I don’t really do experiments, but I have to make lots of decisions about how to analyses my data. Sometimes I do things wrong, but fortunately, because I do all my work on a computer I can always do it again.
When I plan an experiment I have to make quite a few decisions before I even start. A few big decisions include:
– what question am I trying to answer?
– how can I make sure my experiment is fair?
– what resources do I have?
– how long will this experiment take?
– what could mess my experiment up?
– what do I do if things go wrong!
If I was doing an experiment involving people or animals I’d also have to make the decision as to whether it was ethical – is it morally ok to do?
Experiments do sometimes go wrong but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted a decision I’ve made because I’ve always learnt something useful from my mistakes.
When you’re trying to find the answer to a question in science, you have to make decisions about the best experiment to do. The main things you have to consider are cost (there’s no point spending loads of money if you can answer the question more cheaply), and what system to use (where possible I use cells that I grow in culture, but sometimes I decide to use flies because I won’t be able to answer the question using cells). You also have to think about controls: usually you need a positive control, to show that your experimental system is working, and a negative control to show that any effects you see are specific.
Occasionally I’ve regretted doing an experiment a particular way because I’ve later realised there would have been a smarter or easier way to do it, but I’ve never had really big regrets.