4. Designing and reporting a scientific experiment

4. Designing and reporting a scientific experiment -...

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Designing and reporting a scientific experiment A good testable hypothesis lies at the base of every experiment, but carrying out tests of the hypothesis may not be as easy as you might think depending on whether your experiment will be carried out in the more controlled environment of a laboratory, or in the field. The problem is being able to control all the variables in the experiment. This is obviously much easier in the lab, and in any experiment only one or a few of the variables of interest are altered. In most cases only one variable is altered, but if you were looking for interactions between two variables in your hypothesis then obviously you would alter each independently and together to see if the combination had an affect that was different from what is seen when separate. It’s often harder in the field, where other environmental variables also come into play. Obviously you may not see the same thing if you made your observations or manipulated the environment in the spring compared to the fall – unless you were looking at seasonality. Observations at the same time of year in years of drought compared to normal rainfall or identical habitats but with different levels of a pollutant are examples of looking for results while controlling the surrounding environmental variables. In short, you need to be able to see what happens when one
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4. Designing and reporting a scientific experiment -...

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