Timeline of the history of the scientific method

This timeline of the history of the scientific method shows an overview of the development of the scientific method up to the present time. For a detailed account, see History of the scientific method.


Nineteenth-century illustration of the ancient Great Library at Alexandria

1st–12th centuries

Drawing and description of an alembic


Robert Boyle's notebook for 1690-1. Boyle was a founding Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • 1650 – The world's oldest national scientific institution, the Royal Society, is founded in London. It establishes experimental evidence as the arbiter of truth.
  • c.1665 – The British scientist Robert Boyle reveals his scientific methods in his writings, and commends that a subject be generally researched before detailed experiments are undertaken; that results that are inconsistent with current theories are reported; that experiments should be regarded as 'provisional' in nature; and that experiments are shown to be repeatable.[21]
  • 1665 – Academic journals are published for the first time, in France and Great Britain.[22]
  • 1675 – To encourage the publicising of new discoveries in science, the German-born Henry Oldenburg pioneers the practice now known as peer reviewing, by sending scientific manuscripts to experts to judge their quality.[23]
  • 1687 – Sir Isaac Newton's book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), is first published. It laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.


A schematic diagram of Maxwell's demon (1867), a thought experiment involving an imaginary process sorting out particles according to their speed


A computer simulation of the movement of a landslide in San Mateo County, California


  1. Edwin Smith papyrus, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. Allen 2005, p. 70.
  3. Magill 2003, p. 1121.
  4. Magill 2003, p. 70.
  5. Burgin 2017, p. 431.
  6. Berryman, Sylvia (2016). "Democritus". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  7. Gauch, Hugh G. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521017084. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  8. Asmis 1984, p. 9.
  9. König, Oikonomopoulou & Woolf 2013, p. 96.
  10. Neuhauser, D.; Diaz, M. "Daniel: using the Bible to teach quality improvement methods" (PDF). BMJ. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  11. Kattsoff, Louis O. (1947). "Ptolemy and Scientific Method: A Note on the History of an Idea". Isis. 38 (1): 18–22. doi:10.1086/348030. JSTOR 225444. S2CID 144655991.
  12. Holmyard, E. J. (1931), Makers of Chemistry, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 56
  13. Plinio Prioreschi, "Al-Kindi, A Precursor of the Scientific Revolution", Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine, 2002 (2): 17–20 [17].
  14. McGinnis, Jon (2003). "Scientific Methodologies in Medieval Islam". Journal of the History of Philosophy. 41 (3): 307–327. doi:10.1353/hph.2003.0033. S2CID 30864273. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  15. Ireland, Maynooth James McEvoy Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy National University of (31 August 2000). Robert Grosseteste. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195354171. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  16. Clegg 2013.
  17. Hackett, Jeremiah (2013). "Roger Bacon". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  18. Van Helden et al. 2010, p. 4.
  19. Morris, Peter J. T. (2015). "How Did Laboratories Begin?". The Matter Factory: A History of the Chemistry Laboratory. London: Reaktion Books Ltd. ISBN 9781780234748.
  20. Wilson, Fred. "René Descartes: Scientific Method". Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  21. Bishop, D.; Gill, E. (2020). "Robert Boyle on the importance of reporting and replicating experiments". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 113 (2): 79–83. doi:10.1177/0141076820902625. PMC 7068771. PMID 32031485.
  22. Banks, David (2017). The Birth of the Academic Article: Le Journal Des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions, 1665–1700. ISBN 9781781792322. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  23. Committee on the Conduct of Science 1995, pp. 9–10.
  24. James Lind's A Treatise of the Scurvy
  25. Charles Sanders Peirce and Joseph Jastrow (1885). "On Small Differences in Sensation". Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 3: 73–83. See also:
  26. Shorter, Edward (2011). "A Brief History of Placebos and Clinical Trials in Psychiatry". Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 56 (4): 193–197. doi:10.1177/070674371105600402. PMC 3714297. PMID 21507275.
  27. "1946". Timeline of Computer History. Computer History Museum. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  28. Shapiro & Shapiro 1997, pp. 146–148.
  29. Naughton, John (19 August 2012). "Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  30. Platt, John R. (16 October 1964). "Strong inference. Certain systematic methods of scientific thinking may produce much more rapid progress than others". Science. 146 (3642): 347–353. doi:10.1126/science.146.3642.347. PMID 17739513.
  31. Liakata, Maria; Soldatova, Larisa; et al. (2000). "The Robot Scientist 'Adam'". Academia. Computer. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  32. Heaven, Douglas. "Theory of everything says universe is a transformer". New Scientist. Retrieved 13 March 2020.