Finding and interpreting scientific information

My health science degree is heavily research-based which means that I am constantly searching for recently published peer-reviewed journal articles then evaluating its data, analysing and collating its information followed by succinctly reporting my findings. In order to excel in researching for health science, nutrition or science-related degree, I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand the two main approaches to research: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative Research

The outcomes of this research are normally expressed as numbers with a statistical test applied to assess whether these are significant or not.

For example, a researcher may be investigating the effect of two different diets on blood cholesterol levels in people who have high cholesterol levels. For this research, blood cholesterol levels would be measured and a comparison made using statistical analysis to identify whether there was a difference between diets.

Qualitative Research

Aims to gain an understanding of, or insight into, a specific question, issue or problem.

For example, consider a researcher investigating ‘what determines peoples’ food choices when purchasing food at lunch times from cafes?’ One method of gathering information is through an interview to collect thoughts and opinions of a particular audience.

What’s the difference?

To help deepen your understanding this video provides an overview on quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Reading & reviewing scientific literature

Scientists, doctors and researchers publish their trials, studies and research in peer-reviewed journals. These published journal articles have a specific structure to follow and are evaluated by a “peer” in the respective field before publication. In order to read and understand the structure of scholarly articles, check out this Anatomy of a Scholarly Article resource and like this article if you found it helpful.

Now when it comes to evaluating the reliability and quality of the published research, I recommend you check out my article about the CRAAP Test which details questions to ask when evaluating a source, but if you need a quick fix then check out the video below.

In research, you will come across controlled and randomized trials, meta-analysis and other studies. For more information on what is a Systematic Review? Then click on this link to access Dr. Saravana Kumar, a Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia who will clearly define it for you.

Communicating your research findings

Finally, when it comes to communicating your research findings, it will depend on your research topic, using highly scholarly language and scientific terminology and following the template or structure required to clearly and succinctly present your findings. For more information about this, you will have to ask me directly. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!