News from CRIS: How to Series - Interpret a Study

August 30, 2022


So, you’ve found a reputable study, now what?

Once you’ve completed the vetting process and have determined that a study you’re interested in learning from passes the quality check, now it’s time to look through research.

What should you focus on?

Most researchers and academics will immediately read the section devoted to the methods researchers used to conduct their study and come to their conclusions.

For most people, the method section will be extremely dense and may not make much sense if you don’t have a strong background in the subject area.

The majority of non-academic folks reading through a research study, should focus on a few core areas

  • Background: this provides context for the research
  • Sample size: look to see how many observations are involved, if it’s an exceedingly small sample size it may not be a study designed to show results on a population scale, rather it could be a study designed to demonstrate the need for a broader, larger research study to help draw meaningful conclusions
  • Conclusion/discussion: This section is arguably the most important to non-researchers, here is where the researchers frame the results and provide context for what the results mean in the big picture.

When reading the conclusion/discussion, what should I take into consideration?

You should be skeptical of the research every step of the way. Don’t take their word for it, they need to prove to you they are right. It can help to think of it like you’re sitting on a jury, and you need evidence to support your decision. What evidence do the researchers provide that sway your opinion?

Every researcher will have their own bias or thoughts on the topics. When you’re going through the research, ask yourself did the researchers account for their biases? Did they prove through their research that this area is important, and does it matter to the bigger picture? If any, what other factors did the researchers identify that could explain the outcome?

Asking questions and remaining skeptical helps ensure you’re drawing sound conclusions from what you’re reading.


To continue reading the entire blog post, visit: How To Series – Interpret A Study - Center for Research on Ingredient Safety (