When working on experiments, it is incredibly easy to make a simple mistake. Here are a few of the most common laboratory mistakes when beginning an experiment.
Whether you are working inside a company or research organization or are simply conducting experiments at school, you can make many mistakes. Some mistakes are more significant than others, but you should avoid any at all costs. Even the smallest mistake can lead to false results and hurt the credibility of your experiments. Read on to learn about some of the most common laboratory mistakes when beginning an experiment.
Mislabeling Equipment and Samples
A common mistake you can make when working in a laboratory is mislabeling equipment and samples. Accuracy is critical in the scientific field, and anything compromising accuracy can set you back significantly. Mislabeled items can dramatically hurt your experiments.
Mislabeling can refer to identifying something by a different name and causing you to mix up your chemicals and reagents, but it can also refer to legibility and wrong dates. Some items in the lab are time sensitive, and if you’re not careful when labeling something, you can end up using expired or contaminated substances. Even worse, you could use substances that are critical to someone else’s experiment in the lab.
One significant mistake many people make in professional and school laboratories is improperly handling equipment and materials. Some handling is to be expected and can’t be avoided, but other kinds of handling can damage equipment and materials, leading to false results and faulty equipment. For example, if you’re working with a laser diode, you must minimize handling as much as possible. Doing this will improve the lifespan of your laser diode and ensure the laser is as stable as possible. Proper handling will also minimize contaminants.
In addition to equipment, the handling of materials is also important. If you’re working with chemicals, you must leave them undisturbed. Accidentally shaking or disturbing a chemical or other substance too much can change how its response in different experiments.
Not Following Complete Instructions
If you are in the middle of an experiment and aren’t completely following instructions, you will get unreliable results. A lot of different experiment notes use absolute language, saying things such as:
- Temperature set to X degrees
- Dissolve reagents completely
- Measure exactly X milliliters
In other areas, instructions can be hit or miss. For example, if you’re cooking, you can mess around with the ingredients and still achieve a similar result that suits your liking. In scientific experiments, this wiggle room does not exist. A common mistake many people make is not going all the way with these instructions. They’ll set the temperature close to what it’s supposed to be and mostly dissolve substances, among other things. Failing to go all the way with the instructions can lead to some significant problems.
It’s important to do everything in your power to avoid these common laboratory mistakes when beginning your experiments. As mentioned previously, some mistakes are worse than others. Still, the severity of the mistake doesn’t matter—any mistake can lead to inaccurate results within your experiment. You should avoid these mistakes at all costs to ensure the quality of your experiment and reliable results.