A scientific study is a written work, carried out by experts in the field, which tries to demonstrate hypotheses in a reproducible way.
A scientific study is structured and explained in such a way that it can be reproduced in other Countries and contexts, under the same conditions, and it would give the same results and lead to the same conclusions. Somehow, “anyone” would be able to get to that demonstration by following the procedures outlined in the study considered.
What are the rules of a scientific study?
We could break down its requirements into fundamental points:
- The scientific study must be performed according to the experimental (or scientific) method, which needs the presence of:
- An hypothesis to be verified (for example that drug A is better than drug B);
- A theory that explains why the hypothesis was created (example: drug A is better than drug B because it has potentially better chemical characteristics);
- An experiment that includes a data collection, with which we acquire data and try to prove the hypothesis, based on tangible evidence.
- A rational analysis, possibly mathematical, of the data collected – as first proposed by the scientist Galileo Galilei, advocate of the scientific method;
- The conclusion must have three characteristics: objectivity, reliability and – as said initially – verifiability;
- Broadness of cases considered: the greater the number of cases that is taken into consideration, the greater the possibility of having considered the widest range of variables and, therefore, that this “sample” of cases examined actually reflects reality;
- Other elements to consider are:
- The number and objectivity of the evidence in favor of a given hypothesis;
- The way a study is conducted;
- The experimental model that is used.
- Of course, the obtained results must be significant for that particular research and consistent with each other, in order to be able to get to a common conclusion.
What can we expect to find in a scientific study?
When we look at a scientific study, that could be an article from a specialized journal, it is usually broken down into the following parts:
- Abstract: a summary of the content which will be explained later in the study;
- Introduction: an overview of the study performed and of the current knowledge around the topic considered;
- Results, in the form of schemes, tables and graphs;
- Discussion: explanation and analysis of the results;
- Conclusions, an explained summary of the results obtained;
Where is a scientific study published?
A scientific study is usually published in a specialized scientific journal.
are highly specialized journals which publish only scientific studies.
The evaluation of a scientific study is therefore not simple or always accessible to everyone. However, it is essential to understand what a scientific study is, so as to not confuse it with a generic scientific article, which is around a scientific topic explained using different depths of language.
Knowing how the knowledge source is structured can help us understand what it means to talk about science today, and to distinguish it from everything that is not science at all.
- The Global Scientific Method (María José T. Molina)
- Study design in medical research: part 2 of a series on the evaluation of scientific publications.
(Röhrig B, du Prel JB, Blettner M.)
- Types of study in medical research: part 3 of a series on evaluation of scientific publications.
(Röhrig B, du Prel JB, Wachtlin D, Blettner M.)