Explore Our Science

Process of Science

Anyone who has taken a science class has seen the scientific method described as a series of steps something like this:

  • ask a question
  • formulate an hypothesis
  • perform an experiment
  • collect data
  • draw conclusions

This is a convenient and straightforward list that summarizes how science was done for presentation in journal articles and textbooks. Unfortunately, it implies that the purpose of science is to conclude. But the process of science is much more creative, interactive, and dynamic than that! Science is centered on asking questions and testing ideas as shown in this diagram. Doing science can involve all sorts of inputs you might not associate with scientific research, such as curiosity or even serendipity – a happy accident or pleasant surprise. Visit Berkeley’s Understanding Science website for an interactive version of the real process of science.