This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Scientific Method - 1
BioSci 150 Foundation of Biological Sciences I 1st Lab
I. The Process of Science
What is Science? A good definition of science for biological research is the orderly process of posing and answering questions about the natural world through repeated and unbiased experiments and observations. The way most scientists evaluate ideas and information has come to be know as the scientific method. The scientific method is a way of gaining information (facts) about the natural world by forming possible solutions to questions followed by rigorous testing to determine if the proposed solution is valid. Many scientific activities begin with an observation of a problem or pattern. The second step is hypothesis formation. A hypothesis (hypothesis is singular, and hypotheses are plural) is a statement that provides a possible explanation for an observation. Hypotheses are always phrased as statements, not questions. A good hypothesis has two characteristics: 1) it can account for all the available data, and 2) it is testable. It is important to note that hypotheses must be falsifiable. In other words, based on the results of the data collected, a hypothesis is either retained or rejected. Once a hypothesis is formed, predictions need to be formulated that go along with the hypothesis. The next step is to test the hypothesis. A hypothesis may be tested by collecting additional observational data, or by designing and carrying out an experiment. After the data is collected and analyzed, conclusions are drawn from that data that support or refute the hypothesis. It is important to remember that an experiment or observational study that supports an hypothesis is not inherently better than one that disproves the hypothesis. Either way our knowledge of the natural world has increased. Typical steps in the process of science are: 1) Make Observations: The scientific method starts with making a careful observation. Observations can be made from nature, or from written notes of other investigators collected in books or journals. 2) Formulate a Hypothesis: The next step is to construct a hypothesis – use reasoning to derive a possible answer to the observation. 3) Formulate a Prediction: Then, formulate a prediction. What would you expect to see if your hypothesis is supported? What if it is refuted? Often predictions can be constructed as “if-then” statements. 4) Conduct and experiment and/or gather observational data: Perform an experiment or make additional observations to test the prediction. Experiments need to be carefully planned to make sure the correct experimental variables are noted (see below). Careful observation and recording of data is critical. 5) Analyze data: After performing the experiment or collecting observational data, you analyze the data. 6) Formulate conclusion: Depending on the results you conclude to support or reject the hypothesis you set out to test.
Standardized variables are the ones that are kept the same by the experimenter. 1) Independent (experimental) variable: this variable is changed for the purpose of the experiment. and standardized. Independent variables are chosen because the experimenter thinks that they will affect the dependent variable. Independent variables are the ones that are changed by the experimenter. trait or condition) that is controlled. The first step is to identify the pertinent variables. Controlled variables need to be monitored as closely as the other variables. Two other factors are important to consider when planning experiments.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . the changes in other variables are observed. Control treatment: This is an experiment in which the independent variable is either eliminated or set to a standard value. The new value of the dependent variable is caused by and depends on the value of the independent variable. Designing Experiments An important component of the scientific method are thoughtfully planned experiments.2 II. Whenever possible. Replicates do not have to give the exact same result each time. manipulated or measured. so that the defect of each independent variable can be determined. There may be multiple independent variables. and getting similar result. and there should be replicates. but it is best to manipulate each one independently. because a certain amount of variation in nature is normal. There are three kinds of variables: Dependent. Replicates: Replicating (repeating) the experiment. increases the confidence in the results of the experiment. 3) Standardized variables: these variable need to remain constant during the experiment. . Dependent variables are the ones that are observed by the experimenter. to be sure that they did not change. A variable is anything (factor. 1: Graphing independent and dependent variables 2) Dependent (response) variable: this is the variable that is closely observed during the experiment to see how it responds to the change made to the independent variable. so that change in the dependent variable can be attributed to change in the independent variable alone. Fig. This allows comparison between results obtained during the control and the experimental treatments. independent. a control treatment should be included. Experiments are not as easy to conduct as you might think. and as the independent variable is changed. and several crucial components have to be considered during the planning stage of.
Then.3 III. Can you think of others? Discuss in class which other independent variables might be important. and add the table to your lab notebook for future reference. thumb length) have an effect on the chances of winning a thumb wrestling match? Turn to one of your lab partners and have a couple of thumb wrestling matches. Next.. assemble a master data table on the board. Hypothesis Testing & Graphing in Excel Exercise In this exercise you will develop hypotheses and predictions. go to the computer lab to analyze the data you just collected. Then think about which prediction(s) your hypothesis makes. Conduct a series of thumb wrestling matches with your lab partners (students from your lab table). run an experiment testing your hypothesis. gather data. and use Excel to analyze the data. Raw data table (for each student): Thumb length [cm] Parameter 1 Parameter 2 Parameter 3 % wins (wins/total x 100) Right or left hand The Master Data Table assembled for the whole class (and copied into your lab notebook) should include the following information: Student Thumb length Parameter 1 Parameter 2 Parameter 3 % Wins (write in what parameter you chose) (write in what parameter you chose) (write in what parameter you chose) G. Do the same for all parameters you measured. What makes a champion thumb wrestler? Does anatomy (e. End your lab notebook entry for this part of today’s lab by writing your final conclusion. What conclusions can you draw from the experiment.H. . Write a hypothesis about what determines thumb wrestling matches in your lab notebook. Compare your results with your hypothesis. conduct an experiment. Write the prediction(s) into your lab notebook. Then. Observe the movements and think about what might determine the outcome of the matches. Your TA will show you how to make graphs in Excel. Which is the dependent variable in your experiment? Which are the independent variables? Thumb length might be one independent variable that can affect the outcomes of the matches.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . Next. Add the data on how often you won to the table below. What conclusion(s) can you draw from each graph? In your own words. measure thumb length and 2-3 other variables you decided on as a class. Pay attention – you will need to be able to make graphs for assignments throughout the semester. describe the relationship between the measured anatomical parameter and the success of winning thumb war matches. Write this in your notebook next to each graph. Add your own values of the independent variables to the table below. sketch the graphs in your lab notebook (as shown in the example to the right).g. 53mm 100mm 57mm 35mm 50 Data Analysis (graph your results): After graphing the data.
An example of the structure of a scientific paper is the following: TITLE – ABSTRACT – INTRODUCTION – METHODS – RESULTS – DISCUSSION – LITERATURE CITED The TITLE is a concise description of the content of the paper. with text being used to provide a general overview and refer to specific illustrations. Another goal is to be explicit about the methods that were used. and especially in the Introduction and Discussion. the last section is a list of LITERATURE CITED. Any adequately trained person should be able to replicate the observations or experiments and verify the findings. and the idea is to allow people from diverse fields to understand the paper. The ABSTRACT is a brief summary of the paper. and interpretation and relevance of the findings. but a casual reader can use the abstract to decide if the paper is of interest. Scientists communicate their research findings in scholarly journals.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . Elements of Scientific Publications Science does not stop with the conclusion of an experiment. scientific publications refer to other papers that are relevant to the concepts and methods dealt with. there are several avenues for this. and about how the data were collected and analyzed. The DISCUSSION section presents an interpretation of the findings. in terms of the framework and hypotheses outlined in the introduction. Scientific findings are shared. while maintaining a high degree of thoroughness. the paper takes a step back and describes the big-picture significance of its contents. All of these subjects are dealt with in more detail in the subsequent sections of the paper. The METHODS section provides all the necessary details about the observations or experiments that were conducted. which allows the reader to refer to those sources of information. the most common one are scientific publications. results are often presented as figures and tables. Therefore. The information presented should be detailed enough to allow other interested scientists to replicate the study. hypotheses. Here. Scientific papers often deal with highly technical subjects. each table and figure comes with a short legend that clearly describes its content.4 IV. To facilitate interpretation. . The INTRODUCTION provides the reader with a general framework about the significance of the subject before leading to the specific hypotheses and predictions that are dealt with in the paper. predictions. To make it even easier to interpret the findings. The RESULTS section presents the findings and analyses. It gives an overview of the conceptual background. A paper in one of these journals will have a layout designed to make it easy for readers to follow the content of the paper. Throughout the paper.
1996. P. WI. L. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 25:37-49. Correct order of information and correct use of punctuation will be required for full credit. WCB McGraw-Hill. D. 1995. For three and more authors: …selenium can form a complex with mercury that could have an impact on the degree of poisoning (O’Brien et al. and A. and S. Ecotoxicology 5:279-295. you will be required to correctly cite all the sources you use. M. R. and give enough information that the reader can go find the source you used. K. both in-text and in the Literature Cited. In-Text Citations: For one author: …. A. Norris. You must use the citation method outlined below. 1973. In this class. This abbreviated information allows the reader to look for the full citation in the Literature Cited section at the end of your paper. and C. 1995). W. For books: Hickman. you will not get credit for citation done in other formats (English. Scheuhammer. Some aspects of the nesting requirements of common loons in Alberta. An exploratory analysis of liver element relationships in a case series of common loons (Gavia immer). Note also that citations in scientific papers are likely to be different from those you have used in other classes. Psychology. Both in-text citations and a Literature Cited section at the end of the paper are required. Vermeer. the citations should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the first author. S.. Roberts. it is very important to cite the sources that you use. In-text citations give an abbreviated version of information about the source(s) you used. J. Biology of Animals (Seventh Edition).5 V. Larson. Poppenga. Note that citations follow an exact format (see below). Madison. H. etc). Citations In scientific writing.they occasionally build nests on platforms of vegetation (Vermeer 1973) For two authors: … died following swallowing lead sinkers (Scheuhammer and Norris 1996). Ramm. L.. 1998. Wilson Bulletin 85:429435. Citations tell the reader where you found the information. NOTE: Placement of periods and commas is important! Literature Cited: For journal articles: O’Brien.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . The ecotoxicology of lead shot and lead fishing weight. C. If you have more than one source in your Literature Cited. .
Go the UWM library homepage Under “Research” click on “Resources by Subject/Major” On the “Resources by Subject/Major” page. peer-reviewed journal. Publications which use peer-review send submitted manuscripts to experts in that particular field to fact-check and edit them. choose the database that sounds most appropriate for a search. Series B: Biological Sciences Molecular Ecology Evolution Animal Behaviour Condor American Midland Naturalist Journal of Heredity Genetics Nature PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) Science Magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Some examples of non-scholarly or non-peer reviewed publications: Popular Mechanics Discover Magazine Scientific American Reader’s Digest Field & Stream Time Newsweek National Enquirer Mother Earth News Smithsonian Magazine Popular Science National Geographic Any newspaper. but using library resources like BIOSIS and MEDLINE can be overwhelming and frustrating the first few times. peer-reviewed sources using a college library database. 6. or bulletins A good rule of thumb for weeding out the non-scholarly or non-peer reviewed publications is to ask yourself the following question: could I find this magazine at my local bookstore (B&N. 5. Harry W.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . click on “Biology” or “Medicine” Both links will take you to a page with a listing of Library Databases for Bio Sci and health topics. Be sure to use the option to search in only scholarly. newsletters. after which they are re-submitted. This ensures that the information presented is very accurate. Sometimes. BIOSIS (Biological Abstracts). you will need to search through scholarly. In order to learn more about your topic. in order to get correct information.6 VI. . 2. Then they are sent back to the author for revision. This may seem like a simple task. To get to the Biological Sciences/Health databases: 1. peer-reviewed journals usually do not contain many color photos or advertisements. There are usually several revisions before an item is allowed to be published. 4. you will first need to learn how to access the information pertaining to it. So. Border’s. peer-reviewed journals or only those articles with abstracts. it probably is not a scholarly. but many websites contain erroneous or misleading information because they are not subject to the peer review process. Web of Sciences. Depending on your topic. Literature Searches Imagine that you are preparing to write a research paper on some topic of interest in biology. Schwartz)? If the answer is yes. peer-reviewed journals: JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Ecology TREE (Trends in Ecology and Evolution) Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Also. They’re mostly text and graphs. and MEDLINE are popular for Bio Sci. a google search is a good place to start if you know nothing about a topic. Some examples of scholarly. 3. Be careful when using Academic Search and other databases.
7 Literature Searches (homework assignment) The goals of this assignment are to: • • • Introduce you to the databases available through the UWM Golda Meir Library. which are similar to ones at other college libraries. . and the abstract (summary) of the research article. The first page from each of 3 of the articles [3 pts. 5. Be sure to write down the call numbers of the journals our library has in order to proceed. Make sure you are searching for articles in scholarly. 2. If the item is available as “Full Text” from an electronic resource online. Choose a topic of interest from some area of biology. You may find it useful to look through your textbook for ideas. 4. Hand in the following before class next week: A. authors. Go to the stacks/electronic resource and retrieve three articles from your database search. go to the library catalog on the library’s website and find out if: 1) our library has access to the journal and 2) if they have the year. For example. C. etc. be sure that the topic you chose is not beyond your understanding. If the item is available as “Full Text” from an electronic resource online. NOT the expanded citation with abstract that the database provides. indicate that in lieu of a call number. print out the first ten (10) citations from your search. 3.Foundation of Biological Sciences I Scientific Method . Guide you through the processes that biology students and professionals use to find information relevant to their research topics. Help you become comfortable with performing literature searches and help you to use your time more effectively. Perform a literature search for your topic on one of the Biological Sciences databases (BIOSIS. The three articles must be included in the citations you printed out.]. narrow your search to 100 or fewer articles. Photocopy/print-out only the first page of each article you chose. or go to the Biology Department homepage to see what the faculty members are researching. be sure to indicate that in lieu of a call number. and issue you need. At this point. This should contain the title. [10 pts] B. For each of those citations you printed out. Or you can choose a topic you heard or read about in the recent news. Your summary of one of the articles [7 pts. if you get a lot of citations that read like the following title you should probably perform a new search: “Type I polyketide synthase requiring a discrete acyltransferase for polyketide biosynthesis. In your own words. volume. summarize one of the research articles in a short paragraph. You need the actual first page of the article. peer-reviewed journals.]. It is not necessary to print out the abstracts. A copy of the results from your search (first 10 citations) with call numbers written next to journals the library has. If necessary.” Once you’re satisfied with your search results. but it may help in steps four and five.) available through the library’s website. Instructions for the Literature Search Assignment 1.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.