Quality research most commonly denotes the scientific process including all aspects of study design; in particular, it relates to the judgment regarding the match between the methods and questions, selection of subjects, measurement of outcomes, and protection against systematic bias, nonsystematic bias, and inferential error(Boaz & Ashby, 2003; Lohr, 2004; Shavelson & Towne, 2002). Principles and standards for quality research designs are commonly found in texts, reports, essays, guides to research design and methodology, and so on.
In addition, quality assessment plays many important roles in the research community. It enlightens crucial decisions on the funding of projects, teams, and whole institutions, on how research is conducted, on recruitment and promotion, what is published or disseminated, and what researchers and others choose to read. It makes trust in the work of the research community. Quality is of course not a straightforward concept. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines it as the nature or standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind, and especially the degree of excellence it possesses.
The research investigates ideas and uncovers useful knowledge. But research can be abused through bad assessment of research work. An assessment process implies a review – involving human judgments and/or quantitative scores, which may find work of varying quality, from the poor or mediocre to the excellent or upstanding. So, there are guidelines for standards for research quality.
Standards for assessing the quality of research
- Pose a significant, important question that can be investigated empirically and that contributes to the knowledge base
- A well‐defined research topic and a clear hypothesis
- Test questions that are linked to relevant theory
- Apply methods that best address the research questions of interest
- Base research on clear chains of inferential reasoning supported and justified by complete coverage of the relevant literature
- Provide the necessary information to reproduce or replicate the study
- Ensure the study design, methods, and procedures are sufficiently transparent and ensure an independent, balanced, and objective approach to the research
- Provide a sufficient description of the sample, the intervention, and any comparison groups
- Use appropriate and reliable conceptualization and measurement of variables
- Evaluate alternative explanations for any findings
- High quality data fit for their intended use and reliable, valid, relevant, and accurate
- The findings of the study are written in a way that brings clarity to important issues
- Tables and graphics which are clear, accurate, and understandable with appropriate labeling of data values, cut points, and thresholds
- Include both statistical significance results and effect sizes when possible
- The conclusions and recommendations are both logical and consistent with the findings.
- Assess the possible impact of systematic bias
- Submit research to a peer-review process
- Adhere to quality standards for reporting (i.e., clear, cogent, complete)
- Is respectful to people with other perspectives.
- Provides adequate references.
- Attempts to honestly present all perspectives.
Overlooked features for assessing the quality of research
- Research questions are designed to reach a particular conclusion.
- Alternative perspectives or contrary findings are ignored or suppressed.
- Data and analysis methods are biased.
- Conclusions are based on faulty logic.
- Limitations of analysis are ignored and the implications of results are exaggerated.
- Key data and analysis details are unavailable for review by others.
- Researchers are unqualified and unfamiliar with specialized issues.
- Citations are primarily from special interest groups or popular media, rather than from peer-reviewed professional and academic organizations.
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