Dependent Variable

∞ generated and posted on 2016.08.19 ∞

The "result" (or results) of an experiment; the thing that you measure when doing an experiment.

Dependent variables must change for an experiment to have a positive result whereas with a negative result there is no change in the dependent variable. Contrast independent variable.

Dependent variable

Figure legend: Shown is a standard graph with dependent variable equivalent to the y axis. That is, y varies as a function of x, the independent variable, here producing the dotted-line curve.

An ambiguous result – which is what scientists strive to avoid often through great effort – is a change in the dependent variable that isn't obviously either true or not true. This naturally leads to repeats of the experiment and/or redesign of the experiment. In other words, nothing is worse than not having a clue as to whether your experiment did or did not work, that is, whether or not there has been a meaningful change in your dependent variable.