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Biological research methods

Biology is a science that studies living forms and their interaction with each other and the environment, patterns of development, modifications and possible variants of life forms. The existing methods of biological research are used in full by modern scientists.

This is a collection of a huge number of techniques, research in related fields of knowledge, operations and experiences that help to synthesize and combine all the results obtained into one common system.

Basic research methods

Today biology is a separate science under study, but until the twentieth century it fit the concept of a “package of sciences”. It is closely associated with biochemistry, biophysics, space and molecular biology, ecology.

There is a theoretical division of biology into the following areas:

  • general – molecular, cellular, tissue, section of organs and systems, section population and natural communities;
  • the science of organisms – botany, zoology, mycology, microbiology.

Accordingly, all research methods are subdivided according to the field of study.

Universal research paths

The essence of any scientific research is the use of cognitive methods, methodology and experiments in a common set. Such ways of studying the subject allow us to describe, classify, explain and partially suggest the further path of development of any microorganism.

Observation of a phenomenon, process, object, or simulated experiment.

Fixation of the obtained data, their most rigorous assessment.

Primary data processing to identify patterns and relationships. Classification of information, description using specialized scientific terminology.

The main  methods in biology include:

  • The descriptive method is associated with the observation and description of objects or phenomena, the determination of their properties.
  • Comparative method. The similarities and differences between different taxonomic groups, communities of organisms, their structure, functions and components are studied using a comparative method.
  • The historical method clarifies the patterns of the appearance and development of organisms, the formation of their structure and functions in the course of the geological history of the Earth.
  • The experimental method  consists in the change by the researcher of the conditions of existence of the object of experience, its structure and observation of the results of the changes. There are field and laboratory experiments. This method allows a much deeper study of the essence of behavior, structure and characteristics of organisms.

Private biological research methods include methods

  • Genealogical method.
  • Historical method. Allows you to discover the patterns of the emergence and development of living beings.
  • Paleontological method – allows you to find out the relationship between ancient organisms that are in the earth’s crust, in different geological layers.
  • Centrifugation – separation of mixtures into main parts under the action of centrifugal force.
  • Cytological, cytogenetic, microscopy – the study of the structure of a cell, its structures using a microscope.
  • Biochemical method – the study of chemical processes in the body.

Comparative analysis with previously obtained data.

Empirical research uses all methods available to modern science, this is what makes it as informative as possible.

In comparison with the main  ways of conducting research, the theoretical approach, like the cybernetic one, is more modern. All biological objects become part of the system with their own hierarchy.

Taking into account the fact that all structures are multistage, each of its parts can be considered both as a system and as an element of a higher order. This principle is valid for all levels – from macromolecules to the earth’s biosphere.

The Statistical Way of Biology Research

The method is based on the use of the obtained material, its processing, comprehensive analysis, identification of patterns and the final presentation in the form of a statistical conclusion. This is a general definition of the statistical path of research.

The Statistical Way of Biology Research

The need for this study arose as a natural transition from the descriptive method, which provides initial observational data, to its final analysis and conclusions. It is mathematical statistics that allows you to systematize data and extract the most useful information from all other basic methods. The research takes place in 3 stages:

  • Observation and collection of primary data for the compilation of statistics.
  • Processing and analysis of results, grouping of the results. Data aggregation into statistical tables. At this stage, there is a transition from the characteristics of a single object to the summary characteristics of the population as a whole or its group.
  • Analyzing statistics.

Statistical analysis is the final, most important stage of the study. He identifies the features and causes of this phenomenon, compares it with others taken as a basis, formulates conclusions, assumptions, hypotheses and forecasts, conducts a statistical check on all specified data. Analysis is the final stage of the statistical method.

Modeling method

The creation of models provides a technical opportunity for the study and measurement of processes, phenomena and objects that cannot be cognized in natural conditions. Simulation partially replaces experiment. But it also has several additional positive advantages:

  • Having a single set of data, it is possible to develop a number of models for which different interpretations of the process under study will be applied. As a result, the most promising and fruitful version for theoretical interpretations is selected.
  • When modeling, you can make various changes, add additions, use simplification.
  • It is possible to combine the experimental method and the theoretical. Example: Miller synthesis of amino acids.
  • At present, modeling as a method used in biology performs independent tasks and refers to a separate stage in the creation of a theory or teaching.

In addition to undeniable advantages, theoretical research methods have one, but undeniable drawback: they cannot influence the observed processes, objects or phenomena. They only help to detect them and reveal hidden patterns.

Private research methods

Therefore, some of the methods applicable for research in biology came from related, borderline branches: biophysics, biochemistry, virology, ecology.

Any method is, first of all, a way to achieve a goal, to establish the truth. Both empirical and theoretical methods fully meet these requirements.

But in some cases, there is a need to obtain additional, modern, more reliable data. In this case, the means to achieve the goals is the use of special specific studies. Private research methods in biology include:

  • Genealogical. The essence of the study is the study and systematic analysis of the pedigree, and the identification of the hereditary nature of some phenomena and the possibility of the development of pathologies.
  • Paleontological. Finds out the relationship between objects, organisms and phenomena through studies of the earth’s crust in different geological layers. This method is phylogenetic and biogenetic. The first examines the historical development of the whole form, the second – of an individual organism.
  • Centrifugation. A technical way to identify individual elements in the total mixture under the influence of high-speed centrifugal force.
  • Cytological. Microbiological examination of a cell using a microscope. Purpose – identification of chromosomal, gene, mitochondrial mutations, oncopathologies, etc. A cell with an abnormality becomes a precursor for the development of a whole colony of cells, which will eventually form into a tumor or stigma of dysembryogenesis. Timely research facilitates early diagnosis and tactical decisions about the treatment regimen.
  • Biochemical. The task is to study the chemical and biological processes in the body, using the study of various fluids, to identify metabolic disorders that occur as a result of hereditary causes.The simplest example of biochemical research is the well-known general blood test.

All of these biological methods are closely related to each other; it is impossible to draw a clear line between them.

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