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Experimental Design for the Life Sciences

Fourth Edition

Graeme D. Ruxton and Nick Colegrave

June 2016

ISBN: 9780198717355

224 pages

In Stock

Price: £29.99

The only undergraduate textbook devoted to experimental design for the life sciences, making this essential aspect of the research process readily understandable.



The only undergraduate textbook devoted to experimental design for the life sciences, making this essential aspect of the research process readily understandable.

  • Thorough but student-friendly approach to experimental design that aims to stimulate, rather than intimidate.
  • Walks you step-by-step through the different stages involved in designing an experiment, how different research questions will lead you to different types of experimental design, and how different designs suit different kinds of data analysis.
  • Theoretical concepts are reinforced with a broad range of examples to demonstrate the practical relevance of experimental design across the life sciences.
  • Self-test questions, with answers at the end of the book, encourage students to check their understanding as they progress, and reinforce essential facts.
  • Discussion of ethical issues raises awareness of this important aspect of experimental design.

New to this edition

  • New chapters dedicated to key concepts such as pseudoreplication, statistical power, and different types of design.
  • Completely reorganized structure, which emphasizes how the features of a particular biological question of interest will naturally draw you to different types of design and of data analysis.
  • Updated examples drawn from across the life sciences.
  • Enhanced Online Resource Centre, with additional examples, supplementary sections on complex concepts and statistical issues, and suggested course structures with practical exercises.

About the Author(s)

Graeme D. Ruxton, Professor, University of St Andrews, and Nick Colegrave, Lecturer in Biology, The University of Edinburgh

Table of Contents

    1:Why you should care about design
    2:Starting with a well-defined hypothesis
    3:Selecting the broad design of your study
    4:Between-individual variation, replication, and sampling
    6:Sample size, power, and efficient design
    7:The simplest type of experimental design: completely randomized single-factor
    8:Experiments with several factors (factorial designs)
    9:Beyond complete randomization: blocking and covariates
    10:Within-subject designs
    11:Taking measurements


Review from previous edition This is an excellent book for learning how to approach the design of experimental and, indeed, observational work. It avoids the usual inclusion of statistical detail that turns many students off while retaining all the key issues that are necessary for planning studies that produce good science. I commend this book to all those who struggle to get students to think seriously about designing good scientific studies. - Higher Education Academy, Bioscience e-Journal, June 2006

I think it is splendid; it is the sort of short and concise text which students remember for a long time and which they hang on to long after the course is passed. - Bernt Walther, Department of Fisheries and Marine Biology, University of Bergen

A well-presented, clearly argued, concise and witty introduction to one of the most important topics in the life sciences. - Nick Royle, School of Biosciences, Exeter University

Additional Resources

The Online Resource centre to accompany Experimental Design for the Life Sciences features:

For students:
· Self-test questions and answers
· Extra questions and examples
· Supplementary sections discuss complex concepts and statistical issues in more depth
· Links to useful websites and free software

For lecturers:
· Suggested course structures complete with practical exercises
· Figures from the book, available to download