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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

Study Skills

Source: Black, S. (2019). Bad science vs. good science [Digital montage].

Good & Bad Science | Overview

Level 1 resourceThe following tips can help you work out if the information and research you have found is valid and correct. WARNING: You risk losing marks when using information that is wrong and / or misleading.

  1. Check the source:
    Where did you find the research, in a newspaper article, fashion magazine, social media, television, scientific magazine, peer reviewed journal? Is this source appropriate for your area of research? In peer reviewed journals, each article has undergone a rigorous process of evaluation by other academics to ensure that all research is accurate and substantiated. 
  2. Who wrote it:
    Are the authors qualified?  Is the publisher reputable? 
  3. What do other scientists say:
    Peer-reviewed articles will be read and approved by other academics in the field. Additionally, you should read widely enough to ascertain if either their claims are supported by other researchers, or if there is disagreement surrounding the topic.
  4. Claims not supported in the research
    All claims should be followed by citation of an equally reputable source. It should be very clear where all information has been found.
  5. Findings can't be replicated
    All research conducted should be able to be replicated by other researchers in the field. If this is not the case, methods may not have been robust and results may be unreliable. Refer to A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science, point 11.
  6. Conflicts of interest not declared
    Good science reporting will be very clear in declaring any conflicts of interests. For example, you would be wary to trust a scientific claim that said eating five potatoes a day allowed you to live an extra ten years if the scientist making the claim worked for a potato growers' association.

See also the "Rough guide to bad science" located at the bottom of this page.

Good & Bad Science | Background reading

Level 2 resourceeBooks

Good & Bad Science | Online Resources

Level 2 resourceWeb sites

Good & Bad Science | Peer review

Level 2 resourceReview your workPeer review is the process whereby scientists and / or academics review each other's work to ensure it is correct. The peer review process can also include replicating each other's experiments to double-check and ensure the experiment's design and findings are valid. 

See the following definition of peer review from the Conversation.

Case Study

The 1989 "cold fusion" controversy is a good example of why the peer review process is so important. See the following article for details.

Good & Bad Science | Predatory journals

Level 2 resourcePredatory journals are non-peer reviewed journals posing as legitimate peer reviewed publications.

Predatory journals may appear reputable and trustworthy. With predatory journals authors pay to have their articles published in order to build a portfolio. This is a corrupt practice because it allows unsubstantiated research to be published in seemingly reputable journals. Be wary of these publications when doing your research.

To learn more about predatory journals read the following article from the ABC.

Case Studies

The follow case studies show how easy it can be for fake scientific articles to be published in predatory journals. The problem is that not all fake articles are obviously fake so people looking for facts can be mislead. 

A. The following article was supposedly written by Kim Kardashian. Even though this is clearly a fake, Drug Designing & Intellectual Properties International Journal, which claims to use a peer review process to accept articles, published this paper. It was only after an international outcry that the publisher removed the article.

B. "Between January and June 2013, Science contributing correspondent John Bohannon submitted 304 fake research papers to open access journals. The papers were designed with such grave scientific flaws that they should have been rejected immediately by editors and peer reviewers." For details see the following article:

C. "One of the country’s leading universities has been forced to retract a claim its study showed eating elderberries could help beat the flu, after admitting it was overhyping its own science. The University of Sydney also concealed that the research was part-funded by Pharmacare – which sells elderberry-based flu remedies – at the company’s request." (Mannix, 2019, May 22, p. 4). Use you School mConnect login details to view the following article by Liam Mannix, Science Reporter for the Age Newspaper. 

Good & Bad Science | Videos

Level 1 resourceFilm and video

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Goldacre, (2018) or (Goldacre, 2018)
Bibliography / Reference list: Goldacre, B., (2011). Battling Bad Science, [eVideo]. TED Talks. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/h4MhbkWJzKk

Level 2 resource

"A short video introducing signs to look out for when evaluating a journal article." (Library Youtube Research and Learning Channel, 2018)

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.
In text reference / citation: Library Youtube Research and Learning Channel, (2018) or (Library Youtube Research and Learning Channel, 2018)
Bibliography / Reference list: Library Youtube Research and Learning Channel, (2018). Is My Journal Article Academic?, [eVideo]. Library Youtube Research and Learning Channel. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/rLmx-G5YINQ

Good & Bad Science | Rough guide to bad science

Level 1 resourceInstructionsThe following "rough guide to spotting bad science" provides quick and simple practical advice on how to spot bad science on web site and in scientific literature. If you think you've found bad science don't use it to support your work. If you're unsure ask you teacher or one of the librarians.

Copies of this poster is also on display in the laboratories and senior school classrooms. Use the following link to download your own copy or contact the library staff for a replacement laminated copy for your classroom or laboritory.

A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science

Good & Bad Science | Rough guide to types of scientific evidence

Level 1 resourceInstructionsThe following "ough guide to types of scientific evidence" provides quick and simple practical advice on how to recognise different types of evidence used in scientific literature to prove a hypothesis.

Copies of this poster is also on display in the laboratories and senior school classrooms. Use the following link to download your own copy or contact the library staff for a replacement laminated copy for your classroom or laboritory.

A rough guide to types of scientific evidence

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