The scientific method is a tool used by researchers to explore and understand relationship variables in an experiment. There are seven steps in the scientific method. The first is observation. If conducted correctly, observation leads researchers to develop questions and possible outcomes of their work. Observation ensures a solid foundation as you experiment and use the scientific process.
Gather as much information about the phenomenon you are observing as possible. The more information you have on the subject, the better your experimental design. Gather information from experience, books, the Internet, other experiments, instructors and librarians.
Observe the phenomena you are interested in studying using one or all of your five senses. Use the senses that are the most appropriate to the given situation. What you see, hear, taste, smell and feel are all very important tools in collecting good data.
Separate your observations into two sections: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative observations describe what you see while quantitative observations measure what you see.
Use your sensory observations to generate as many questions as possible about your subject. The purpose of your observations is to develop research questions that guide your hypothesis, which is the next step in the scientific method. The more questions you have, the easier it is to devise a valid hypothesis. The better your hypothesis, the stronger your experimental design.
- The validity of an experiment depends on your ability to recreate what you observe. Collect as much information in the observation stage of the scientific method as possible. Collecting data is easiest and the most useful at the beginning stage when you still have control over the circumstances.