I have been hit recently by those in academia who believe that anything that comes from the university system that is called “research”, “peer reviewed” and published is gospel.
Who’s gospel is my question.
Having been through a MS program and having done research, thesis defense and abstract of other research papers as part of my MS program, I read all research with much skepticism.
First thing I want to know about any research is who funded it. Follow the money. One does not fund a research project with hopes that their desired result is not discovered. So who funded the research. If the money is tied to a company or individual who could benefit from such research, then the results are suspect to me. If the government funded any research it is suspect to me. If those who funded the research also are sponsoring the researcher, then they and their research are junk.
Call me paranoid.
Second I want to know who the researcher(s) are and what they have to gain from the research. Now don’t get me wrong, a researcher who is looking for a cure to a disease is looking for RESULTS or POSITIVES in their research. That to me is not suspect. One who is getting sponsorships from the one who funds research and gets a positive result, then that is suspect. We have a bunch of those folks in the world of agriculture right now. There are several well known agriculture professors who are out on the rubber chicken and roast beef circuit who are pumping up the results of their research, who are also being sponsored by those who funded the research. The ever-present sales pitch is part of their “research”. So I take their results with a grain of salt.
Call me skeptical.
Lastly there are those who use old research to justify their current research. In other words it’s easier to get researcher A’s paper and then go and duplicate the result on a small scale and get the desired result without doing real research. Again there seems to be a herd of those type university folks out there right now. I suspect its a lack of funding from the traditional sources but more likely its just to prove their bias or please their sponsor.
Call me hacked off.
What is research? I think I know real research when I see it. 1) It must be randomized and replicated in a way that removes the element of bias of a given result. (Side by sides are not research and multiple side by sides are not research) 2) It must be done in enough locations to show a true cause and effect relationship (for fertilizer, chemicals and additives) 3) The researcher should be free of bias. While they can get funding from the persons for whom the research is for, they should not be sponsored by them. 4) The research should last over several trials or several years to show it is not luck, happenstance or coincidence.
The sad fact is that a lot of peer reviewed scientific research that was showed at winter ag meetings this winter had little true research in them. Mostly it was either rehash of old research or it was so biased that it was meaningless. Worse yet the professors from the Land Grants should know better……..and are the worst offenders.