Learn why all science experiments have error, how to calculate it, and the sources and types of errors you should report. Systematic Errors. These are errors caused by the way in which the experiment was conducted. In other words, they are caused by the design of the system. Systematic errors can not be eliminated by averaging In principle, they can always be eliminated by changing the way in which the experiment was done. This long list of common sources of error is meant to help you identify some of the common sources of error you might encounter while doing experiments.


Author: Shaylee Halvorson
Country: Saint Lucia
Language: English
Genre: Education
Published: 26 September 2014
Pages: 619
PDF File Size: 18.93 Mb
ePub File Size: 44.12 Mb
ISBN: 883-4-43085-522-9
Downloads: 33092
Price: Free
Uploader: Shaylee Halvorson


A valid measurement from the tails of the underlying distribution should not be thrown out.

Experimental Errors and Error Analysis

It is even more dangerous to throw out a suspect point indicative of an underlying physical process. Very little science would be known today if the experimenter always threw out measurements that didn't match preconceived expectations!

In general, there are two different types of experimental data taken in a laboratory and the question of rejecting measurements is handled in slightly different ways for each. The two types of data are the following: A series of measurements taken with one or more variables changed for each data point.

Errors in experiments example is the calibration of a thermocouple, in which the output voltage is measured when the thermocouple is at a number of different temperatures.

Repeated errors in experiments of the same physical quantity, with all variables held as constant as experimentally possible.

An example is the measurement of the height of a sample of geraniums grown under identical conditions from the same batch of seed stock. For a series of measurements case 1when one of the data points is out of line the natural tendency is to throw it out.

But, as already mentioned, this means you are assuming the result you are attempting to measure. As a rule errors in experiments thumb, unless there is a physical explanation of why the suspect value is spurious and it is no more than three standard deviations away from the errors in experiments value, it should probably be kept.

Chapter 7 deals further with this case. For repeated measurements case 2the situation is a little different. Say you are measuring the time for a pendulum errors in experiments undergo 20 oscillations and you repeat the measurement five times.

Sources of Error

Assume that four of these trials are within 0. There is no known reason why that one measurement differs from all the others.

Nonetheless, you may be justified in throwing it out. Say that, unknown errors in experiments you, just as that measurement was being taken, a gravity wave swept through your region of spacetime.

In actual fact though, you may not even know that the error exists. Which of the errors in experiments are characteristics of random errors? Check all that apply.

Experimental error

Here is a procedure for a simple experiment to measure the density of rubbing alcohol iso-propanol. Find and record the mass of the empty, errors in experiments graduated cylinder. Record the volume of the alcohol in the cylinder.

Find and record the mass of the filled graduated cylinder Some possible random errors in this experiment Some possible systematic errors in this experiment slight variations in the level of your eye while reading the meniscus in the graduated cylinder vibration in the floor or air currents that cause fluctuation in the balance a mis-calibrated errors in experiments will cause all the measured masses to be wrong.


During the period of time required to measure its mass, some of the alcohol will evaporate. The temperature was not specified or errors in experiments.

Notice that the random errors can't really be eliminated. However, if we made lots of measurements, and averaged them, the mean would be an estimate of the real measurement. Errors are normally classified in three categories: Systematic Errors Systematic errors are errors in experiments to identified causes and can, in principle, be eliminated.


Errors of this type result in measured values that are consistently too high or consistently too low. Systematic errors may be of four kinds:

  • Experimental Errors
  • Random vs. Systematic Error
  • What is experimental error? definition and meaning -
  • Use 'experimental error' in a Sentence