      • Feasibility
      • Communication (completeness, presentation, writing)

Post proposals to the blog as individual pages with the title and authors before class on February 2One proposal per group.

Visit the oak savannah or Jepson Prairie on Sunday with the groups going to get a good idea of what they’re thinking about. The oak savanna group is meeting at 10am and Jepson Prairie group at 12:30pm, both at the parking lot behind Storer Hall.


We first went over the three papers assigned for the day. Kiely briefed us on Diamond (1986), discussing the trade-offs and benefits of field, lab, and natural experiments. We discussed whether it was possible to decide what to do ahead of time based on the limitations of the question. Next, Brendan briefly went over Hairston (1989), which I derailed with a question about why papers from JSTOR are so terrible to read digitally. Finally, Sonja led us in a conversation about Hulbert (1984) and pseudoreplication. We discussed whether pseudoreplication is as terrible as Hulbert made it sound, and whether it is avoidable. We decided that though it may be unavoidable, authors should be transparent about their techniques and should not make overreaching claims about their statistics.

IMG_20150128_170157Next, the class broke off into groups for our design workshop, in which we designed our experiments by answering questions about our research question, various variables and more. We had planned to do this for 45 minutes before moving on, but ended up doing this for the rest of class.

Proposed Agenda for Monday (2/2/15):

2:10-3:30 Presentations of proposals (15 minutes + 5 min discussion each)

3:30-3:40 Overview of the peer review process

3:40-4:10 Each individual writes a brief peer review of the other 4 projects in class (10 min each). Peer reviews are posted to folders on the Dropbox.

4:10-5 Lab inventory, materials & resources

Best of luck on your proposals and see you Monday!

-Avery Kruger (thats me!)

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