So what does a scientist do when he or she uses the scientific method in the exploration of the unknown?
First of all, the scientist tries to learn as much about a subject as time - or funding - allows. This requires a thorough study of the available literature, gathering information and data from a variety of sources, discussions with colleagues, and a lot of thinking.
Once revised and retested, the hypothesis must withstand the scrutiny of other scientists as well. They may repeat the experiment to retest the validity of the hypothesis, along with the validity of the methods used to test the hypothesis.
An idea, model, or explanation that has been rigorously tested, analyzed, and accepted by the scientific community is referred to as a theory - a term used, perhaps, because most scientists believe nothing can ever be proved absolutely true.
The theory will continue to be an accepted explanation unless new information is uncovered - information that the scientific community agrees disproves the previous explanation. This continuous scrutiny is essential to the credibility and progress of scientific research.