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- The scientific method or scientific process is fundamental to scientific investigation and to the acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence by the scientific community.
- Scientists use observations and reasoning to propose tentative explanations for natural phenomena, termed hypotheses.
- The scientific method is a systematic approach to research. It consists of the following steps:
- Identifying problem
- Making hypothesis
- Planning the investigation
- Identifying and Controlling Variable
- Conducting the experiment
- Collecting and recording data
- Analysing and interpreting data
- Making conclusion
- Preparing the report
Steps in the Scientific Method
- An investigation usually begins with an observation on a phenomenon.
- Observation is to observe and gather the information about the phenomenon.
Making an Inference
- After gathering sufficient information, we make an inference, or early conclusion, based on what has been observed.
- The inference may or may not be true and need to be proven true or false with further investigation.
- Making an inference is a process to form an early logical conclusion to explain the phenomenon.
Asking question based on the inference made to identify the problem related to the observation.
Making a hypothesis
- A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon.
- Normally, it is a general statement about the relationship between the manipulated variable and a responding variable in order to explain the question asked.
- A variable is a factor that affects other factors in an experiment.
- In a scientific investigation, we need to identify all related variables.
- There are three types of variable, namely
- Manipulated variable — the factor that is purposely changed in an experiment
- Responding variable — the factor that changes with the manipulated variable
- Fixed variables — the factors that are kept constant throughout an experiment. This is to ensure that other factors do not affect the results of the experiment.
- Deciding how to repeat the experiment several times by using different values of the manipulated variable.
- This step is to test the consistency in the experiment and also to relate the manipulated variable to the responding variable..
Designing the experiment
- Deciding how to carry out the experiment, including determine the material, apparatus, experiment sets out and the procedure to take.
- Always keep in mind that the main purpose of the experiment is to o test the hypothesis.
Carrying Out the Experiment
After the planning of the experiment is done, you will need to carry out the experiment according to the procedure.
- Make observations in the experiment by watching and measuring.
- Measure the quantities accurately using suitable measuring instruments and units.
- All data are collected and recorded in a proposed table.
Analysing and interpreting data
- After collecting the data, you will need to analyse the results of the experiment.
- Data analysis is the step to studies information by breaking it down into smaller parts.
- The results can be presented in various forms, such as a table, graph or chart.
Making a conclusion
- Draw conclusions based on the observations and results.
- State whether the hypothesis is true or false.
Writing the report
- A report is written after an experiment is performed.
- The format of the report is arranged based on the scientific investigation method which is performed systematically; starting from the problems identified to the last stage.
- State any precautions taken to overcome problems in the experiment.
- A simple diagram of the experiment set-up would sometime be useful.