A lot of people seem to have a hard time understanding scientific research. This is very unfortunate as most studies conducted in laboratories are clearly identified, published by academic institutions that require rigorous peer review, and come with appropriate citations.

When you read about a new study in the media or online, you should be able to verify its legitimacy by looking at either the abstract or conclusion of the paper, or both.

You should also make an effort to understand what things like experimental design, control groups, statistical analysis, and conclusions mean so that you can evaluate how much weight they carry.

Us scientifically literate individuals must challenge unjustifiable claims made about medical interventions, diet strategies, and other lifestyle changes.

History of scientific research

understanding scientific research

Modern science is an incredibly powerful tool for learning about the world around us. Scientists have meticulously catalogued observations of nature to determine which theories are plausible and compelling.

Prior to the modern era, ancient peoples were aware of some fundamental natural processes and rules. For example, they recognized that when certain plants or animals are in season, they grow at a faster rate.

But beyond this, very little was known about what makes up most of our universe! Most people assumed that everything was made out of one kind of material, and that once you took away all the water, what remained would break down into nothing but empty space and time.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that scientists began to question both assumptions. Isaac Newton famously proposed his theory of gravity, which explains why objects fall towards each other. He also developed mathematical equations used to make accurate predictions about how quickly things move.

Since then, countless more theories have been proposed to explain not just gravity, but also electromagnetic forces like lightning, radiation, and magnetism, to name a few. These theories have successfully predicted new phenomena and confirmed past discoveries, making them ever more appealing to experts.

Take radio waves, for instance. Before 1920, no one knew what these mysterious rays were! But now we know that they are caused by electrically charged particles moving through the air at extremely high speeds.

We use radio waves for communication, navigation, and entertainment every day.

Who conducts scientific research?

understanding scientific research

As we have seen, scientists conduct experiments to test hypotheses or theories. They also gather data through observations and surveys to see if their hypothesis is correct. Then they interpret this data in light of their theory to draw conclusions.

Usually, only professional researchers perform studies. For example, a scientist who wants to determine the effect that exercise has on heart disease may not start exercising unless she first tests her hypothesis by conducting an experiment.

She would have to be careful about how she controls for other factors such as diet, but she would still make observations and take measurements before and after the exercise period to see what effects, if any, there were.

There are many reasons why someone might want to learn more about science. Some people develop new skills and technologies, while others just enjoy it for its intrinsic value.

But aside from personal interest, there are lots of ways to use knowledge of science. You may work in health care, teaching students or patients about treatments and therapies, for instance. Or you could teach students biology, chemistry, physics, or even mathematics using concepts and ideas drawn from the field of science.

What does scientific research mean?

understanding scientific research

How much credit should we give to studies that find health benefits of foods or supplements? The term ‘health claim’ is typically used to describe such findings. A health claim is when an ingredient, food, or product has been proven through rigorous testing to contribute to better overall health.

A limitation of this approach is that most studies focus only on whether a relationship exists between a nutrient or compound and health. They may not look at how much more of the nutrient you need for optimal health.

Furthermore, although many people refer to these as health claims, what they really are is just like saying the name of a car sounds good. It doesn’t prove that it will make you healthier nor do they assess whether those who marketed the product were honest.

It also isn’t proof that there aren’t unforeseen harmful effects from excessive exposure to the test substance. All too often, companies will go beyond the word ‘claim’ and add the descriptor ‘potential’ to emphasize how beneficial the study finding was but didn’t prove causality.

How can I conduct scientific research?

understanding scientific research

The term “scientific researcher” is very broad. There are many different positions in academia for scientists, including: professor of biology, chemistry, or physics at a university; associate scientist with a company that does product testing or research; staff member at a governmental agency doing research or studying products; etc.

The number of position types depends on what area of science you study and how much funding there is in your field. For example, medical researchers might have more formalized positions such as those listed above.

With that said, anyone can do scientific research! It’s not limited to academically-trained people. In fact, most major corporations hire individuals with advanced degrees to perform quality control tests and studies on their products.

There are several ways to begin conducting scientific research. Some of the best starting points include: reading popular science books about the sciences (such as this one!), watching documentaries about the sciences (check out these ones!) and listening to podcasts about the sciences.

Sample scientific research projects

understanding scientific research

Many universities have student groups that do various science projects or studies. These are often for profit so their main goal is to gain your business by selling products while at the same time educating you about science.

Some of these projects may be looking into different types of water, studying algae in water, determining the amount of bacteria in water, testing pH levels of water, and experimenting with different substances in water.

These projects are very well done as they clearly describe what part of the project they will be doing and how it relates to the field of science. Some even ask if you would like to help them with this project!

They also run several tests and measurements during the process which ensure everything works properly and the results are accurate.

How can I read scientific research?

understanding scientific research

The term “scientific research” may sound very academic to those who are not scientists, but there is nothing esoteric about it! Anyone can read what a scientist has written even if they are not trained as a biologist, chemist, or medical professional. This article will go into detail about how to read biological studies, chemical analyses, and medical research so that you are able to understand what researchers have found and why.

The first step in understanding any type of scientific research is determining the study’s significance. Is this information useful for you or someone else? If yes, then reading the rest of the material is warranted. If no, then move onto the next piece of research. There is an infinite amount of knowledge out there, and too much information can be overwhelming for some.

General Tips When Reading Literature

Be honest with yourself. Are you only capable of reading simple material? If you cannot follow more complex materials, start looking at less important topics first. Important topics will stay simple enough for you to understand, while still teaching you something new.

Prioritize clearly defined goals over vague aspirations. You should know exactly what you want from reading different materials. If you do not, then your reading will be aimless and wasted.

Key terms of scientific research

understanding scientific research

A key term in any field is definitely the term “means”. In this case, it refers to what something is used for. For example, when you read about someone using cream as treatment for some skin condition, they usually describe how much better their own personal experience was with it compared to nothing at all.

This is called a subjective study because each person has different reactions to various treatments so they are used as means to determine if the treatment works or not. By having a comparison group, we can tell whether or not the new intervention worked.

A comparative study looks at two groups and determines the effect that one has over the other. In this situation, the old intervention would be used as the control group since there is already proof that it does not work. The newly proposed intervention is tested against the control.

Intervention studies look at whether or not a particular cause helps improve your health. Because causes are always present, observational studies compare people who have the cause to be healthy to those who do not to see if there is a difference in health.

Observational studies cannot prove causation but they help us understand potential risk factors related to disease.

Benefits of scientific research

understanding scientific research

Over time, studies have shown that exercise is very important in your health. It benefits your overall health by helping to keep you healthy and reduce risk of disease.

Exercise is particularly helpful for people who are overweight or obese. Even modestly active individuals can see weight loss and improved fitness levels which include better blood pressure and cholesterol.

Regular exercise also helps preserve muscle mass as we get older, making it easier to continue doing activities once we reach middle age.

There are many different types of exercises with varying intensity. What’s best for you will depend on your lifestyle and what you want to achieve from exercising.

For example, someone who spends most of their day sitting at work may find walking more effective than running or swimming.

Finding the right balance of activity is one of the main parts of achieving wellness through exercise.