Are You Making the Most Out of Your Scientific Research Methods?

First Posted: Apr 13, 2021 10:00 AM EDT
Are You Making the Most Out of Your Scientific Research Methods?

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If you ask virtually any scientist, they'll readily tell you that the importance of thorough, methodical research is the cornerstone to any successful discovery. Nevertheless, modern research is still oftentimes fraught with issues such as bias, poor sample sizes, and unregulated controls.

Despite the potential pitfalls, however, the value of good data -- and the innovation which can arise from this research -- simply cannot be overstated. One way you can help mitigate these problems is by carefully analyzing your own research and data collection methods to help ensure they are optimal.

Whether you're still in the early stages of your research or you've already completed a few trials, these five essential recommendations can help streamline your process. In turn, you can be more confident that you won't be wasting your time or your capital on flawed, faulty data.

Broaden Your Pool

One of the biggest challenges that researchers face when starting a new study is getting a large enough sample size to analyze. Sure, it may be easy to get a consensus when you're looking at just a handful of participants, but would your results still apply to the real world?

Instead, you'll want to make sure you have a significant enough sample size. In turn, you can be assured that your findings may apply to larger populations. Furthermore, you also want to ensure you have enough diversity in your sample size, and this can help make this possible. 

In addition, even if you're trying to study a specific demographic, you still want to break them down into the experimental and control group. By doing so, you can help minimize bias in your research and make sure your results are reflective of a larger community.

Scale Your Research

Just as you want to make sure you have an ample enough sample size, you also want to make sure your research is being tested on a large enough scale, as well. This isn't just for your test subjects, either. It can also be utilized for other scalable research, too.

Take, for instance, the analysis of chemical compounds. Perhaps you're trying to determine if a certain product may react a certain way under specific conditions. Trying to test this on a wider scale can be costly, especially when factoring in the price of reagents.

Instead, turning to trusted scale up methodology protocols can work wonders for the advancement of your research -- without requiring you to invest a significant amount of capital in costly chemicals and testing equipment.

Test Frequently

It can be unquestionably exciting to get a definitive result after a single scientific test or study. After all, you got your answer, so why should you retest? The problem arises when smaller, seemingly insignificant factors impact your results. Oftentimes, they can seem completely random, making it all the more difficult to isolate them.

One of the key principles of scientific research is repeatability. Yes, getting a result (whether it was desirable or even terrible) can seem definitive. Nevertheless, you still need to test and test again to make sure the results are consistent.

Becoming overly dependent upon the answers of just one test can be extremely detrimental to your research, casting it all in doubt. To maintain your credibility, don't be afraid to go in and double-check your experiment a few more times, just to be sure. This can help make sure your results aren't flawed and can also minimize bias, as well.

Get Experimental

It goes without saying, but as a researcher, you should never be afraid to get a little bit experimental when conducting a study. Yes, conventional methods are tried and true, but will they also result in predictable results? The last thing you want is homogeneous data from which you can't glean anything.

Sometimes you may need to think outside the box or, in this case, the laboratory. Cull your data from unexpected demographics, for instance. While some researchers like to ridicule the so-called "hallway testing," there's still merit to getting a completely random sample from a broad scope of participants.

Trust In the (Ethical) Research Process

At the end of the day, your ultimate objective is the advancement of knowledge in the pursuit of learning within science, bio-tech, medicine, and more. The last thing you want to do is to constrict yourself so much that you never actually take away anything of value from your studies. 

By staying curious and always challenging yourself, you can see your research come to fruition. And by avoiding these common traps that can otherwise impair your experiments, you can help ensure you get reliable results -- even if the outcome is wholly unexpected and entirely unpredictable!

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