SAASTE Science/Scientific Method

SAASTE Science
Scientific Method - Guidelines for Scientific Investigations - Ideas for Class Projects - Radon Measurement - Road Markings



A method is a procedure for handling a set of problems. Every kind of problem requires a set of special methods or techniques. The general method of science, by contrast, is a procedure applying to a whole cycle of investigation into every problem of knowledge. The best way to learn how the scientific method works is to engage, with an inquisitive attitude, in some scientific research broad enough to ensure that the special methods or techniques do not overshadow the general pattern. (Bunge, M. 1967)

The webpage explains the scientific method as follows:

  • The first step to using the scientific method is to have some basis for conducting your research. This is based on observed phenomena that are either directly or indirectly related to the specific subject matter of your proposed research. The first step is then actually observations you make for scientific research.
  • The next step is to form a hypothesis to explain some aspects of your observations. The hypothesis is ready to be tested. You must now use your hypothesis to predict other phenomena that have not yet been observed.
  • The final step of the scientific method is to rigorously test your prediction. It is important to know that you can not "prove" your hypothesis. You can only fail to disprove it. While this is an example of how the scientific method is used in everyday research and hypothesis testing, it is also the basis of creating theories and laws. It should be noted that a theory or hypothesis is not meaningful if it is not quantitative and testable. If a theory does not allow for predictions and experimental research, than it is not a scientific theory. A common error encountered by people who claim to use the scientific method is a lack of testing. A hypothesis brought about by common observation and common sense does not have scientific validity.



The following ordered sequence of operations are recommended by Bunge (1967)

  • 1. Ask well-formulated and likely fruitful questions.
  • 2. Devise hypotheses both grounded and testable to answer the questions.
  • 3. Derive logical consequences of the assumptions.
  • 4. Design techniques to test the assumptions.
  • 5. Test the techniques for relevance and reliability.
  • 6. Execute the tests and interpret their results.
  • 7. Evaluate the truth claims of assumptions and the fidelity of techniques.
  • 8. Determine the domains in which the assumptions and techniques hold, and state the new problems raised by the research.



For the sake of illustration we shall mention and exemplify some quite obvious rules of scientific method.

Rule 1


State your problem precisely and, in the beginning, specifically.

For example, do not just ask "Does antacid increase the pH of gastric fluid?, but pose a wellcircumscribed question such as e.g., At what tempo does various brands of antacids increase the pH of gastric fluid?

Rule 2


Try definite and somehow grounded conjectures rather than noncommittal and wild hunches.

Formulate a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon with definite relations among clear-cut variables. e.g. "Antacid 1 would lower the pH value of gastric fluid the quickest".

Rule 3


Subject your assumptions to tough tests rather than soft ones.

e.g. by comparing four different brands of antacid under the same conditions. Devise an experiment test all antacids under the same conditions e.g. temperature ...

Rule 4


Do not pronounce a true satisfactorily confirmed hypothesis: regard it as, at best, partially true.

Allow yourself to be led to deductions/conclusions only by empirical results from experiment.

Rule 5


Ask why the answer should be as it is and not f*** otherwise