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An exciting headline… but is it good research?

Katie Roberts

It’s never been easier to access information about health issues. With science journals becoming more freely available and medical research receiving more media attention than ever, how can we know which research to trust?

Science stories in the media can be mind-boggling. We often see articles claiming they’ve found a ‘miracle cure’ or ‘the next big breakthrough’, so it’s easy to feel like we’re not getting the full story. So what can we do? The best place to start would be the original papers, but they can often be confusing − until now that is.

Understanding health research

Researchers at Glasgow believe that you don’t need to be an expert to evaluate evidence. That’s why they launched the new website ‘Understanding Health Research’.

It’s a new online tool that aims to make research more accessible. It does this by guiding you through a series of questions that will help you to judge the quality of a piece of research.

Along the way it suggests areas to consider when evaluating new findings. These include peer review, funding sources, sample size, as well as the different types of studies and trials.

Making science more democratic

When asked why tools like this are so important, Dr David Ogilvie from the University of Cambridge said:

“More and more scientific papers are out there on the internet, freely available for anyone to read. But providing access to papers is not the same thing as making research accessible to people.

“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.”

    > Visit the Understanding Health Research website