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The responsibility and the researcher

Many researchers have made their voices heard over the last few months. This is something I genuinely welcome. But it is not enough to refer to a study, you also need to take responsibility for what the results mean in practice, and present the method behind the interpretation that has been made.

The whole idea of both research as a debate is that opinions on the one hand are pitted against research findings and ideas on the other hand. It is in the interface and in the research presentation meeting that relevant and important knowledge emerges.

Simply sitting in opposite corners of the ring and referring to facts does not lead us forward. There is an extremely big need for answers and solutions especially during a crisis, such as in the midst of a pandemic. However, the hunger for specific answers must not and should not overshadow critical thinking and questioning. Nor for that matter, the meeting that genuinely moves research forwards.

Is this reasonable? What will the consequences of such a calculation be? These are some of all the many questions that ought to be part of a researcher’s arsenal, responsibilities and respectability. As are presenting your method – to enable someone else to repeat the experiment and hopefully get the same results – and the principles of selection. Putting your research in a relevant context, ensuring that other researchers within the same area have reviewed it before you publish the findings, also fall under the heading of good research etiquette.

All this may well be self-evident to most of us, but I would still advise prudence. Seeing how different research studies are now being picked up in earnest by the media is welcoming.

On the other hand, bashing each other  with different studies rarely leads to progress and risks devaluing and undermining the research instead. Not to mention creating confusion among the broad general public. Added to which, making important decisions on the basis of incomplete research, does not bode well for society.