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Pilot Study

Pilot Study

Author: Jonathan Osters

This lesson will explain why pilot surveys are sometimes used.

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Video Transcription

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In this tutorial, you're going to learn about pilot studies and pilot experiments. Pilots are very popular with clinical trials. Clinical trials are specific kinds of experiments where pharmaceutical companies or government entities test newly developed drugs on humans to try and determine if it's safe and if it's effective as a treatment.

Clinical trials are typically the last step in bringing a new drug to market. And they take a lot of time. And they require a lot of money on behalf of the drug company to fund all of this research. So what they do first, so they don't blow the whole hog on a clinical trial that might not do anything, is they do them in waves. And the first and most crucial wave is called a pilot.

So a pilot is a smaller, less time-consuming, less expensive version of the experiment. If the results are promising, meaning that the drug does appear safe and effective, then the experimenters will continue with a bigger experiment. So a pilot is just the first test that we'll see if the experiment makes sense to continue.

You can also do pilot surveys. Suppose that, rather than giving an entire organization an employee culture survey, they give it only to a few people in the company, a small subset. And maybe if that subset shows glaring concerns, maybe they're not happy with their workplace, then the company will administer the survey to the rest of the employees. But if they don't see any reason to continue, maybe they won't administer the survey to the entire company because it might be a waste of time.

So to recap, pilots are early, less time-consuming, less expensive versions of a large-scale study. You can do this in surveys, or you can do it as an experiment. And they're done to see if there's even a reason to pursue a larger scale experiment. So whoever is going to do this is concerned about wasting time, energy, resources, and money when they really might not need to.

So pilot experiments are going to be smaller experiments. And pilot surveys are going to be smaller versions of a larger survey. Good luck, and we'll see you next time.

Terms to Know
Pilot Experiment

A smaller scale version of an experiment to determine if there is reason to do a larger version of the experiment.

Pilot Study

A smaller scale version of an experiment, survey, or observational study to determine if there is reason to do a larger version of the study.

Pilot Survey

A smaller scale version of a survey to determine if there is reason to do a larger version of the survey.