The basis of scientific communication is knowing how to analyze and understand the various studies that we encounter on a daily basis. One key to this is knowing each type of research to immediately determine its scope and potential impact. Will this study be considered as a future reference or is it just adding stones to the building? Does it advance science or is it just anecdotal?
Follow this guide from our science communication team to understand all the ins and outs of the various documents.
📚 Different studies at a glance
A picture is worth a thousand words, check it out The Pyramid of Evidence below.
The higher up the levels of the pyramid you go, the stronger the evidence the studies have. This means that those at the top will be more likely to reach consensus in an area than those at the bottom.
However, each type of education has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s see what they are.
👉🏼 Anecdotes, expert insights and case studies (1st and 2nd floors of the Pyramid).
Although seemingly anecdotal, the scientific accounts presented in these studies enrich the existing literature and offer reflexive perspectives. They have no evidentiary value, but are sometimes a starting point for further research.
👉🏼 Observational studies (3rd, 4th and 5th floors of the Pyramid).
These observational studies shows correlations. They provide general information about the subject, but cannot prove causation because they do not follow an experimental method. These studies can be conducted on a large scale, which makes them less accurate at the individual level. Nevertheless, they are very useful for identifying trends and directing researchers to further research.
The purpose of observational studies is often discover factors associated with health events (diseases, injuries, etc.). Even if one study is not enough to prove something, several studies with the same conclusion can attract the attention of researchers. They tell themselves that there is something to be dug up, and that this can be a starting point for further experiments.
Available three types of observational studies : cohort studies that follow a group of people over a period of time, case-control studies that compare two groups of people for a specific event, and comparative cross-sectional studies that specifically study one group of people (those who have frequent migraines). for example) to see if they share common characteristics.
👉🏼 Randomized Controlled Studies (6th Floor of the Pyramid).
Randomized controlled studies are part of experimental research. Researchers have an idea in mind and create a treatment or protocol to test it. In these studies, some participants receive treatment while others do not, but without knowing it (given a placebo instead).
In a random study, if the scientists themselves do not know who is taking what at the moment, this study’s T. double blind. Make sure that the researchers are working on accurate data during the analysis and leave nothing to chance. They simply made sure to distort their studies as little as possible thanks to the diverse members of their team.
Double-blind, randomized study protocols provide the most reliable results. But be careful not to believe such research too easily. Their value is highly dependent on the protocols used and the interpretation of the results.
👉🏼 Meta-analyses and summary reviews (Top of the Pyramid).
These studies aggregate data from dozens or hundreds of experimental or observational studies. are considered as references in the research world. Their weak point is the selection of studies that often appear in the authors’ synthesis. A good meta-analysis should include all important studies on a topic, even if they contradict each other.
There is another type of knowledge synthesis called “position stands”. They are made by reputable organizations and include nutrition, physical activity, and more. provides practical advice and instructions in such areas as
👉🏼 Qualitative studies.
They are not included in the pyramid because they focus on the human side of things. The data collected is not the same as that used in quantitative research because it is more subjective. For example: “How did you feel about that?” or “Was device X easy to use?”
These studies are highly complementary to quantitative studies and help researchers understand the results in context. When a study uses both qualitative and quantitative methods, it is said to be using a mixed method.
Our team, which wants to promote science to the general public, is at your disposal if you have any questions.