How Scientists Work

A scientist, in a broad sense, is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist may refer to an individual who uses the scientific method.The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word. Scientists perform research toward a more comprehensive understanding of nature, including physical, mathematical and social realms.


Philosophy is a distinct activity that is not generally considered science. Philosophers aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of intangible aspects of reality and experience that cannot be physically measured.

Scientists are also distinct from engineers, those who design, build and maintain devices for particular situations. When science is done with a goal toward practical utility, it is called applied science. An applied scientist may not be designing something in particular, but rather is conducting research with the aim of developing new technologies and practical methods. When science is done with an inclusion of intangible aspects of reality it is called natural philosophy.

Scientists research is a creative process that can involve a variety of techniques. Important advances my result from patient hard work or sudden leaps of imagination. Even change can play a role in the scientific process. For example, Sir Alexander Fleming, a British bacteoriologist, discovered penicillin accidntally in 1928, when he noticed that a bit of mould of the genus penicillium had contaminated a laboratory dish containing bacteria. Examining the dish, fleming saw that the bacteria around the would had been killed.

Scientists use a number of methods in making discoveries and in developing theoris. These methods include:

1. observing nature

2. Classifying data

3. Using logic

4. Conducting experiments

5. Forming a hypothesis

6. Expressing findings mathematically

7. Modelling with computers

Most scientific research involves some orall of these steps.

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