Designing and handling experiments in food science

Name of course:

Designing and handling experiments in food science


ECTS credits:


Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: PhD Course

Time of year: December 2017

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 25 hours preparation, 25 hours teaching.

Capacity limits: max. 15 participants, min. 5


Objectives of the course:

The purpose of the course is to give an introduction to some of the basics of designing experiments in food science.


Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

·          Construct an experimental design to cover a scientific question

·          Choose appropriate treatments, units/samples, responses to a food experimental design

·          Distinguish between controlled experiments and observational studies

·          Predict and be aware of the compromises of your design

·          Make use of controls in design of experiments

·          Describe the concept of confounding

·          Consider replicates and sampling when planning experiments

·          Make use of preliminary graphical analysis to explore data before statistical analysis

·          Plan full and fractional factorial designs to food experiments


Compulsory programme:


Read material

Consider a question or hypothesis in your project that you would like to design an experiment to answer/test


Day 1:

Correlation vs. Causality

Factors, experimental units and responses

Concept of experimental unit versus measurement unit

Confounding, randomization, factorial designs, fractional factorial designs

Finding the right levels of factors

Exercise: Planning a screening experiment - conducting screening experiment, analyzing results (optimize microwave treatment of corn to produce high quality popcorn)


Day 2:

Catch up

Use of controls in experiments

Blocking (96-wells, animals, batches etc.)

Sources of error – introduction to sampling theory

Exercise: Using screening experiment to design experiment, conduct experiment, analyzing results


Day 3:

Examples of experimental designs by PhD students at the end of their study

Work with your own experimental design

Present and discuss the individual experimental designs


Course contents:

Designing good experiments is a key concept of a successful PhD study.

We can easily discover correlations in data; however correlation does not imply causality. A well-planned experimental design can reveal causality (and then you can start to wonder about the mechanisms behind the causality – that will not be covered during this course). Conducting experiments can demonstrate consistency and responsiveness of your factors. Well-planned experiments should avoid systematic error, increase precision, estimate error and will widen the validity of your conclusions. Some basic concepts of planning food experiments will be covered during the course using examples and hands-on experiments including randomization, use of controls, considering choice of factors, samples and measurement methods, as well as awareness of the compromises that will be an effect of your choices of experimental design.

This course is more about planning the experiments than analyzing the results; however the effect of choices during planning will always be seen in the results.



Enrolled in a science based PhD programme. Master students can participate as a part their master project in agreement with the supervisor. The course fit best in the beginning of the PhD study.


Name of lecturers:

Assistant professor Nina Aagaard Poulsen, Aarhus University

Principal specialist Mette Marie Løkke, Fertin Pharma


Type of course/teaching methods:

Reading selected material

Lectures and exercises

Design own experiment



Selected chapters and papers will be announced later. During the course Excel and Modde will be used ( 

Course literature: G.W.Oehlert. 2010. A First Course in Design and Analysis of Experiments. The book is freely available at


Course homepage:



Course assessment:

Active participation in all course elements including presentation of own experimental plan and commenting on experimental plans of fellow students. Passed/not passed.



Department of Food Science



5-7 December 2017



Konferencecentret, Fredrik Nielsensvej 2-4, 8000 Aarhus C



Deadline for registration is 15 November 2017.

Please register here:

If you have any questions, please contact Nina Aagaard Poulsen, e-mail:

The course has no fee for Danish PhD students and employees at Department of Food Science at AU. For others the fee is 3000 DKK.

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