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Microgravity: living on the International Space Station
Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

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6 Is there a difference between ‘good science’ and ‘bad science’?

To answer this question, you first need to consider the scientific method. This approach is shown in Figure 5. You start at number one by defining the question. Then you go through options two to seven clockwise. If your observations don’t support your hypothesis then you leave at stage six and return to the experimental stage. Even if your hypothesis is supported by your observations, a good scientist will continue to seek further opportunities to disprove the hypothesis.

Described image
Figure 5 The scientific method.

Table 2 summarises what qualifies as ‘good science’ and ‘bad science’.

Table 2 Good and bad science
Good science Bad science
Asking the right questions Asking the wrong kind of question
Too narrow a question
Too broad a question
Vague terminology
Only looking where you predict you will see something
Influencing the results of an experiment
Clarifying risks  
Complying with ethical standards Ignoring ethical guidelines
Complying with moral standards Uninformed consent
Using volunteers for clinical trials Not allowing participants to withdraw from a clinical trial

So ‘good science’ contrasts to ‘bad science’ by approaching a problem with an open mind and ensuring that established standards are complied with. You should now complete the end-of-week quiz.