If you only read one thing this week…

Maybe we need to be a little bit more sceptical about research by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
September 27, 2007, 7:40 pm
Filed under: accountability, Articles, If you only have 15 mins

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, based on research from Tufts University and the University of Ioannina, we should be a little bit more skeptical before about what we read that comes out of scientific research. Many of the reports that he reviewed suffer from poor methodology, self-serving analysis and/or miscalculations. Apparently the paper written by Dr Ioanndis Why Most Published Research Findings are False (2005) is the most downloaded technical paper from the journal PLoS Medicine ever. Dr Ioanndis says, “People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual“. Clearly the article is referring primarily to the scientific field (which in the U.S. is a $55 billion a year industry). However, it must be equally, if not more, applicable within the humanitarian relief and development field which is less well funded and where the findings of our research have clear implications for funding down the line.

The key take-away for me is that I should be more vigilant when reading reports and articles to a) understand the methodology that led to any particular findings and b) to look for corroborating (or conflict) results before jumping to any conclusions.


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