In this 10-minute talk I discuss what I think are the two main principles of experimental design:
- Something is better than nothing. You learn more from doing something than from thinking about what to do.
- When you do something, do the smallest easiest thing that will help, that will tell you something you don’t know.
Grad students often fail to understand Principle 1: They worry too much about what to do. Early in grad school, that was my big mistake. Professors often fail to understand Principle 2: They do something more complex than necessary. Failure is much more likely than they realize. My previous post was about such a failure (using genes to predict disease). When I was an assistant professor, I often made this mistake.