- Identify the Problem
This can take some time, but it will help you organize a plan for troubleshooting. Look over your experiment and try to identify the part or parts that are most likely to be problematic. There may be one variable, or many variables causing the issue. The experiment will probably need to be run many times, in order to properly identify the problem.
Now that you have narrowed down the problem, take some time to research potential solutions. This could mean reading papers on the topic or finding alternative reagents that can help get the desired results. Discuss with colleagues or peers, and see if they have had a similar problem before and have any suggestions for your troubleshoot.
- Create a Game Plan
Collect all of your research and draw up a plan for troubleshooting the problem. It is important to be organized at this step. Make sure that you make a detailed plan or outline, and record everything you plan on doing in your laboratory notebook. Make sure that you have all the reagents and materials needed to execute the game plan.
- Implement the Game Plan
Execute your game plan. Make sure to record your progress and results in your notebook as you go. You will not always be able to follow your plan exactly as you planned. Sometimes, troubleshooting requires some adjustments during the process, as you see which of your ideas are working or not working.
- Solve the Problem and Reproduce Results
Solving the problem can be easy or difficult, depending on the complexity of the experiment. It can be a very frustrating experience, so try not to get overwhelmed with the process. Take a break every now and then, if you think it will help you move through the problem. Once you have successfully solved it, make sure you can reproduce the desired results. Also, make sure that your colleagues and peers can also reproduce the desired results.
Good luck with your next experiment troubleshoot!