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How to address experimental error in conclusion

  1. Dec 12, 2015 #1
    I am writing an essay which includes the experimental "verification" of a theory. As it turns out, the theory was able to predict a certain variable F's direction of change (i.e. increase or decrease across two data points) "correctly" for 90% of the time, and predicts the value of F at each point with an average error of 0.5Newtons.

    How should I say the theory is "proven" and to what extent in the experiment's summary?
     
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  3. Dec 12, 2015 #2

    Student100

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    Proven? What about the 10% of the time or the ##\pm## .5N? That's what you want to talk about, not that they theory was "proven." What were sources of error, ways to design a better experiment? Limits on results?

    How did you analyze your data?
     
  4. Dec 12, 2015 #3
    The method I used is kind of inappropriate, I monitored two independent variables and used the theory to get the dependent, the dependent is also measured experimentally. After that, the predicted values of the dependent F is compared to the empirically observed F.
     
  5. Dec 13, 2015 #4

    micromass

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    Then you might want to do a statistical analysis on your data set.
     
  6. Dec 13, 2015 #5
    I am afraid that this reply is not specific enough. What kind of results should the analysis yield and how are they related to the verification/falsification of the theory?
     
  7. Dec 13, 2015 #6

    micromass

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    I'm afraid that's for you to figure out. But generally, if you have a theory that you want to verify experimentally, then using a statistical analysis is crucial. Just saying "it predicts it correctly 90% of the time" is not saying much. You need to study the errors and whether the errors are significant enough to reject the theory. I suggest you study confidence intervals and hypothesis testing. Maybe even regression analysis.
     
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