Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

Where to Look for Information When Planning Scientific Research in Psychology: Sources and Channels

Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

Where to Look for Information When Planning Scientific Research in Psychology: Sources and Channels

Article excerpt

As though it were a routine exercise, many scientific journals, mainly the most prestigious ones, frequently take a good look at themselves to appraise what they have published and how the research was carried out. The perspective from which they do so is kaleidoscopic (e.g., research methodology used, assessment of the application and/or effect of the intervention, quality of the analysis, etc.). The results are unsurprising. Unfortunately, the analysis of research quality shows that it is not high. And this assertion applies, quite democratically, to all the natural and social sciences, including Physics, Medicine, Ecology, Psychology and even jurisprudence. The examination of quality has revealed the weaknesses of published research in multiple aspects, and highlighted the need for publishers, researchers, reviewers, scientific organizations, etc., to coordinate with one another to solve this problem and introduce some common sense. In this regard, the International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology is an excellent reference (see, for example, Chacón, Sanduvete, Portel, & Anguera, 2013; Fernández-Ríos & Buela-Casal, 2009; Hartley, 2012).

There is no research manual that fails to include a paragraph warning that one of the first steps to be taken in a scientific study is that of "seeking information". Doing so correctly is a significant vaccine against errors in the planning of what we set out to do. It helps us to know what we must take into account, what difficulties have been encountered by others doing similar studies, which research methods are optimal for studying the topic in question, what systematic reviews have been carried out on our chosen topic, and so on. Our objective here, then, is to identify some information channels we psychologists have at our disposal for learning about and assessing all these substantive and methodological aspects that will help us to set out our hypotheses correctly and test them in the most satisfactory way possible, to analyze the data correctly, and in sum, to properly PLAN our research.

In the following sections we shall learn how to look for information using the American Psychological Association (APA) as a beacon. In the APA sources we shall take initial stock of our subject of interest (which aspects are currently most topical, who is doing research on it, etc.). We shall note how extremely often the term evidence appears and deal in depth with this concept and how to achieve it, bearing in mind the CONSORT and TREND declarations. We shall consider it important not to begin our work without knowledge of the best scientific evidence on our topic, and we shall look into the Cochrane and Campbell organizations. Finally, we shall consider the EQUATOR platform, so as not to lose sight of other (multiple) roads that permit us to do science.

We consider as good information that which permits us to see the positive, the negative and the nuances of the topic under study, as prolific that which awakens our curiosity, which gives us the power not only to see, but to look, and as optimal that which makes it possible not only to maintain a distance in observation, but also to maintain it throughout the entire process. We shall try to make sure the information contributed here can be defined with these three adjectives.

Where to find information

From the American Psychological Association

It is essential for any psychological professional - in the academic, clinical or research field (or all of them), or any other field, or indeed any combination of these - to make regular visits to the website of the American Psychological Association (APA) http://www.apa.org/. "The APA is the biggest scientific and professional psychological association in the world" (Buela-Casal, Olivas-Ávila, Musi-Lechuga, & Zych, 2011, p. 96). This organization was founded in July 1892 at Clark University (Massachusetts) by G. Stanley Hall, who was its first President. …

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