Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How do I know if this research is any good?

Every so often a student comes to see me to ask about how they can evaluate whether a research article they want to use is any good - what are they looking for, and how do they assess the validity of the methodology and the results? If you've found the article in an academic journal then you can make some assumptions that the authors know what they are talking about, but that doesn't mean that the research is flawless, or that the authors don't have something they are wanting to prove. So, as you progress into doing your own research, you will be starting to critically appraise what is already out there. A student came to see me yesterday about assessing the statistical validity of an article and we found this book which looks like it could be really useful for helping you with this kind of thing: How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine by Trisha Greenhalgh. It's aimed at healthcare practitioners but contains plenty that is relevant to you too; I thought that the chapters on "what is this paper about?", "assessing methodological quality" and "statistics for the non-statisitician", along with the checklists at the end, would be worth a look. It's available as an ebook too so you can read it from the comfort of your sofa/bed/coffee shop.

As ever, do get in touch if you want to discuss further.

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