Tool - (Large Scale) Experiments

Experiments have an important function in understanding phenomena or testing a hypothesis of how they will behave under certain circumstances. There are understood to be four important elements of experiments, the treatment or the actions performed; the experimental units or subjects of the treatment; responses; and controls, where variables that may impact the result are regulated. Generally, experiments are categorised as ‘controlled’ or ‘natural’, the latter of which are closer to observations; and are used when it is difficult to control all variables and when it is impossible to control for all variables, respectively. Experiments may take place in a laboratory, but in the social sciences field experiments are used to observe behaviours in their natural setting.

Using ‘(Large Scale) Experiments’

Step 1: A topic or a research question is selected and defined as narrowly as possible. Prior to commencing the experiment it must be determined whether the research question has already been answered.

Step 2: The variables that are of importance to the topic or research question are isolated.

Step 3: A hypothesis is defined that predicts the results of the experiment and the behaviour of the variables.

Step 4: Data collection is planned. This includes a determination of which data will be collected and when this will occur.

Step 5: Decisions are made regarding the blindness of the experiment, or whether the volunteer and researcher know which individuals are in the ‘control’ or ‘experimental’ group.

Step 6: The experiment is conducted and data are collected. It is advised this occurs in a randomised way and the experiment is repeated to obtain multiple values for variables.

Step 7: Data are represented visually and analysed. A conclusion may then be made with regard to whether the hypothesis proposed was correct. This is most frequently accomplished through the use of statistical methods.


(Large scale) Experiments

(Large Scale) Experiments – Template