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Scientific Research Method: Steps used in scientific health studies

Posted Dec 11 2009 4:21am

Introduction
The Science vs. Religion debate has raged on for almost a century ever since Darwin came up with the theory of evolution using what is known to us as a rough form of the Scientific Research Method that chooses evidence over personal bias or belief. However, Pope John Paul, while addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences said that the theory of evolution had been validated, and was no longer a theory but a principle that was established based on scientific proof.

What do you think this tells us?

For one, that the Scientific Research Method works! Secondly, in clearing up the biggest debate spanning over 150 years between the Church and Charles Darwin, it only goes to show how solidly this method has stood against the test of time ever since the birth of Science.

So, let’s take a closer look at the Scientific Research Method that has had a great effect in various disciplines of science in the world that we live in.

The Scientific Research Method (SRM)
Very simply, the scientific research method is structured in such a way so that researchers are able to make conclusive statements about their studies with a minimum of bias.

So, what does the word ‘bias’ mean here?

For example in the testing of products, researchers have a personal stake in their efforts leading to a case of tampering the results in varying degrees. Sometimes, even though the tests might provide you a certain set of results, the researcher can present the ‘positive’ results as fact.

So, to avoid this from happening… a process has to be followed in order to obtain a truthful answer, which is approached using this method will first require one to form a hypothesis (and opinion or belief) and then test it repeatedly, while accumulating data for a final interpretation of the results, leaving you with a conclusion that is observable, measurable and reliable based on consistent data.

Application of SRM in Scientific Health Studies
Scientific Health studies normally conduct research in two directions:
a) The study and research of the food that we eat
b) The study and research of health-related issues to understand how humans and other animals function, and applying that knowledge to improve health by preventing and curing diseases.

So, let’s look at an example in scientific health studies that uses the scientific research method to disprove the ‘hypothesis’ that regular consumption of fruit and vegetables reduces a risk of ischemic heart disease.

So, in order to reach a conclusion that support this belief scientifically, one conducts experiments that will provide conclusive, measurable and interpretable data a number of time with varying results. In this case, the failure to disprove the hypothesis meant that there is an observable reduction in risk of contracting ischemic heart disease. However, not all studies give you favorable results. Some of the studies do not disprove the hypothesis, hence leaving the researcher to ‘alter’ his hypothesis and conduct further research.

In Closing
It’s obvious to note that the scientific research method is applicable in almost every area of our life today, and this approach undertaken by Charles Darwin almost 150 years ago to meticulously research and document the life cycles of animals and birds and their fossils was in the effort to disprove his hypothesis of ‘evolution’. On February 11, 2009, we remembered the man for his contribution to what can be considered one of mankind’s greatest leaps in science.

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