The scientific method is a process that scientists use to evaluate whether or not a theory explains some observations and/or predictions of phenomena. Scientists begin with a hypothesis, then test it by conducting experiments, analyzing data obtained from these experiments, and drawing conclusions based on their results.
The more times you apply the scientific method to an idea, the better your understanding of the concept will be! This applies especially true for concepts in science like theories about evolution, chemical reactions, and psychology.
Using the scientific method takes time, effort, and repetitiveness. But once done, you can rest assured that your knowledge has been solidified through rigorous testing.
However, using the scientific method isn’t always fun- sometimes you have to do boring experiments and analyze dull data. That’s why having a framework or logical step-by-step process helps.
Fortunately, there are several good ways to organize and structure your experiment ideas and processes. These organization strategies make doing the work less chaotic, giving you more time left over to focus on other things.
In this article, we’ll discuss one such organized way to approach experimental projects – the scientific method. We’ll also look at some examples of how the method was applied to different topics, along with some questions to ask yourself as you prepare to apply the technique to your own studies.
Steps of the scientific method
The first step in the scientific process is to gather relevant information. You will not start experimenting until you have done your due diligence by collecting all the needed materials and seeking out what knowledge you can gain about the topic.
In the case of our topic, this would be knowing how to play the piano. Before you could pick up the guitar or take lessons from someone, you would need to know how to play the bass first!
Likewise, before you begin trying to improve your writing, you must first learn how to write well. By doing so, you increase your chance of success in other areas like proofreading and editing.
This is one reason why it is important to study how people wrote in the past- not just literary classics, but also writings that apply to the way we live today. For example, reading George Orwell’s 1984 can help you understand the importance of being able to write clearly.
Examples of the scientific method
The way to know if something works is to test it! Before you try anything new, we suggest applying the systematic testing process called the scientific method. This can be applied to any area – from life changing strategies like dieting or fitness programs to products.
The truth is, before most people start using a nutrition plan or workout program, they look for ways to prove that their current approach is working. They may read some vague testimonials about the benefits of the product or health tip and decide this will help them.
So, they give the product a chance by buying a little bit more than what normal person would normally spend on food or exercise equipment. It could work, but there’s no telling unless you actually use it!
If you are thinking about trying the product, then you should definitely do your research first to see if it has been successfully used in past studies. If so, then you should probably go ahead and give it a try.
The scientific method is an integral part of academic research. It’s what allows us to say with confidence that something works or doesn’t work. Whether you are reading this article online or listening to someone talk, the information you receive has been vetted through the systematic use of this methodology.
The term “scientific” comes from the Latin word for study, scientia. This practice of gathering knowledge originated in Greece around 500 BC, and was later adapted by Arabic scholars in the Middle Ages. Early scientists gathered natural products and experiences then tested their effectiveness via experimentation or observation.
With the advent of modern science in the 17th century, experts began testing theories about how nature operated. They would gather data either way these theories predicted, and then evaluate whether those predictions were accurate. This process, which we now refer to as experimentation or investigation, continues today.
But while experimenting or investigating is important, it isn’t enough by itself to prove or disprove a theory. For that, you need the second part of the scientific method: analysis.
Analysis looks at the results of experiments or investigations under and beyond your initial hypothesis. It can be done qualitatively (looking for patterns) or quantitatively (calculating how much of an effect there is). Analysis helps determine if a theory matches previous ideas, and possibly offers insights into why the idea worked or failed before.
Sample research methods
Many academic disciplines use different systematic approaches to gather knowledge. These are referred to as research methods or even scientific method strategies, depending on which field they’re used in. The term “scientific method” is often used interchangeably with these other terms because they all refer to similar processes that draw upon empirical (or observational) evidence to prove theories or hypotheses.
In this article we will focus only on using research designs for quantitative studies. You may be familiar with some of these from your high school science classes, but it is very important to understand them thoroughly before attempting to apply them to any problem domain.
There are five main types of qualitative research methods, and one special case of mixed-methods design. For our purposes here, we will concentrate almost exclusively on two common ones: survey questions and experiments. We will also briefly discuss how surveys can sometimes function like an experiment.
If you would like to take more in depth look at these topics or need help designing your own study, check out our past blogs on the basics of doing social science research: https://www.powersellerguide.
Observational research methods
Recent developments in psychology rely heavily on observational studies to determine how personality traits affect behavior. This type of research looks at correlations between certain behaviors or actions and personality traits.
Most recently, researchers have employed computer software to analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns in people’s behavior. These programs assess repetitive behaviors (e.g., walking back and forth across an office room dozens of times per day), as well as quantitative behaviors such as number of calls made from a cell phone every hour of the day.
By analyzing these patterns, we are able to make assumptions about what qualities are important to someone — if they walk around very much, for example, then they must be busy working, so we can assume that person is engaged and productive. If they only make one call per hour, then they probably don’t like too many people so they can avoid distractions easily.
These types of studies have become increasingly popular because they do not require participants to take part in any specific study procedures or questionnaires. Instead, individuals’ habits help describe them!
However, there are limitations to this method. Because the observations used to define a trait are not conducted under controlled conditions, it is difficult to determine whether or not those differences were due to the underlying cause or random chance.
Furthermore, confounding factors may exist that influence both the observed behavior and the personality trait being studied.
Experimental research methods
Recent developments in science have shifted the focus of experimentation away from observations and theories, to experiments. These experimental studies are investigations that test hypotheses or theories by engaging in systematic testing.
The term scientific comes from the Latin word for wise, so scientists are people who use wisdom in seeking answers to questions. The word experiment comes from the Greek word for trial, which makes sense because experimenting is trying out an idea to see if it works.
Both observation and experimentation can be used to test theories. Observation helps us understand how things are usually done, while experimentation tests whether a theory actually works under real-life conditions.
For example, when doing observational studies, you would compare the average length of time doctors take to perform certain procedures with other doctors’ averages. For experimental studies, you could do a survey asking whether their doctor takes the appropriate amount of time to perform a procedure and/or questionnaire after a specific procedure to determine effectiveness.
However, using experiments to test theories is what has really advanced our understanding of science. Scientists conducted experiments to verify or refute different theories about gravity, chemical compounds, and matter.
Analytical research methods
Another way to use logic in psychology is to perform analytical studies. An analytical study looks at whether or not there is evidence proving an assertion true. For example, let’s say you want to know why people enjoy watching horror movies.
You could test this theory by having someone watch as many horror films as possible for one week and see how they feel afterwards.
Another example of an analytical method would be testing the effectiveness of different educational strategies using randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This means that students are randomly assigned to different teaching techniques to determine which works best.
There are several other types of analytical studies used in psychological fields, such as comparing the effects of different treatments, determining if there’s a correlation between two things, and gathering data through questionnaires and surveys.
A quantitative method is one that involves using numbers to analyze data. This can be done objectively, without bias. These types of studies are great because they rely on numbers to prove a theory or determine how well something works.
In this case, those numbers use to test the hypothesis could be determined by your personal preference. For example, if you like chocolate more than vegetables, then you would have to choose the chocolate group over the vegetable group since you chose the option with more calories.
Alternatively, if you prefer vegetables over chocolate, then you would have to pick the other option since it was chosen less frequently.
There should be no difference in term of effectiveness between both groups, but there may be differences in taste! 😉
Prove it! Try experimenting with different foods yourself and see what effects they have on you.