How to Know

if a

Research Study is Reliable


Many of us search the web every day in search of information. But, how do we know if the study we are looking at is a reliable one? At first glance the research study may seem to fit what you are looking for, but make sure to take a closer look…


Is it Peer Reviewed?

One of the best ways to find out if the research study conducted is reliable is to find out if it has been peer reviewed. Peer reviewed is a system of evaluation by peers whom, ideally, have expertise in the subject area. Professional peer review focuses on improving quality, upholding standards, or providing certification.


Validity and Reliability

In research terms, reliability refers to consistency. Just as you can count on the consistency of your friend, when something is reliable in science this indicates some level of consistency. In science, validity refers to accuracy; if something is not accurate, it is not valid. Just as reliability applies at multiple levels of the scientific process, so too does validity. Measurement validity refers to how valid, or accurate, a measure is.


As you can see from their definition, validity and reliability are both key points you need to examine in any research study. For a study to be reliable the same experiment must be conducted under the same conditions to generate the same results. For a research study to have validity you must look at several aspects. Internal validity dictates how an experimental design is structured and encompasses all of the steps of the scientific research method. External validity is the process of examining the results and questioning whether there are any other possible causal relationships.



Sampling is the process of selecting units (e.g., people, organizations) from a population of interest so that by studying the sample we may fairly generalize our results back to the population from which they were chosen.

There are several methods in which researchers take samples from the public. The four most popular are methods of probability sampling. These methods allow for everyone in the population of interest to have an equal chance of being included. Please see below, a description of each of the four probability sampling methods;

Sampling Bias

Once you have identified the sample the researchers have used in the study you are reading, it is important to make sure there is no sampling bias. Sampling bias happens when a sample is collected in such a way that any members of the population are less likely to be included than others. This means that not all individuals were equally likely to have been selected.


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