What Are the Eight Steps of the Scientific Method?

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The eight steps of the scientific method are: identify the problem, ask questions, research the questions, create a hypothesis, conduct experiments, collect and analyze data, draw conclusions and share the results. The eight steps of the scientific method can be grouped into three stages: observation, experiment and confirmation.

The exact number of steps required varies depending on the field of inquiry and its practitioners' definitions, but the scientific method generally follows the same arc regardless of discipline.

The observation stage entails identifying an unanswered question. This can be any gap in the current understanding of the universe, and it usually arises in response to an unanswered question or anomalous result in a previously published scientific paper. The second step is to formulate a question that, in principle, has a definite answer. After the question has been articulated, a scientist conducts research to gain a mature understanding of the subject. Researching past literature provides valuable leads and helps prevent duplication of research.

The experimental phase begins with a brainstorming session. A conscientious scientist develops multiple hypotheses, or educated guesses, to predict what may be observed and why. The next step, conducting experiments or making observations, is intended to systematically eliminate competing hypotheses until only one possible explanation is left standing.

Confirmation begins with a comprehensive analysis of the experimental results and culminates with publication of the findings. Other scientists then attempt to reproduce the paper's findings. If the hypothesis survives this passage, it is promoted to theory, and it becomes a working model that informs future research.