Doing research is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t know what you are looking for. For example, say you wanted to learn more about how drinking water can help keep your skin healthy. You would have to determine if there is scientific proof that drinking water helps people stay healthier with dry skin or not.
If you didn’t know that already, then you wouldn’t be reading this article!
Fortunately, we live in an age where almost everything has someone studying it. We have researchers exploring why eating berries makes your teeth white and not black. Or scientists investigating whether or not flossing really works. And we have studies on the best ways to wash our hands to prevent infectious diseases.
So knowing what questions exist and some of the basics of doing research comes in very handy. Because after all, answering those questions requires you finding the right experts, gathering information from various sources, and developing logical arguments based on the facts.
That is what this article will go over. Starting with some basic tips on how to do your own research. Then moving onto some helpful resources and steps to take as you start seeking answers.
Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be used as medical advice since they are general recommendations for improving health. Consult a doctor before altering any part of your diet or exercise routine.
Research is too important to leave up to just anyone.
Types of research
There are several different types of studies that play an important role in shaping our understanding of the world. These types of investigations include experiments, surveys, case reports, and analytical reviews/studies.
All of these studies differ from each other in what they measure and how well they predict future outcomes. For example, a survey will typically ask people to respond about their experiences while an experiment would have participants perform an activity under controlled conditions.
A review article or study is limited to examining one particular topic or idea so it can be described as an analysis. By analyzing past examples, we are able to see why some strategies work and don’t work when studying a certain concept.
Surveys and experimental studies are usually the first steps towards more rigorous tests such as randomized control trials (RCTs). RCTs occur when researchers assign individuals to either an intervention or a placebo (or fake) intervention for testing. This helps reduce bias because there is no incentive to choose the intervention over the placebo.
Interventionists often compare their results with the placebo or non-intervention group to determine if the intervention was effective. Because there is not always a placebo used for every intervention, comparisons are sometimes made against something else like another type of treatment or doing nothing. When done correctly, this process can tell us whether or not the intervention works better than what is already available.
Case reports describe occurrences of events or symptoms and offer insights into possible causes.
Considerations when choosing a research topic
Choosing a research area is not as simple as picking something that sounds interesting or curious. It should be designed to produce new knowledge or prove old theories, which are only done after careful consideration.
As you begin your search for academic studies in any given area, there are several important questions to ask yourself. What is the current theory of this subject? Are these theories contradicted by other studies? If so, what conclusions do those studies suggest?
By asking these questions, you can determine whether it is necessary to challenge the existing theories, contribute to the current understanding of the field, or if newer, different theories are needed. The first two options lead towards developing a new study, while the third option leads towards reevaluating an established one!
Your ultimate goal is to choose a topic that will push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, inspire others to do similar work, or both. While it may be hard at times to decide how much impact you want your research to have, we can’t stress enough how powerful it is to add to our collective knowledge.
Recent developments in scientific research are through experimentation. Scientists perform experiments to see how things work or if they work, and why. They test theories by putting these theories into action.
Research is not done simply by asking questions and expecting answers, it is performed by manipulating factors and observing results. Experiments involve altering one factor while keeping others the same.
By altering the variable of interest, researchers can determine whether there is an effect of this variable on the outcome. This process is repeated multiple times until data that show a pattern are gathered.
These patterns are then analyzed to prove or disprove the theory under experiment. For example, does eating chocolate make you feel happier? Testing this would be determining whether eating chocolate makes people happy or not.
You also must account for possible causes of happiness, such as having a job, being with friends, etc. but overall feeling happy is the main thing studied. By studying how food affects emotions, we know that chocolate contains caffeine which can have effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.
This could cause someone to feel more nervous, anxious, or stressed-out. Citing other studies, chocolate may make people feel happier because it contains serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate moods.
Writing your thesis statement
In writing your thesis, you will want to make sure that it is clear, precise, and logical. If there are too many parts, or the individual parts seem vague, then it can be difficult to follow what being part of the thesis implies.
Your overall thesis should be a simple sentence that is focused on proving one thing about your topic. For example, if your topic was how research is done, then your thesis could state “Research is designed to prove theories” or something similar.
The individual points in your argument must flow logically from your main claim and supporting evidence. Because these components come after each other, making sure that they make sense individually is important.
Identify your audience
Doing research is not trivial, nor is defining what counts as scientific knowledge. There are many ways to approach this, depending on who you are trying to reach and what kind of information you want to know.
Making assumptions about who your readers are will only get you so far. You need to be clear on who you aim to inform and how they learn.
Does someone have an idea already? Then check out our article: Tips For Productive Arguments! If people seem to agree with you, then that’s good enough!
You can also read our article: Why People Refuse To Trust Science. Some may disagree with your conclusions, but that’s okay!
By being aware of these things, you’ll make sure your message gets through and others understand it.
Do your research
Doing scientific work is not easy, nor does it come with quick fixes or gels that work immediately. It takes time to learn how to do science properly, and even then, there are no guarantees you will succeed!
That said, there are some simple things you can do to make your experiments more rigorous and reliable. The best way to begin is by doing your research.
Reading other people’s studies and experimenting with the methods they use is an excellent starting place. By reading material about successful tests of product X, you will be able to pick up helpful information.
By re-doing experiments that have already been done, you lower the risk of making wrong assumptions about the experiment. This also gives you new data to compare your own findings against!
Using the right tools makes conducting experimentation much easier as well.
The process of becoming an accepted theory in science is called empirical testing. This requires scientists to test your hypothesis, or theories, against factual evidence.
If the results of the experiment prove you wrong then you must either revise your theory or create a new one.
But if the result proves your theory correct, then people will accept it as true and continue working under that assumption.
This process happens over and over again until a theory is no longer questioned and instead becomes part of our culture.
It’s how we know things like gravity or oxygen exists.