Don’t trust the research

research2_colourbox6356327.jpgRaise your hands if you have ever frowned with doubt at research quoted by a colleague or in an article.

Nod your head in agreement if you have ever wondered – ‘What the source? I’d like to read the entire paper to see how they arrived at this bizarre conclusion’.

Comment below if you have spent time on Google to verify the finding and found an equal amount of ‘research’ proving the opposite.

Research baffles me! Yet, despite my disillusionment with available research, I still spend a fair bit of time online trying to find supporting research for the blogs and articles I write. It took this piece to make me finally lose all faith in all that is quoted as ‘research’.

If you read my last post, you probably know that I am currently reading 8 Steps to High Performance by Marc Effron. I barely started Chapter 1 when Marc referred to the exact same challenge. That is when I knew that this book is definitely worth reading. Anyone who feels the way I do about research is an automatic best friend. Marc helps the common person (funny fact: I typed man and word editor recommended I change it to person) wade through this confusion by defining research, science and conclusive science. The definitions are gold. They shed light on why much of the research we stumble upon looks suspicious.

Research: A consulting firm conducts a study and reports the results often to support a product or service that it sells. Its findings may be true, but there is no independent verification. The consulting firm typically won’t allow anyone to verify if its claims are true.

Science: Someone conducts a carefully designed experiment to test a hypothesis. They publish their research process and findings in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Others can read about their experiment and draw their own conclusion about the findings.

Conclusive science: Other scientists conduct the same experiment described tens or hundreds of times. Almost every time, the conclusions are the same. This is a very strong suggestion that the findings are conclusively true and is the strongest level of proof.

Now that you have read the definitions, you probably will never trust research again. That isn’t entirely fair either. I will continue to use research references in my pieces of writing. What I will do (and so must everyone else) is invest a little more effort in sorting through the plethora of modern day research available before believing and quoting. One would think that the internet would make it easier. Unfortunately, given the clutter, it is tougher today than ever before to determine what is true and what is not. Of course, opinions are often almost as valuable as research and can continue to float and inspire.

P.S.: I haven’t finished the book yet but from what little I’ve read it makes a lot of sense. Pick it up if you are looking for a quick refresher on essentials that make you a high performer.

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