Experimental error – a fact of scientific life.
Experimental error is always with us; it is in the nature of scientific measurement that uncertainty is associated with every quantitative result. This may be due to inherent limitations in the measuring equipment, or of the measuring techniques, or perhaps the experience and skill of the experimenter. However mistakes do not count as part of the analysis, though it has to be said that some of the accounts given by students dwell too often on mistakes – blunders, let's not be coy – and too seldom on the quantitative assessment of error. Perhaps it's easier to do so, but it is not quantitative and does not present much of a test of the quality of the results.
The development of the skill of error assessment is the purpose of these pages. They are not intended as a course in statistics, so there is nothing concerning the analysis of large amounts of data from, for example, biological populations. Rather they are intended to help you assess error in, say, a titration experiment; or perhaps in results used to determine enthalpies of neutralisation.
The pages cover the following topics:
Origins of error Combining error Chemistry contents Home page