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Why Research Quality Matters

When you disseminate your study findings to the public, the chances are good that your evaluation methods will be critically assessed by others in the scientific community. There are a number of standards people use to determine the quality, or methodological rigor, of a study. It is important to understand what these standards are so that you can address them from the beginning and avoid the common pitfalls of poorly designed or poorly executed studies. These pitfalls are sometimes called "threats to validity" because they detract from the overall validity of your findings. Controlling threats to validity is an integral process that must be built into every step of your evaluation.

A high-quality study is not any more (or less) likely than a less rigorous study to show that your program is effective; however, whatever findings it generates will have more scientific value. When you can clearly document that you have conducted a high-quality study, people who take a critical look at your research are more likely to consider your conclusions to be accurate and valid.

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