References and Appendices
DesignThe role of this section is to give a logical outline of the experiment. It is a description of the structure of the experiment; the type of structure that was used, what the conditions were (the levels of the independent variable), what was the dependent variable, and what controls were used.
Initially when writing a design, it is important to outline the type of design used within the experiment, whether it was a within or between subjects experiment:
In a between subject design experiment,...
Then the basic structure can be outlined with description of the independent variable, and its various levels. Also the actual dependent measure should be described:
..participants were split into three conditions 1 and given a verbal memory task. In condition 12 participants were told to use the counting mnemonic to remember the words, in condition 22 the method of loci mnemonic and in condition 32 the participants were told to use no strategy. The dependent measure 3was the number of correctly recalled words.
1. The basic structure of the experiment
2. The details of each condition (levels of independent variable)
3. The dependent variable
Any controls, for example counterbalancing, should also be outlined.
This section should be short, it is important that you do not provide too much detail of the procedure used. This ensures that the design is clear and concise and avoids any unnecessary repetition.
Common ErrorsIt is important that the design section is clear and concise. Students tend to put too much information about the procedure within this section. The information described above is normally enough to provide a good outline of the design.
One unusual mistake that students make is providing a discussion of possible confounding variables within this section. This is speculative and belongs in the discussion. It is important to remember with the design and indeed with the whole method section that you must provide a purely factual description of the experiment, so just provide the facts.