What Is the Scientific Method?


There are always many general questions about what is the scientific method and the nature of the scientific method. Some of these are:

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Guidance for Those Who Ask the Above Questions

These are all somewhat the same.

This entire website provides an answer to these questions. Of special help is my booklet The Scientific Method Today, which explains, describes, introduces, states the purpose, and gives the step or stage order. SM-14 is the most modern scientific method model formula available today.

It has been said that to define scientific method is to define science. Here is information on What Is Science and what is the scientific method.


Scientific Method Definition

Science and the Scientific Method

Today the term science has come to have three major meanings (Source: See my Research Report #1, “What Is Science?”):

1. The domains of activities termed “sciences” – the term “science” is used to identify the various sciences, or domains of activity. First to be recognized were the natural sciences, such as physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and biology. The human and social sciences have also been termed sciences. Some of these are psychology, economics, education, geography, and sociology. But my research raises the question whether they have yet reached the status of sciences based on a strict interpretation of the word science. Their professional societies have not yet recognized and required use of the scientific method.

2. Science has long been noted as representing bodies of knowledge accumulated in various domains.

3. “Science is its method.” “Science is fundamentally method.” “Science is a process.” “Science is a method of thought.” These and similar statements are found throughout the literature describing science, with frequent mention, beginning in the 19th century, that its method is the scientific method or scientific method.

Conclusion. The most significant meaning of the three is that science is fundamentally method, for its method is what produces the bodies of reliable knowledge in various domains.


Definition of Scientific Method

A short good definition of scientific method is:

The scientific method is the basic method, guide, and system by which we originate, refine, extend, and apply knowledge in all fields.

Define Scientific Method

While the method was largely developed by scientists, it is also a general method for all domains. Thus it is:

The Complete Method of Problem Solving and Decision Making for All Fields


Some Quotations that Support the Above

Campbell (1952): First, science is a body of useful and practical knowledge and a method of obtaining it.

Calder (1962): No, science is not just knowledge; it is knowledge working for its living, correcting itself, and adding to itself. Science, therefore, is a process.

Feibleman (1972): Thus, science serves two human purposes: to know and to do. The former is a matter of understanding, the latter a matter of action.

Nourse (1969) gives this excellent picture of the scientific method:

There is no magic in such a method of finding an answer to a problem. Indeed, it is so simple and logical that all of us, scientists or not, use it to some degree or other every day of our lives in solving everyday problems. It is the time-tested method of telling truth from nonsense and proving it. As such, it is the method that has been used in discovering virtually everything we know about our universe and the way in which it works.

But if scientific method is so simple and logical, why was it such a staggering idea when it first appeared? Probably because it was such a complete reversal of the way ancient scientists and philosophers had done things for centuries.

Before the scientific method was devised, these men started with conclusions they had come up with on the basis of meditation, casual observation, and sheer guesswork. . . . It took centuries to discover that this was a blind alley, producing more and more wrong answers all the time. . . . It was not until the scientific method became firmly established that the knowledge of science began to grow and that our understanding of the laws of nature began to expand.