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What are the 7 steps of the scientific method

Steps of the scientific method

The steps of the scientific method are a series of activities that are carried out to approach a scientific investigation in a general way. They represent a guide to know how the process of acquiring scientific knowledge flows. What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

The steps of the scientific method seem, at first glance, like a list of topics to follow in order and in one direction. As such, there is no universal scientific method followed closely by all researchers.

Here are the steps of the scientific method with illustrative examples.

1. Observation

Observation is realizing or perceiving aspects of nature. It is the first step of the scientific method but it infiltrates the entire process of science, from the recognition of a natural phenomenon to the proposal of a solution and the observation of the results after an experiment.

Observation goes beyond what we see with our eyes. Everything that can be appreciated by the senses we recognize as an observation. For example, if a vehicle is making a strange sound, that would be a particular observation of that event that would lead us to ask why the noise.

The father of the theory of natural selection Charles Darwin (1809-1882) traveled for five years on an expedition along the coasts of Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Australia and other regions. During this trip, Darwin took notes and collected samples of his observations that led him over the years to formulate natural selection. What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

2. Recognition of the problem

Once the facts are established, it is necessary to contrast them and recognize problems. Mere observation is insufficient if there is no curiosity to solve the questions that may arise.

In 1983 physicians J. Robin Warren and Barry Marshall observed “S” shaped bacteria in gastric samples. The questions that were raised were: Why had they not seen each other before? Are these bacteria pathogenic or simple commensals on a damaged mucosa? and Are these bacteria campylobacter?

3. Hypothesis

The hypothesis is a tentative explanation to an observation. A hypothesis has to be able to be tested by experiments, this means that it has to be falsifiable. This is the way to differentiate a hypothesis from a belief. For example, saying “it is destiny” is not falsifiable because you cannot design an experiment to test whether this is true or not. What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

The hypothesis needs confirmation to show that they are correct. As such, it is an active process that requires diligent use of the brain. It forces us to think and invent an explanation or solution.

For example, in the case of Warren and Marshal’s observations, the hypothesis would be that bacteria in gastric samples are doing the damage.

4. Predictions

Predictions are the expected consequences of the hypotheses. According to Mario Bunge, prediction is the deduction of particular consequences:

  • anticipate new knowledge,
  • test the theory, and
  • it is a guide to action.

Predicting a hypothesis will lead us to more observations and experimentation.

In Warren and Marshal’s observations of the bacteria they found in gastritis samples, the prediction was that if gastritis patients were treated with an antibiotic they would heal faster.

5. Experimentation

An experiment is a test or trial under controlled conditions to investigate the validity of a hypothesis. In the simplest form, a controlled experiment is performed when one variable can be manipulated, causing another variable to change at the same time. Any other variable remains unchanged. 

In a scientific experiment, physical objects, chemical compounds, or biological species are chosen for study and devices are used to measure the variables. The results of the experiments have to be reproducible by other researchers under the same experimental conditions. What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

Following the example of gastritis, Warren and Marshal treated patients with gastric ulcers. The control group was treated with normal ulcer medications and another group received antibiotics and after a certain time measurements were taken again.

6. Analysis of results

`The data obtained through experimentation need to be analyzed in the light of the hypotheses and proposed predictions. The analysis of results allows us to accept and reject the hypotheses raised, reformulate the models and suggest new procedures.

Thanks to the work of Warren and his collaborators, a new bacterium, Helicobacter pylori , was discovered , which was responsible for duodenal ulcers. What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

7. Communication of findings

An important step in the scientific method is the communication of our results, it is a way of sharing and announcing to the world what we have obtained and how we have obtained it. The presentation of the results can be done through various means:

  • In writing : in theses, articles in scientific journals, in press articles, on informational posters at conferences.
  • Audiovisual : at congresses, symposia and conferences, scientists have the opportunity to present their work and establish an exchange of ideas with other researchers.

Warren’s first report on the possible involvement of an unknown bacterium in gastric ulcer appeared in the Lancet in 1983. Barry Marshal presented the findings at the Campylobacter conference in Brussels, Belgium in the same year. In 2005 both researchers received the Nobel Prize in physiology for “the discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.” What are the 7 steps of the scientific method?

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