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STEP OR STAGE #4 of the Scientific Method


This step or stage is the heart of problem solving and contributes to the importance of the scientific method. You start to search everywhere, explore all angles, leads, clues, and sources of information.

Pick out the basic principles of the material you read, see, or hear. Gather all the evidence that will help you solve the problem, always trying to use innovation and creativity, thus building your list of possible tentative solutions.

Learn how to process information productively. Put your thoughts in writing.

Scientific Method Activities

Search Your Mind for Tentative Solutions

Before loading your mind with data, other people's opinions, and so-called "facts," list all possible tentative solutions you can think of for your main problem and any sub-problems.


  1. Provides you with direction and scope in your search.
  2. Enables you to utilize imagination before being influenced by prevailing thoughts and theories.

The Scientific Method of Research

An efficient search for information and evidence is essential for good research results everywhere. Explore all angles, leads, clues, strategies, techniques, and sources of information. Pick out the essential principles of the material you read, see, or hear. Write them down in an organized way. read supporting ingredients 12,13, and 14 before starting your search.

Scientific Method Activities

Organize Your Sources of Information, Data,
Processes, & Supplies

  • Prepare a broad literature search
  • Use internet search engines
  • Visit libraries; read periodicals
  • Visit new and used bookstores
  • Seek discussions with friends
  • Take field trips; go to conventions
  • Accumulate your own library
  • Use Post-it TM Notes to mark pages
  • Build a file system for papers
  • Set up computer files
  • Decide what supplies you need
  • List any sub-problems
  • Do a complete search
  • Do a limited search
  • Look for "good enough" alternatives
  • Review purposes, goals, and objectives

Scientific Method of Inquiry

Possible Methods, Processes, Strategies,
Technologies, & Systems

Redefine problem as needed Solve sub-problems first
Draw inferences State problem another way
Watch for patterns Compare to other problems
Classify Abstract basic principles
Make associations Be flexible
Vary your attack Discard the irrelevant
Watch for leads, clues, hints Find inter-relationships
variables causes and effects Simulate or improvise
Anticipate the unexpected Plan experiments
Be curious Sampling and statistics
Interpret data Use all data
Measurements Trial and error
Work backwards Look for similarities and differences
Algorithms Watch for surprise discoveries
Watch for "oddities" List attributes of subject
Utilize routines Logical reasoning and speculation
Group brainstorm Use checklists, models and analogies
Imitate nature Use qualitative and quantitative analysis
Utilize computers Use sketches, trees, concept maps
Visualize Use flow charts, spreadsheets, symbols

Scientific Method Activities:

Generate Creative & Logical Solutions (Step or Stage 5)

This is listed as a separate step or stage to be sure that it is done. In actual practice, you should be watching for and thinking about alternative solutions to evaluate at Step or Stage 6 while you are searching, exploring, and gathering evidence. Review Step or Stage 5 now.

Limit Your Search

There is a universe of data and information. Don't depend only on the internet for information. Limit your search to a practical amount and don't overload your mental capacity to understand by collecting too much. To avoid this, organize proper file folders, notebooks, computer files, and keep a log.

Communicate & Consult

Keep your group, associates, and those affected up to date. In complex situations, consider consulting those with expert knowledge.

Work Ahead on Other Steps or Stages

If you find information useful for the steps or stages ahead, make notes for those steps or stages as you search. Your search should trigger visions and scenarios of what may be ahead. Remember what you want to achieve, preserve and prevent.