Scientific research brings together observations, knowledge and data to solve problems, invent solutions and develop new products. This applied science allows individuals, industries and countries to test information by transforming abstract theories into practical learning. It is important for scientific research to occur at a local level because research from one area may not be applicable to the context and needs of another region or group of people.
The Value of Scientific Research
Scientific research is an objective method to prove a hypothesis, claim or observation. Unlike relying on mental processes or group reasoning, research methods are not restricted by the limits of critical thinking, biased discussion or personal opinions. Conducting research is valuable for developing and promoting the body of knowledge and information that drives innovation, and allows us to live healthier and longer lives. Scientific research is also important for dispelling the false claims of inaccurate or weak research.
The Scientific Method
Researchers follow the scientific method to come to conclusions. The University of Rochester explains that the scientific method has four general steps that must be followed in order. The first is making an observation about a thing or group and describing it, such as: "Drug X is better for diabetic individuals." Second, a hypothesis or theory about why the observation occurs is made. For example, "drug X improves blood glucose levels better than all other drugs." The third step involves an experiment to test whether the hypothesis is true or false, such as testing drug X on a group of patients, recording the changes in blood glucose, and comparing them to several control groups that use other diabetes medications. Fourth, for the result to be deemed correct and accurate, the experiment should yield the same results when repeated by several independent scientists.
Research models allow scientists to look at a broad picture on a small scale in a laboratory. They also allow safe and ethical scientific research with faster results. The National Institutes of Health notes that although human beings are complicated animals, our cells contain the same fundamental structures as more simple organisms. Hence, scientific research can make use of single-cell bacteria and other organisms to study and test the effects of substances, such as potential new medications. For example, fruit flies are used for genetic testing because they produce rapidly. Hence, a scientist can determine whether a new medication is altering the genes of the flies in a short period of time. Without research models it would not be possible to have results quickly or perhaps at all.
Scientific research helps to establish safety parameters and prepare for health hazards, natural disasters and other threats. Government regulatory bodies such as Health Canada use scientific research to ensure that food, medications, medical devices and household items are safe for the public to use. These organizations require stringent scientific research from teams that include social scientists, clinicians and mathematicians to test the safety and accuracy of scientific knowledge, and to test new products for banned substances. Research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2011 gives the example of lead-based products, which are banned in Canada as this toxin can cause serious poisoning in children.
June Kane is a Registered Radiation Therapist (RTT) and radiotherapy instructor from Manitoba, Canada. Her writing experience includes peer-reviewed articles in the Lancet and Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Therapy, patient information booklets and website content, and student curriculums.