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Use and misuse of research

The misrepresentation of research findings may arise for a number of reasons. It may be willful, dishonest, accidental, partisan, political, ignorant, biased or careless.

Research is about doubt and certainty, about complexity and simplicity. Research evidence may sometimes replace questions with greater certainty; perhaps as often research evidence may raise more question than it answers. Sometimes researchers may claim a degree of certainty that is not warranted by the evidence. It is perhaps through understanding how research is misused that you may able to understand better how it should be used.

Common ways in which research findings are misrepresented are explored under the following sub-headings:

  • Flawed research
  • Using findings out of context
  • Stretching findings
  • Distorting findings
  • Rejecting/ignoring findings

Fact file

The development of the Research Governance Framework may help to alleviate the possibility of a lot of poor research practice slipping through the net. See also - DH Research and development pages

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