Going Back to Basics: How to Master the Art of Making Scientifically Sound Questions

  • Thiago Gonçalves-SouzaEmail author
  • Diogo B. Provete
  • Michel V. Garey
  • Fernando R. da Silva
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)


Inspired by the famous quote of Leonardo da Vinci, this chapter builds upon the idea that practice without theory is blind and unpredictable. Indeed, theory without practice can be idle. Accordingly, progress in science is made through approaches that integrate hypothesis testing and falsifiability or that investigate weight of evidence for multiple hypothesis, such as the hypothetico-deductive method (HDM) and Bayesian techniques. Here, we provided a straightforward way to combine the HDM with statistical thinking to create a diagram that links variables by causal links, which can improve the scientific method and statistical literacy.

Key words

Hypothetico-deductive method Scientific flowchart Prediction P value 




Conditions needed to sustain a hypothesis or build the theory.


Testable statement derived from or representing various components of a theory.


Direct interaction of a causal relationship that results in a phenomenon.


Repeated events, recurring entities or replicated relationships observed in time or space.


An observable event, entity or relationship.


A statement of expectation deduced from the logical structure or derived from the causal structure of a theory.


A subset of phenomena in which events follow one another in time or space, which may or may not be causally connected. It is cause, mechanism or constraint explaining a pattern.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thiago Gonçalves-Souza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diogo B. Provete
    • 2
  • Michel V. Garey
    • 3
  • Fernando R. da Silva
    • 4
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia Filogenética e Funcional (ECOFFUN), Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Síntese em Biodiversidade, Setor de Ecologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal de Mato Grosso do SulCampo GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Ecologia de Metacomunidades, Instituto Latino-Americano de Ciências da Vida e da NaturezaUniversidade Federal da Integração Latino-AmericanaFoz do IguaçuBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Ecologia Teórica: Integrando Tempo, Biologia e Espaço (LET.IT.BE), Departamento de Ciências AmbientaisUniversidade Federal de São CarlosSorocabaBrazil
  5. 5.Laboratório de Ecologia e Evolução de Sistemas Socioecológicos (LEA), Departamento de Botânica, Centro de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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