This website has been developed to help non-scientists, or students just embarking on a career in science, to understand “the scientific mind-set”. Why do we carry out some experiments which, at first sight, seem crazy? For example, why would we make rabbits which glow in the dark? (See Markers and surrogates) And why don’t we give straightforward answers to questions but instead make everything so complicated?

This website will help you understand some of the issues that scientist worry about and consequently “why do scientists do what scientists do.”

We present a series of “scientific principles” – factors that scientists think about when designing, conducting and interpreting experiments. To make it easier to understand, there are examples from everyday life. These are followed by a more scientific example, many of which are drawn from biological sciences, reflecting the background of the author and the sponsor, but many apply to other areas of science too.

Science is fun, but you will have to think a little about the information presented here. We have tried to keep the style quite relaxed while tackling quite complex issues. To help, the same information is presented as both text and as an animated video.

To use the website, hover over any of the scientific principles and you will see a brief explanation. Click on it and you will be taken to a page with a more detailed explanation.

For students of the biological sciences, there is also a series of exercises that cover the same principles. These are aimed at university undergraduates, particularly students of pharmacology but they may also be helpful for A-level students. Click here to read these exercises.