The Structure of Scientific Revolutions


Thomas S. Kuhn

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions can help.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Terms


A paradigm is a set of perceptions, rules, and methodologies that scientists in a given field agree on. Paradigms are invented through extraordinary science, in which one person intuits a new way of understanding… read analysis of Paradigm

Normal Science

Once a paradigm is in place, normal science is the work of strengthening, proving and applying that paradigm. Normal science allows scientists to build on one another’s work and to agree on a limited set… read analysis of Normal Science


An anomaly occurs when, in the course of normal science, a researcher sees something that does not make sense within a given paradigm’s rules. Once enough scientists have noticed an anomaly, it creates… read analysis of Anomaly

Extraordinary Science

If normal science discourages novelty, extraordinary science is the means by which a new scientific paradigm is conceived. While normal science is specific and predictable, extraordinary science poses a whole new set of potential problems… read analysis of Extraordinary Science

Scientific Revolution

A scientific revolution is the process by which one paradigm replaces another. This happens in gradually: first, some research carried out in the name of normal science uncovers an anomaly. As more people learn… read analysis of Scientific Revolution
Get the entire The Structure of Scientific Revolutions LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions PDF

Paradigm Shift

The term paradigm shift refers to the process by which scientists learn to perceive the world differently. “When the transition [from one paradigm to another] is complete,” Kuhn writes, “the profession will have changed its… read analysis of Paradigm Shift


Because each paradigm shift marks such a fundamental change in the way scientists experience the world, it can be very difficult for scientists working in one paradigm to talk to experts in another. Moreover, each… read analysis of Incommensurability

Disciplinary Matrix

In Kuhn’s postscript to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he uses the term “disciplinary matrix” to clarify what he initially meant by “paradigm.” Like paradigms, disciplinary matrices describe groups of scientists… read analysis of Disciplinary Matrix