“Why should there be a method of science? […] We should not expect something as motley as the growth of knowledge to be strapped to one methodology.”

– Ian Hacking, as quoted in Understanding the
Language of Science (Darian, 2003, p. 32)

The existence of one, golden-standard scientific method is a myth. [Image source (public domain): Christopher S. Baird]

If we are to learn how to make scientific discoveries, then we must speak clearly about the methods by which scientists make such discoveries. And, as the Canadian philosopher of science Ian Hacking recommends, we should try to refrain from speaking about one–and only one–scientific method. To restate Hacking’s message more forcefully: There is no singular, all-encompassing, universal scientific method. Science is much more diverse and infinitely more interesting than that. When we speak of scientific method, we must not speak in the singular, we must speak in the plural. We must speak of methods.

In Dr. Merritt’s science classes, you will learn about and enact no less than three different types of scientific methods: descriptive, comparative, and experimental. The links below will take you on a journey deeper into these three types of scientific investigations, as well as other investigation types (see below). Although each of these methods are treated separately within the pages of this website, most of these investigative methods overlap and/or are frequently used in combination with one another.





Last updated: May 2017


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