Lessons on the Scientific Method:
#4 of 5 on Basic Theories of Scientific Method

The Scientific Method


Basic Steps of the Scientific Method

Over the last few centuries hundreds of model formulas for the steps or stages have been offered for the scientific method by various authors. After years of analyzing them I selected eleven steps and three supporting ingredients as the best model formula (SM-14) suitable as a standard for teaching the scientific method and for using the scientific method.


The SM-14 Model Formula for the Scientific Method

Below are the steps or stages and supporting ingredients of the SM-14 formula for the scientific method. Coming up are two-page descriptions of each one.

Parts of the Scientific Method

As shown below, it has been broken down into its major parts.


Guide to Steps or Stages of Mental Activity

PART 1 – Observation through Hypothesis
1. Curious Observation
2. Is There a Problem?
3. Goals and Planning
4. Search, Explore, & Gather the Evidence
5. Generate Creative & Logical Alternatives
6. Evaluate the Evidence
7. Make the Educated Guess

Part II – Challenge through Suspend Judgment
8. Challenge the Hypothesis 
9. Reach a Conclusion
10. Suspend Judgment
Part III – Implementation or Peer Review
11. Take Action

Supporting Ingredients

Part IV – Action or Applied Ingredients
12. Creative, Non-logical, Logical & Technical Methods
13. Procedural Principles & Theories
14. Attributes & Thinking Skills

Supporting Ingredients 12, 13, and 14 Included in the SM-14 Model Formula for the Scientific Method


The steps or stages 1 to 11 are guides to mental activities, usually accompanied by physical activities, and are subject neutral.

Scientific Method Activities

The supporting ingredients are action and applied methods or scientific method activities that will actually solve problems. They are applied at every step or stage.

Including the supporting ingredients makes the SM-14 model formula reflect the complete system of science and the system of the complete method of problem solving and decision making.  Including them in the model formula greatly facilitates the learning and teaching of the scientific method.

Using the Scientific Method – Flexibility of Use Is Normal

While the steps or stages are listed in the usual order of use, in actual practice they will be used in a very flexible manner, as progress on complex problems is seldom smooth. In using the steps or stages there will be skipping ahead, backtracking, stalling, looping ahead or back, combining two or more ingredients, use of various combinations.

Scientific Method of Research

The research process is not just a collection of miscellaneous “scientific methods.” Scientists and other researchers do not proceed in a haphazard fashion. Centuries of trial and error, research, discussions and debates have led to a realization of the general pattern of the scientific method – the SM-14 model formula reflects this pattern and therefore is also the scientific method of research.


Simple Scientific Method – Short Keyword Terminology

For ease of remembering, teaching, and test purposes, here is short keyword terminology for the steps or stages and supporting ingredients of the scientific method (SM-14).

1. Curiosity
2. Problem
3. Planning
4. Search
5. Alternatives
6. Evaluate
7. Hypothesis
8. Challenge
 9. Conclusion
10. Suspend
11. Action

Supporting Ingredients
12. Methods
13. Principles
14. Thinking

Two-word Abbreviations
1. Curious Observation
2. The Problem
3. Goals – Planning
4. Search – Explore
5. Generate Alternatives
6. Evaluate Evidence
7. Guess – Hypothesis
8. Challenge Hypothesis
9. Reach Conclusion
10. Suspend Judgment
11. Take Action
Supporting Ingredients

12. Action Methods
13. Procedural Principles
14. Attributes – Thinking