Research in Science Education

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 111–129

An Analysis of the Actual Processes of Physicists’ Research and the Implications for Teaching Scientific Inquiry in School


    • Department of Physics EducationChonnam National University
  • Kyoung-Ae Jang
    • Donga Science
  • Ikgyun Kim
    • Department of Science EducationChungbuk National University

DOI: 10.1007/s11165-008-9079-8

Cite this article as:
Park, J., Jang, K. & Kim, I. Res Sci Educ (2009) 39: 111. doi:10.1007/s11165-008-9079-8


Investigation of scientists’ actual processes of conducting research can provide us with more realistic aspects of scientific inquiry. This study was performed to identify three aspects of scientists’ actual research: their motivations for scientific inquiry, the scientific inquiry skills they used, and the main types of results obtained from their research. To do this, we interviewed six prominent physicists about why and how they researched and what they obtained from their research results. We also analyzed their published papers. In the previous part of this study, types and features of the physicists’ research motivations were identified (Park and Jang, Journal of the Korean Physical Society, 47(3), 401–408, 2005). In this article, as the second part of the study, it was found: (1) Various inquiry skills including theoretical as well as experimental research skills and the social skills of scientific inquiry were used in physicists’ research. (2) New inventions, articulation of, and falsification of the previous findings were regarded as important research results. (3) Physicists’ research processes were often non-linear and cyclical. For each of these findings, implications for teaching scientific inquiry in schools were developed. Finally, we proposed a model of scientific inquiry process consisting of research motives, scientific inquiry skills, and results of inquiry.


Physicists’ research Scientific inquiry Inquiry process skills Research motivation Research results

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008