[A picture of Oliver Kirchkamp]

The structure of an experimental project

A complete experimental project often contains the following parts:
  1. An introduction where you motivate the research question and your approach. In this part you also present the relevant literature. You explain the research gap you plan to fill with your project. Much of the discussion of your research question will be part of your introduction.
  2. A theoretical background presents one or more models that can be used as a reference.
  3. A presentation of the experimental design. This includes a discussion of how the parameters of the design are chosen (i.e. how many participants, which treatments are included, etc.). If the implementation of your experiment requires some programming, it might be useful to briefly discuss the choice of the software. In any case you should include instructions to the experiment. It should be clear to the reader what problems participants of your experiments have to solve.
  4. Results. These results can often be divided into descriptives and inference.
  5. A discussion of your results.
  6. A conclusion
Often it is not possible within a single small project to actually run an entire experiment. Here are some alternatives:
  1. An introduction where you motivate the research question and your approach. In this part you also present the relevant literature. You explain the research gap you plan to fill with your project. Again, much of the discussion of your research question will be part of your introduction.
  2. A theoretical background presents one or more models that can be used as a reference.
  3. A presentation of the experimental design including a more detailed discussion of how the parameters of the design should be chosen. Here one could include, e.g., a sample size estimation or a quantitive assessement of other parameters of the design.

    Since the experiment will never really be run it might not be useful to spend too much time on details of experimental software. Instructions are still relevant. It should be clear to the reader what problems participants of your experiments have to solve.

  4. Instead of presenting results of a real experiment one could present a strategy how results could be presented. This strategy could be illustrated with the help of simulated data. Since each simulation comes with parameters and assumptions, these parameters and assumptions should be discussed.
  5. A discussion of the results of the above exercises.
  6. A conclusion