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Assessing the Quality of Scientific Publications Essay

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Updated: Feb 4th, 2022

Assessing the quality of scientific publications has become a necessity owing to the growing number of informed audiences. In the modern world, a majority of people are enlightened and it is important for researchers to understand that their research findings or their research work in general will be scrutinized by the intended audience. According to Cole, J. and Cole S. (2008, p.1), “the purpose of scientific research is to go beyond experience and common sense, which frequently are quite limited and inadequate, and often quite incorrect, …for advancing knowledge, for promoting progress, and for enabling man to relate more effectively to his environment, to accomplish his purposes, and resolve his conflicts”. As a result, research is often conducted in order to address certain needs thus directed towards a given audience. For example, research can be conducted and target audiences in the education sector, health sector or business sector. In the current world of research, it has been found that the quantity of output is not the equivalent of quality.

These audiences will judge the quality of research conducted using various standards. The introduction of the science citation index is one of the latest standards used to gauge the significance of an individual scientist’s contribution. Since 1961, the science citation index has documented as many as possible all the bibliographic references that appear journal articles. The number of citations an author receives plays a significant role in determining his or her creditability in scientific research. As a result, audiences might find it necessary to scrutinize the sources that a researcher has used to support his argument.

Audiences also gauge the quality of research by scrutinizing the manner in which the research was conducted. Conducting research requires proper organization so as avoid all sources of bias. Researchers that do not convince their intended audiences that sources of bias were eliminated are likely to be rejected by their respective audiences. Audiences scrutinize the methodologies employed in conducting research and the purpose of research. The methodologies chosen must be justifiable. Crotty (1998) suggests that justification of the method employed can only be answered by the type of research question an inquiry is seeking to answer. Crotty (1998) argues that a quality research comprehensively answers the research question. There is more to it than that, however. Audiences often question the method, the methodology, the theoretical framework, and the epistemology employed. While the “method used stipulates the procedures used to gather and analyze data related to the research question, methodology determines the strategy, plan of action, process or design and the choice and use of particular methods” (Crotty, 1998, p.35). The methodology also links the methods employed to the results of the research process. On top of that, “the theoretical perspective offers a philosophical stance of the research process while epistemology, explains the theory of knowledge embedded in the theoretical perspective and their by the methodology” (Crotty, 1998, p.35). According to Crotty (1998), all these standards are taken into account when audiences gauge the quality of a research process. In addition, According to Creswell (2011), quality research can only be attained if scientists plan well. The secret behind conducting successful research is proper planning. Planning incorporates a number of factors including selecting the appropriate methodology. The methodology chosen has a significant influence on the overall outcome of the research process (Creswell, 2011).

The chairman of the Research Policy Committee of UK Universities Eric Thomas indicates that bibliometrics are useful standards for measuring research performance. Thomas’ (2008) argument is similar to Cole’s opinion. The two authors emphasize the importance of analyzing the sources used by researchers to defend their arguments. Thomas (2008) has documented reputable international databases of journals. The databases have stored key information with regard to the authors of those articles, dates of publication, discipline, and institutional affiliations. Thomas (2008, p.1) notes that “there is a range of bibliometrics variables as candidate quality indicators and they include output volume, citation volume, journal impact and frequency of uncited papers”. Among these bibliometrics variables, output and citation volumes are likely to be used by different audiences to gauge the quality of research.

In addition, Kothari (2009, p.23) argues that “whatever may be the types of research and studies, one thing that is important is that they all meet on the common ground of scientific method employed by them”. Kothari (2009) indicates that quality research has several characteristics. The purpose of research, according to Kothari (2009) should be clearly defined. In addition, common concepts should be used. The research procedure employed should be described in detail. Furthermore, the procedural design of any study should be carefully crafted in a manner that leads to the realization of objective results. Therefore, the intended audience will scrutinize these aspects while determining if the research is of good quality. An audience of a particular research can also evaluate the quality of the research by analyzing the manner in which the researcher reports his or her findings. A competent researcher reports his or her findings with complete frankness. In addition, the researcher should be able to explain how flaws in procedural design affected the findings of the study since a research process is not perfect. This enables the audience to understand why the researcher took a particular stand on a particular phenomenon. Another important aspect that the audience uses to gauge the quality of research is the experience the researcher has in conducting research. The intended audience is likely to scrutinize the experience, reputation, and integrity of the researcher. Kothari (2009) concludes his argument by stating that good research is systematic. This means that research is structured with specified steps to be taken in a specified sequence in accordance with the well defined set of rules. Secondly, good research is logical. This helps the researcher make sound conclusions. Thirdly, quality research is empirical. This means that “research is related basically to one or more aspects of a real situation and deals with concrete data that provides a basis for external validity research results” (Kothari, 2009, p.25). In addition, good research is replicable. This ensures that the study results are verifiable and reproducible. Research audiences evaluate whether a research process was systematic, logical, empirical and replicable while analyzing the quality of the research.

This paper has noted that assessing the quality of scientific publications continues to gain recognition. Research audiences use various standards to measure the quality of a research process. The key standards which are commonly used by different audiences to gauge the quality of a research process include the scrutiny of citations used, the methodology employed, and the overall planning and organization of a research process.

References

Cole, J., and Cole, S. (1971). The Measurement of the Quality of Sociological Research: Problems in the use of Science Citation Index. New York : Columbia University Press.

Cresewell, J. (2011). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New York: Pearson.

Crotty, M. (1998). The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process. New Yor: Sage.

Kothari, C. (2009). Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques. Chicago: New Age International.

Thomas, E. (2008). The use of bibliometrics to measure research quality in UK Higher Education Insitutions. London: UK Universities Research Program Press.

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