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Some flaws in evaluation of research credibility

Category : Research
Date : April 3, 2016

When you sit down to work on the literature review of your thesis, it requires to include a vast line of relevant literature from the prior work done in the similar area. Id it only important to check the relevance of research paper with your thesis theme or you also need to check its credibility? Often the parameters for checking credibility are high quality research design and reputation. To assess the reputation, the authors checks that the chosen paper on these three aspects:

  1. Name of the journal
  2. Lead author in the journal
  3. The citation count of the article

This kind of evaluation appears to be quite a straightforward measure for evaluating the credibility of the document. Even a novice researcher would have good sense to identify which journals are of repute in specific fields and the higher the number of citations for a research paper, the better it is.

These parameters are often used by researchers, more so when they are in a rush to submit a manuscript as these are simple techniques/parameters as compared to other features such as sample size, controls, logic and the other detailed aspects of the study design. Still there are some flaws in this method:

  1. The reputation of a journal is not an indicator of credibility: only because a journal is prominent in the field and has affiliation to some specific publisher it does not become an indicator of reliability or the quality of the paper. Sometimes very good and valuable research gets published in average or lesser known journals because of niche significance of the work or time or language related constraint of the author.
  2. An author’s reputation is a sloppy indicator of quality: The seniority, publication record, education and affiliation with prominent research institution can be very biased means of evaluating the quality of the researcher. It is quite possible that a young researcher from a less renowned institute can bring up ideas that are completely fresh and new.
  3. The online count again is not completely reliable: citation numbers can be easily manipulated, inflated or deflated on the basis of the above two factors.

As a researcher, when designing a literature review you may find the task of assessing credibility as very herculean. Though getting certainty about the validity may be very challenging, stay away from misconceptions so your confidence level stays high by ensuring that the content is relevant to your document.


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