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INTRODUCTION

Assistant Professor, Department of Health & Human Performance, Ferrum College, Ferrum, Virginia

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Where Have You Been?

In Chapter 9, an emphasis was placed on discriminating among the differences in various forms of research synthesis, namely, reviews and meta-analyses. Many of the key components that make up high-quality research, as well as components that can diminish overall findings, such as moderator variables, will become the backbone for assessing and using emerging research in evidence-based medicine.

Where Are You Going?

The purpose of Chapter 10 is to provide guidelines for discerning quality (good) research from lesser research. We review the scientific method and discuss how it not only drives new research but also can help you evaluate research quality and integrate it into practice. In addition, this chapter provides insight into where and how to source quality research in a more condensed location to accommodate a busy professional environment. Finally, the chapter concludes by offering specific exercises that will help apply the material covered within this chapter.

Learning Outcomes

The following outcomes are expected on completing this chapter:

  1. Understand what is and is not "good" research.

  2. Evaluate, as well as formulate, good research questions.

  3. Develop the knowledge and skill to source quality research.

  4. Extrapolate a best practice model from contemporary research.

KEY TERMS

Key Terms

  • Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM)

  • Cochrane reviews

  • Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT)

  • Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE)

  • Null hypothesis

  • Peer-review process

  • Peer-reviewed journal

  • Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro)

  • Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA)

  • Primary source

  • Scientific method

  • Secondary source

  • Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT)

RESEARCH AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Research is a broad, sometimes misleading term because many people assume that if it is called research, then it must be vetted in some way. However, research is defined as much by its process as it is by the results it yields. To understand what research is, one must be familiar with, and use, the scientific method, a set of basic principles, elaborated by Isaac Newton (1999), that outline specific instructions for investigating observations, acquiring evidence, and then integrating that evidence into the current body of knowledge. The scientific method is at the heart of evidence-based medicine. In a broad sense, research is what we do to answer questions, and the scientific method is how we do it. Science-based medicine seeks to build on previous knowledge and relies on the accumulation of objective quantifiable data, in lieu of subjective and easily biased qualified interpretation. When evaluating research quality, it is best to remember these key aspects of the scientific method (Newton, 1999):

  1. Formulate a question or a need based on an observed problem or occurrence.

  2. Devise a clear hypothesis of what is happening.

  3. Speculate an ...

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