Research Aims and Factors
Science is about understanding the relationships between different phenomena that we observe.
Scientific research is a process of observing these relationships, quantifying their effect, and searching for new relationships.
There are three main categories of scientific investigation:
Testing whether a particular link, or mechanism,
e.g. does smoking increase the probability of heart disease?
You need to decide what is involved in your particular project - it might be all three aspects of investigation, but may only involve just one of these aspects.
ACTION: You should now
write down the detailed experimental aims of
your research, using the above three categories to focus your mind,
Record the cadmium level in the rivers Exe and Wye as functions of distance downstream from industrial sites (descriptive)
Derive a mathematical relationship to give the pollution as a function of distance downstream (modelling)
Test whether the cadmium level in the river Exe is
from that in the river Wye (testing)
identify all the factors that might influence
the measurements that you will make
Solution temperature, choice of growth media for seedlings, audible distraction when performing an exercise, time taken, choice of preparative method, etc, etc.
Your experiments will be designed to test for the effect of the main factors, but you also need to be aware of other confounding factors that might cause errors or uncertainties in your results.
Note that these aims are just to get you started, and that, as your research progresses, you may need to change your intermediate aims as you discover new information about your topic.