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A new tool to guide people through understanding the health research

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Posted August 10, 2016

You are presented with a lot of different stories about ground-breaking scientific researches. In fact, so many that you may be led to believe that scientists have some kind of magic powers. However, the truth is not all researches are done properly and not all of their results are valuable. This is why scientists have created a convenient online tool, which should help telling a good research from a bad one.

Not everyone is a scientists and not everyone can tell, which research is trustworthy and which is not. Image credit: Linda Bartlett, NIH via Wikimedia, Public Domain

Not everyone is a scientists and not everyone can tell, which research is trustworthy and which is not. Image credit: Linda Bartlett, NIH via Wikimedia, Public Domain

You might have noticed that results of some studies are contradicting. Many scientists say that their research fixes past mistakes, while others argue that their breakthrough results are actually a result of a poorly designed research. Now there is a simply tool, which should help regular readers to look deeper than promising headlines and to determine, which researches are actually achieving something. This online tool, called “Understanding Health Research” has been developed by MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (MRC/CSO SPHSU), University of Glasgow and several other academics. Developers of this website say that it will be useful for many people – from patients to policy makers.

“Understanding Health Research” guides people through the process of understanding health research by presenting them with a series of questions to answer about the piece of research they are interested in. It provides information about what specific features of a research may indicate about its quality. Important factors include funding sources, peer review, and ethics. Importantly, the website does not present a conclusion about whether the research is good or bad. It gives all the information to the reader for him to make up his mind himself. Ultimately, this tool is set to address minds that are vulnerable to false hopes, serious health risks and emotional distress.

It is very important, because some patients may read some studies and then hope that there is a magic cure for their disease. Because a lot of researches are now available online, they can be read by people, who have no scientific background as well, which is both educational and dangerous as they have no skills to determine, whether the study was conducted properly.

Dr David Ogilvie, one of the developers of the website, said: “Tools like Understanding Health Research can help make science more democratic and more useful by making it easier for people to engage with it, whether they work with health evidence in their jobs or are just interested citizens”.

Many websites like this present results of scientific research, but all they do is spark interest. In order to look deeper into the problem and science behind it, one has to know what is trustworthy and what is not, which is why this tool is very useful.

Source: gla.ac.uk

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