Question: what are some questions you have to ask yourself before starting or continuing an experiment?

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  1. That’s a fantastic question trockstar1.

    There are lots of different questions you can ask before starting an experiment, and depending on the complexity of the idea or experiment, the list can be quite long.

    I think one of the most important questions is to ask WHY?
    – I actually have a little note stuck on my desk that says that, to try and remind me to constantly question things.

    My top questions would be:
    1) Why am I doing this experiment?
    2) What am I trying to find?
    3) What is the best way to do the experiment?
    or if there is already an experimental plan in mind: Is this the best way to find/show this? Are there any other methods that I can try if my experiment doesn’t work?

    Other questions that you might ask are:
    1) What controls do I need? How will I know whether my experiment has worked or not?
    2) What are the results going to show? What will a positive result mean? What will a negative result mean?

    Someone in my lab once gave me some useful advice, she said to think about the possible outcomes of your experiment and what it might mean, and whether those potential results were in line with what you’re trying to find out. I thought it was an interesting way to think about things.


  2. Trockstar1 has the thinking hat on again i see!

    Once we work out why we want to do an experiment as cindy says, then we also need to ask

    what do we need to do this experiment? (equipment, reagents/ingredients)
    how much is it going to cost?
    how long will it take?
    has someone already done it before?
    will it provide us with new information?

    I am hoping to start a brand new experiment tomorrow. We have not done it in our lab before, and whilst i understand HOW the experiment is meant to work, I need to work out how to do it with my treatment, and like cindy said, what controls do i need to test to make sure i can be confident of my experiments result?


  3. I agree with the others, its the Why, What and How which are really important. You need to have a focus to your research. Some of the other things I ask myself are;

    Which experiment is the best to tell me what I want to know?
    Do I have all the equipment for the experiment?
    Do I have all the skills to complete it or do I need to seek advice and help before I get started? and,
    Have I checked out all the safety requirements?