How Science Works Glossary




·         Accuracy - A measured result that is close to the true value.

·         Calibration - Marking a scale on a measuring instrument.

·         Data – Information that has been collected: it can be numbers or written information such as observations.

·         Errors

o   Measurement error - The difference between a measured value and the true value.

o   Anomalies - Values in a set of results which differ from the expected and variation caused by random uncertainty.

o   Random error – Readings which vary from expected in an unpredictable way.  The effect of random errors can be reduced by making more measurements and calculating a new mean.

o   Systematic error – Readings, which differ from the true value by a consistent amount each time a measurement is made, they are usually due to the way measuring instruments have been read.  If a systematic error is suspected, the data collection should be repeated using a different technique or a different set of equipment, and the results compared.

o   Zero error - When a measuring system gives a false reading when the measured quantity is zero, e.g. the needle on an ammeter failing to return to zero when no current flows.


·         Evidence - Data, which has been shown to be valid.

·         Fair test - A fair test is one in which only the independent variable has been allowed to affect the dependent variable.

·         Hypothesis - A proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations.

·         Interval - The quantity between readings, e.g. a set of 11 readings equally spaced over a distance


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