Scientific inquiry is more complex than popular conceptions would have it. It is, for instance, a more subtle and demanding process than the naive idea of “making a great many careful observations and then organizing them.” It is far more flexible than the rigid sequence of steps commonly depicted in textbooks as “the scientific method.” It is much more than just “doing experiments,” and it is not confined to laboratories. More imagination and inventiveness are involved in scientific inquiry than many people realize, yet sooner or later strict logic and empirical evidence must have their day. Individual investigators working alone sometimes make great discoveries, but the steady advancement of science depends on the enterprise as a whole.

– Benchmarks for Science Literacy