pilot study

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pilot study

a small-scale version of a planned experiment or observation, used to test the logistics and design of it. Thus, a questionnaire schedule may be ‘piloted’ on a small subsample of the proposed SAMPLE population to see if any of the questions give particular problems of interpretation, or lead to ambiguous responses that would be difficult to interpret as data. If the design works, without problems, then the main experiment can go ahead, but if problems have come to light these can be rectified first. It is also possible that a pilot study will suggest valuable extensions to the study, or restrictions of aspects that are unlikely to be helpful in the investigation.