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Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:27 am
by The Slider
In the running community, as with many groups, there is a large mutual sharing of information. The majority of the time, it is based on genuinely good intentions of trying to share what people have found works best or may have been helpful to others. But there has been a few verbal stoushes recently (for example, on the subject of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity) whereby one or more persons subscribe to a particular belief and defend it fanatically, without realising that they don't actually have and good evidence to back it up. A common example is using the opinion of an "expert", which has long been considered by the research community and the lowest level of evidence.

When you look into health related issues (if you ever do), do you have access to or know how to interpret medical research? Do you tend to use news sites or other people's knowledge for info? Or have you been in a similar situation as above?

Re: Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 5:49 am
by SOLDIERofficer81
This really isn't my area of expertise. So when I read something health/medical related, the thing I'm taking most into account is where something was published. JAMA. Lancet. Science. Those kinds of publications give something greater cachet with me.

As a rule, I don't pay any attention to any new studies that reveal X is bad for you, Y is good for you or Z is both good and bad for you. There is one of those every week, it seems like. I can't keep track, is red wine going to help me live forever or not?

Re: Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:20 pm
by MetalGhost
My brother is studying food science and nutrition in college, and I'm moderately well versed in the subject myself, though I'm more involved in the neuro/bio psych aspect. Between the two of us and a few of our fitness freak friends we can usually interpret whatever we happen to stumble across.

And honestly for the most part good exercise practices tend to be more 'don't be stupid' than technical treatises.

Re: Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:54 am
by Dimma
The Slider wrote:A common example is using the opinion of an "expert", which has long been considered by the research community and the lowest level of evidence.

What is meant with "considered by the research community and the lowest level of evidence" ?

The Slider wrote:When you look into health related issues (if you ever do), do you have access to or know how to interpret medical research? Do you tend to use news sites or other people's knowledge for info?

I can't say I know where to find independent medical research. Some recommendations?

News sites seem ok, as they have source of the information, but the problem is they interpret it quite much. Other people are useful for medics that have not been researched, but oh so misleading they can be. For example who talks about gluten, somebody behind the gluten-free market?

Re: Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:58 am
by The Slider
Dimma wrote:
The Slider wrote:A common example is using the opinion of an "expert", which has long been considered by the research community and the lowest level of evidence.

What is meant with "considered by the research community and the lowest level of evidence" ?


There is a hierarchy of evidence levels that is generally excepted in the research community. The highest level (ie strongest evidence) being a (good) Systematic Review, being essentially a summary of all the other research papers on the topic; the lowest level is Expert Opinion, being essentially someone's opinion based on their personal experience in the field.

Dimma wrote:
The Slider wrote:When you look into health related issues (if you ever do), do you have access to or know how to interpret medical research? Do you tend to use news sites or other people's knowledge for info?

I can't say I know where to find independent medical research. Some recommendations?

News sites seem ok, as they have source of the information, but the problem is they interpret it quite much. Other people are useful for medics that have not been researched, but oh so misleading they can be. For example who talks about gluten, somebody behind the gluten-free market?

Excellent final point. Conflict of interest often runs rampant in this level of publication, as there's no accountability. So of course if I have a book on gluten-free diet, I'll flog that idea as the best.
Unfortunately most good journals are pay per view or subs via an organisation. I have multiple access due to Uni & Work, but most people can't access these. Some journals are moving towards open source - The Gates Foundation is moving towards stipulating all research it funds must be made freely accessible which is great.

Re: Appraising Scientific Papers

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:26 am
by Dimma
The Slider wrote:The highest level (ie strongest evidence) being a (good) Systematic Review, being essentially a summary of all the other research papers on the topic; the lowest level is Expert Opinion, being essentially someone's opinion based on their personal experience in the field.

Ah I understand better now. It was complicated, but it makes sense.

The Slider wrote:Unfortunately most good journals are pay per view or subs via an organisation. I have multiple access due to Uni & Work, but most people can't access these.

I guess organisations can't give all research away for free, they need to get their pay. When it's about nutrition, we have a tax payed government organ that themselves read research, and then write summary guidelines that are freely accessible for the people. Levels of nutrition, pesticides, effects, types of fat, effects, etc. That is often the best read I've come across. The only problem is that it sometimes turns out not completely right in hindsight. Research can be niche, and the organ may do their own analyse. And research results can change after decades when more resources are put into it. At that point people have been living by the guidelines for decades. Maybe it can't be helped.