The Scientific Method

scientific method

The Scientific Method

It may not be necessary to follow all steps of the scientific method in all investigations. The main steps are:

Ask a Question: Your observations of the natural world, as well as unnatural phenomena, lead to questions. These questions ask "what, why, and how" about the phenomena, and begin the investigation.

Do Background Research: Collect as many facts and as much data on the phenomenon as you can, being careful not to exclude at first any items because they appear dubious or unimportant. Discard nothing based on personal prejudice.

Construct a Hypothesis: Construct one or more hypotheses that you wish to test. A hypothesis is an educated guess about the cause of the phenomenon. You will test your hypothesis against the observatons or the results of experiments.

Test with an Experiment: Controlled experiments are used to test one factor at a time. This factor is called the variable. The outcome of experiments are the results. In certain cases you cannot perform experiments and must rely on observations, measurements and logic to deduce the results.

Analyze Results and Draw Conclusions: After completing experiments or making observations and measurements, analyze all the information. Tables and graphs are frequently used to organize the data.

Determine whether the data analysis supports your hypothesis. From this determination, draw a conclusion such as one of the following: the hypothesis is supported; the hypothesis is supported and is worth verifying by repeating the observations or experiments; the hypothesis is not supported by the data, and the procedure should be checked for errors; the hypothesis is not supported and a new hypothesis should be made; there is no clear result, so repeat the investigation. Check that your hypothesis does not lead to a significant, unexplained consequence.

Decide Based on Your Conclusion: If the hypothesis is true, proceed to the report. If the hypothesis is not true or only partially true, return to "Construct a Hypothesis."

Report Results: Communicate your final conclusions to others using a written or oral report. This will allow other reseachers to repeat your investigation and verify your work. Based on your results, you may suggest another investigation with further observations and experiments.