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'Researching research is not a luxury; it’s a necessity'

It sounds credible: ‘Research has shown that…’, but is it really? Read in the research dossier ‘From data to insight: the importance of sound research methods’ how Leiden University contributes to more reliable social science research.

Societal discussion
The societal and scientific discussion on the reliability of social science research has been raging for years.  This summer again, a study of the reproducibility of 100 psychology studies caused quite a stir. What was going on? When these studies were repeated more than half of them produced different results. ‘Researching research is not a luxury; it’s a necessity,’ says Professor of Methodology and Statistics Mark de Rooij from the Institute of Psychology. The fact that the studies did not generate the same result mainly has to do with the choice of how the data is collected and the analysis methods applied. De Rooij’s research group tests statistical methods for their usability in different types of research. The insights gained can help social scientists make better choices about research methods. 

Method, method, method
Just as estate agents always stress location, location, location, in social sciences it is the method that determines everything. The choice of research method can have a significant effect on the outcome. Take, for example, the research by child and family studies specialist Marielle Linting on the relation between the level of noise and the wellbeing of children in childcare centres. If you think there is a linear relation, you will only find that small children do not feel comfortable in an environment where there is a lot of noise.  If you look further, and apply a method of analysis that can also identify non-linear relations, you will get a much more nuanced outcome. Apparently, children also feel ill at ease if they are in an environment that is completely silent.

Read more about this and other research studies in the research dossier From data to insight: the importance of sound research methods.

Researchers from different disciplines at Leiden University work together towards a safe, healthy, sustainable, prosperous and just world. Read more in our research dossiers.

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