How Science Works Glossary

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GCSE Biology ­ Glossary of Terms for How Science Works
TERM EXPLANATION EXAMPLE
accuracy An accurate measurement is close The oak leaf is 35 mm long
to the true value
true value This is the accurate value which The length of the leaf
would be found if the quantity
could be measured without any
errors at all
calibration Fixed points and a scale are A ruler has a scale in mm
marked on a measuring instrument
precision Is determined by the limits on The smallest scale on the
the scale. It is the smallest ruler is 1mm so the leaf
division on the measuring cannot be measured more
instrument. precisely than to the
Precise measurements have very nearest mm.
little spread about the mean
value
Data (pl) A collection of measurements The lengths of all the
Datum (s) leaves
Error - Make the readings different The length of the leaf
random from the true value. Repeated could be inaccurate
measurements reduce the effect because the ruler was
of random errors faulty or the person didn't
use the ruler properly
Error - All the readings are close to The ruler was calibrated
systematic another value not the true value incorrectly ­ eg the
markings were not 1mm
apart.
Error - zero This is a systematic error caused The mass of the leaf would
when the measuring instrument have a zero error if the
has a false zero balance did not read zero
before the leaf was placed
onto it.
Reliability Results are reliable if they can Your length of the leaf is
be repeated by someone else reliable if other people get
carrying out the investigation and the same results or you
getting the same results repeat the measurement
Reliability can be improved by and get the same value
carrying out repeat
measurements

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Variables ­ Values are described by labels Leaves are labelled eg ivy
Categoric Plotted as a bar chart or pie leaf, holly leaf
chart
Discrete
Can be discrete ­ can only be
whole numbers Number of leaves on a
branch is discrete, leaves
are there or not, eg 5
leaves
categoric
Can be ordered ­ when the
categoric variable is ranked
Leaves can be ranked as
large, medium or small
Variable- Continuous variable is one which The length of a leaf can be
continuous can…read more

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Dependent This is the variable that you The height of the plant
variable measure. It is changed by changes depends upon the amount
in the independent variable. of fertiliser and so is the
dependent variable
It is plotted on the y axis
Control This can affect the outcome of Height of the plant could
variable the investigation as well as the also be affected by the
independent variable.…read more

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Data is not valid if a fair test is control variables are
not carried out or if the controlled, then the data is
observer is biased.…read more

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