Tips for interpreting research…the do’s and the don’t’s


There’s an increasing volume of research being published, driven in large part by the ‘publish or perish’ culture and the associated regular national assessments of research quality, and also university league tables. Because research is presented in print form, this research takes on a status and an authority that may sometimes not reflect its real value or worth. Knowing how to interpret and make sense of this outpouring of research is a key skill for new researchers and also a skill that more experienced researchers need to practice and reinforce on a regular basis.

Two academics from the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University have just published in The Conversation an easy-to-read but very effective guide to the ‘10 stuff-ups we all make when interpreting research‘. It cautions against relying on just one study, misinterpreting significance, misinterpretation of effect, and the quality-quantity fallacy (among others).

Its well worth a read and is also worth distributing more widely amongst both commencing and experienced researchers. I commend it to the congregation…

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