Principles of Scientific Methods: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Principles of Scientific Methods

1st Edition

By Mark Chang

Chapman and Hall/CRC

247 pages | 101 B/W Illus.

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Principles of Scientific Methods focuses on the fundamental principles behind scientific methods. The book refers to "science" in a broad sense, including natural science, physics, mathematics, statistics, social science, political science, and engineering science. A principle is often abstract and has broad applicability while a method is usually concrete and specific. The author uses many concrete examples to explain principles and presents analogies to connect different methods or problems to arrive at a general principle or a common notion. He mainly discusses a particular method to address the great idea behind the method, not the method itself.

The book shows how the principles are not only applicable to scientific research but also to our daily lives. The author explains how scientific methods are used for understanding how and why things happen, making predictions, and learning how to prevent mistakes and solve problems. Studying the principles of scientific methods is to think about thinking and to enlighten our understanding of scientific research.

Scientific principles are the foundation of scientific methods. In this book, you’ll see how the principles reveal the big ideas behind our scientific discoveries and reflect the fundamental beliefs and wisdoms of scientists. The principles make the scientific methods coherent and constitute the source of creativity.


"This book is designed not only for a conceptual understanding of scientific fundamental principles behind the methods, but also to introduce some innovative applications from different fields. The book fits for a wide range of audiences who do not have any mathematics or statistics backgrounds. As written by an experienced statistician from pharmaceutical industry, the book provides an insightful overview of the current practices of experimentation and statistical inferences in pharmaceutical drug development, and also the concepts and rationales of the innovative methods beyond the pharmaceutical research and development. This is a useful reference book to inspire the readers of creative thinking by the great ideas behind the scientific methods. … In summary, this is a useful reference book on understanding the scientific principles. This book contains a very good collection of innovative scientific methods and applications. The intuitive figures and diagrams are helpful to understand the concepts and the italic-face font for the definitions facilitates the review."

Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, 2015

"… the section on misconceptions and pitfalls in statistics is a must-read. … The book is at its best when discussing examples, paradoxical questions, or philosophical issues, and Chang puts good emphasis on statistics-related topics: publication bias, the Monty Hall problem, regression to the mean, and multiple testing issues all find a place for discussion."

Significance, February 2015

“… best used as a text for a course in the principles of scientific methods for both students in science and the humanities, and instructors could expand in their lectures on material that the book expresses in a lapidary style. Moreover, even those who use the book for self-study would find that the extra effort they may need to devote to the work would be well rewarded. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty.”

—R. Bharath, Northern Michigan University in CHOICE March 2015, Vol. 52 No. 7

"As researchers interested in medicine, theoretical mathematical statistics can be somewhat grim and distant from professional medical activity, closer to the world of biology. However, Principles of Scientific Methods, by Mark Chang, discusses in a way comprehensible for nonmathematical professionals, the paradigms behind the methods of scientific research, such as the current mode of so called ‘evidence-based medicine’. It is an excellent work to introduce people to principles of research, with plentiful graphics."

Journal of Applied Statistics, February 28, 2017

Table of Contents

Science in Perspective

Philosophy of Science

Theories of Truth

Determinism and Free Will

The Similarity Principle

The Parsimony Principle

Essence of Understanding

Discovery or Invention




Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Formal Reasoning

Mathematics as Science



Logic Computation

Mathematical Induction

Thought Experiments

Fitch’s Knowability Paradox

Incompleteness Theorem

Pigeonhole Principle

Proof by Contradiction

Dimensional Analysis


Overview of Experimentation

Experimentation in Life Science

Control and Blinding

Experiment Design

Retrospective and Prospective Studies

Validity and Integrity

Confounding Factors

Variation and Bias


Adaptive Experiment

Ethical Issues

Scientific Inference

The Concept of Probability

Probability Distribution

Evidential Measures

Hypothesis Test

Likelihood Principle

Bayesian Reasoning

Causal Space

Decision Theory

Statistical Modeling

Data Mining

Misconceptions and Pitfalls in Statistics

Dynamics of Science

Science as Art



Classical Game Theory

Evolutionary Game Theory

Networks and Graph Theory

Evolutionary Dynamics of Networks

Brownian Motion

Stochastic Decision Process

Swarm Intelligence

From Ancient Pictograph to Modern Graphics

Controversies and Challenges

Fairness of Social System

Centralized and Decentralized Decisions

Newcomb’s Paradox

The Monty Hall Dilemma

The Two-Envelope Paradox

Simpson’s Paradox

Regression to the Mean

Causation, Association, Correlation, and Confounding

Multiple Testing

Exploratory and Confirmatory Studies

Probability and Statistics Revisited

Case Studies

Social Genius of Animals

Mendel’s Genetics Experiments

Pavlov’s Dogs, Skinner’s Box

Ants That Count!

Disease Outbreak and Network Chaos

Technological Innovation

Critical Path Analysis

Revelations of the Braess Paradox

Artificial Swarm Intelligence

One Stone Three Birds

Scaling in Biology

Genetic Programming

Mechanical Analogy

Numerical Methods

Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes

Material Dating in Archaeology

Molecular Design

Clinical Trials

Publication Bias

Information and Entropy



About the Author

Mark Chang is vice president of biometrics at AMAG Pharmaceuticals and an adjunct professor at Boston University. Dr. Chang is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association and a co-founder of the International Society for Biopharmaceutical Statistics. He serves on the editorial boards of statistical journals and has published seven books in biostatistics and science, including Paradoxes in Scientific Inference, Modern Issues and Methods in Biostatistics, Adaptive Design Theory and Implementation Using SAS and R, and Monte Carlo Simulation for the Pharmaceutical Industry.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MATHEMATICS / Recreations & Games
MATHEMATICS / Probability & Statistics / General