“I have no idea what is going on – Is this research paper even valid?”
This is what quite a few of you may have faced – especially when making a presentation or writing a fact-based essay. And, this is indeed a major dilemma, especially for the writers and the students.
Now, this dilemma brings us straight to the question – how do you check the validity of the research paper? To solve this annoying issue that a lot of us face, we have done some research ourselves, read a ton of research paper and them come up with few ways to know if a research paper is valid or not.
Do you want to know how to do that? Of course yes, it would be a huge load off your back. So let’s get straight into the points.
1) Check for the Authors Credentials
This is the first thing that you should check after coming across any research paper – check the author and his/her credentials. This is one of the most basic things you can do.
Knowing if the author is qualified to write the said paper or not is one of the simplest ways to check the validity in the research paper. Check if the field of the author and the qualification that the author has in that field.
For example, if you are searching for a research paper about the nutritional value of a certain type of food, check what the author does. Is s/he is a chef or a nutritionist? While both of these qualifications have to do with food, note that a chef’s primary responsibility and qualifications are about preparing the food – not the nutritional value of the said food.
At the same time, it is a good idea to check if the author has written other research papers on the same subject as well. This will give you an idea of how experienced is the author with the research as well.
2) Check the Publication Date
Now after you are done with checking the author’s credentials, look for the publication date. The thing about research papers is that due to new discoveries a lot of them tend to get invalid quite often. Now doesn’t mean that the author is not credible but just that his/her research paper has been outdated due to the discovery of new information and facts.
If you want to check the validity of the research paper, it is important to check the publication date while keeping the context of your research in mind.
For example, if you are writing a thesis, article, or essay with the context of the Middle Ages, you can use the papers published 20 or even 50 years back since there won’t be much change in the data.
But, if you are checking the validity in the research paper that covers the currency ongoing papers – for instance, “the effect of Pandemic on Climate Change”, it is best to take reference from the recently published research papers.
3) Check the content and biases
Once you are done with checking the publication date, you should now go and skim the content. Know what the author is writing about and whom the paper is meant for. For instance, you won’t be able to check the validity of the research paper that is meant for the experts when you are just a beginner.
While trying to take reference from research papers written in a slightly higher scope of language is fine, don’t take the reference if the level of language is beyond your scope as you will be vulnerable to misinterpretations.
At the same time, you should also check if the author is biased or not while skimming the research paper. Check if the author presents both sides of the arguments and if his/her statements can be verified.
Ask these questions to check for the Biasses of the author
- Does the research paper contain valid information from both sides of the argument?
- Does the author overstate the benefits and downgrade the drawbacks of vice versa?
- Does the author downgrade the other side of the argument
- Does the author provide evidence from both sides?
If you find negative in any of the mentioned questions, then the research paper may not be so valid.
4) Check for Evidence
After checking the content, the next step that you have to take to check the validity of the research paper is to check for the evidence. Now, this can be done in two ways – checking for the methodology of the experiment when the research paper is about experimentation and checking for the source of the data when the research paper is about the data.
While in this princess it is also a good idea to check the credibility of the data sources and the method of data collection as well. If the author fails to provide any substantial, evidence to their claims then the paper is less likely to be a valid one to use.
At the same time, it should also be noted that this applies all to the research papers as empirical data and substantial evidence are required for a statement to be considered as a fact.
For example, “Bronze melts at around 960 degrees celsius” is a statement that can be considered as a fact because countless observations and experiments have proven that the melting temperature of bronze is 960-degree Celsius plus or minus a few degrees depending on the composition and impurities within the metal.
If in a paper about the melting temperature of bronze “bronze melts at around 960 Degree celsius” is stated without any description of observation and experimentation, then this statement will not be considered a fact and the while paper will be invalid.
5) Is the Paper Peer-reviewed?
This is by far one of the most important pieces of information to check when checking for the validity of a research paper. If you don’t know what a peer-reviewed paper means, it means that the journal or a research paper has been exposed to the scrutiny of many experts within the same field of research and has been approved and improved by them.
The papers that get approved after peer-review are some of the most valid papers in a given time. Of course, as new evidence is found and discoveries are made, such papers can still become invalid as time passes on. But for a certain time period after the paper is released, if it is a peer-reviewed one, there is virtually no need to check for the validity of the paper.
6) The journal that published the articles
While the previous method of checking the validity in the research paper should be enough for the most part, as the last method, you should also check the journal in which the paper is published.
The thing is, with the rise of the internet, there are several journals that accept the substandard research papers that seem legit but famil some of the checkpoints mentioned above. These journals are usually either unreputed ones, the ones that cover the conspiracy theories, or the journal that is unrelated to the research paper.
For example, a Journal Named Chemical Review publishes peer-review papers about all aspects of chemistry meanwhile Journal Neuroscience deals with the peer-reviewed papers about neuroscience.
The point is, every journal has a theme as well as a certain category of papers that they are willing to publish. If you find a seemingly valid research paper on a shady journal that doesn’t have any theme or pattern, then it may be a red flag.
The gist of all this is that if you need to research on anything and present a topic with facts – which a lot of us have to do as long as we are in the field of education or employment-related to information – it is best to check the validity in the research paper before writing.
To check the validity of the research paper, all you need to do is find about the author, skim the content of the paper and see if there are any biases if it is peer-reviewed and the journal the paper is published in.
It is better to take one reputed source than to take a thousand unreputed ones – it’s all about the validity of the information.
Hope you found this helpful. If you have any suggestions for us, do let us know in the comments below. And as always thank you for reading till the end.