research

Michael Cleary-Gaffney: The Difficulties Of Research

The aim of research is to make a positive impact for individuals and society. However, research is an extremely complex multifaceted endeavour. Put simply, for a thorough understanding of a phenomenon, researchers must break the phenomenon into specifics. When sufficient knowledge is acquired on each specific research area, a combining of the specific knowledge can occur. This allows for a holistic understanding of the overall topic of interest. Think of the development of a prosthetic limb. Although the artificial limb looks quite simple to the observer the development of the limb required the combination of specific research endeavours. For example one researcher would have investigated the aesthetic of the prosthetic. Another researcher would have had to investigate the engineering and development of the artificial limb so that ordinary functions observed in non-artificial limbs are also observed in artificial limbs. Finally, another researcher would have investigated the psychology of how an artificial limb becomes perceived as part the body and not a foreign article attached to the body. This example, I hope, demonstrates that research is not a simple activity which occurs over night but merely an obsessive endeavour which involves years of work and the integration of multiple research findings.

In my area of research, the combination of sleep and circadian rhythm research has allowed for the development of interventions which in part allow for the prevention of psychiatric disorders; significantly improve the academic performance of teenagers in schools; and simply increase the quality of life an individual experiences. However, other factors play a role in the success of these interventions. Take for example, the improvement of academic performance of adolescents. If we design the classroom timetabling to times that suit the biological circadian clock of teenagers (i.e start class times later in the day) improvements in academic performance are achieved. However, although these increases are observed in all teenagers who start their academic day later, the results are less pronounced in individuals who come from a low socio-economic background. This illustrates, albeit with one simple example that the effects of an intervention is dependent on multiple contextual factors and not one.

The effect of multiple factors on an intervention makes research an extremely difficult task. Although, the effects of one variable can have a significant positive effect on the phenomenon these same effects may not be observed in another context, despite experimental protocol being replicated.  This inconsistency in the strength of findings makes the generalisability of research very difficult. Put simply, it makes it difficult for the same findings to be observed all the time. Even though researchers aim to conduct experiments whereby they control for variables which are essential to the research question, other confounding variables also play a role. In the above example, low socio-economic status played a role in reducing the significant strength effects of the intervention.

It is imperative for members of the viagra sans ordonnance public to understand and appreciate that researchers cannot simply understand a phenomenon in its entirety and also that many factors are involved in the success of interventions which are based upon empirical research. It is my hope, that I have in part, conveyed the complex intricacies within research and the findings which are produced.

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