Reproducibility and the key role it plays in the scientific method
When it comes to setting up an experiment, proper planning is crucial. But what is the key role that it plays?
All too often, people will run to their flame photometer, prepare their standards and whack through the sample.
This can provide an adequate result for the analysis. But without recording in detail the steps being taken, the results of the experimental process are null and void.
One of the most vital points of the scientific process is that every single experimental process should be reproducible by anybody with the correct setup.
How can a flame photometer affect reproducibility?
In flame photometry, the stability of your flame can be affected by a huge range of different factors.
These include atmospheric conditions, including humidity, oxide concentrations, pressure changes, and oxygen content of the air.
The samples and standards themselves can affect reproducibility - something that seems quite simple. However, it can be caused by a huge variation of different factors in play coming together.
This would be the viscosity of the solution, or the ease at which the sample flows.
What other factors can affect reproducibility?
Always hold yourself to absolute transparency of the process that you, as a scientist, took to get the end result.
From the glassware that you used, to the type of water you used to dilute your samples and standards with.
Every single detail of the practical process that was carried out must be recorded and submitted alongside the result of the experiment.
By doing this, you become a part of the fuel of scientific discovery.
What are the advantages of reproducibility in the scientific method?
Your single result may not be the ground-breaking solution to end world hunger.
But by having your experimental process recorded in full and available to public access, you could have your work accumulated into a statistical study.
Maybe another scientist was looking to do the exact same thing, but came out with a totally different result. It could lead them to question, “Why would this happen for them, but differently for me?”
This is where the true essence of discovery is seeded and without it, our technological process would have been stunted back in the 1800s.
People would jump to say you wouldn’t have a phone without science, but it is even more baseline than this.
Without the technological developments aided to us by the scientific method, we would not have any resemblance of humanity as we know it. From shipping to politics, housing and much, much more.
So, let us take a small moment to be thankful for our forefathers' discoveries and the framework they laid down for future generations of scientists.