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.Lead image: