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Steps Involved in the Scientific Method

compiled by Dr. Randy Alford, circa 2004

1. State the Problem or Question

2. Formulate the Hypothesis - what you believe will be the outcome of your

experiment or what you believe is the cause of a phenomenon you have observed.

This is your Research Hypothesis or Alternate Hypothesis. To conduct an

experiment, you will also need to formulate a Null Hypothesis.

3. Design the Experiment

Factors to consider:

* Treatments to use to test the hypothesis

* Variables to measure/control – In experiments involving people the control often

requires more attention. (Pre-existing conditions and personalities need to be

accounted for, unlike subjects raised from embryos, these subjects are individuals.)

* Materials and Methods to use – Again, with human subjects this requires a little more

attention to carefully explain HOW you are accounting for individual history.

* Level of Precision of Measuring Tools (accuracy)

* Natural Variation in Population

* Choice of Sample (portion of population used in study)

4. Make Observations / Collect Data - (i.e., write down your observations, the raw materials of research)

* common characteristic is variability

5. Interpret the Data

* Look at the data; does it make sense at a glance? Upon closer inspection?

* How can you explain the results?

* Statistically evaluate the Null Hypothesis

- Draw Conclusions - Can/should we draw any conclusions about the data just yet, or make/take suggestions for improving upon the research design to be used in measuring the next experiments?

We offer a Statistics class that allows students to learn about the type of statistical test they need to use for their particular experiment – why that test is appropriate, and how to interpret the mathematical results. We encourage the use of Vassar Stats http://vassarstats.net/ for statistical calculations.

Upward Bound Room 226 Chadbourne Hall

Orono, Maine 04469

Phone: 800.581.2522 | Fax: 207.581.2710