What is Evidence?
In any research study, the goal is to generate some type of evidence for a particular purpose, namely for the pursuit of knowledge and the desire to prove or disprove an idea or theory. Good research challenges the status quo, advances our understanding, and drives improvement. Solid research projects lead to good research findings, which build compelling stories that can dramatically inform and improve our approach to our work. However, it’s important to know what a quality research study looks like as well as whether it applies to your specific clients.
When it comes to scientific evidence, there are a lot of numbers, terminology, and esoteric methodological factors that impact the relevance and utility of research findings. This makes it difficult for practitioners to understand the practical implications of the research and how to apply them to their practice. It can be an intimidating process to determine whether the research is valid, whether it pertains to your population, and how to apply it to your clientele.
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions is that between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence. Anecdotal evidence is information collected in an informal manner and often relying heavily on personal testimony, such as a case study approach (or one yoga teacher’s experience with clients). While anecdotal evidence is generally limited in value due to several types of bias, scientific evidence relies on more rigorous methods. Anecdotal evidence includes the first articles published on new topics, comprising most of what we see online, in the news, and on social media. However, we can’t rely on anecdotal evidence exclusively because it is highly susceptible to error attributed to personal biases and preconceived notions.