The scientific method is important because it is an evidence-based method for acquiring knowledge. Unlike intuitive, philosophical or religious methods for acquiring knowledge, the scientific method relies on empirical, repeatable tests to reveal the truth.
The key concept of the scientific method is that scientists can answer questions and test hypotheses, or potential solutions, through highly controlled experiments. Though the scientific method is more of a conceptual framework than a discrete, canonized formula, its principles allow scientists from all over the world to test each other’s work to ensure that the initial results were correct.
Instructors of elementary and high school students often portray the method as a consistent, multi-step process. A common framework usually involves a question, a research period, the development of a hypothesis, the testing of the hypothesis and the synthesis of a conclusion. In practice, the scientific method rarely follows such a linear path. Researchers often investigate several hypothesis simultaneously while conducting elaborate experiments.
Additionally, scientists must adapt their approach to the scientific method, depending on the details of their work. For example, chemists may be able to design a straight-forward experimental procedure to test their hypothesis, but biologists may struggle to design experiments to test hypotheses about evolution. Similarly, astronomers must figure out ways to test their ideas and theories with their subjects so far away.