Tuesday, August 4, 2009

[def.] Knowledge

Additional research based knowledge of the costs imposed on people ....ref.1

I cannot imagine a chemist or physicist (or industrial hygienist) writing this sentence. How does one make any claim to anything in a scientific peer-reviewed journal if it isn't researched based? I suppose the assumption excludes personal opinions and the editorial section.

I've seen this several times in this course's readings. It's even defined somewhere in the text. It's the social science method to claim scientific validity for a subject most physical scientists don't think is science.

(ref.1) Warner, et. al. 1995. Criteria for determining an optimal cigarette tax: the economist's perspective. Tobacco Control, 4, 380-386.


Anonymous said...

Well, I noticed the word "additional" at the beginning of the citation. Does the sentence continue to say that the additional knowledge about the costs imposed on people would be determined, gathered, required? As a writer, I see no problem with this sentence. It's clarifying how the knowledge was acquired.

Gopher MPH said...

If I recall correctly, it was the conclusion of a paper where the author advocates that more information ("research based") must be collected in order to better assess the situation.

My problem is the adjective "research-based". When one is already doing research, and one is recommending doing more research for the topic, there is

a) no reason to specify that the information is "research based" because it's already in that context [i.e., useless redundancy]


b) when one is discussing scientific research, by physical scientists (e.g., chemistry) - I've never seen anyone use the phrase "research based knowledge". It is either data or it's not. One can have empirical evidence, of course. But that is not data.

It's the desire of sociologists to claim the mantle of "science" that causes the irritation. If they want to be scientists, that's okay. If they can figure out how to apply the scientific method to their research, they'll be scientists. But they come to the scientific table late in the game. Not that there's been no social 'science' going on - there certainly has. But I get the impression that it's a relatively recent phenomenon that they want to be seen to be scientists.

I realize within the scientific community, there is a lack of uniformity on many things. It just offends my personal sense of scientific communication to make some silly statement like "research based knowledge".

In my opinion, knowledge by definition is achieved by valid data obtained through controlled research and appropriate analysis. Otherwise a statement is personal opinion. It can be personal opinion and be right. But personal opinion is not provable without research.