Design and Analysis

Abstract:

A critical aspect of moving psychology into the realm of paradigmatic science, and of ensuring the development and meaningful dissemination of empirically supported interventions, is competency in research design and statistical analysis. We present evidence that psychology graduate programs are not performing as well as they might in this area of training. An expanded version of the Competency Cube Model is used to present the specific skills that are central to seven areas of research design and data analysis by levels of training (bachelors, master’s, doctoral) and career path (clinical, research). The seven areas include: problem conceptualization, measurement and scaling, research methodology, core statistics, specialized statistical procedures, data analysis and management, and communication of findings. In keeping with the Competency Cube Model, we discuss both foundational (broad professional skills) and functional (area-specific skills) competencies in the seven areas, and introduce three overlapping stages of competency, from familiarity to knowledge, knowledge to use, and use to contribution. An extended listing of skills by content area, level of training, and stage of competency is presented to expand the discussion on both the curricula that should be offered for various academic degrees, and the manner in which the knowledge and skills learned should be documented or demonstrated. We recognize the multiple variations and mixtures along a continuum from practicing clinical psychologist to basic research psychologist, and the resulting differences in competencies in research design and statistical analysis. As the field experiences a shortage of quantitative psychologists, researchers need to better document their competence in this area beyond the traditional means (e.g., peer-reviewed publications), as well as seek lifelong learning opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. Clinical psychologists, on the other hand, must remain sufficiently conversant with this content area so as to evaluate published intervention research and competently evaluate their own practice.