Steps in a Scientific Investigation

  • In this steps in a scientific investigation post we have briefly explained about observation, asking a question, forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, drawing conclusions, communicating results steps.
  • You’ve probably heard of science method. What do you know about the scientific method? Does it have a specific method that every science has to be conducted? Is it a set of steps that scientists generally follow but can be altered to suit the needs of a particular study?
  • There are fundamental methods to gain knowledge that are common to all science. The core of science is Scientific Investigation, which is conducted by following what is known as the Scientific Investigation. Science-based research is a strategy for answering questions and evaluating possible answers. It usually adheres to the procedures in the figure.
Scientific Investigation Steps in Order

Steps in a scientific investigation; Procedures of the steps of a Scientific Investigation: The scientific investigation usually has these steps. Scientists typically develop their methods to adhere to in a scientific investigation. Here is a simplified version of the way a scientific investigation is conducted.


  • An investigation of a scientific nature usually begins with observations. You observe everything every day. Let’s say you go out for a stroll through the woods and spot moths, similar to the one shown in the picture below that is resting on a tree’s trunk. You observe that the moth’s wings have spots that appear like eyes. You believe that the eyes make the moth appear like the face of an owl.
Scientific Investigation Steps in Order

Marbled emperor moth Heniocha dyops in Botswana. (Image Credit: Dirk Heinrich) 

Asking a Question

  • Sometimes, observations lead to inquiries. For instance, you could be wondering why the moth’s eyes have spots that look like an owl’s head. What could be the reason for this?

Forming a Hypothesis

  • The next stage in any Scientific Investigation is to develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis can be a solution to a question in science. However, it’s not an answer. The hypotheses should be founded on research and be rational. Hypotheses must also be valid and reversible. It should be possible to observe data that can disprove the hypothesis if it is incorrect. Let’s say you know that certain birds eat moths and that owls eat other birds. Based on this, you can conclude that eye spots deter birds that may devour moths. This is your theory.

Testing the Hypothesis

  • To determine the validity of a hypothesis, you must first make an assumption based on the hypothesis. Prediction is forecast is a declaration that explains what is likely to occur under certain circumstances. It could be written as follows If A is present and B occurs, then A will occur. Based on your theory, you can make the following prediction if a moth is spotted with eyespots at its wings; birds are likely to stay away from eating it.
  • After that, you need to collect evidence to prove your hypothesis. Evidence is any information that could confirm or disprove the prediction, meaning it can confirm or refute a theory. Evidence is gathered through the use of a test. Let’s suppose that you collect evidence by observing moths with eyespots. Maybe you notice that birds do not avoid eating moths that have eyespots. This is in line with your theory.

Steps in a Scientific Investigation

Drawing Conclusions

  • Evidence that is in line with your theory supports your assertion. Do these facts prove your theory is correct? A hypothesis can’t be proved accurate. This is because you will not look at all possibilities of evidence, and eventually, evidence may be discovered to disprove the hypothesis. But the more evidence to back an idea and the stronger the likelihood that the hypothesis will be valid.

Communicating Results

  • The final step of a scientific investigation is to share the findings you’ve made with others. This is an extremely important step since it allows others to evaluate your theory. If other researchers achieve similar results to yours, they will add to your theory. However, if they obtain other results, they could disprove the theory.
  • If scientists publish their research findings, they must describe the methods they used and highlight any issues that could arise from the study. For instance, if you were studying moths, maybe your presence caused birds to flee. This could be a mistake in your study. You have the results you anticipated (the moths avoided the birds when you watched them); however, not in the manner you thought. Other researchers may have the ability to develop ways to avoid this mistake when they conduct future research.

Take Away

  • At the core of science is research carried out using a scientific approach. Scientific investigation is a strategy for asking questions and testing potential answers.
  • A science investigation typically starts with observations. The observations often prompt inquiries. A hypothesis can be a plausible answer to an inquiry-based on the latest knowledge of scientists. Predictions are description that explains what is likely to take place under certain conditions.
  • Evidence refers to any data in agreement or disagreement with an assertion, which means it, can either confirm or disprove a theory. It is possible to conclude using evidence. The final step of research is the dissemination of findings to others. 

Further Readings