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(science and technology)
The test of a hypothesis under controlled conditions.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a method of cognition by means of which the phenomena of reality are investigated under controlled and regulated conditions. The difference between an experiment and an observation is that, in the former, certain operations are performed on the object under study. An experiment is based on a theory that determines the experimental procedure and interpretation of the results. The chief goal of many experiments (known as crucial experiments) is to test hypotheses and theoretical predictions that are of fundamental significance. As a form of praxis, an experiment thus functions as a criterion of the truth of scientific knowledge in general.

The experimental method of research was first used in modern times in the natural sciences (for example, by W. Gilbert and Galileo). It was first given a philosophical interpretation in the works of F. Bacon, who also worked out the earliest classification of types of experiments (see Soch., vol. 1, Moscow, 1971, pp. 299–310). The development of experimental scientific activity was accompanied by the epistemological struggle between rationalism and empiricism, which differed in their interpretation of the relationship between empirical and theoretical knowledge. The attempt to overcome the one-sidedness of these two schools of thought was first made by classical German philosophy; it culminated in dialectical materialism, in which the thesis of the unity of theory and experimental praxis expresses in concrete terms the general proposition about the unity of the sensory and the rational, or of the empirical and theoretical levels, in the process of cognition.

Various types of experiments are used in modern science. In the realm of basic research, the simplest type of experiment is the qualitative experiment, which aims at establishing the presence or absence of a theoretically postulated phenomenon. In a measurement experiment, which is more complex, some property of the object is defined in quantitative terms. Still another type of experiment that is commonly used in basic research is called the hypothetical, or mental, experiment. Such an experiment, which belongs to the realm of theoretical knowledge, consists of a set of mental procedures that are unrealizable in practice and are applied to ideal objects. As theoretical models of actual experimental situations, hypothetical experiments seek to determine whether the basic principles of a theory are in agreement.

Applied research makes use of all these different types of experiments, which are designed to test specific theoretical models. Simulation experiments are characteristic of the applied sciences; such experiments use material models that reproduce the essential features of the natural situation or technical system under study. This type of experiment is closely related to the production experiment. Mathematical statistical methods are applied in processing experimental results; a special branch of mathematical statistics investigates the principles underlying the analysis and design of experiments.

Social experimentation, which began in the 1920’s, facilitates the adoption of new forms of social organization and optimal management. Social experiments thus perform a cognitive function and fall within the sphere of social management. A social experiment must take into account the interests of the particular group of people who are the object of the experiment, this object being one of the participants in the experiment, and the investigator himself being part of the situation he is investigating. The content and procedures of social experimentation are also conditioned by society’s legal and ethical norms.


Engels, F. Anti-Dühring. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20.
Engels, F. Dialektika prirody. Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. Materializm i empiriokrititsizm. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18. Chapter2.
Sivokon’, P. E. Metodologicheskie problemy estestvennonauchnogo eksperimenta. Moscow, 1968.
Ryvkina, R. V., and A. V. Vinokur. Sotsial’nyi eksperiment. Novosibirsk, 1968.
Makarevichus, K. Mesto myslennogo eksperimenta v poznanii. Moscow, 1971.
Nalimov, V. V. Teoriia eksperimenta. Moscow, 1971.
Khramovich, M. A. Nauchnyi eksperiment, ego mesto i rol’ v poznanii. Minsk, 1972.
Kapitsa, P. L. Eksperiment, teoriia, praktika. Moscow, 1974.
Trigg, G. L. Reshaiushchie eksperimenty v sovremennoi fizike. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
Dingier, H. Uber die Geschichte und das Wesen des Experimentes. Munich, 1952.
Experiment und Erfahrung in Wissenschaft und Kunst. Freiburg-Munich, 1963.
Siebel, W. Die Logik des Experiments in den Sozialwissenschaften. Berlin, 1965.
Parthey, H., and D. Wahl. Die experimented Methode in Naturund Gesellschaftswissenschaften. Berlin, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In our study, it was observed that the average day time air temperatures in the canopy (the top 20 cm) of WW, MD and SD treatments during grain-filling period were 28.2, 28.5, and 28.9[degrees]C, respectively, in the pot experiment, and 26.9, 27.1, and 27.4[degrees]C, respectively, in the field experiment (data not shown).
As the pH of all the soils under different treatments for the three field experiments was acidic (<5.0) (Table l), lime was either absent or present at <0.2 t C/ha (in the MASTER experiment due to lime application), and therefore the C results obtained by Leco methods represent the OC concentration.
In regard to the selection of field experiment locations, control and treatment locations with a PA near unity indicates that systematic factors similarly influence the outcome measure of interest (e.g., organ donor enrollments) in both locations--in which case, their pairing is optimal.
Additionally, in the [sup.14]C-labelled long-term field experiment, the powdered soils (n = 4) from 1992 were compared with soil samples sieved to <2 mm, to rule out artefacts during AC determinations.
Figure 11 compares the temperatures (average, maximum, and minimum) and wind velocities between the data recorded in the meteorological observatory and that measured in the field experiment during the 18-day experimental period.
In both the survey and field experiments, Acquisti and Fong detected less bias based on the sexual orientation of the candidates.
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Field experiments and empirical evidence show that poor people often make choices that are inconsistent with their long-run welfare.
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Chief veterinary officer forWales, Christianne Glossop states that a range of scientific evidence shows that culling badgers can reduce bovine TB and mentions work done in other countries (not named!) but ignores the findings of the largest field experiment lasting 10 years at a cost to the UK taxpayer of pounds 50m that concluded that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain.
Wheat quality in organic and conventional farming: results of a 21 year field experiment. J Sci Food Agric (in press).