Best Practices: Is Trial and Error a Good Narrative to Document Process of Experimentation?

MASSIE says:

Often, clients ask whether trial and error narratives can help substantiate an R&D credit. In our analysis, we see simple trial-and-error narratives, process-driven trial-and-error narratives, and documentation of a trial-and-error process. The IRS requires evidence of scientific experimentation as part of its Four-Part Test criteria. Simple trial and error is not a good way to support the Process of Experimentation component of the Four-Part Test because it does not fulfill the IRS requirement of scientific experimentation on its own.


Process-driven trial and error narratives may be acceptable, though they still may lack an element of scientific experimentation.  The best way to prove scientific trial and error is through documentation. The key is to state design-related uncertainties, show how those technical uncertainties were resolved, and include detailed facts related to the process; this helps to distinguish simple trial and error from scientific experimentation.


For more information on the process of experimentation, check out our whitepapers and articles



Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. 

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