Scientific Method

The Scientific Method Template
As you explore this section, complete the above scientific method template.
Pose a Question

See Step 2 Explore An Issue or Problem and/or Step 3 Literature Review
Conduct Background Research
See Step 3 Literature Review
Write a Hypothesis
  • Hypotheses are tentative explanations for observations which are capable of being tested by experimentation; used to make predictions.
  • Null hypothesis (H0) – the hypothesis that a given treatment will have no effect. 
  • Alternative hypothesis (HA) – the hypothesis that a given treatment will have an effect. 
  • Tutorial - Writing a hypothesis
  • Introduction - See flowchart
Design an Experiment

An experiment is a test of a hypothesis done under controlled conditions.  Designing an experiment involves identifying the needed materials and writing a set of procedures needed to conduct the test.  The materials and procedures should be well documented making it easy for a peer to replicate the experiment.  Background reading on experimental research

  • Write procedures (Include safety precautions needed) (Include safety precautions needed.)  click on the following link to learn about writing appropriate procedures. Procedures

  • View MIT Scientific Procedures to determine if any of your procedures are reviewed here. 

  • Materials and Methods - See flowchart (Click flowchart to enlarge.)
Conduct Experiment,
Collect, & Report Data/Make Observations
  • Experiments should be performed in an organized fashion. It is important to follow procedures carefully, documenting changes as needed.  All data and observations should be carefully recorded; including qualitative and quantitative data.  The data should be recorded in an organized laboratory notebook with specific dates and times of all experiments.  Even if certain parts of the experiment do not work, be sure to record those mistakes.

  • Once the experiment or observation has been completed, record results in the lab notebook.  Any experiment that involves numbers should also be organized in an electronic data table.  Once all data has been recorded, determine the best graph to represent it.  Click on the hyperlinks below to learn about graphing and graph types.

  • In addition to the graphs, qualitate the data but do not discuss the implications.

Interpret/Discuss Data Discussion

  • Once data has been recorded, observed, and described, it is important to discuss what the results mean.  This is where the original hypothesis is connected to the results.  Is the hypothesis rejected?  Was the experiment successful, or was there something that needed to be changed?  How do the results compare to similar experiments performed by other researchers?  This is the part of the experiment where the researcher discusses their interpretation of the results (without over-interpretation).  The researcher will determine the importance of the information and its relevance to the original question and hypothesis.

  • How to Write an Effective Discussion -  Read this article to determine how to discuss your data in written form.

  • Interpreting the results will include statistical analysis of the data.  Read the following two articles to determine how to incorporate statistics into your discussion and how to account for errors.
  • Journal Article  - The results and discussion section have been deleted from this journal article, but the graphs and tables remain.  It is the responsibility of the student to read the introduction, materials and methods, analysis, graphs, and tables to write their own results and discussion section. 

  • Discussion - See Flowchart 
Draw Conclusions

  • Writing Conclusions - Once the numbers have been crunched and interpreted, the implications of the experiment need to be determined.  What has your research shown?  How has it added to what is known about the subject?  What were the shortcomings?  Has your research left some unanswered questions?  Are my results of any use in the real world?  Who can benefit from it?  How is the research significant to clinicians, researchers, and the general public?  Are there other experiments that can be performed to further demonstrate your conclusions?  Where does the research go from here?   Read the following article in order to determine how to summarize the answers to these questions.

  • Conclusion - See Flowchart 

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