We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Experimental Design for the Life Sciences

Third Edition

Graeme Ruxton and Nick Colegrave

Publication Date - November 2010

ISBN: 9780199569120

200 pages
9.7 x 7.4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $44.95


At the core of good research lies the careful design of experiments. However, all too often a successful design comes only after a painful trial-and-error process that wastes valuable time and resources.

Now in a new edition, Experimental Design for the Life Sciences teaches today's students how to effectively design experiments, equipping them with the skills they need to become tomorrow's top researchers. Employing a refreshingly approachable and articulate style, the text explains the essential elements of experimental design in clear, practical terms, so that students can grasp and apply even the most challenging concepts, including power analysis and pseudoreplication. In addition, it emphasizes the interrelatedness of experimental design, statistics, and ethical considerations throughout. A broad range of examples--drawn from the primary literature and the authors' extensive personal experience--demonstrate the practical relevance of experimental design in real-life biological research.

The only undergraduate text devoted to this topic, Experimental Design for the Life Sciences, Third Edition, demonstrates how good experimental design relies on clear thinking and biological understanding, not on mathematical or statistical complexity.

Pedagogical Features

* Self-test questions, with answers at the end of the book, reinforce essential facts and encourage students to check their understanding as they progress

* Take-home messages throughout chapters focus students' attention on the principles that they must master

* Coverage of ethical issues, flagged in the margins, raises awareness of this important aspect of the field

New to this Edition

  • A new section on identifying questions worth answering and turning such questions into hypotheses and, ultimately, experiments
  • A new section illustrating common mistakes in experimental design (to assist with evaluating the work of others)
  • Expanded coverage of between-individual variation, replication, statistical power, and performing observational studies
  • More topical examples from a wider range of fields in the life sciences, including biomedical studies
  • An expanded Companion Website that offers students self-test questions and answers; additional questions; links to useful websites and free software; and fully worked examples of investigative exercises. Figures from the book are available for download by instructors.

About the Author(s)

Graeme Ruxton obtained a first degree in Physics before getting a PhD in Statistics and Modelling Science. After his PhD he worked for several years with the Scottish Agricultural Statistical Service in Edinburgh. He then got a lectureship in Ecology at the University of Glasgow, where he is now Professor of Theoretical Ecology.

Nick Colegrave trained as an evolutionary biologist, obtaining his first degree at the University of Sussex, and his PhD on the evolution of competition strategies at the University of Sheffield. Since then he has held a number of postdoctoral research positions at a range of universities including, McGill, St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh, working on various aspects of evolutionary biology, with a range of organisms. At various points he has also held the post of zoology demonstrator at the University of Edinburgh, teaching experimental design to zoology students and advising on statistics. He is now lecturer in Biology at Edinburgh.

Previous Publication Date(s)

February 2006
February 2003


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

"I would have loved to have such a book in this phase of my scientific career."--Mariet Hefting, Utrecht University

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

Table of Contents

    Preface: How to Use this Book
    1. Why You Should Care about Design
    2. Starting with a Well-Defined Hypothesis
    3. Between-Individual Variation, Replication, and Sampling
    4. Different Experimental Designs
    5. Taking Measurements
    6. Final Thoughts
    Answers to Self-Test Questions
    Flow Chart on Experimental Design