Designing a Research Project Walkthrough


Scientists conduct research to investigate patterns occurring in the natural world around them.


Scientists conduct research to investigate patterns occurring in the natural world around them. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of possible components to study within any given system, however, and researchers help isolate their component of interest by first developing a research question. The success of a research project is directly proportional to the appropriateness of the research question. A well posed question will help focus the researcher, determine what type of data should be collected, and help to ensure efficient use of time, energy, and funds. Click here to read "Guidelines to Asking Research Questions".


Once a research question is derived it is necessary to decide how best to implement the study. The protocols walk you through how to set up and implement your study and many have lesson plans and additional resources. The Ecoplexity website has a helpful protocol search feature that allows you to select specific attributes that pertain to your research question. Click here to view the Protocol Finder.


Stages of Inquiry

A well designed research project will incorporate all of the stages of inquiry; designing a study, analyzing data, interpreting results, and writing a report of one's findings. Click here to learn more about the process of Scientific Inquiry. The ecological concepts of biological diversity, complexity, ecological knowledge, and experimentation are central to studying any ecological system.

Student Portal

To facilitate using the resources available on the Ecoplexity website in the classroom, you can design a Student Portal to be used by your students. This feature allows you to select a subset of pages from our website, provide links to external websites, upload files and images, and encourage collaboration among students through a blog specific to your class. The items you choose to include in your Student Portal are publicly available to students from anywhere they have internet access.

The Student Portal is also an excellent opportunity to conduct cross-site comparative studies with students in other departments, across the country, or around the world. Imagine the potential of students from different latitudes, climates, or hemispheres following identical protocols to study similar organisms from their home regions. Much of the Ecoplexity website is available in Spanish translation. Click here to view a sample Student Portal.



Abiotic Factors: