12.7: Controls in Experiments
When conducting an experiment, it is crucial to have control to reduce bias and accurately measure the dependent variables. It also marks the results more reliable. Controls are elements in an experiment that have the same characteristics as the treatment groups but are not affected by the independent variable. By sorting these data into control and experimental conditions, the relationship between the dependent and independent variables can be drawn. A randomized experiment always includes a control group that receives an inactive treatment but is otherwise managed exactly as the other groups. The control group helps researchers balance the effects of being in an experiment with the effects of the active treatments.
In clinical or diagnostic procedures, positive controls are included to validate the test results. The positive controls would show the expected result if the test had worked as expected. A negative control does not contain the main ingredient or treatment but includes everything else. For example, in a COVID RT-PCR test, a negative sample does not include the viral DNA. Experiments often use positive and negative controls to prevent or avoid false positives and false negative reports. In
This text is adapted from Openstax, Introductory Statistics, Section 1.4, Experimental Design and Ethics