14 July 2011

What is the Research?

When doing a research project, it is important to know what you are testing, what controls are involved in that testing, how the results will actually be measured, and what is the reliability of the data.  This process not only applies to the research at large but typically to many of sub-projects for an experiment as well.

What is being tested in the box experiment, or the hypothesis, is whether it is possible to build a cheaper testing box then the ones commercially available for the mice that can be used effectively in the mouse training and observing experiments.  This idea is important because in research labs where funding is always something to be aware of a way to perform the experiment to its maximum and save money is always the preferred way.

As with any experiment there is a control, which is the box that is commercially available, which will be used for comparison.  This way the box is not left on its own in assessing performance with respect to the mice but has a standard to uphold.

The measure of success will come from the comparison between the two systems.  First will be the cost difference between the two systems.  Will it really be time effective and cost effective to build our own system versus purchasing the commercial one?   Next will be if the mice can actually train in this cage.  If the mice cannot train then the box did not succeed in its purpose.  There will also be a comparison of how data is collected and if it is working effectively.  Are all of the interactions of the mice being registered in the system?  By looking at all of these facets the results can be analyzed and it can be determined if the hypothesis was met.

Finally, how reliable is the information and data collected?  In any experiment if the data in unreliable then one has no way of trusting the data and therefore cannot make full conclusions.  In order to ensure how reliable the data for the project is the box will be checked at several stages for how well data is collected from the mice such as whether or not the mouse can even function in the prototype followed up afterwards when the box is finished by whether or not the box is functioning for the mouse as well and then afterwards checking the data on the mice and whether it matches what is being visually seen with the collected data.  In an experiment the end product is just as important and sometimes more important than how the experiment begins but this truly cannot be determined unless there are ways to determine successes and failures.  One can learn just as much from successes as failures if all is documented and properly followed.

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