Scientific method

"Scientific research" redirects here. For the publisher, see Scientific Research Publishing.

The consequence, therefore, is to be stated at the same time or briefly after the statement of the hypothesis, but before the experimental result is known.

Likewise, the test protocol is to be stated before execution of the test. These requirements become precautions against tampering, and aid the reproducibility of the experiment.

Evidence from other scientists, and from experience are available for incorporation at any stage in the process. Depending on the complexity of the experiment, iteration of the process may be required to gather sufficient evidence to answer the question with confidence, or to build up other answers to highly specific questions, to answer a single broader question.

The iterative cycle inherent in this step-by-step method goes from point 3 to 6 back to 3 again.

I am not accustomed to saying anything with certainty after only one or two observations.

A hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon, or alternately a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible correlation between or among a set of phenomena.

the success of a hypothesis, or its service to science, lies not simply in its perceived "truth", or power to displace, subsume or reduce a predecessor idea, but perhaps more in its ability to stimulate the research that will illuminate ... bald suppositions and areas of vagueness.

It is essential that the outcome of testing such a prediction be currently unknown. Only in this case does a successful outcome increase the probability that the hypothesis is true. If the outcome is already known, it is called a consequence and should have already been considered while formulating the hypothesis.

If the predictions are not accessible by observation or experience, the hypothesis is not yet testable and so will remain to that extent unscientific in a strict sense. A new technology or theory might make the necessary experiments feasible. For example, while a hypothesis on the existence of other intelligent species may be convincing with scientifically based speculation, no known experiment can test this hypothesis. Therefore, science itself can have little to say about the possibility. In the future, a new technique may allow for an experimental test and the speculation would then become part of accepted science.

The scientific method is iterative. At any stage, it is possible to refine its accuracy and precision, so that some consideration will lead the scientist to repeat an earlier part of the process. Failure to develop an interesting hypothesis may lead a scientist to re-define the subject under consideration. Failure of a hypothesis to produce interesting and testable predictions may lead to reconsideration of the hypothesis or of the definition of the subject. Failure of an experiment to produce interesting results may lead a scientist to reconsider the experimental method, the hypothesis, or the definition of the subject.

[T]he action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained.

The hypothetico-deductive model or method is a proposed description of the scientific method. Here, predictions from the hypothesis are central: if you assume the hypothesis to be true, what consequences follow?

If a subsequent empirical investigation does not demonstrate that these consequences or predictions correspond to the observable world, the hypothesis can be concluded to be false.

Frequently the scientific method is employed not only by a single person but also by several people cooperating directly or indirectly. Such cooperation can be regarded as an important element of a scientific community. Various standards of scientific methodology are used within such an environment.

Sometimes experimenters may make systematic errors during their experiments, veer from standard methods and practices (Pathological science) for various reasons, or, in rare cases, deliberately report false results. Occasionally because of this then, other scientists might attempt to repeat the experiments to duplicate the results.

When additional information is needed before a study can be reproduced, the author of the study might be asked to provide it. They might provide it, or if the author refuses to share data, appeals can be made to the journal editors who published the study or to the institution which funded the research.

Entstehung und Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache: Einf«Ėhrung in die Lehre vom Denkstil und Denkkollektiv