Biology » The Study of Life » The Science of Biology

Summary and Main Ideas

Summary of Lessons So Far

Biology is the science that studies living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. Science attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe in whole or in part by rational means. Science has many fields. We call those fields related to the physical world and its phenomena, natural sciences.

vaccine-development

Image Attribution: Vaccine Development, by Sabin Vaccine Institute

Science can be basic or applied. The main goal of basic science is to expand knowledge without any expectation of short-term practical application of that knowledge. The primary goal of applied research, however, is to solve practical problems.

In science, we use two types of logical reasoning. Inductive reasoning uses particular results to produce general scientific principles. Deductive reasoning is a form of logical thinking that predicts results by applying general principles.

The common thread throughout scientific research is the use of the scientific method, a step-based process that consists of making observations, defining a problem, posing hypotheses, testing these hypotheses, and drawing one or more conclusions. The testing uses proper controls.

Scientists present their results in peer-reviewed scientific papers published in scientific journals. A scientific research paper consists of several well-defined sections: introduction, materials and methods, results, and, finally, a concluding discussion. Review papers summarize the research done in a particular field over a period of time.

Glossary of Words

Abstract

opening section of a scientific paper that summarizes the research and conclusions

Applied science

form of science that aims to solve real-world problems

Basic science

science that seeks to expand knowledge and understanding regardless of the short-term application of that knowledge

Biology

the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments

Conclusion

section of a scientific paper that summarizes the importance of the experimental findings

Control

part of an experiment that does not change during the experiment

Deductive reasoning

form of logical thinking that uses a general inclusive statement to forecast specific results

Descriptive science

(also, discovery science) form of science that aims to observe, explore, and investigate

Discussion

section of a scientific paper in which the author interprets experimental results, describes the relationship between variables, and attempts to explain the phenomenon in question

Falsifiable

able to be disproved by experimental results

Hypothesis

suggested explanation for an observation, which can be tested

Hypothesis-based science

form of science that begins with a specific question and potential testable answers

Inductive reasoning

form of logical thinking that uses related observations to arrive at a general conclusion

Introduction

opening section of a scientific paper, which provides background information about what was known in the field prior to the research reported in the paper

Life science

field of science, such as biology, that studies living things

Materials and methods

section of a scientific paper that includes a complete description of the substances, methods, and techniques used by the researchers to gather data

Natural science

field of science that is related to the physical world and its phenomena and processes

Peer-reviewed manuscript

scientific paper that is reviewed by a scientist’s colleagues who are experts in the field of study

Physical science

field of science, such as geology, astronomy, physics, and chemistry, that studies nonliving matter

Plagiarism

using other people’s work or ideas without proper citation, creating the false impression that those are the author’s original ideas

Results

section of a scientific paper in which the author narrates the experimental findings and presents relevant figures, pictures, diagrams, graphs, and tables, without any further interpretation

Review article

paper that summarizes and comments on findings published as primary literature

Science

knowledge that covers general truths or the operation of general laws, especially when acquired and tested by the scientific method

Scientific method

method of research with defined steps that include observation, formulation of a hypothesis, testing, and confirming or falsifying the hypothesis

Serendipity

fortunate accident or a lucky surprise

Theory

tested and confirmed explanation for observations or phenomena

Variable

part of an experiment that the experimenter can vary or change

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