The Scientific Method of Chemistry


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In this flowchart, the observation and curiosity box has an arrow pointing to a box labeled form hypothesis; make prediction. A curved arrow labeled next connects this box to a box labeled perform experiment; make more observations. Another arrow points back to the box that says form hypothesis; make prediction. This arrow is labeled results not consistent with prediction. Another arrow, labeled results are consistent with prediction points from the perform experiment box to a box labeled contributes to body of knowledge. However, an arrow also points from contributes to body of knowledge back to the form hypothesis; make prediction box. This arrow is labeled further testing does not support hypothesis. There are also two other arrows leading out from contributes to body of knowledge. One arrow is labeled much additional testing yields constant observations. This leads to the observation becomes law box. The other arrow is labeled much additional testing supports hypothesis. This arrow leads to the hypothesis becomes theory box.
The scientific method follows a process similar to the one shown in this diagram. All the key components are shown, in roughly the right order. Scientific progress is seldom neat and clean: It requires open inquiry and the reworking of questions and ideas in response to findings. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Chemistry is a science based on observation and experimentation. Doing chemistry involves attempting to answer questions and explain observations in terms of the laws and theories of chemistry, using procedures that are accepted by the scientific community. There is no single route to answering a question or explaining an observation, but there is an aspect common to every approach: Each uses knowledge based on experiments that can be reproduced to verify the results. Some routes involve a hypothesis, a tentative explanation of observations that acts as a guide for gathering and checking information. A hypothesis is tested by experimentation, calculation, and/or comparison with the experiments of others and then refined as needed.

Some hypotheses are attempts to explain the behavior that is summarized in laws. The laws of science summarize a vast number of experimental observations, and describe or predict some facet of the natural world. If such a hypothesis turns out to be capable of explaining a large body of experimental data, it can reach the status of a theory. Scientific theories are well-substantiated, comprehensive, testable explanations of particular aspects of nature. Theories are accepted because they provide satisfactory explanations, but they can be modified if new data become available. The path of discovery that leads from question and observation to law or hypothesis to theory, combined with experimental verification of the hypothesis and any necessary modification of the theory, is called the scientific method.



Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:

Keywords: what is chemistry, what is the scientific method, define chemistry, process of scientific method, explain the scientific method, chemistry definition, scientific method process, hypothesis, scientific laws, theories

[Clinical Judgment: the scientific method applied to medical attention]

Medical care based on technical rationality, along with “Evidence-Based Medicine”, converted the doctor in an operative technician and relegated the participation of the patient, only with his disease. The health-disease phenomenon results from the complex patient-environment interaction over time. The management of this intricate situation led the development of Clinical Judgment -scientific method applied to the clinic- and is described in the “Architecture of Clinical Research”. Dr. Alvan R. Feinstein wrote, “There is nothing in such description [of the concepts] that a sensible physician, experienced in health care, does not know, or cannot understand”.

Keywords: Clinical Judgement; Clinical Medicine; Evidence-Based Medicine; Scientific Method; Thinking

Development of low-cost cardiac and skeletal muscle laboratory activities to teach physiology concepts and the scientific method

Anatomy and Physiology courses taught at community colleges tend to focus laboratory hours primarily on anatomy as opposed to physiology. However, research demonstrates that, when instructors utilize active learning approaches (such as in laboratory settings) where students participate in their own learning, students have improved outcomes, such as higher test scores and better retention of material. To provide community college students with opportunities for active learning in physiology, we developed two laboratory exercises to engage students in cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology. We utilized low-cost SpikerBox devices to measure electrical activity during cardiac (electrocardiogram) and skeletal muscle (electromyogram) contraction. Laboratory activities were employed in Anatomy and Physiology courses at two community colleges in southeast Michigan. A 2-h laboratory period was structured with a 20-min slide presentation covering background material on the subject and experiments to examine the effects of environmental variables on nervous system control of cardiac and skeletal muscle contraction. Students were asked to provide hypotheses and proposed mechanisms, complete a results section, and provide conclusions for the experiments based on their results. Our laboratory exercises improved student learning in physiology and knowledge of the scientific method and were well-received by community college students enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology. Our results demonstrate that the use of a SpikerBox for cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology concepts is a low-cost and effective approach to integrate physiology activities into an Anatomy and Physiology course.

Keywords: community college; lab activities; physiology; scientific method

Plastination-A scientific method for teaching and research

Over the last four decades, plastination has been one of the best processes of preservation for organic tissue. In this process, water and lipids in biological tissues are replaced by polymers (silicone, epoxy, polyester) which are hardened, resulting in dry, odourless and durable specimens. Nowadays, after more than 40 years of its development, plastination is applied in more than 400 departments of anatomy, pathology, forensic sciences and biology all over the world. The most known polymers used in plastination are silicone (S10), epoxy (E12) and polyester (P40). The key element in plastination is the impregnation stage, and therefore depending on the polymer that is used, the optical quality of specimens differs. The S10 silicone technique is the most common technique used in plastination. Specimens can be used, especially in teaching, as they are easy to handle and display a realistic topography. Plastinated silicone specimens are used for displaying whole bodies, or body parts for exhibition. Transparent tissue sections, with a thickness between 1 and 4 mm, are usually produced by using epoxy (E12) or polyester (P40) polymer. These sections can be used to study both macroscopic and microscopic structures. Compared with the usual methods of dissection or corrosion, plastinated slices have the advantage of not destroying or altering the spatial relationships of structures. Plastination can be used as a teaching and research tool. Besides the teaching and scientific sector, plastination becomes a common resource for exhibitions, as worldwide more and more exhibitions use plastinated specimens.

Keywords: anatomy; education; plastination; research

Perspective: Dimensions of the scientific method

The scientific method has been guiding biological research for a long time. It not only prescribes the order and types of activities that give a scientific study validity and a stamp of approval but also has substantially shaped how we collectively think about the endeavor of investigating nature. The advent of high-throughput data generation, data mining, and advanced computational modeling has thrown the formerly undisputed, monolithic status of the scientific method into turmoil. On the one hand, the new approaches are clearly successful and expect the same acceptance as the traditional methods, but on the other hand, they replace much of the hypothesis-driven reasoning with inductive argumentation, which philosophers of science consider problematic. Intrigued by the enormous wealth of data and the power of machine learning, some scientists have even argued that significant correlations within datasets could make the entire quest for causation obsolete. Many of these issues have been passionately debated during the past two decades, often with scant agreement. It is proffered here that hypothesis-driven, data-mining-inspired, and “allochthonous” knowledge acquisition, based on mathematical and computational models, are vectors spanning a 3D space of an expanded scientific method. The combination of methods within this space will most certainly shape our thinking about nature, with implications for experimental design, peer review and funding, sharing of result, education, medical diagnostics, and even questions of litigation.