Experimental Design

  • Robert L. Shewfelt


Statistics can be manipulated by other professions; it is critical that scientists follow strict rules in the use and application of statistical techniques. The use of statistics becomes our referee to help us decide if our ideas and suppositions are correct. If we design our experiments intelligently, collect our data accurately and analyze them correctly, we can determine if our experimental treatments produce clear effects. Statistical analysis does not provide 100% certainty, but it does provide us an objective basis to draw conclusions based on recognized techniques and accepted guidelines rather than mere hype or speculation. A statistically significant difference does not necessarily mean that the treatment will have a practical effect. For example, a small, but statistically significant color change may or may not affect consumer acceptability of a chocolate pudding as the typical consumer may not be as sensitive to color differences as a colorimeter or trained sensory panel. Likewise, if no statistical significance is found in the development of an off-flavor, we conclude that there is no significant difference in the experimental treatment. There may be consumers that can detect the specific off-flavor, but the general population shows no effect.


Experimental Treatment Peanut Butter Strict Rule Numerical Average Typical Consumer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Shewfelt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Science & Technology Food Process Research & Development LaboratoryUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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