Commercially grown plants in greenhouse

Sturdy studies

How to recognise good research

–When it comes to testing a hypothesis, high-quality results come from a study that is well designed and limits bias (see our ‘Beating bias’ article). Often, this can mean changing only one variable at time, although this can be hard in real-world situations. So-called ‘multivariate statistics’ can be used where several different variables are being observed at once – for example, when assessing the effects of fertilisers on plant growth, where the variables might include plant height and crop yield.

Care should be taken when extrapolating the results of a study. Extrapolating means stretching information beyond the specific group you were studying – for example, applying the findings of animal research or in vitro research (ie research in test-tubes) to humans. When results are published in a peer-reviewed journal, this means the articles have been reviewed carefully by scientists working in the same field. This lends credibility to the findings and indicates that they reflect research that has followed the scientific process.

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Further reading

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Number Crunching’ in June 2013.

Statistics and maths, Medicine
Number Crunching
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development