Lessons on Running a Laboratory Experiment (in Graduate School)
by Daniel J. Mallinson, Penn State Harrisburg
Experimentation has taken on a new life in political science. As the use of experimental methods proliferates, it is important for researchers to share their experiences and best practices, particularly with early-career researchers. This article provides reflections and practical experience in the laboratory, particularly geared toward graduate students and early-career researchers who are conducting their first laboratory experiment. Lessons include: everything takes longer than you think; use time wisely; it is OK to use deception; choose confederates wisely; be creative in incentives; and keep a journal. Finally, early-career researchers are encouraged to “go for it” if the methods are appropriate to their research question.