General Question

FluffyChicken's avatar

If I'm not a part of any science program, how would I get a study started?

Asked by FluffyChicken (5454 points ) July 21st, 2012

I would like to get a study started, but I am not a scientist. I know the junior college version of the scientific method and I watch a lot of nature documentaries, but I am still just a theater major/ temporary dropout. I would really like to start a study however. Specifically a veterinary nutritional study. I also am not rich enough to throw enough money at it to get anything started. How would one go about making this happen.

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20 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Impossible without University support, grant money, a large staff, a statistically valid number of animals and a ten-year window.

LuckyGuy's avatar

One of the key questions in any grant is a list of the participants and their qualifications. If you can interest someone with laboratory “street cred” to offer support you might have a chance. Otherwise I am afraid you are trying to push a rope uphill.

nikipedia's avatar

You need two things: money and approval from an ethics board.

It is really hard to get those without being part of a research institution.

wundayatta's avatar

There are amateur scientists, and some of them make great discoveries. In fact, it is pretty common in the field of astronomy. There are other technical fields where people can run experiments on their own budget, and write it up, and get it published, as well.

If you want funding to do a veterinary nutrition study, then you might go to feed companies or animal health companies with a proposal. Sometimes you can get money to do these things online by becoming an influential reviewer of products. Of course, you probably have to start small, and work your way up to a position of power.

It’s easier to do this within the context of a research institution as @nikipedia says, but it is not impossible to do it in other contexts, as well. If you are interested in feedback on your research design, it’s the kind of thing I do for a living, and I have given others such feedback here, as well.

Ron_C's avatar

You are free to study anything but if you intend to use humans, you better have the backing of an organization that does those things. You cannot interfere in people’s lives just because you want to satisfy your curiosity That sounds dangerous and probably illegal. Personally, I think it sounds tremendously arrogant on your part..

graynett's avatar

Change parents get rich ones they may patronize you.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@Ron_C I didn’t even say what kind of study I wanted to do and you’re shwagging me out. I’m curious as to what you think my intentions are?

Ron_C's avatar

@FluffyChicken I wasn’t necessarily targeting you but when I see that someone wants to start a “study” alarm bells go off in my head. When I think of a veterinary nutritional study it means, to me, that some animals will eat really well and others will suffer and die from malnutrition.

Then you add the fact that you are not tied to an institute of study, what else can I think?

Since you are a theater major, you are particularly disqualified from performing a “hard science” study except as a specimen. I see no benign way to mix theater and veterinary nutritional studies.

FluffyChicken's avatar

So I can’t have more than one area of interest? Maybe it would interest you to know that I have worked in a biology lab. Maybe it would interest you to know that I am an animal rights activist. Why would theater in particular make me disqualified to be curious?

gailcalled's avatar

Being curious is a wonderful trait. There’s an enormous gulf between that and having the *resources to set up a double-blind study.

*University support, grant money, a large staff, a statistically valid number of animals and a ten-year window.

As @wundayatta mentioned, one of few legitimate ways for amateurs to make a difference is described by the “American Association of Amateur Astronomers.”

Some ways to make a difference by looking up

Amateurs have opportuniites also to contribute to ornithology as well (and have done so0>

http://www.pathfinderscience.net/winterbird/gfurther_research.cfm

Ron_C's avatar

@FluffyChicken “I can’t have more than one area of interest? Maybe it would interest you to know that I have worked in a biology lab.Cleaning poop out of cages does not qualify you to lead a “study” unless it is for the best quality toilet paper.”

Maybe it would interest you to know that I am an animal rights activist. again, not qualified to do a scientific study

Why would theater in particular make me disqualified to be curious? what can a theater major bring to science except as a demonstration of delusions of grandeur

FluffyChicken's avatar

So all actors have delusions of grandeur? Good to know.

Now since this is in the general section, you can stop throwing abuse around and answer the question; how would someone get a study started? This would mean convincing qualified researchers that it’s a worthwhile study, but how does one do that?

gailcalled's avatar

Enter a PhD program in a legitimate department in a University that gets grants and funds long-range studies.

In order to enter the PhD program you need a strong background of study in your chosen field.

Physics; organic and inorganic chemistry; general biology; animal biology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition; statistics,...for starters.

Ron_C's avatar

@gailcalled that is basically what I was telling @FluffyChicken until he took offense. I suppose you could get a PHD in theater but I see no point for that. As for animal studies, unless you intend to teach dogs to act, I seen no point in that either.

I suppose you could fund your own study, if you are rich enough but that route like self publishing your own book seems more like vanity, not science.

Look, @FluffyChicken I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m just saying that you need to switch majors fo a science base if you want to run a study. No matter how much you want it to be; Theater is not science and animals, in theater are props, not research subjects.

wundayatta's avatar

@FluffyChicken What is the context for your study? What work has already been done in this area? What is your research question? What are your hypotheses? What data will you be using? Will you gather it yourself? How? How do you plan to analyze that data? Why should anyone care about this study?

These are the questions every research proposal must answer. You can tell us your thinking so far, so we can see how far you’ve thought this through. If you can’t begin to answer these questions, then you really do need to start a PhD program or find some way to learn research protocols on your own.

There is a huge literature on every subject known to man. In order to conduct research, you must be familiar—deeply familiar—with the work that has already been done in the area you are interested in studying. Have you done any of this reading yet? The reason why you have to do it is to make sure your proposal isn’t to do something that has already been done.

Do you know the major contributors in your area of interest? Do you read these studies for fun, so to speak? Do you keep up to date on who is doing what work? This is the first thing you have to do if you are going to do any research with credibility. You must know everything that is related to the research you want to do. Do you? If so, prove it. That’s what you will have to do to any funder or any publisher. The very first thing you have to do.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Ah, I think I must have just phrased my question poorly. Let me be more specific; I would like to convince qualified veternary researchers to do a study on the raw food diet in dogs and cats. There’s heaps of anecdotal evidence that feeding raw extends the lives of pets and prevents all kinds of diseases, but anecdotes are anything but hard evidence and no actual study has been conducted. I think the biggest problem with getting an institute to conduct such a study is the fact that most veternary programs are funded by pet food companies so they would be biased against such a study. How would one get around this problem and to whom do I send a research proposal?

(also, I prefer the pronoun “she”)

nikipedia's avatar

@FluffyChicken, there is ample scientific research on raw food diets for pets: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22raw+food+diet%22+dogs+cats&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5

Is there a particular health benefit you believe has not been explored?

On what are you basing the statement that “most veternary programs are funded by pet food companies?”

Why do you conclude that “they would be biased against such a study?” Would pet food companies not simply see this as another marketing avenue? E.g., “Buy our new ‘raw’ food to SAVE YOUR PET FROM DISEASE!”

If you are in the United States, here is a list of agencies that fund veterinary research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22912/

wundayatta's avatar

What @nikipedia points out shows the importance of the lit review. You need to know what has already been done before you make suggestions about what needs to be done.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@nikipedia I guess I shouldn’t believe one website that says there’s no studies without looking for them myself. I apologize for this really stupid thread.

nikipedia's avatar

@FluffyChicken, I think it’s good that you asked. You know what they say, we all learn something new every day :)

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