Visualizing Scientific Methods

The Nature of Scientific Investigations

Scientific methods are used by scientists to help organize and plan their experiments and investigations. The flow chart below outlines some of the methods commonly used by scientists.

Scientists work in many different places to gather data. No matter where they work, they all use similar methods to gather data and communicate information. These methods are referred to as scientific methods. As illustrated in the below flowchart, scientific methods are a series of problem-solving procedures that help scientists conduct experiments. Whatever problem a scientist chooses to pursue, he or she must gather background information on the topic. Once the problem is defined and the background research is complete, a hypothesis is made. A hypothesis is a testable explanation of a situation that can be supported or disproved by careful procedures. It is important to note that scientific methods are not rigid, step-by-step outlines to solve problems. Scientists can take many different approaches to performing a scientific investigation. In many scientific investigations, for example, scientists form a new hypothesis after observing unexpected results. A researcher might modify a procedure, or change the control mechanism. And a natural phenomenon might change the direction of the investigation.

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