
SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS
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Each time you carry out an investigation check the following points.
Planning

Have I written a short concise introduction?

Have I stated my aim or objective (research question)? Be precise.

If it is valid, have I written my hypothesis (a justified prediction)?
Method

Which variable will I change (the independent variable)?

Which variable will I measure/observe (dependent variable)? How will I measure it and how often?

Which other variables do I need to control (which ones will affect the experiment)?

How many trials do I need to be sure of my results?

What equipment and materials will I need?

What safety factors should I bear in mind?
Results/Data

How accurate must I be?

How should I present them? (annotated drawings, tables, prose)

Where are the errors in my measurements/observations and how big are they likely to be?

Did I see anything else happen during the investigation that needs to be described?
Processing and Analysis of Results

Do I leave them as they are?

Do I calculate a change, a proportion/percentage, an average or other statistical value?

Do I present them as a table or graphically?

If graphically, what sort of graph is best? What are the conventions?

Do I need to analyse the graph to obtain a result?
Discussion of results

What do the results show? (Are there any trends?)

What can I interpret from the results? (Explain them in a systematic way.)

Are the results consistent with what I expected?

Can I explain any unexpected results?

Compare with literature values where appropriate

What are the sources of error: in my method, in the manipulation, in the analysis?

What improvements could be made?

Do I need to suggest a new hypothesis to account for the results?

How could I take the investigation further?
Style

Keep it impersonal (eg "The tubes were left for 10 minutes to incubate" instead of "I left the tubes for 10 minutes to incubate")

Use labelled or annotated diagrams, if necessary, to show the experimental set up.

Use subheadings to organise your report (Aim, Hypothesis, Method, Results etc)
Taken from Further Investigations in Biology (Vol. 1, 2, 3 and 4), Billiet, Casalis, Gaurenne & James, IBID Press.

© Paul Billiet 2014 