Primary Research Design (Writing Lives)

When you, the researcher,  are collecting the data that you will write about, you are doing primary research. Badges such as Writing Lives require you to design a primary research project to answer a question. In this case, you are asking and answering a question about writing in your personal, academic, civic or professional life. As you design your research, you’ll want to consider what others have said by reading secondary sources that report on similar research, usually in the form of articles and book chapters.

These steps will guide you through primary research design, data collection, data analysis, and writing up your findings. For the Writing Lives project, you will report your research findings in the form of a research poster. See the badge pathway for more tips and guides for designing a research poster and consider sharing your research poster at the URI Showcase of Undergraduate Research!

Background Research

  • What have others written or studied about this topic?
  • What are the major ideas or thoughts about your topic?
  • How do you add to this conversation?

Coming up with strong questions

  • Focused and Specific
  • Measurable
  • Provide interesting answers that matter to others
  • Part of an ongoing conversation

Collecting Data

  • Data should be able to address the research question
  • Data should be thoughtfully chosen and not cherry-picked
  • Data should be carefully described, both the data set and individual artifacts

Analyzing Data

  • Systematic method for reviewing data
  • Deciding on coding markers related to research question
  • Allowing other coding markers emerge
  • Recording Analysis
  • Visualizing Data with graphs & charts

Discussing Findings

  • What story does this data tell?
  • How does the “story” compare or contrast with your secondary research?
  • Why does it matter? What is the significance of this story?
  • What kinds of research might others do to build your study?


  • What are the drawbacks of your study?
  • What worked or didn’t work?
  • How would change the research design next time?