Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Information Quality

When searching for background information on a topic, references are fundamental in lending the information credibility and allowing the reader to research the findings to their own extent. They assist in crediting the original sources with exclusive findings allowing the researcher to elaborate on these results with their own exploration into the domain in question (Referencite, 2009).  Correctly referenced information lends new or contrary research viability that it may not have had initially.

Generally, references from a meta analysis are more reliable and thus a higher quality source of information.  This is due to the enormity of the studies carried out and the overall consistency of the findings, reinforced by each relative study and summarized (Preiss, 1988).
References from sources that are not well known, difficult for other researchers to access, such as a first hand lecture, or a resource that is out of date e.g. an outdated textbook, are all of lower quality.

References need to display a date of publication, as this places the information into an historical context, which may be crucial according to how cutting edge the research is.  For example: breakthrough research into the causes of breast cancer may not benefit from outdated research with ambiguous conclusions, as further discoveries may have been made since this time (Tyburski, 1997).

Ideally, references will allow the reader to investigate the idea proposed with ease and as a result be easy to access and understand.  A way to sift out the quality references from the low quality involves briefly scanning the title to see whether it is clear cut or ambiguous sounding.  A good quality reference will generally have a good title which hints at the research content, which will in turn generally be easy to follow and understand.

Also observing which disciplinary area the research is alluding to and how relevant this is to massage practise, for example we may have a quality reference from a psychology journal which correlates to our research findings or area of interest, yet is not from within the massage therapy sphere of research.  This is known as inter-disciplinary referencing (regarding theories) or cross-disciplinary referencing (regarding the practise in question) which according to Mann (2005) allows for greater insight into the research question from differing points of view.


Mann, T.  (2005) The Oxford Guide to Library Research.  US: Oxford University Press, p12.

Preiss, R. W.  (1988) Meta-analysis: A Bibliography of Conceptual Issues and Statistical Methods.  Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association.

Referencite.  (2009) Plagiarism.  Retrieved on the 23rd March, 2009 from http://www.cite.auckland.ac.nz/index.php?p=plagiarism

Tyburski, G.  (1997) How to Evaluate Information.  Retrieved on the 2oth March, 2009 from http://www.virtualchase.com/quality/checklist.html

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Research Process

The research process consists of about nine total stages whether in the field of medicine, massage therapy or social sciences.  These are: ideas/observations, background reading/literature review, the methodology and thus the methods, data collection and analysis, results and implications, conclusion, budget considerations and references. 

During the initial stage an idea begins to form.  In the medical arena this is facilitated by observation (McQueen, 2009).  In more philosophical studies, it is assisted by the process of brainstorming and asking questions.

The next natural step to take is to find out more information from other reputable sources about this idea, and whether this idea is new.  Variations on the idea may also be uncovered, adding to its growth and refinement.  This is also called the background reading/literature review portion, adding to the general knowledge about the subject matter and idea.

The methodology employed is the next portion of the process and this determines the types of methods we use and why we use them in our quest for the truth (ontology) regarding this idea.

The methods themselves are the next stage in which the hypothesis itself is put to the test through the use of these methods, which for example, may include measurements and baselines. (Corsini, 1994)

Data collection and analysis is the part of the research process in which data gained via the methods is investigated, compared to norms and becomes the fatual basis in our goal to prove the hypothesis.

Once we have collected the data and analysed it, we end up with a group of results (the size of which depends on the amount of tests undertaken.) From these results we can infer implications regarding the original hypothesis and what these implications may now mean for the area we are researching (eg. massage therapy).

This would lead us to the conclusion of our proposal based on our recent inferences, results and data as well as related empirical research (Wikipedia, 2009) which may have been conducted around hypotheses of a similar nature.

Budget considerations are necessary to ensure that the research proposal is viable and realistic to put into action.

References allow your work to be traced and can invite readers of the research to conduct their own background reading on the subject, potentially drawing their own conclusions based on further exploration.

The research process is a valuable tool with which researchers can expound the benefits or detriments of the hypothesis and subsequently, what this would mean for the profession in question.


Corsini, R.  (1994) Encyclopaedia of Psychology.  Michigan: J. Wiley & Sons.
McQueen, F. Telephone interview.  Thursday 5th March, 2009.
Empirical research.  Wikipedia.  Retrieved 6th March 2009 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_research