Happy Tuesday, Friends!
How many times have you seen a news article with the words ‘studies say?’
I know I’ve written them many times on this blog alone… but how can you tell if the study is reliable or not?
Never fear… Carol Geeks Out is going to give you a few tips:
- What is the sample size? Generally, the more times an experiment is repeated – or the number of people in the study – the more likely the results are generalizable. A study with 100, 200 or even several thousand participants may have more reliable conclusions that a study with 6 participants, for instance.
- What is the design of the study? Is there a control group (i.e. group that does not receive the substance or treatment being tested)? Control groups are a fundamental tool for scientists to determine if a treatment really has an effect, or one is just seeing experimental error or confirmation bias (meaning interpreting the results in a way that is consistent with pre-existing belief).
- Who funded the study? The funding source is normally included in the journal article. The source of funding for a research project may bias the reporting of results, so when reading a scientific article, an important consideration is whether the funders of the research had anything to gain by the results. When research is paid for a source that does not have a financial interest in the results (like a government funding agency) the funder’s expectation are less likely to have affected the results.
Let me know if you have recently seen a study you found reliable (or unreliable).