Algebraic representation

A set of symbols linked by mathematical operations; the set of symbols summarise relationships between variables.

Animal ethics

Animal ethics involves consideration of respectful, fair and just treatment of animals. The use of animals in science involves consideration of replacement (substitution of insentient materials for conscious living animals), reduction (using only the minimum number of animals to satisfy research statistical requirements) and refinement (decrease in the incidence or severity of ‘inhumane’ procedures applied to those animals that still have to be used).

Anomalous data

Data that does not fit a pattern; outlier.


The plural of datum; the measurement of an attribute, for example, the volume of gas or the type of rubber. This does not necessarily mean a single measurement: it may be the result of averaging several repeated measurements. Data may be quantitative or qualitative and be from primary or secondary sources.


In science, evidence is data that is considered reliable and valid and which can be used to support a particular idea, conclusion or decision. Evidence gives weight or value to data by considering its credibility, acceptance, bias, status, appropriateness and reasonableness.


The categories into which texts are grouped; genre distinguishes texts on the basis of their subject matter, form and structure ( for example, scientific reports, field guides, explanations, procedures, biographies, media articles, persuasive texts, narratives).

Green chemistry

Chemistry that aims to design products and processes that minimise the use and generation of hazardous substances and wastes. Principles of green chemistry include prevention of waste; atom economy; design of less toxic chemicals and synthesis methods; use of safer solvents and auxiliaries; design for energy efficiency; use of renewable feedstocks; reduction of unnecessary derivatives; use of catalytic reagents rather than stoichiometric reagents; design for degradation; design of in-process analysis for pollution prevention; and safer chemistry for accident prevention.


A tentative explanation for an observed phenomenon, expressed as a precise and unambiguous statement that can be supported or refuted by experiment.


A scientific process of answering a question, exploring an idea or solving a problem that requires activities such as planning a course of action, collecting data, interpreting data, reaching a conclusion and communicating these activities. Investigations can include observation, research, field work, laboratory experimentation and manipulation of simulations.


A statement describing invariable relationships between phenomena in specified conditions, frequently expressed mathematically.

Measurement error

The difference between the measurement result and a currently accepted or standard value of a quantity.

Media texts

Spoken, print, graphic or electronic communications with a public audience. Media texts can be found in newspapers, magazines and on television, film, radio, computer software and the internet.


The various processes of communication – listening, speaking, reading/viewing and writing/creating.


A representation that describes, simplifies, clarifies or provides an explanation of the workings, structure or relationships within an object, system or idea.

Primary data

Data collected directly by a person or group

Primary source

Report of data created by the person or persons directly involved in observations of one or more events, experiments, investigations or projects.

Random error

Uncontrollable effects of the measurement equipment, procedure and environment on a measurement result; the magnitude of random error for a measurement result can be estimated by finding the spread of values around the average of independent, repeated measurements of the quantity.


The degree to which an assessment instrument or protocol consistently and repeatedly measures an attribute achieving similar results for the same population.

Reliable data

Data that has been judged to have a high level of reliability; reliability is the degree to which an assessment instrument or protocol consistently and repeatedly measures an attribute achieving similar results for the same population.


A verbal, visual, physical or mathematical demonstration of understanding of a science concept or concepts. A concept can be represented in a range of ways and using multiple modes.


To locate, gather, record, attribute and analyse information in order to develop understanding.

Research ethics

Norms of conduct that determine ethical research behavior; research ethics are governed by principles such as honesty, objectivity, integrity, openness and respect for intellectual property and include consideration of animal ethics.

Risk assessment

Evaluations performed to identify, assess and control hazards in a systematic way that is consistent, relevant and applicable to all school activities. Requirements for risk assessments related to particular activities will be determined by jurisdictions, schools or teachers as appropriate.

Secondary data

Data collected by a person or group other than the person or group using the data.

Secondary source

Information that has been compiled from records of primary sources by a person or persons not directly involved in the primary event.

Significant figures

The use of place value to represent a measurement result accurately and precisely.


A representation of a process, event or system which imitates a real or idealised situation.


A group of interacting objects, materials or processes that form an integrated whole. Systems can be open or closed.

Systematic error

The contribution to the uncertainty in a measurement result that is identifiable and quantifiable, for example, imperfect calibration of measurement instruments.


A set of concepts, claims and/or laws that can be used to explain and predict a wide range of related observed or observable phenomena. Theories are typically founded on clearly identified assumptions, are testable, produce reproducible results and have explanatory power.


Range of values for a measurement result, taking account of the likely values that could be attributed to the measurement result given the measurement equipment, procedure and environment.


The extent to which tests measure what was intended; the extent to which data, inferences and actions produced from tests and other processes are accurate.

Back to top