A Lyrical Explanation of the Scientific Method

IMG_0326

a tiny jumping spider under a magnifying lens

When it comes to doing research,
There are steps that you must heed,
Rules that should be followed,
If you want your study to succeed.

This is the scientific process,
A recipe, if you may,
For scientists to answer questions,
In a concise and valid way.

First, make observations,
This means opening your eyes,
To the nature that surrounds you,
Even the things of tiny size.

Do you notice interactions,
That you didn’t think were there?
Or some interesting behaviour,
That appears as if out of thin air?

making observations and asking questions

making observations and asking questions

Now you can ask questions,
About the things you see,
This is a crucial second step,
In our science recipe.

A good scientific question,
Will tend not to be too broad,
It’ll be testable and worth answering,
Or else it will be flawed.

Third, propose some explanations,
For the patterns that you find,
Based on the all the knowledge,
That you have inside your mind.

These are called hypotheses,
And they’ll help you on your quest,
To create verifiable predictions,
That you can then put to the test.

collecting data in the field

collecting data in the field

This brings us to the fourth step,
Designing your experiment,
There are a few things to consider here,
So that you may later be content.

Replication is important,
This means repeating all your trials,
More trials yield reliable results,
Reliable results yield wider smiles.

Controlling outside variables,
Is another thing that you should do,
This means limiting the variance,
On factors not being tested by you.

Once you’ve come up with your method,
On how to test your hypothesis,
Start collecting all your data,
This is no time for thoughtlessness.

raw data that has yet to be analyzed and a very pregnant jumping spider

raw data (and a very pregnant jumping spider)

Step five: analyze your data,
With the statistics that you choose,
Make clear tables, graphs, and figures,
That will be unlikely to confuse.

Do your outcomes support the predictions,
That you made so long ago?
What is it that you have found,
That you can now say that you know?

With your shiny new results,
The process isn’t over yet,
Refine or alter your prior questions,
Is this necessary? You can bet.

Finally we come to step six,
Where you tell the world all that you learned,
When you write an articulate paper,
A publication is what you’ve earned.

sharing scientific information

sharing scientific information

Of course there are other ways,
To communicate your study,
Perhaps give a speech at a conference,
Or make a poster to show your buddy.

With your research now in the open,
Others can test to see if it stands,
Does it agree with results from other papers?
And when tested in other hands?

If it does then congratulations,
You’ve helped make a general theory,
This is a huge achievement in science,
So I won’t judge if you become teary.


If you are interested in the history of the scientific method and/or would like to know why the scientific method is not perfect, check out this youtube video

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s