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I am in the process of writing a book and I am making a lot of references to the scientific method. Is it appropriate (necessary) to capitalize references to the scientific method? As funny as that sounds, I literally don't know if that phrase needs capitalization or not. So, is it "the scientific method" or "The Scientific Method"?

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    Have a look at Google Scholar. Commented Jun 24 at 1:25
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    The vast majority of articles use lower case except in sentence-initial position, titles etc. Odd exceptions by respectable institutions (eg the University of Nevada) capitalise (as a veneration marker), but this feels archaic. Commented Jun 24 at 11:07
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    While this is not literally a look-up-in-a-dictionary question, it is something similar. Somebody who is writing a book on something, can be expected to be familiar with the literature in that field, and thus with how the relevant terms are used, spelled, and capitalised in that literature.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jun 24 at 16:10
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    A minimum requirement for a "good question" is that it shows a bit of research. This isn't just a hoop to jump through for no reason; if uncertainty remains after looking it up, it lets the question and answers address the sources, their validity, and how we should interpret them. For questions in the form "Can I do X?" it's a good idea to say why you think you might not be able to do X. I would never think of capitalizing "Scientific Method," and this question makes no explanation of why it should be capitalized. Commented Jun 24 at 22:04
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    @AndyBonner We removed the "research" close reason on this site because people were applying it far too broadly and arbitrarily. Nobody is harmed by this question being answered. Voting to reopen.
    – alphabet
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:50

3 Answers 3

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It's not normally capitalized, but you'd get misleading results if you just searched case-sensitive Google NGrams for the scientific method, the Scientific Method, and The Scientific Method, because those three words often appear capitalized in titles. So here's the usage chart with of in the search strings...

enter image description here

There are almost no examples of all three words being capitalized, and my guess is that most of the matches for of the Scientific Method are actually "titles" such as Pioneers of the Scientific Method.

...and for completeness...

enter image description here

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  • There's probably a historic work titled 'Of the Scientific Method':) Commented Jun 24 at 13:48
  • In Victorian times they often capitalized Important New Concepts, so the Atomic Theory used to be fairly common. But not today. Commented Jun 24 at 14:21
  • The Origin of Species (Evolutionary Theory) is probably still capitalised by some other than when used of the book, Commented Jun 24 at 15:31
  • @EdwinAshworth: The book was titled On the Origin of Species - but according to this usage chart, it was only "correctly" capitalized for a decade or two before publication (as I recall, he delayed publication to avoid upsetting his wife). But it looks like the power of the Internet (and the ease of Cut&Paste! :) has finally led to the book title being correctly transcribed in the last decade or two! Strange, that. Commented Jun 24 at 15:46
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    Great answer/use of NGram appropriately, but... you then voted to close? At least let others try.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 25 at 16:01
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From what current usage shows, you have the choice to capitalize this term or not. It is a term that was not capitalized often in the past. This information can be extracted from the following Google page of results.

the scientific method

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I see no reason to object to such use of capitalization. I am probably biased from exposure to German (where all nouns get capitals), and as a fan of Charlton Laird's "The Miracle of Language" I have a relaxed attitude towards grammar. Language is a tool for communication; if non-standard usage improves understanding, I'm for it. Writing about the Scientific Method gives an emphasis which may or may not be what you wish, but it ain't wrong.

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  • I'd say two downvotes is harsh ... but who gets to decide whether something non-standard is going to improve understanding? Commented Jun 28 at 22:10
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    Grammar is not writing.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 28 at 22:28

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